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Knee Airbags? Don’t Get Too Confident if They Are in Your Car


If you are in a vehicle you are probably aware of most of the most popular safety features that are in those vehicles. But one safety feature you may not be aware of, are what are known as knee airbags.

What are Knee Airbags?

As the name implies, knee airbags are just airbags but ones that are positioned at the driver’s knees. This is because knees are particularly vulnerable in a car accident of any kind.

Any kind of accident that thrusts a body forward, particularly any kind of impact from the front or the side, has the potential to slam the rider’s knees into the bottom of the dashboard. In more severe accidents, where the entire front of the car can be thrust into the passenger cabin, the compartment where the knees would go, can completely crush in, damaging not just knees, but the tibia fibula regions as well.

The airbags also help keep the passengers chest from moving forward and allow protection for sternum and rib injuries.

So Do They Help?

All this is why knee airbags are a good idea…or are they?

Actually, many studies are now revealing that knee airbags may not work as planned and worse, they may actually do more harm than good. Studies are showing that when the impact to the car happens on the drivers’ side of the vehicle, the passengers sustained more injuries with the knee airbags than without them. In tests where the injuries were not made worse, the airbags did nothing to lower or improve the injury rate.

The government has also weighed in, saying that knee airbags provide “insufficient energy absorption,” and pointed out that the knee airbags can be particularly dangerous when the passenger or driver is not in a perfect, upright position—for example, if the passenger or driver is sitting sideways, or if the passenger had a leg up on the seat (both very dangerous to do).

The statistics bear all of this out. In looking at the injury rate with or without knee airbags the difference was statistically the same; airbags lowered injury from 7.9 to 7.4 percent but that isn’t a meaningful statistical difference.

Worse, just like other kinds of airbags, some manufacturers, like BMW, are finding faulty and defective knee airbags are causing injuries, leading to recalls.

So Why are They There?

Despite this information, there is no rush to take knee airbags out of cars. Any safety feature, useful or not, helps to sell cars.

Government safety regulations also may require the airbags, or at least, the airbags help cars pass government safety tests. And when drivers or passengers don’t wear seatbelts (a bad idea), knee airbags may have a larger impact on improved safety.

Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian and schedule a consultation today if you have been injured in a car accident, or by a defective airbag.


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