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Air Bags Work – They Save Lives

Air bags saved an estimated 1,043 lives in 1998 alone. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that tragically 96 children have been killed or injured by the force of a deploying air bag. In many cases, the children were riding in the front seat either in a rear-facing child safety seat or “out of position” – either unbuckled, or not wearing the shoulder portion of the safety belt.

An air bag in not a soft, billowy pillow. Rather, to work effectively, an air bag comes out of the dashboard at rates of up to 200 miles per hour – faster than a blink of an eye. Drivers can entirely eliminate any danger to children from a deploying air bag by placing kids properly restrained in the back seat. With or without an air bag, the back seat is the safest place for children to ride.

As the number of motor vehicles equipped with air bags increases, the risk to kids riding in the front seat will also increase. That is why we must all work to educate people now that air bags save lives and work best when everyone is buckled and kids are in back, properly buckled up.

Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Tips

Air bags and safety belts save lives. All Americans, and especially parents and caregivers, need to understand how to maximize the lifesaving capabilities of these safety devices and minimize the risks.

KIDS RIDE IN BACK. Infants should NEVER ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. Children, typically ages 12 and under, also should ride buckled up in the back seat.

CHILD SAFETY SEATS. Young children and infants always should ride in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats. The safety seat should be held properly in place by the vehicle’s safety belts and the child should be correctly buckled in the child safety seat. A child who has outgrown a convertible child safety seat will need to ride in a booster seat for the vehicle’s safety belts to fit properly.

WEAR BOTH LAP AND SHOULDER BELTS. The shoulder strap should cross the collarbone, and the lap belt should fit low and tight. The shoulder strap should never be slipped behind the back or under the arm – this is a dangerous habit, especially in cars with air bags.

MOVE THE FRONT SEATS BACK. Driver and front passenger seats should be moved as far back as possible, particularly for shorter statured people.

For more information, contact

Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign,
National Safety Council, 1025 Conn. Ave.,
NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036;
(202) 625-2570 (tel.); (202) 822-1399 (fax);

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