Air Bag Deactivation: On-Off Switch Precautions
- If I turn "off" an air bag for someone at risk, what precautions should I take for others?
- If I turn "off" an air bag, will the seat belt provide enough protection?
It is important to realize that turning off an air bag is a temporary measure intended for the benefit of any individual in one of the risk groups described earlier. If such an individual is not seated in front of the deactivated air bag, then it should be turned on or reactivated. For instance:
- An air bag should be deactivated when children age 12 and under are carried in the front seat. As children grow in size beyond this age, the need to maintain the switch in the "off" position disappears.
- Likewise, while a medical condition may justify turning off the air bag in the passenger seat, this would apply only when an individual with this condition is being transported as a front seat passenger.
Air bags increase the protection you can get from seat belts alone. If the air bag is turned "off", you lose this extra protection.
In some newer vehicles, turning "off" your air bag may have additional consequences. These vehicles have seat belts that were specially designed to work together with air bags. If the crash forces become too great, these new seat belts "give" or yield to avoid concentrating too much force on your chest. The air bag prevents you from moving too far forward after the seat belts yield. Without the air bag to absorb the energy of the occupant, the risk of hitting the vehicle interior is increased. Ask your vehicle manufacturer for information on whether your seat belts were specially designed to work with air bags.
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