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The safety benefits of air bags

Air bags are safety devices that protect the head and upper body from injury in a collision. They prevent the driver's head from hitting the steering
wheel and the front passenger's head from striking the dashboard.

While air bags save many lives each year, they do not protect in all kinds of crashes. They deploy in frontal impacts only, and not in rear end collisions, side impacts or rollovers. They may also deploy in low speed collisions
sometimes as low as 15 kilometres per hour.

Seat belts, on the other hand, protect the entire body and are effective in all types of collisions. In low and moderate speed impacts, seat belts alone provide all the protection a person really needs.

Air bags are most effective in high-speed crashes, where they are often necessary to prevent serious injury. Together, seat belts and air bags offer good protection in most collisions, as long as the passenger compartment is not extensively crushed.

Air bags can cause injuries

Air bags cushion the head as it moves forward after an impact. However, they expand with explosive speed more than 300 kilometres per hour and they open faster than the blink of an eye. As a result, a deploying air bag can cause injuries. While most of these injuries consist of minor bruises and abrasions, some can be serious or even fatal.

People who sit close to the air bag module, usually because they are short, are at the highest risk of injury. Children are also extremely vulnerable
because they are small. They should be properly belted, and those under the age of 12 should be seated in the back.

It is also very important to prevent children from sitting Or standing close to the dashboard. Never install a Rearward-facing infant restraint system in a seat Equipped with an air bag because, if the air bag deploys, the infant restraint system will be propelled into the back of the seat.

General Guidelines
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Adjust the seat belt properly. Place the lap belt as low as possible over the hips not over the abdomen. Ensure
    the shoulder belt lies on the chest and over the shoulder. Do not leave any slack in the belt.
  • Adjust the vehicle's front seats as far to the rear as possible to give the air bags as much room as possible in which to inflate.


Guidelines for Children
  • Children under the age of 12 should be seated in the back of the vehicle.
  • Make sure the infant restraint system, the child restraint system or the booster cushion is appropriate to the child's height and weight.
  • Always ensure that the restraint system is properly secured by the seat belt to the vehicle.
  • Secure the child properly in the restraint system.
  • Never install a rearward facing infant restraint system in a seat equipped with an air bag.


place the shoulder strap of a seat belt behind the child's back or under the arm.
Always ... place children in the back seat property restrained
Never place a rear-facing infant carrier in a front passenger seat equipped with an airbag.
Never allow a child to ride with a shoulder belt placed under the arm.
If you have any questions about air bags or any other issue related to motor vehicle safety, we are here to help. Please telephone Transport Canada's Road Safety Information Centre at 1-800-333-0371 (toll free in Canada). In the Ottawa region, call (613) 988-8616

Specific information about child restraint systems and how to use them properly is provided in the pamphlet "Keep Them Safe", which can be obtained by telephoning one of the above numbers.

Transport Canada
Road Safety Directorate
344 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5

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