Injuries caused by ID lanyards worn while driving

Working in the aviation industry we are all familiar with the need to display a photo ID while at work. However, has the potential for injury caused by wearing these IDs (and other objects) while driving been considered? Recent injuries reported suggest not.

These injuries are caused when the vehicle being driven is involved in accident that causes the airbags to deploy. The force of the airbag deploying is enough to cause the lanyard and pass to be pushed into the chest causing the lung to collapse resulting in hospital treatment being required for an incident when the injured person would have probably walked away relatively unscathed had they not been wearing their ID and lanyard.

Another hazardous practice is the wearing of keys attached to a lanyard (be it with or without an ID also attached). In one reported case, the force of the airbag caused the keys to perforate the wearer’s bowel. As a result, they were in hospital for six weeks, were off work for over six months and may need to wear a Stoma bag in future.

These are not isolated incidents and given the prevalence of the wearing of IDs and/or keys on lanyards in the aviation industry means we need to give due consideration to the associated risks.

  • Advise wearers to remove lanyards before leaving work; this is also good practice for security reasons. This is even more important when driving to and from work whether the driver or front seat passenger in a vehicle equipped with airbags.
  • Consider the use of an alternative mechanism for carrying keys.
  • Consider the use of “break-away” lanyards if there is a risk of the lanyard becoming entangled and causing injury or preventing the wearer from exiting a vehicle.
  • Does this advice also apply to driving at work: even on airfields where the speed limits are lower?

Simon Harrison
Aviation & Aerospace Group Vice Chair


  1.  ‘NHS warning: Drivers wearing lanyards 'risk injury'’, BBC News (Online), published 22 May 2019
  2.  ‘When lanyards can injure: what every employer should know’, British Safety Council, published 15 August 2019