FOR RELEASE OCTOBER 21, 1996:
TALLAHASSEE - The tragic death of an infant in Pompano Beach on October 15th has prompted the Florida Highway Patrol to issue a strong warning to parents concerning the dangers associated with children and airbags.
7-week-old Jasmine Brown was tightly strapped into the front passenger seat of a Dodge van when it struck another car broadside in a Pompano Beach intersection last week. Pompano Beach police estimate the van was only traveling 25 miles per hour at impact, which was enough speed to cause the van's airbag to deploy. Police and paramedics at the scene of the crash say the airbag caused the child's death because the baby was facing backward in a child restraint seat that was secured to the front seat of the van.
In light of this death, along with others around the nation caused under similar circumstances, FHP has issued the following warning to parents who drive an airbag-equipped vehicle:
Never put a rear-facing infant restraint in the front seat of a vehicle with a front passenger airbag. The back of a rear-facing infant restraint rests too closely to the airbag module. A deploying airbag could cause serious or fatal injury to the infant. Some vehicles with a front passenger airbag and no rear seat may have a switch allowing parents to temporarily disconnect the airbag, when a rear-facing child restraint is being used.
Children younger than 12 years should ride properly restrained in the back seat whenever possible.
If a forward-facing child restraint must be used in a seat with a front passenger airbag, always move the vehicle seat as far back as possible.
If older children must ride in the front seat, make sure they are always properly belted and the seat is moved back as far as possible. Airbags must deploy at very high speeds so they are fully inflated before the occupant hits the car's interior. Due to the considerable force with which an airbag deploys, close or direct contact with the airbag or its module may cause serious or fatal injuries. Occupants not wearing safety belts (children or adults) can be thrown against the airbag module during pre-crash braking. Keep as much distance between yourself and the airbag as is practical to operate the vehicle.
Parents with questions or concerns about safety belts, airbags, or other traffic safety issues are urged to call their local FHP station and ask to speak to the public information officer.