Height Requirement For Children To Ride In Front Of An Airbag

The limit of 12 years was selected because the average 12 year old has typically attained the height and weight of a small female (about 5′ and 100 pounds) and has a tolerance to injury that is generally greater than that of younger children. He or she can fit better in the seat and obtain correct belt fit. By correct belt fit meaning that the shoulder belt passes over the centre of the clavicle (shoulder) and across the centre of the chest bone or sternum. In smaller children the shoulder belt will frequently rub against the neck or slip off the shoulder resulting in inadequate restraint of the upper body. The lap portion of the belt must lie low across the hip bones and not up into the soft region of the abdomen.

The serious airbag injuries and airbag fatalities that Transport Canada have investigated thus far have essentially all been due to children who were not correctly restrained. The most common error has been the placement of the belt behind the back where in the event of a crash involving airbag deployment there is nothing to restrain the upper body and prevent the head and neck from coming into contact with the airbag.

Children do come in all sizes and parents often may not always be able to place everyone in the rear seat. To determine who should sit in the front seat, Transport Canada recommends selecting the tallest child who fits the seat and seat belt the best (as described above) and who can understand and respect the rules that come with sitting in the front seat. These include:

1. Always wear the belt correctly even for short trips to the corner store.
2. Never place feet on the dash.
3. Do not lean against the door as the belt will not fit as well and some vehicles may be equipped with side airbags.
4. Sit up straight (no slouching) and no fooling around with the radio controls etc.

For more information on Child Road Safety please see Transport Canada’s website: www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/

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