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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!
I'm pulling my hair out a bit trying to find information on this. Up to now, my 8 year old has been in a four point harness type child seat, but now has got too big for this so is onto a booster seat (with back and sides), using the van seat belt. I have a VW 5.1 commercial van, with the back converted into living space and the two-seater bench seat plus driver's seat in the front.

I can't find any definite information anywhere on if the front passenger airbag should be on or off now. The VW manual is worse than useless- despite being titled on the front "VW commercial" all it keeps repeating is that children should be on the back seats. I have no back seats!! It is completely vague on if airbags should be on or off with forward facing child seats.

I'm concerned as it looks like now with using the van seatbelts, in the event of an accident he would be flung forward and his head could potentially hit the dashboard, as seat belts are designed to allow you to fall into the airbag. But equally, would the force of the airbag also be dangerous to a child that age?

Also, I'm not sure of the airbag deployment range- is he safer in the middle seat as the airbag seems to be more focused on the outer seat?

Would love to hear where others put their children in the front, and if you have airbags on or off.

Thank you, Claire
 

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Ex accident investigation person (me) says ‘the only reason for switching your passenger airbag off is if you have a backward facing child seat for small children.’

Outer seat facing the switched-on airbag, with booster, and seatbelt, is part of every vehicle safety system I know of. Airbags are very safe, when used properly with a seatbelt. They are inflated for less than a second. Unless you are driving an American car, because they have a constitutional right not to wear seatbelts :rolleyes:

Hope that helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Huge thanks for the reply, it's much appreciated. Do you know if airbags are as safe for children as they are for adults? I have been concerned that if they are made for the weight of an adult, they could hurt someone lighter with the force of them going off. But like you say, maybe this isn't an issue when used with a seatbelt.

The mind boggles why anyone would not want to wear a seatbelt! I had a serious car crash about 20 years ago (probably why I'm so paranoid about car accidents) and I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't worn a seatbelt.

In my hunt for information, I also rang VW who were no help either- they said that they would not risk advising me in case they gave me the wrong information. They told me to take the van to a VW service centre for someone to take a look at it- what they were going to look at I have no idea!
 

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I’m glad you found the info helpful. To answer your question, airbags are not really about weight, but about position. This means that your booster seat with back and sides, with a seatbelt, puts your child in roughly the same position re the airbag as an adult. And is therefore a very good and sensible idea. (y)

Airbags are much misunderstood. They are not giant cushions that stop you hurting yourself. They are inflated for an instant (I’ve watched one going off on a bench test, and you can barely see it inflated). They act at the critical moment of your car crumpling at the front to slow down the forward motion of your head and neck. They can, and do, cause injuries. But these are minor, such as broken nose, bruises etc. Which is way better than blunt force trauma to your head, or having your neck snapped by deceleration force.

It boggles my mind that people won’t wear seatbelts, either. Newtons Third Law applies to you whether you believe in it not, after all... The especial idiots are those who believe they are protected by airbags, so don’t wear a belt. So the bag then acts as a further injury device, by firing the side of your head into an A pillar, for example...

Anyway, that’s enough nerdy science stuff for a weeknight. Keep safe! :)
 

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Cracking info this, not really applying to me at the moment, but an interesting read all the same
Thank you
😊
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for the extra information on airbags- once again, hugely appreciated. I couldn't believe how difficult it was to find any sensible information on the internet! Obviously, the safest thing to do is to not drive or to buy a tank but failing that I do like to try and make sure I have made a decent effort for things to be as safe as possible.
I did consider fitting a crash-tested rock and roll bed but thought there was no way my son would sit happily for hours right at the back of the van on his own, and he would probably be sick everywhere too!
 

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I’m pretty sure that children under 12 years old aren’t allowed to sit on front seats unless they’re over 1.2 metres tall (4ft roughly). HTH
 

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I’m pretty sure that children under 12 years old aren’t allowed to sit on front seats unless they’re over 1.2 metres tall (4ft roughly). HTH
I'd be interested to see the information you have found to support this.

Booster seats (my tall for her age) 7yr old daughter has been in one for several years now. She has an seat with ISO fix points which we use in my wifes car for front or rear seat installation. In the van she sits in the back on the RnR bench or in the front on the double passenger seat - No ISOfix just the seatbelt. Sometimes by the window, and therefore airbag, but sometimes in the centre with no airbag...

I've always understood the need to switch off airbags for rear facing seats but that they should switched on for front facing seats. Reading the comments from ZGZ and N G Neer is comforting!

One thing I noticed with the factory twin passenger seat is that the angle of the headrests cannot be altered. As my daughters seat has the headrest area set high (she is 132cm) the OEM headrest creates a gap between the two seats at mid back level by making the child seat more upright. I don't think this is ideal and it certainly isn't comfortable. My workaround is to reverse the OEM headrest. It still provides a good amount of whiplash restraint but allows the child seat to sit at the same angle at the OEM bench seat. That might be helpful for others, if I've managed to explain it clearly... 🥴
 

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“Children in cars, vans and other goods vehicles must be carried in an appropriate child restraint from birth until either they are 135cm (4'5") tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first. There are very few exceptions. They must then use a seat belt (although it would be preferable to use a booster seat until they are 150cm (5') tall).“
This is the official blurb regarding child passengers on ROSPA
 

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“Children in cars, vans and other goods vehicles must be carried in an appropriate child restraint from birth until either they are 135cm (4'5") tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first. There are very few exceptions. They must then use a seat belt (although it would be preferable to use a booster seat until they are 150cm (5') tall).“
This is the official blurb regarding child passengers on ROSPA
Thanks for posting. I had read this text which tends to be repeated by seat manufacturers and resellers. I don't see anything relating to front seat restrictions though, which was my query from your previous post. My question was based on my belief that it isn't the case and any age or height of baby, infant or child can sit in the front so long as the correct carrier or seat is used.

Just re-reading your post I wonder now if you thought the OP was suggesting no additional seating and just allowing his 8yr to ride up front on the OEM seats?
 

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“can't find any definite information anywhere on if the front passenger airbag should be on or off now. The VW manual is worse than useless- despite being titled on the front "VW commercial" all it keeps repeating is that children should be on the back seats. I have no back seats!! It is completely vague on if airbags should be on or off with forward facing child seats.“
He says here that he doesn’t have any rear seat, that was why he wanted to know if he should turn off the airbag or not.
 
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