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AIR BAGS

An infant or child riding in the front seat can be seriously
injured or killed by inflating air bags

Prevent injuries by following these safety steps
How can I know if my vehicle has front or side air bags?
Special considerations for pickup trucks and sports cars
Obtaining an air bag On-Off Switch

To do its important job, an air bag comes out of the dashboard very fast, faster than the blink of an eye. Many people's lives have been saved by air bags. However, the force of an air bag can hurt people who are too close to it.

  • Infants in the front seat have been killed when the rear-facing child safety seat is hit with great force by the air bag causing a fatal brain injury.

  • Older children are killed from impact by the air bag because they are typically “out of position” - either unbuckled, or not wearing the shoulder portion of the safety belt.

  • During pre-crash braking, the child's upper body can be thrown forward toward the air bag at the time it is triggered causing severe head or neck injuries.
Click here to watch an informative air bag video from TraumaLink at CHOP


Prevent Injuries to adults and children from Air Bags
by following these safety steps

  • Infants in rear-facing child safety seats must NEVER ride in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active passenger air bag. Infants under one year old, and under 20 pounds, must ride facing the rear of the vehicle in the back seat.

  • Children 12 and under should ride properly restrained in the back seat to protect them from frontal crash forces.

  • Children should use child safety seats, booster seats, or safety belts appropriate for their age and size.
  • Every one should be buckled up with upper and lower body protection on every trip.

  • Driver and front passenger seats should be moved as far back from the dashboard as practical. Make sure the shoulder portion of the safety belt stays in place and do not lean toward the air bag compartment.

  • If you must put a child riding in a forward-facing child safety seat or a booster in the front, make sure the child safety seat is correctly installed, the child is correctly buckled up with the harness very snug, and the vehicle seat is moved as far back as possible.

  • If the vehicle has side air bags, NHTSA recommends that children be properly restrained and in a proper seating position at all times. Check the NHTSA web site for more information at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

How to know if your vehicle has a front or side Air Bag

  • To check if your vehicle has air bags, look for the letters “SRS', “IRS”, “SIR”, “SIPS”, “ SIAB”, “IC” or the words “Air Bag” embossed on the cover of the storage compartment.

  • Look at your vehicle owner's manual to determine where air bags are located in your vehicle.

  • Look for a warning label on the sun visor, vehicle door, safety belt or vehicle seat.

Special Considerations for Pickup Trucks and Sports Cars

Many newer pickup trucks and sports cars have switches to shut off the passenger air bags. It is very important to turn off air bags if there is an infant riding in the front seat in a rear-facing child safety seat. If the vehicle seat cannot be moved back for an older child using a child safety seat, booster seat or safety belt, then the air bag should also be turned off. If there is no rear seat and no air bag shut-off switch, a rear–facing infant must NOT ride in the vehicle.

Obtaining an Air Bag On-Off Switch

You may be able to obtain an air bag on-off switch if you can certify that you or a passenger is in a high risk group. For more information, contact an auto dealer or the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) or www.nhtsa.dot.gov. To request the installation of an air bag on-off switch in a vehicle, you must complete the request form from NHTSA and be approved.

ALWAYS read and follow the child safety seat instructions and the vehicle owner's manual!

This site was designed by the Illinois Department of Transportation - Division of Traffic Safety

This website was developed using research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can be contacted at www.nhtsa.dot.gov or 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236).