An eight year old girl was killed when the front passenger airbag of the vehicle she was travelling in deployed, throwing her to the back of the car. The child was seated at the front seat and was unbelted. She was also said to be resting her head on the dashboard, reports Berita Harian.
Based on the picture taken by Berita Harian, the child was travelling in what appears to be a Hyundai Matrix.
Both the car’s front airbags were deployed after it hit a speed bump in a rather severe manner. It was not involved in a collision with any other vehicle.
According to Berita Harian’s report, the victim was travelling in the car driven by her brother, who stomped on the brakes after the vehicle had hit a speed bump.
The victim, who was resting her head on the dashboard shortly before the impact, was then thrown to the back of the car by the force of the airbag’s deployment.
She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
How come the airbag deployed if the car was not involved in an accident?
The situation is rare but not entirely impossible. If you look at the owner’s manual of most cars, you will notice that there is a warning against accidental airbag deployment if the vehicle’s underside is subjected to a severe impact.
Basic precautions when driving an airbag-equipped vehicle
Airbags deploy at speeds of up to 320 km/h, powerful enough to crack the vehicle’s front windscreen. The force is enough to decapitate an infant. Airbags are not to be taken lightly. Airbags can save lives, but only when they are used properly.
- Ensure all occupants are belted, both front and rear occupants. As mentioned above, the speed of which an airbag deploy can kill an unbelted occupant.
- Never put any objects on the vehicle’s dashboard. In the event of a collision, all these objects will fly off the dashboard and can become deadly projectiles, especially when an airbag deploys.
- Always use a child seat. Infants should always be placed in the rear seat. If a child seat has to be placed in front, make sure the front passenger's airbags are deactivated (possible in some cars).
- Never rest your head close to areas where airbags will deploy (front airbags – dashboard, side or curtain airbags – side windows).
- On vehicles equipped with side or curtain airbags, avoid using coat hangers when the vehicle is in motion. The sharp edges of a coat hanger can seriously injure an occupant when a curtain or side airbag deploys.
Below are some examples of typical airbag safety related warnings that can be found on most owner's manuals.