Something’s In the Air and It’s an Airbag Recall
Airbags are a supplemental (secondary) restraint to the vehicle seat belt. They have saved many lives and reduced many injuries in car crashes. For the most optimum protection, a seat belt must be worn. The seat belt helps spread the crash forces over a larger portion of the body and on the strongest part of the body. Plus, it helps the occupant “ride down” the crash, reducing energy absorption.
Currently, there is a huge recall on airbags. Please check this website to see if your vehicle is on the recall list. Have your VIN# ready, which is located on you insurance card and also on the driver’s side dash. You’ll have to peek through the windshield to see it. If your vehicle is on the recall list it does not necessarily mean your air bag is defective. Keep in mind; parts are just now getting into service departments so it might take a little while to get an appointment. The air bag recall is specific for driver and front passenger air bags. You can read more information here.
Meanwhile, here is some good information to know about air bags. Did you know you might have up to 10 airbags in one vehicle? They cover the front passengers, their knees, the thorax area, the pelvic area and the head. The back seat air bags cover the thorax area and the head. In some new Ford and Mercedes vehicles, optional inflatable seats belts are available for the back seat occupants. GM has a new center seat airbag on the horizon that will help protect a front seat occupant when they are hit from the far side of the vehicle.
Airbags have to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Standards and encompass an enormous amount of testing in all kinds of scenarios. Working together, auto makers go above and beyond the standards to include testing for high risk occupants. This includes occupants who are smaller, out of position, unbelted, etc. The efforts of this Technical Working Group help reduce the risk of injury. These test protocols help manufacturers develop more technology to deploy airbags at slower speeds while still protecting the occupant who is out of position. For a list of which cars have been tested according to these voluntary protocols, click and read Buying a Safer Car for Child Passengers (2010) A Guide for Parents.
Airbags and child restraints have always been a hot topic. There are no standards to test airbags with a child restraint which can often confuse parents. Keeps these tips in mind:
- Placing a rear-facing seat in front of an airbag is not advised by any manufacturer. There are numerous warnings against this practice both on the car seat and on the vehicle sun visor and in the manuals.
- Will a side curtain airbag affect a rear-facing infant seat or a convertible seat? More than likely, the side curtain airbag opens up above the positioned car seat. However, when a forward-facing car seat or booster seat is installed next to an airbag, there is no sufficient data to suggest the airbag does or does not pose any risk.
- When it comes to inflatable seat belts, most child restraint manufacturers do not allow installation of a car seat using this type of belt. While the technology is superior for protecting the back seat occupant without a car seat, not all child restraint manufacturers have crash tested with this installation. Meanwhile, Ford is organizing a plan to test more car seats, but no time frame has been set. Stay tuned for Ford’s results with Diono car seats.
- Always consult with the child restraint manufacturer about your particular seat regarding airbags and inflatable seat belts.
- To minimize injury risks, NHTSA recommends that children not lean or rest against side air bags (where the side air bag is stored). NHTSA has not seen any indication of risks to children from current roof-mounted side curtain airbags.
Most importantly, ALL children should use safety restraints appropriate for their age and size (this could be a child safety seat, a booster seat, or an adult seat belt). Children under 13 are safest sitting in the rear seat and properly restrained.
Buckle up and have a Safe Day!