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Buying A SAfer CAr for Child PASSengerS 2009



ADDItIonAL sAFety FeAtuRes to ConsIDeR

  • e following safety features aren’t typically con-

sidered specic to children, but they do have an impact on children and teenagers . In researching the purchase of a new or used vehicle, it’s impor- tant to consider how these technologies may aect everyone in your family.

Active Head Restraints

  • e newest type of head restraint is an active head

restraint, which comes in a number of designs for the front seats of vehicles. Preliminary research has shown that active head restraints may help reduce whiplash. While this safety feature has no impact on children 12 and younger, who should always ride in the rear seat, active head restraints may provide additional protection to teenagers in the front seat during a rear-end crash. In such a crash, active head restraints automatically close the gap between the occupant’s head and the head restraint by moving forward and up, relative to the occu- pant’s head — and in some instances increase their height relative to the occupant’s head. (Note that active head restraints may also be height-adjusted manually.)

Frontal Air Bags

Frontal air bags deploy forcefully and rapidly, posing a danger for children under 13. erefore, NHTSA recommends that all children under 13 should always ride in the rear seat — where it’s safest for them. Vehicles with no rear seat, or a rear seat that is not appropriate for a child safety seat, may have a switch that lets the driver control the front seat passenger air bag. Refer to the “Manual Air Bag On-O Switch” section of this booklet on page 4 to learn more about these switches and how and when to use them to protect your child passengers.

Advanced Frontal Air Bags

All passenger vehicles produced aer September 1, 2006, are required to have advanced frontal air bags, which are designed to provide the life-sav- ing benets associated with air bags while reduc- ing the risk of air bag-related injuries and death to small-stature occupants . Advanced frontal air bags automatically determine if, and with what level of power, the driver frontal air bag and passenger frontal air bag will inate . e appropriate level of power is based upon sensor inputs that typically detect: (1) the size or weight of an occupant, (2) if the occupant is wearing a seat belt, (3) how far back the occupant’s seat is set, and (4) the severity of the crash .

Even in vehicles equipped with advanced frontal air bags, children under 13 should never ride in the front seat . However, parents who have teenagers 13 and older who ride in the front seat of the family vehicle should be aware of the safety advan- tages of advanced frontal air bags, particularly as teenagers tend to be of smaller stature than the average adult .

Side Impact Air Bags

Side air bag (SAB) technology has advanced rapidly over recent years and various types of SABs have emerged . SABs oer additional pro- tection to two principal areas of the body — the head and the chest — during side impact crashes . Head-protecting curtain or tubular SABs deploy overhead and downward from the roof rail . Door- mounted or seat-mounted SABs, also called torso bags, are designed to oer protection to the chest . A combination SAB, or “combo bag,” deploys from the seat back and oers protection to both the chest and head .

A Technical Working Group of experts represent- ing the automotive and insurance industries devel-

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