At Roseville Toyota, many of our team members are parents—so we get it. You spend your life worrying about your child. You worry about how they’ll navigate the first day of second grade or if that kid who likes to eat spiders ever washes his hands. Your life is a crazy quilt of worries, and the last thing you should have to worry about is a safety device injuring your child. But that’s what can happen if you don’t make sure your kids ride in the back seat. This guide from Roseville Toyota explains why young children should not ride in the front seat.
Air bags 101
For years the only safety measure in a car was the seat belt. Then, in the late 1980s the airbag came along. Since 1998, all new cars are required to have both driver and passenger side airbags and they’ve saved a lot of lives. But, these life-saving devices also pose a serious threat to children riding in the front seat.
Sensors trigger the ignition of a solid propellant (just like a rocket booster, seriously), which burns very quickly and creates an enormous volume of gas that causes the airbag to burst out of its compartment. In a frontal collision they fully inflate in about 60 milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye. Airbags deploy at speeds up to 200 mph. That’s a lot of energy. Think of something flying at you at 200 miles an hour. It’s a little scary. And if you’re too close to the bag when it deploys, it can be deadly.
The danger zone
Anyone in the passenger seat should make sure they stay out of the danger zone, at least 10 or 12 inches away from the dash. It might seem like you have oodles of space in the passenger seat, but it’s easy, especially if the seat isn’t back as far as it can go, to eat up that safety zone between passenger and airbag.
Children are wigglers by nature. Even if they’re properly restrained with a seat belt (and they better be!), they still tend to sit forward in their seats. Their legs are too short, so in order to keep their knees at the edge of the seat, they move forward into unsafe territory.
Infants in backward-facing child seats are at the greatest risk. Their heads are far too close to the explosive airbag–not recommended.
Take a back seat
- A few basic rules of the road will help protect your children during an accident. Tell your kids the backseat is where the action is. It’s like you’re their chauffeur. And, let’s face it, between soccer practice, recitals and school, you are. Home, Jeeves!
- Infants should always ride in the back seat.
- The safest position is in a backward facing car seat in the back.
- Your child should always ride in an appropriate safety seat
- Make sure the safety seat is harnessed securely
- If your child is under 4′ 9”, they need to use a booster seat
- Children under 12 should always ride in the back. The irony being, once they’re teenagers, they’ll want to ride in the back anyway in order to avoid “being seen with you.”
As kids, we’ve all called “shotgun” and reveled in the thrill of being able to sit in the front with the driver. If your older child must ride in the front seat follow these rules to keep them as safe as possible.
- Put the seat as far back as possible
- Make sure they’re sitting back in the seat
- Double check to ensure they’re wearing a seat belt with a shoulder strap that’s properly adjusted
The safest place for your child, though, is always the back seat. It’s worth a few pouty faces to make sure they get where they’re going safely. And, don’t forget to buckle up! For more information about Toyota’s safety innovations, contact us at Roseville Toyota today.