Air Bag Contact Injury (Child)

Air bags save lives. But air bags aren’t meant for young children. Children can be severely injured and even killed by an inflated air bag.

When inflated, passenger air bags can be 2 to 3 times the size of a beach ball. In a car accident, air bags move at up to 100 mph. With or without a seat belt, children sitting in the front seat will be hit with a powerful force. They often receive neck and head injuries, as well as scrapes and burns. A child who is not wearing a seat belt will be thrown closer to the air bag. This causes even more serious injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has guidelines to help keep children safe in cars.

Air bag safety guidelines

  • Any child younger than 13 years old should sit in the back seat of a vehicle.

  • Depending on their age, children should be in a car safety seat or restrained with a lap and shoulder seat belt. Children who must sit in the front seat should always wear a shoulder belt and sit upright.

  • Follow the car safety seat maker’s instructions on how to correctly use the seat.

  • Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out how to seat children near side air bags.

  • Don’t drive with more children than can be safely restrained in the back of your vehicle.

  • Drive carefully. Watch the traffic conditions. Follow speed limits and other safety laws.

  • Turn an air bag on/off switch to off when a child is permitted to ride in the front seat. Remember to turn the switch back on for other passengers.

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