Bag, air

A bag that fills with air, designed for frontal impact crashes, the kind of crashes which account for more than half of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths. Air bags are designed to limit head and chest injuries. But they only supplement safety belts, they do not replace them. During pre-crash braking of a motor vehicle, an unrestrained passenger may be thrown against the dashboard area, in immediate proximity to an air bag. Since air bags inflate in less than 1/25th of a second, faster than the blink of an eye, drivers and passengers who are unrestrained or are wearing only the lap portion of their safety belt can receive serious or even fatal injuries from deploying air bags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the combination of an air bag in addition to a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of serious head injury by about 80%, compared with 60% reduction for belts alone. Infants should NEVER ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. Children ages 12 and under should always be properly restrained in a child safety seat or safety belt and ride in the back seat. Even if there isn't a passenger air bag in the motor vehicle, the safest place for infants and children is properly secured and buckled up in the back seat. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 95 million (46.8%) of the over 200 million cars and light trucks on U.S. roads have driver air bags. More than 68 million (33.4%) of these also have passenger air bags. Another one million new vehicles are being sold each month. By law, beginning with model year 1998, all new passenger cars were required to have driver and passenger air bags and safety belts. Light trucks were subject to the same requirement beginning with the 1999 model year.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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