When driving around, I often notice things that make me cringe. Like bright orange Kias. Or a lowered Honda S2000 with aftermarket exhaust and crooked rear wing. Or a Porsche with an automatic transmission. Or… ok.
Then there are things that make me wince. One of those things is the topic of this post – people sitting too close to their steering wheel.
The industry has done a good job of making people think that airbags are nice, fluffy marshmallows that you wished deployed when you need a nap:
The reality is, however, slightly different:
Now, picture that person sitting with their seat all the way forward, leaning forward, chin up. They’re so close their elbows are at an acute angle. Chances are, if you ask them why they sit so close, it’s not a problem with reaching the controls, it’s how they need to sit so that they feel they’re in control of the vehicle. Except they’re not, their arms cannot react the same way and perform a rapid turn if needed.
Now picture the airbag deploying. To be fair, most modern cars (even my little Honda Civic) have seat proximity sensors that determine if the seat is too far forward. If it is, the airbag (the industry has adopted dual stage, dual threshold airbags) will only deploy to its first stage. This means that the airbag will not reach as far forward and crush the driver’s chest (as much). They’ll still receive one heck of an impact on their chest and, likely, chin (hope they’re not into lollipops…).
Now. What about the passengers who like to enjoy the drive with their feet up on the dash?
I hope walking isn’t one of their favourite things to do.
Read your owner’s manual. It tells you the minimum safe distance your chest should be from the steering wheel. Respect those warning labels. The industry won’t put a scary message somewhere unless there’s a real danger.
Now, so that you don’t leave all down, depressed and worried, here’s a video of a cute puppy: