Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Injury during airbag deployment

My wife is relatively short and as a consequence, she places the driver’s seat forward all of the way to reach the gas petal. Is she more prone to injury if the airbag is deployed because there isn’t sufficient space for the airbag to deploy?


In the Owner’s Manual, there should be information about the minimum distance that the driver should be seated from the hub of the steering wheel. If she is sitting closer than the minimum distance, then you need to either do some alterations to the car or get another car that is more suited to her size.

Alterations that are possible include extensions for the gas pedal and the brake pedal. This should allow her to sit at least somewhat further back from the steering wheel while still being able to reach the pedals.

If you are having trouble locating appropriate devices, look in the Yellow Pages for firms that do modifications to vehicles for handicapped folks. These firms are the experts at modifications such as you may need for this car.

The general rule of thumb is that there should be 12 inches between the airbag and your chest to avoid injury. If there is less than that, you should probably look into pedal extenders to allow that much space. Newer vehicles also have multistage airbags, which help a lot to prevent injuries.

Here’s NHTSA’s information on the subject:

The quick answer is about 10 inches from the steering wheel.

The other thing you have to consider is does she lean forward when she drives…Many people who are Vertically challenged seem to lean forward when they drive…This is also dangerous if the air-bag is deployed.

In the event of a sudden frontal impact, everyone leans forward a bit…

Top of this page…“Actual Car Info”

  • scroll down to “Special Needs Zone”
    – select “our favorite resources”

There are links to companies that sell those pedal extenders.
With extenders on the pedals it could be hard for YOU to drive that car.
Depending on how she is short (legs or torso) she may do well with a pillow to sit on. My renter uses a kitchen chair style pillow, not a sleeping pillow, which makes it easy for her to swap it over to drive other cars as well.

If disarming the air bag seems neccessary has links to a form to fill out to justify and legally allow it to be done. will get you in to the f.a.q. screen.

Airbags can be disabled…