Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Are Airbags Enough Protection?

Question: If my car is equipped with airbags, do I still need to wear a seat belt?

Answer: The technical term for airbags (and you’ll see this embossed on your steering wheel) is the Secondary Restraint System or SRS. Airbags aren’t meant to be the primary restraint system, they are only meant as a backup system. They won’t work effectively if you aren’t wearing your seat belt. In fact, traffic deaths have been attributed to airbags because the driver was either sitting too close to the airbag or, as in the great majority of cases, not wearing their seat belt. In a crash, your body will continue traveling forward at the speed the car was going before the crash until it is stopped by something else (Newton’s laws of motion). If you’re wearing your seat belt, the seat belt will restrain you and, if the airbag deploys, it will act as an extra cushion to keep your face from smashing into the steering column or dashboard. The airbag deploys at 200 mph in one-tenth of a second. If you aren’t wearing your seat belt, your body will fly forward as the airbag is traveling toward you at 200 mph. In that case, the crash forces will be tremendous and can easily be fatal. Remember also that the airbag doesn’t deploy in every crash. If the angle of the crash is such that the airbag sensors aren’t actuated, the airbags won’t deploy. Airbags are a great life saving device when used properly and that means using them in conjunction with the seat belt. Seat belts are the most important, first, and primary safety device in the vehicle.

“Click It Or Ticket” Campaign Begins

Memorial Day weekend is near and one Memorial Day tradition is the national “Click It Or Ticket” safety campaign. From May 20th, to June 1st, law enforcement authorities nationwide will be on the lookout for drivers who aren’t wearing their seatbelts. In most states, failure to wear a seatbelt is a primary offense, meaning you can be pulled over and given a ticket for the seatbelt offense alone. The fines can be pretty stiff so, if you won’t wear a seatbelt because it’s the smart and safe thing to do, at least do it to save some money.

least courteous drivers

America’s Least Courteous Drivers

Auto Vantage, an insurance company for motorists, has come out with its annual survey of cities with the worst instances of aggressive drivers and road rage. This year’s winner is Houston which moved from eighth place in 2013 all the way to first. Portland Oregon placed first in the category of most courteous drivers for the second year in a row. Congratulations to the winners! Read more: AutoVantage Survey on Road Rage Highlights Best, Worst American Cities

Video monitoring of truck drivers

Video Monitoring Of Truck And Bus Drivers Can Reduce Crashes

When truck or bus drivers are subject to video monitoring, they are less likely to engage in risky driving behaviors according to a study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Two commercial fleets installed video monitors in the cabs of 100 trucks allowing managers to monitor actual driving behavior and counsel drivers as needed. One company reduced risky driving events by 37% and the other by 52%. Read more: Video monitors in trucks, buses could save live

Children of drunk drivers

Most Children Killed In DUI Crashes Are Passengers Of Drunk Driver

Most often, when a child is killed by a drunk driver, the child isn’t a passenger in another vehicle but instead is a passenger of the drunk driver. A recent study led by Dr. Kyran Quinlan of Northwestern University looked at traffic deaths involving children under the age of 15 over a ten year period. The data showed that, two-thirds of the time in DUI related crashes, the child was being driven by the drunk driver responsible for the crash. The data also showed that, the more the driver had been drinking, the less likely that the child was buckled into a seat belt or child safety seat. Read more: In Crashes That Kill Children, It’s Their Driver Who’s Often Drunk