Air Bag

What you must
know to protect your children
Compliments of...

Vivian E. Cook

Assemblymember Cook

Vivian E.

Dear Friend,

Since their introduction, air bags have been hailed as a highly effective way to prevent deaths in head-on crashes.

Air bags have been credited with saving more than 16,900 lives and with preventing thousands of serious injuries since their inception.

However, air bags can be very dangerous - even deadly - to children and adults.

This brochure will help explain the dangers air bags can pose to young children and provide you with tips to ensure your children and you are safe.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any issue, feel free to contact my office.

Vivian E. Cook
Member of Assembly

142-15 Rockaway Boulevard
Jamaica, New York 11436
(718) 322-3975

Room 331 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-4203


The ABC’s of air bag safety...

ABC’s of Air Bag Safety

Air Bags Save Lives

Air bags, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated in 1991, have been a big success. They’ve inflated in hundreds of thousands of crashes, saving more than 18,300 lives. Over 163 million passenger vehicles have been equipped with air bags, including 144 million with dual air bags.

Unfortunately, there are risks posed by air bags. Tips to avoid these dangers are explained inside this brochure.

Air Bags Can Be Deadly

The bad news about air bags is that they can seriously injure or even kill children, short adults or any passengers who are improperly belted. Air bags are designed to protect an average-sized adult within five-tenths of a second after impact. This means air bags are deployed at speeds of between 140 mph and 200 mph!

Even low speed crashes can deploy an air bag, severely injuring or killing a child or adult who is short, unbelted or improperly belted.

A total of 162 children and infants and 100 adults have been killed by air bags since 1990.* In many of these fatalities, the children were riding in the front seat, either in a rear-facing child safety seat, unbuckled or not wearing the shoulder portion of the safety belt. This is why it is important to be aware of the potential dangers of air bags and how to properly protect children and adults from any risks associated with them.

A study by the Insurance Research Council found that 61 percent of parents are aware of the potential dangers of air bags and that only 17 percent of them know children should always ride in the back seat. There are several ways drivers and parents can reduce the danger to children or themselves posed by a deploying air bag.

*Source: 2005 Insurance Institute For Highway Safety Airbag Statistics

Image of the right and the wrong way to install a baby’s carseat

Avoid Air Bag Risks

Parents can greatly reduce danger to children from deploying front air bags by placing properly restrained children under 12 years in the back seat. This is the safest place in the vehicle. Every child should be properly restrained using a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt, depending on their size.

As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics: infants should ride in rear-facing child safety seats until they have reached both one year of age and 20 pounds; children who are one year or older and who weigh more than 20 pounds should ride in forward-facing child safety seats for as long as the child fits well (check the manufacturer’s specifications); children who have outgrown their child safety seats, but are too small to wear seat belts properly, should ride in booster seats - generally, children more than 40 pounds and less than 4’9" in height.

It’s tempting to put a child up front, near the driver, if no one else is in the vehicle, but remember:

Never put an infant or child in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side air bag!

Safety Tips

  • Infants under one year and/or those weighing less than 20 pounds in rear-facing child safety seats should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle, especially one equipped with a passenger-side air bag. Infants in rear-facing safety seats should ride in the back seat facing the rear of the vehicle.

  • If driving a vehicle without a back seat (some pickup trucks have air bag deactivation switches) and the air bag is deactivated, you can put the infant restraint up in front. But you must remember to check the air bag each time and reactivate it for older passengers.

  • All children should be placed in the restraint device offering appropriate protection for their size and age.

  • All vehicle occupants should use lap and shoulder belts and keep their seats as far back as possible from the steering wheel and dashboard.

  • Short adults may need to use pedal extenders to achieve the proper distance away from the steering wheel.

  • Drivers should hold the steering wheel at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. This keeps the arms apart if the air bag inflates.