Car Safety Features Can Cause Injuries in a Collision

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If you have bought a new car - or even a used car - in the last few years, you have probably noticed that new safety features are being added to vehicles all the time. Newer cars often come equipped with braking-assist systems, blind spot detection, and a wide range of other systems designed to keep drivers and passengers safe and limit injuries in the event of a car accident.

For those who learned to drive many years ago and still use the techniques they were originally taught, some of these safety features can actually present unexpected dangers. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other safety organizations now say that the old "10-and-2" method of steering can put drivers at risk for burns, broken bones, and other injuries if the steering-wheel airbag deploys.

Airbags Make a Difference

Driving instructors have long taught new drivers to envision the steering wheel as the face of a clock. Drivers were instructed to grip the wheel with the left hand at the 10 o’clock position and the right hand at the 2 o’clock position. The idea was to give the driver the most control over the steering wheel and the vehicle while steering.

In the 1970s and 80s, automakers began installing airbags in the center of steering wheels to prevent drivers from colliding with the wheel in the event of a crash. By 1998, airbags had become mandatory on all new vehicles. Due to the inclusion of these safety features, what was once a safe way to hold the steering wheel may actually cause additional risks of injury to a driver.

New Guidelines for a New Era

If you were to compare a steering wheel from a modern car with one that is not equipped with an airbag, you would see a striking difference. The airbag covers a large portion of the center of the wheel and is connected to the circumference of the wheel at several different points. The location of these points varies by a vehicle’s make and model, but there are often distinct openings where the driver can place his or her hands. You might notice that these openings are often not at 10 and 2.

This is due to the fact that during a crash, the airbag in the center of the wheel inflates at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. The inflation is, in fact, a controlled explosion of superheated nitrogen. If your hands are in the way of the airbag cover when the airbag inflates, you could suffer injuries to your hands and arms. In addition, your hands could be propelled toward your face, causing other injuries as well.

The NHTSA officially recommends that drivers use a 9-and-3 position to limit such injuries. Other organizations go further, saying that 8-and-4 is even safer due to the slightly-upward orientation of most steering wheels. Experts say that the 9-and-3 option - also called "parallel position" - improves a driver’s stability and reduces unintentional excessive steering, both of which can help prevent accidents.

Call an Orland Park Car Accident Attorney

If you have been injured by your vehicle’s airbag in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to collect compensation for your injuries. Call 708-942-8400 for a free consultation with an experienced Tinley Park personal injury lawyer today.


Things Have Changed Since You Learned to Drive

Get with the Times: You're Driving all Wrong

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