Children and Air Bags
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What's the Problem?

Most new cars have air bags for front-seat passengers. When used with lap/shoulder belts, air bags work very well to protect older children and adults. Air bags do not work with rear-facing child seats (those used with infants). Airbags could seriously injure or even kill an unbuckled child or adult who is sitting too close to the air bag or who is thrown toward the dash during emergency braking. In a crash, the air bag inflates very quickly. It could hit anything close to the dashboard with enough force to cause severe injuries or even death. Because the back of a rear-facing child seat sits very close to the dashboard, the seat could be struck with enough force to cause serious, or even fatal injuries to a baby. Even older children (who have outgrown child seats) are at risk from a deploying air bag, if they are not properly restrained.

What Should I Do?

The rear seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride. An infant in a rear-facing child seat must ride in the back seat if your vehicle has a passenger air bag. Make sure that everyone in the front seat is properly buckled up and seated as far back from the air bags as is reasonably possible. Make sure that all young children are properly secured in an age and size appropriate restrains. Know how to properly install your child seat in the vehicle. Read both the owner’s manual for the vehicle and the instructions for your child safety seat.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Call NHTSA’s toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236)