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Dangerous Car Seat Positions - By Perry Zucker

Air bags have saved a countless number of lives in vehicle collisions.  The same inflating airbags have contributed to serious injuries and deaths.  Many of the injuries and deaths had at least one common

Airbag Injury


denominator – drivers were sitting too close to the steering wheel that contained the air bag.

A recent study (IIHS) of 35 deaths linked to driver’s side airbags found that 25 were women between 4 feet 7.92 inches and 5 feet 4.92 inches in height.

Fifteen of them were unbelted, one was improperly belted and in two cases the lap/shoulder belts use was unknown.  Eleven of the women had their seat positioned too close to the steering wheel, and two were believed to have mid contact with the steering wheel when the air bag deployed.

About 5 percent of the United States female population sits closer than 9.84 inches (*) from the steering wheel.  This puts the driver at a high risk of serious injuries or death from the inflating air bag as well as other vehicle components (windshields, dashboard, etc.).  

Airbag Injuries

Drivers can reduce the possibility of serious airbag-related injuries by properly adjust their seat belts and sitting farther than 10 inches from the steering wheel, measured from the center of the steering wheel to their chest.  However, if the driver cannot operate the vehicle in a safe and comfortable manner, due to their physical dimensions, pedal extenders should be installed.

As a matter of fact, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) adjustable pedals will be available on some 1999 SUV’s and newer.  This, in turn, will allow drivers to sit further back from the steering wheel and operate a motor vehicle safer.

*Source: NHTSA

** This article entitled “Dangerous Car Seat Positions” is for informational purposes only. **

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