Airbag Safety Tips
Airbags save lives but danger exists if safety measures aren’t followed.
Airbags and seatbelts have saved thousands of lives, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Thousands more passengers have walked away from serious accidents with only minor injuries – or less – because of the protection provided by these devices.
However, airbags can be dangerous if passengers don’t use safety belts, or if young children are placed in the front seat of a vehicle.
How an airbag works
Inflated airbags are designed to cushion the head and upper body during a crash. But if a passenger is seated too close to a deploying airbag, they can be injured.
If a rear-facing infant seat is placed in the front seat, it may be too close to the airbag. The tremendous force of an inflating airbag can be transmitted through an infant seat to a child's head, with the force seriously injuring or killing a baby.
Older children riding without lap and shoulder belts, or wearing them improperly, can also be seriously injured or killed by the force of a deploying airbag.
Airbags and children
Since airbags and young children can be a dangerous combination, it’s important to follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Never place an infant in the front seat.
- Properly secure all children in car safety seats or belt-positioning booster seats, or have the lap and shoulder belts corrected for their size.
- The back seat is the safest place for children under 13.
- If an older child must ride in the front, move the seat back as far as possible, away from the airbag. Be sure the child is restrained properly for his or her size. Keep in mind that your child may still be at risk of injuries from the airbag.
Always buckle up
It’s important for everyone in a moving vehicle to wear lap and shoulder belts. Such restraints keep your body in the car, and in position, so the airbag can cushion your impact. If you're not wearing a safety belt, there's an increased chance of being injured by an inflating airbag.
Additional airbag and seatbelt safety tips
For more information about proper seatbelt and airbag use, visit these sites:
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – Booster and car seat ratings, proper seat belt fit.
- American Academy of Pediatrics – Videos and safety tips on car seat sizes, airbag safety, proper car seat installation.