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Old 11-29-2011, 09:24 AM   #1
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Child seat - don't understand why airbags are bad...

Looking into the whole airbag deactivation/child seat kit for my fresh RS60. Did some research into airbags and why they should be turned off in the first place and I'm now getting skeptical on whether or not to turn them off at a..

up - front - I'm talking about using for a 5yr old 45lb 48" child, not a rear-facing infant...

From what I can tell, the argument to turn off the airbags is that a child sitting in a child seat is closer to the airbag than they normally would be and the force of the deployment can cause injury. This due to the seat itself having a back that forces the child closer. If this is the argument - then a backless seat, or booster alone, which keeps the child back farther should negate this problem. This was first studied and concluded in the late 90's on first-gen airbags.

For the most part, child seats with backs do two things - they position the seatbelt properly, and the more bulky units provide some additional lateral support. As for positioning - this advantage really is not all that important once the kid is the right size. It is further negated in the Boxster due to the belt positioners on the seats which do a great job of positioning it about where it should be.

The other advantage of lateral support with the Porsche seat (using the back) is also somewhat non-existent - the Porsche child seat back is pretty flat. Furthermore, the seats in the Boxster actually have very good lateral support already and are relatively cupped - I think sitting in the child seat probably has less lateral support.

So both reasons to use the back of the seat instead of just using a booster don't seem to add a whole lot. Add this to the fact that with the back - the child is positioned too far forward and the airbag needs to be disabled. Add to the fact that airbags have come a long way, along with the combined belt tensioning systems

So maybe I'm missing something here, but wouldn't it be safest to use a booster only and leave the airbag activated? The NHSTA even says this now:

If a child over a year old must ride in the front seat with a passenger-side airbag, put the child in a front-facing child-safety seat, a booster seat or a properly fitted seat belt and move the seat as far back as possible.

Another set of stats:

As of October 1999, about 84 children have died as a result of serious fatal head or neck injuries caused by air bags, but most of the children were unrestrained or improperly restrained, which allowed them to move on top of, or extremely close to their air bags as they began to inflate (e.g., some had slipped the shoulder strap behind them). In addition, NHTSA reports that child air bag deaths declined 96 percent between the years 1996-2001. In 1996, 26 children were killed by air bags; in 2000 9 child deaths were due to air bags.

Also - airbag on/off switches are not even allowed after 2012 model years!

The CA DMV site says this:

Most people can take steps to eliminate or reduce air bag risk without turning off air bags. The biggest risk is being too close to the air bag. An air bag needs about 10 inches of space to inflate. Ride at least 10 inches (measured from the center of the steering wheel to your breastbone) from the air bag cover, if you can do this while maintaining full control of the vehicle. If you cannot safely sit 10 inches away from the air bag, contact your vehicle dealer or manufacturer for advice about additional ways of moving back from your air bag.

So....

If I have a properly restrained child - who wouldn't????

Who is sitting only in a booster with no back - as far back from airbag as possible... seat all the way back

With the seatbelt positioned properly - which it is....

In a seat with good lateral support and a self-tightening belt....

Seems like turning the airbag off is a gigantic waste of time, and there is as big a risk in forgetting to turn it back on? Am I just being crazy here?

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Old 11-29-2011, 09:39 AM   #2
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+1 -- I went through the same thing, did tons of research, and ultimately decided that for my 6 y/o, moving the seat all the way back with a backless booster seat is the best choice.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:42 AM   #3
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get him his own recaro...

Amazon.com: Recaro Young Sport Child Car Seat - Midnight Desert: Baby
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:57 AM   #4
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Good to hear I'm not totally in left field. Definitely like the Recaro with the exception that it would throw the kid too far forward!

Here is what I am thinking - notice the V taper of this seat... I think it would sit cradled pretty well by the sides. For $30 I am going to order it and see how it fits.

Amazon.com: Harmony Carpooler Booster Seat: Baby
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:08 PM   #5
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One major factor you've left out is that children lack the bone and muscle strength that adults have and "could" be at a greater risk of serious injury caused airbags.

I used an airbag deactivation bar when my children were smaller and my youngest is still what I consider boarder line size at ~70lbs, so I've been through the same debate with myself that you are having, and I agree it's a bit of a hassle. I'm surprised that modern Porsches don't have an automatic airbag deactivation for passengers under a specific weight like most new cars.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:15 PM   #6
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Air bags can be dangerous for everyone. If your head is in the wrong place at the wrong time you may have a problem. The is also a concern with full face helmets and air bags. You want to be well clear of it when it is deploying. It's basically like a shot gun shell going off in front of you
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:58 PM   #7
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As long as there is NO chance that the airbag comes even close to your child I'd say it is ok. As mentioned by others, airbags are very powerful..... I do not want have an airbag travelling at 200mph in my face, let alone in my kid's body.
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:19 PM   #8
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Thanks - great feedback. Another thing to consider...

Lets assume for a minute there is a head-on collision. Lets assume the deployment of the bag happens without incident. So now the bag is deployed - doesn't it provide benefit to the child? It must be safer to have a successful deployment and have an airbag than have it completely turned off?

Take it to the extreme - would it be safer to drive around with an inflated airbag all the time in front of your kid? Probably... which means it is the deployment that is the risk.

If that is the case - then it comes down to the likelihood of having a deployment that hurts a child that is properly fastened, more than 10" away, seatbelt on/etc. vs. the likelihood of the benefit of having an airbag there to cushion the collision.

Interesting how all of the statistics are back from the 90s before next gen/cold airbags were even on the market. I found this interesting quote included from the head of the campaign to get back seat riding for children:

But in 2000, fatalities declined to only nine -- even as the number of vehicles with passenger-side air bags rose to more than 80 million.

But Hurley said the drop in fatalities should not diminish the dangers of air bags for children.

"Small children are still being injured or killed because they were seated on the lap of an adult unrestrained in the front seat," he said. "So while the campaign has been successful, our work is not done."


Interesting stats here: http://www.carseatsite.com/statistics.htm. Some noteworthy...

Booster seats reduce injury to 4-8 year olds by 59%. (So boosters are a key...)

Booster seat use among 4-8 year olds increased from 4% in 1999 to 27% in 2004 (and no one was using boosters really pre-2000!)...

Therefore they were not properly restrained...

More interesting info here: http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/airbags.html. Including this comment:

"Occasionally, the energy required to quickly inflate airbags can cause injury. This used to be a serious concern with frontal airbags, but, thanks to new government requirements, airbag injuries are becoming a thing of the past. Fortunately, even with older airbags, most of the injuries that occur are minor scrapes and abrasions, and serious injuries and deaths are relatively rare.

NHTSA estimates that during 1990-2008, more than 290 deaths were caused by frontal airbag inflation in low-speed crashes. Nearly 90 percent of the deaths occurred in vehicles manufactured before 1998, and approximately 68 percent were passengers. More than 90 percent of the passenger deaths were children and infants, most of whom were unbelted or in rear-facing child safety seats that placed their heads close to the deploying airbag. More than 80 percent of people killed were unbelted or improperly restrained.1

Unbelted occupants are likely to move forward if, for example, there is hard braking or swerving before a frontal crash. These occupants can end up on top of, or extremely close to, the airbags as they begin to inflate. Short and elderly drivers can be vulnerable to inflation injuries from frontal airbags because they tend to sit close to the steering wheel.

Side airbags also have the potential to cause injury. However, side airbags typically are smaller and deploy with less energy than frontal airbags.

Three people were seriously injured by inflating side airbags during 1995-2008, according to NHTSA's Special Crash Investigations. No children are known to have been seriously or fatally injured by a side airbag.

A recent field study of children in side crashes found no increased risk of injury to children age 15 and younger associated with side airbag deployment. This study did not assess the effects separately for head and torso airbags."


Another data point on side airbags:

As of 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated over 1,500 crashes where SABs deployed. Sixty of the crashes involved children (ages 13 and under). NHTSA has reported only one child who has been injured by a side airbag; a 3-year old sitting unrestrained in the front seat (of course you wouldn't let your 3-yr-old ride in the front seat, let alone unrestrained!) who sustained minor facial skin lacerations from the side airbag cover. No children are known to have been seriously or fatally injured by a side airbag. A recent study of children in side-impact crashes found no increased risk of injury to children age 15 and younger associated with side airbag deployment. NHTSA continues to closely monitor real-world SAB deployments involving both children and adults.

Last edited by Daylorb; 11-29-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:05 PM   #9
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So and now imagine that you left your airbag on, pushed the seat all the way back, you get in an accident and your kid gets hurt.
You will wonder for the rest of your life if you simply shouldn't have deactivated the airbag.
It's just too much risk ...
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:03 AM   #10
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Don't forget about the side airbags.
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:53 AM   #11
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On side airbags:

As of 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated over 1,500 crashes where SABs deployed. Sixty of the crashes involved children (ages 13 and under). NHTSA has reported only one child who has been injured by a side airbag; a 3-year old sitting unrestrained in the front seat (of course you wouldn't let your 3-yr-old ride in the front seat, let alone unrestrained!) who sustained minor facial skin lacerations from the side airbag cover. No children are known to have been seriously or fatally injured by a side airbag. A recent study of children in side-impact crashes found no increased risk of injury to children age 15 and younger associated with side airbag deployment. NHTSA continues to closely monitor real-world SAB deployments involving both children and adults.

As for the regret issue, I hear you, however I've always been more likely not to just follow directions to have a clean conscience, but to look into the core of the issue. I started looking into this because I was surprised to hear that airbags couldn't help in accident (which btw in many cases they have...)

My initial findings were that most of the fear quoted was from a study done 13 years ago, and another even before that.

One is here: www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/womens/chap29.pdf. You will notice in here that the study admits "the vast majority of injuries have been minor..." and that "success stories where airbags saved lives were not included..." If you read the study in depth, you will see in this particular study that majority of problems were from rear-facing carseats. Virtually all crashes were in early-mid 90's cars as well.

This is what started to bother me - I can't find any study out there that has been done recently on the newer airbags and the tidbits I have found show that there has not been an issue - and no study period weighs in the positives. Even if 20 kids who were not seatbelted got injured in a year, how many (20 or more?) who were seatbelted were saved?

Everything I can find quotes over a decade old government study with a very small dataset and only looks at the negatives - not exactly the right approach IMHO.

But it is the government - they have to be right.... right?
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:01 AM   #12
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amen to that
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:26 AM   #13
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amen to that
That's a proud new papa! Congratulations!
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:41 AM   #14
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That's a proud new papa! Congratulations!
thx amigo!

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