Will my air bags to more harm than good to my 92 year-old dad with osteoporosis?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Amandalee1970 asked...

I care for my 92 year old grandfather. He has osteoporosis and osteopenia. I drive a small s-10 pickup and was thinking that perhaps the passenger side front airbag might be more dangerous on than off ... any thoughts? Wisdom?

Expert Answers

Elizabeth Dugan, a Fellow of the Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, is the author of Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families.

Thanks for your question about osteoporosis and airbags.

Compared to middle-aged adults, all older adults are at increased risk of severe injury or death in a crash. Having bone conditions (osteoporosis and osteopenia) heightens your grandfather's risk. However, I think he is safer with the airbag on -- provided you can keep him a safe distance from it (at least 11 inches). If not, I would turn it off. A second piece of advice I'd offer is to make sure he is wearing a seatbelt that fits properly and is comfortable. If he has "shrunk" in size because of the bone conditions get an insert or pillow that he can sit on so the seatbelt doesn't choke him or ride too high on his neck/clavicle. Trauma from an ill-fitting seatbelt can be deadly and is easily prevented.

Thanks again for your question and for your care of your grandfather. Drive safe!

Community Answers

Oldfarmerf@aim.com answered...

All I know is that when my son was in a car accident, the airbag caused several abrasions to his face. I would turn the thing off. I think it my cause damage to your grandfather.