All occupants should be properly restrained with either a seat belt or the proper child safety restraint, whether or not a vehicle has air bags - and regardless of the type of air bag system in use.
- Serious or even fatal air bag-related injuries can occur if occupants are not properly restrained and in a proper seating position.
- Unrestrained or improperly restrained occupants will move forward during the hard braking before a frontal crash. In addition to striking the interior of the vehicle - and potentially other passengers - unrestrained front seat occupants are very likely to be on top of the air bag as it begins to inflate.
- For properly restrained occupants, most injuries that result from being in close proximity to a deploying air bag are minor bruises or abrasions, which are far less serious than the head trauma and other major injuries that air bags can prevent.
- Even in vehicles equipped with advanced frontal air bags, NHTSA still warns that serious or fatal air bag-related injuries can occur if front seat occupants are not properly restrained and in a proper seating position.
- For vehicles equipped with frontal air bags, occupants should read the vehicle owner's manual to learn the meaning of - and become familiar with - the passenger air bag indicator light ("PASS AIR BAG OFF" or PASSENGER AIR BAG OFF). For more on this topic, see: What should I do when the "PASS AIR BAG OFF" indicator light does not give me the expected result?
- Refer to the owner's manual to learn about the location and operation of all air bags in your vehicle.
- In vehicles with frontal air bags, drivers and passengers must keep at least 10 inches between the air bag cover and their breastbone.
- For additional information on how to achieve this 10-inch distance, see Small-Stature & Elderly Adults.