This April we covered the sad story of 18-month-old Yeneisy Maldonada, a toddler who was killed while sitting in her mother’s lap during a pickup truck accident in Dallas. The little girl was not properly restrained in a child safety seat and died from blunt force trauma after the truck’s airbag struck the child in the head and chest. Following the accident, the driver of the pickup truck was charged with manslaughter because the little girl was not legally restrained.
Unfortunately, the force of deploying airbags kill over 100 children each year across the United States – and thousands more are injured while traveling in the front passenger seat when airbags deploy. While some of the children killed by airbags are babies and toddlers like Yeneisy, others are teens who simply were tall enough or strong enough to sustain the damage of an airbag.
How can you prevent your child from being injured or killed in an airbag-related accident?
• Keep your kids in the back seat until they are at least 12. Most safety advocates agree that until kids are twelve, they are too light and short to sustain the damage that an airbag can do. Others even believe that you should have your kids sit in the back of the car until they are ready to start learning to drive themselves.
• Never place an infant in a rear-facing child seat in the front of your car, especially if there is a functioning airbag in the vehicle. Many of the fatalities related to airbags and kids happen in this situation.
• If your child must ride in the front seat for some reason, disable your passenger side airbag by turning the switch located near or inside of the glove box. Remember to enable to airbag again after the ride is over.
• If your passenger side airbag does not have a switch to disable it, you can have one installed by a mechanic in most cases.