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What kinds of injuries can air bags cause?

Head injuries are among the most common injuries in car crashes. Although there are air bags and seat belts designed to hold a person in place during a crash and to minimize the impact, the reality is that even these safety devices can result in injuries.

Air bags have the potential to cause head and neck injuries, but their primary purpose is to inflate rapidly and to cushion the head as it moves forward to impact the wheel. Without the air bag, a person may strike the wheel directly, which could cause much more severe injuries.

While the injuries may be less severe, the reality is that air bags can still cause injuries as they deploy. Air bags deploy at around 200 mph, which could result in scrapes and rub burns to your face, neck and arms. It's typical to see bruising in the area where the air bag impacted you.

What are signs of serious injuries caused by air bags?

Some potential signs of serious air bag injuries include:

  • Changes in vision
  • Pain in the eyes
  • Difficulty breathing or pain in the chest and back
  • Increasing pain, immobility and stiffness in the arms and neck
  • Signs of a head injury including open wounds, lacerations, headaches and others

It's important to understand that air bags do help reduce the risk of serious injuries, but they create their own risks, too. At such a high speed of deployment, they can cause significant bruising and bleeding, scrapes and other wounds. If you sit too close to the wheel, the risk of these injuries is higher than if you sit back further and have more space between you and the area where the air bag deploys.

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