Occupant Protection Terms 

Air Bag Basics

To better understand how seat belts and air bags work together to provide maximum crash protection, it's helpful to familiarize yourself with the following terms, which primarily apply to adults and children old enough to use adult seat belts. For more information about when a child may begin to use an adult seat belt, as well as child safety and booster seat guidelines, please see NHTSA's 4 Steps For Kids flyer.

  • Properly restrained: Seated so that 1) the lap belt portion is adjusted to fit snugly over the hips, pelvic bone and upper thighs - not the abdomen; and 2) the shoulder belt portion is adjusted to fit snugly across the chest and collarbone - not the front of the neck.
  • Proper seating position: 1) Seated upright, back against the seatback and feet on the floor, and 2) Front seats positioned to maintain at least 10 inches of space between an occupant's breastbone and the frontal air bag module, which is located in the steering wheel hub on the driver's side and in the dashboard on the passenger's side.
  • Out of position: The occupant is not in the proper seating position.