Air bags: What do I need to know about air bags and my child?
All new cars come equipped with front air bags. When used with seat belts, air bags work very well to protect older children and adults. However, air bags are very dangerous to children riding in rear-facing car safety seats and to child passengers who are not properly positioned. If your car has a passenger air bag, infants in rear-facing seats must ride in the back seat. Even in a low-speed crash, the air bag can inflate, strike the car safety seat, and cause serious brain and neck injury and death.

Toddlers who ride in forward-facing car safety seats also are at risk from air bag injuries. All children up to age 13 are safest in the back seat. If you must put an older child in the front seat, slide the vehicle seat back as far as it will go. Make sure your child is properly restrained for his age and size and stays in the proper position at all times. This will help prevent the air bag from striking your child.

Air bag on/off switches are available in the few cases in which an infant must ride in the front seat. Most families don't need to use the air bag on/off switch. Air bags that are turned off cannot protect other passengers riding in the front seat. Air bag on/off switches should be used only if all of the following are true:
  • Your child has special heath care needs.
  • Your pediatrician recommends constant supervision of your child during travel.
  • No other adult can ride in the back seat with your child.
On/off switches also must be used if you have a vehicle with no back seat or a back seat that is not made for passengers.

Side air bags improve safety for adults in side impact crashes. However, children who are seated near a side air bag may be at risk for serious injury. Read your vehicle owner's manual for recommendations that apply to your vehicle.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Protect children from traffic injuries. You can do it!

Content provided by the Minnesota Safety Council, AAA Clubs of Minnesota, Safe Kids Minnesota and the
Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety.