Although air bags can save lives, they also can cause serious injury or death, especially to children. Over recent years, many infants and children have been killed in low or moderate speed crashes by the deployment of air bags.
Most of the infants killed were riding in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat. The car seats placed their heads close to the dashboard, where the air bag deploys. The power of the air bag’s initial inflation was enough to give their heads a lethal blow.
Have air bags saved any children?
Probably. It is important to remember that it is hard to get information on children who were NOT injured in an air bag crash, because these are not dramatic events. A few cases of children in crashes with passenger air bags have turned up in information collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on a cross-section of crashes (the National Accident Sampling System). None of the children in those particular crashes were seriously injured. All were using safety seats or lap/shoulder belts. We do know that air bags have saved the lives of many adults.
What can parents do about air bag hazards?
- If you are using a vehicle that has a passenger air bag, transport ALL your children under age 12 buckled up in the rear seat, whenever possible, using safety seats or belts. A baby under age one, who should ride facing the rear, must NEVER be placed in the front seat. Very serious injury is likely to any person riding too close to the dashboard when an air bag inflates.
- If you have no alternative to carrying an older child in front, make sure to buckle her up in a safety seat or a lap/shoulder belt suitable for her age and push the seat to the back of the track. THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED except in an emergency.
- Children’s car pools need to be reorganized to eliminate the use of the front seat, if the vehicle being used has an air bag.
- Anyone riding in the front seat with a passenger air bag should push the vehicle seat back as far as possible from the dashboard.
- If you are worried about carrying your infant rear-facing in the rear seat, remember this: the likelihood of a healthy baby developing any serious health problem riding out of a parent’s immediate view is probably much less than the chance of a low-speed collision in which the air bag’s power would be unleashed on a baby riding in the front seat.
- Newer “smart air bags” will provide safety advances and certainly are well within the ability of manufacturers to incorporate into safe air bag design.
At Florida Trial MD, P.A. we do what we can to make our community safer and protect our precious and innocent children. Contact us online or call 407-244-1212 if we can help you or your family.