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It’s just as if the seat occupant weighed 9 pounds more. It is our understanding that the advanced airbags are not so variable that the extra 9 pounds would make the air bag deploy with more force. Advanced air bags have 3 options in deployment:

  1. suppressed deployment for most moderate crashes,
  2. full deployment (which is only an increase of 10% of force) or
  3. no deployment at all. There just isn’t that much variability in how much or how little they deploy.

Advanced airbag technologies are being developed to tailor airbag deployment to the severity of the crash, the size and posture of the vehicle occupant, belt usage, and how close that person is to the actual airbag. Many of these systems use multi-stage inflators that deploy less forcefully in stages in moderate crashes than in very severe crashes. Occupant sensing devices let the airbag control unit know if someone is occupying a seat adjacent to an airbag, the mass/weight of the person, whether a seat belt or child restraint is being used, and whether the person is forward in the seat and close to the airbag. Based on this information and crash severity information, the airbag is deployed at either at a high force level, a less forceful level, or not at all.

You can watch a general concept of airbags here.

According to NHTSA, the combination of safety belts and air bags offer the best level of protection to pregnant women as long as they follow the same advice as other adults:

  • ensure they are properly belted,
  • maintain a proper seating position and
  • move the seat as far back as possible.

We also recommend that during pregnancy, you angle the steering wheel up more so it is being directed above the pregnant belly. The lap belt should be positioned low on the abdomen, below the fetus, with the shoulder belt worn normally. When crashes occur, the fetus can be injured by striking the lower rim of the steering wheel or from crash forces concentrated in the area where a seat belt crosses the mother’s abdomen. The seat belt will keep a pregnant woman as far as possible from the steering wheel. The air bag will help spread out the crash forces that would otherwise be concentrated by the seat belt.

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