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Shapiro & Appleton

Air Bag Safety

In a cruel twist of irony, the very device installed in steering wheels and dashboards to prevent injuries and death in adults can be the cause of death in an infant or small child.  The airbag, which can save the life of an adult by preventing his head from slamming into the wheel or the dashboard of a car, can snap the neck of a child with its force.

Florida law does not require that young children ride in the back seat of a vehicle.

Air Bags Save Lives

When drivers pay attention to their passenger’s safety, the air bag is a life-saving device.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that air bags save at least 3,000 lives a year.  Statistically speaking, in a car crash, the driver has an 30% greater chance of surviving a head-on collision in cars with air bags than in a car without one.  Passengers who are 13 or older have a 27% better chance of surviving a head-on collision in an airbag equipped car in a car without air bags.

But Airbags Can Kill Young Children

Children who are 12 or younger should not be seated in the front seat.  Air bags inflate at a speed of up to 140 miles per hour – fully inflating in 1/25th of a second.  That’s faster than the blink of an eye!  While full-stature adults can withstand such a blast, a child under the age of 12 can suffer permanent injury or death when hit with such force. 

The NHTSA estimates that children under 12 have a 29% better chance of surviving a car crash if they are in the back seat, regardless of whether or not the car is equipped with an air bag.

If the Backseat Isn’t an Option

In some vehicles, such as pickup trucks, placing the child in the backseat may not be an option.  In this case, there are other ways to prevent injury or death to your child.  The first step is to move your child’s seat back as far as possible.  By moving the seat away from the airbag, the child is kept further away from the full force of the detonation. 

Another way to guard against injury is to either disable the bag or to install an on-off switch.  For more information on the on-off switch, click here.

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