How far away should a person sit away from an air bag in a vehicle while driving?

This topic has bothered me for a long time. #TheBoyfriend believes that I sit too close to the steering wheel (I am short), however I find that my most comfortable position is with my lower leg touching the frame of the car as you move towards the clutch, brake and accelerator (it is my left leg). I don’t know if I quite explained that the way I wanted to. My concern here is that firstly, as I sit so close, I am worried about the effects of the airbag deploying so close to me, and secondly that because my leg rests on the car frame, I could easily cause my tib-fib to shatter.

Did you know that most fetal deaths caused by airbags are during the third trimester? For obvious reasons but it can be a danger to YOU as well as your unborn child.

This brought me to become Professor Google and find out where is the safest distance to sit away from the airbag?

Certainly I believe that you should drive with caution at all times, for it is to better to prevent rather than cure, however, what if you cannot prevent? An accident is simply that: an accident. It is not something done on purpose (unless you really pissed someone off :D) and thus I feel it is very important to look at my safety whilst driving.

Should you disable your airbag if you are (heavily) pregnant?
Well, no. Statistically, it’s still safer to have an airbag deploy that not. Only a very small number of pregnancies are harmed by an inflated airbag- and it’s more likely to save your life in the event of an accident.

I found a site that discusses this WRT pregnancy (…) It says that “they found “that pregnant occupants of motor vehicles with air bags were not at increased risk for pregnancy complications” such as cesarean delivery, fetal distress and low birth weight, said lead researcher Dr. Melissa A. Schiff, a professor of epidemiology.” – so thats that for you pregnant ladies. But then it says in the same article “They did find a 70 percent increase in preterm labor and a threefold increase in fetal death among those in accidents in which air bags were deployed, compared with cars without air bags. But Schiff said the findings were not statistically significant.”…. (?!).
And then “And, he added, “since we know that flying through a windshield is bad for both the mother and the baby, I would encourage people to have air bags.”” – (I thought we were talking about air bags not seatbelts?)

But now with regards to how I sit, I researched and found this site. Oh, and then this site for info on airbags themselves (how they work)

Here are some tips I found:

– Sit where you are comfortable

– Pretty much just sit so your not crouching over the steering wheel.

– If you wear your seatbelt you should be fine against the effects of the airbag going off.

– You would think that a good way to look at it is drive where you hold on to the steering wheel with your arms straight. This is incorrect. If your arms are straight you have no leverage to turn the steering wheel, you actually want your arms slightly bent .That also has been tested and proven to help your responce time to evasive manuvers.

– Auto-Xers recommend that you sit at the distance where you can firmly place your back and shoulders against your seat, while being able to plant your wrists on the steering wheel, and your feet correctly touching the pedals. It’s said to be the best position to be manuvering your car in.

– If you must have your seat pushed forward in order to reach the pedals, slightly reclining the back of your seat may help move you back sufficiently from the steering wheel. (Relates to me 😀 )

– “If you find you still have to sit too near the steering wheel in order to drive properly then you should contact the vehicle manufacturer’s authorised representative for advice. You should explain how far you can sit from the wheel and ask whether they consider this would put you at risk of serious injury from the airbag. If they think you are too close to the airbag they may be able offer practical assistance or advice to help you sit further back. If this is not possible, and the manufacturer considers that because of your proximity to the steering wheel you would be at appreciable risk from the inflating airbag, they may offer to disconnect it or install a cut-off switch.”

– Always wear your seat belt.

A simple guide:

This girl sits too far
Girl sitting too far while driving
This girl sits too close
Girl sitting too close while driving
This girl sits just right
Girl sitting properly while driving


– This is from one of this site, and I think it puts it into really simple terms: First, you adjust your seat position, so your legs are comfortable depressing pedals all the way down. Second, you grab the upper part of the steering wheel with your right hand, and adjust your seat’s back angle so your arm is not bent in the elbow, and your back is snug in the seat back. And that’s it! Now your arms have enough room to turn steering wheel as fast as they can, your legs have enough room to press and release the pedals, and your airbag has enough room to work properly, if needed.

Common Injuries caused by airbags are:
– Burns and abrasions
–  Hearing damage
– Head injuries
– Eye damage
– Broken bones
– Death

Although frightening, the effects will certainly be far less than if you were thrown through a windscreen, so make sure to have your seatbelt on!

Hope this provides some clarity for you too!



7 responses to this post.

  1. Wow I’ve never considered how far I sit from the steering wheel!


  2. I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!?


  3. Posted by Marc on November 17, 2010 at 13:40


    I think I sit just right!

    Your blog is great and your writing skills are tremendous, you should write a book.


  4. Since we are discussing this How far away should a person sit away from an air bag in a vehicle while driving? Love.Cybelle's Blog, matter, Maintaining proper tire pressure and alignment is not only safer, but also it can increase fuel efficiency by 3.3%.


  5. To readers,

    If someone finds themselves sitting too close to the airbag (NHTSA says 10 inches or less from the breastbone to the airbag cover) you have the governments permission to deactivate with an airbag on/off switch. Some people of short stature simply cannot reach a safe distance and need this application.

    Similarly, individuals who would like to have their child in the front seat due to little room or no back seat can have a passenger airbag on/off switch installed. We are the manufacturer and I have found this post through a simple google search and wanted to let others know about this alternative. More information is on our website and NHTSA information can be found at

    Pro-gard AOI Electrical LLC
    Call 800-480-6680 for questions or to find a qualified installer in your area.


  6. Posted by Tricia on July 28, 2011 at 06:24

    what do you do if you’re like me who is 5’3.5″ with short legs (so you can guess how far my seat is from the steering wheel) and you don’t feel comfortable unless your straight backed in your seat? i tried the whole reclining the seat back a little but my 2001 Grand Am (my dad bought it even though he knows my height how dumb is that?) makes it hard to see over the front and my back hurt after a while of sitting like that.


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