Must read for all owners of cars with air bags. You must understand child safety information when it comes to the dangers of air bags for babies and young children.

Car manufacturers continue to improve safety features in motor vehicles for children and adults. One of the great inventions for car safety has been the air bag which when automatically deployed during a collision can help save lives and protect vehicle occupants. Air bags are designed to help adults in the event of an accident. However, air bags are not safe for children. The force with which an airbag opens is tremendous in order to slow the motion of a full-size adult. This force is so strong an infant or child can hurt their head, neck or back when an air bag deploys. As a result of air bags being located in the driver and passenger seats, children should never ride in the front seat. Safety studies have shown over and over that baby boys and baby girls are the safest when riding in the back seat, ideally in the center of the car in a properly installed car seat. Children under the age 13 should never ride in the front seat, instead they should ride in the back seat and everyone in the car must be using the safety belts. Child safety seats must always be placed in the rear seats and absolutely never in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger air bag. Some cars that have only 2 front seats and no back seat may have a manual override switch for the passenger side air bag. This manual override is to be used when you have to transport a child using a car seat in the front seat since the vehicle does not have a back seat. If you have this situation then it is recommended by the Traffic Safety Administration to manually shut off the passenger air bag while using the car seat, but remember to manually turn it back on when the car seat is removed from the passenger seat.

Air bags have accounted for many lives saved for adults but have also resulted in the deaths of many children who were to young to be sitting in a seat with an air bag. An older, 10 year old child may want, beg, insist to ride in the front seat, but do not give in because it is significantly statistically safer for children to ride in the back seats of the car. A ten year old is not strong enough to handle the force of an air bag deployment. If riding in the front seat during a motor vehicle collision, the ten year old could easily suffer tragic injuries or death as a result of the air bag deploying. You need to understand that air bags deploy at a tremendous force that can cause infants and babies to have their heads and necks snap back and damage their back and spine.

What is the problem with air bags?

New car models almost always have air bags equipped for the front seat passengers. An air bag used with the lap belt and shoulder belt are effective in protecting adults and older children. On the other hand, air bags not only do not work with rear-facing child seats, but an air bag that deploys during a collision could seriously injure or kill a child in a rear facing car seat if it is in the front seat. The reason this is a problem is that if a back facing child safety seat was incorrectly placed in the front seat the child safety seat would be very close to the dashboard.  A car seat close to the air bag when it deploys can have the force of the air bag expanding hit the car seat so violently that potentially injury or death can result. Air bags are meant to be used with the lap and shoulder belt, but too often injuries or death result from the air bag when an adult or child is not buckled in with the seat belt. When sitting to close to the air bag or if thrown towards the air bag during an emergency braking situation a tragic situation can occur. An air bag inflates in a split second and the force of the air bag inflating so quickly can injure or kill a child if they are too close to the dashboard.

What can you do to prevent air bag accidents?

Keep children where children are safest when riding in the motor vehicle and that is in the back seat. Rear-facing child seats used by infants must use the back seat if your vehicle has a passenger side air bag. Adults and older children riding in the front seat of the car must use the safety belts and the seat itself should be set back as far from the dashboard as possible. Secure children of all ages in age and size appropriate restraint devices that are properly installed and follow all car seat safety guidelines. Remember that most accidents happen close to home, so it does not matter how short the ride is never drive a child unrestrained in a motor vehicle.