Air Bags and Car Seats

Frontal air bags have saved thousands of lives since they were mandated in the late 1990s. However, they are supplemental safety devices designed to be used with seat belts.

Air bags can also pose a threat to young children riding in the front seat. Studies have found that children are up to 29 percent safer in the back seat, regardless of whether the car has a passenger-side air bag. Children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat.

Vehicles with air bag ON-OFF switches should be checked before every trip to ensure the switch is in the correct position.

Safety Tips for Air Bags and Car Seats

  • A rear-facing infant should NEVER be placed in front of an active air bag. The front seat positions the child's head too close to the deploying air bag.
  • Children riding in the front seat are also at risk if they are improperly or completely unbelted, out of position, or too small for a seat belt to fit correctly. In a crash, they can easily slide forward on the seat and the inflating air bag could hit them in the head or neck.
  • The safest way for children to ride is buckled up in age and size-appropriate car or booster seats in the back seat.

For more information about air bags, visit the following websites:

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Insurance Institute For Highway Safety

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration