Small-Stature & Elderly Adults 

Smaller adults and elderly people are generally safe in front of an air bag as long as they are properly belted, maintain a proper seating position, and move the seat as far back as possible.

Drivers concerned about achieving the recommended 10-inch distance between the air bag cover in the center of the steering wheel and their breastbone should:

  • Ensure they are properly belted.
  • Maintain a proper seating position.
  • Move the seat as far back as possible - while still comfortably reaching the pedals.
  • Recline the back of the seat slightly.
  • Tilt the steering wheel downward, if it is adjustable. (Tilting the steering wheel downward points the air bag toward the breastbone instead of the head and neck.)
  • Ask the vehicle manufacturer about the availability of pedal extenders.

Those who still cannot get far enough away from the steering wheel should consider purchasing a new vehicle equipped with adjustable pedals. If this is not possible, and the recommendations listed above don't provide a solution, then an air bag ON-OFF switch may be considered.

Front passengers: When sensing a front seat passenger of very low weight, some advanced air bag systems are designed to turn a frontal air bag off. So for a small-stature or elderly adult passenger who also happens to be of very low weight, a vehicle equipped with an advanced air bag system may minimize the risk of air bag-related injury, and installing an ON-OFF switch may be unnecessary.