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Discussion Starter #1
If the Elise does not come with an airbag switch for the passenger side, what is a safe age for a kid? I guess the answer is subjective based on your views. I have a newborn so this won't be an issue for awhile.
 

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Curious, why would a front facing kid be less safe than an adult because of the existence of the air bag?
 

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Because of the force of the airbag on a small person... You are supposed to move the seat as far back as possible, but as I understand you can't adjust the passenger seat....

It seems that you are OK if your kid is above age 9:


Airbags Hurt Young Kids But Protect Older Children, New Study Finds

For immediate release: Monday, October 30, 2000


BOSTON, MA--It has become widely accepted that airbags are dangerous to young children sitting in the front seat of a motor vehicle. A new study by scientists at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis finds airbags actually reduce the risk of fatality for children aged 9-12.

Across the entire age range from 0 to 12, authors Roberta Glass, Maria Segui-Gomez, and John D. Graham, director of the Center, found:

A child seated in the front seat of a vehicle with an airbag and restrained by a seat belt is 31 percent more likely to be killed in a crash than if they are restrained but there is no air bag present.
If the child is not restrained, the risk of death is 84% higher in the front seat when exposed to an airbag.
But the study finds that for the subgroup of restrained children aged 9-12, the risk of being killed is 39% lower if the child is seated in the front and has an airbag compared with seat belt use only. In other words, airbags are protective for restrained children in this age group.
Senior author Graham comments that these findings, based on 16,177 children involved in fatal crashes in the U.S. from 1989 to 1998 (model years 1990-1999), "pose a challenge to airbag suppliers and vehicle manufacturers, who are devising advanced airbag systems that will not deploy if a child is seated in the front-passenger seat. It may be difficult to design systems that can accurately distinguish children who would benefit from airbag deployment from those who would be harmed."

The findings suggest that industry and government should continue to promote rear-seating for children ages 0 to 9. For the entire age range from infant through age 12, rear seating reduced fatality risk by 21% for those wearing seat belts and 29% for those that were unrestrained. The study shows that seating 9-12 year-olds in the rear offers roughly the same protection as seating them in front of an airbag, assuming seat belt use.

Most of the data in the study deal with so-called 'first generation' airbags installed in vehicles sold before 1997. There are approximately 50 million such vehicles on the road. But the work was able to factor out and analyze model years 1998 and 1999, when more sophisticated 'second generation' or 'depowered' airbags were in use. These devices are designed to go off with less power, producing less risk.

The authors found that depowered airbags have a lower risk of causing fatality. Depowered airbags are 10% less likely than first generation airbags to cause fatality for children through age 12 for model year 1998, and 50% less risky for that age group for model year 1999. The findings for these two model years, however, are based on limited data and have wide confidence intervals.

One of the study limitations is the lack of information in crash data systems about a child's height or weight. The study used age of child instead of height or weight because only age is recorded in the federal government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Another study limitation is the lack of information in the FARS database on whether restraints were properly used at the time of the crash.

The study was published in the most recent issue of Risk Analysis, an international, peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the Society for Risk Analysis, a professional organization of 2,500 engineers and scientists.
 

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As long as the child is tall enough to wear the seatbelt properly it should be no problem at all. ( I'll not even contemplate the idea of driving the car without wearing seatbelts... :( )

Here in europe the minimum age for front seat passengers is 12 in most countries or ar least 1.50m (5ft I guess)

Bye, Arno.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Any chance we could cause enough rumble that Lotus will consider adding an airbag switch?
 

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Interesting/good info.

I knew about the increased danger of airbags to smaller people in general, because they sat closer to the bag, but the Elise using a fixed seat would not have this problem.

Still surprising to me that an 8 year old child has more potential to be harmed by the air bag, than helped.
 

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I agree... my younger daughter is 8 and I still would rather have an airbag than not.. I do drive a little more carefully with her in the car though:)
 

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Randy, an airbag can throw a young child's head back so violently that it causes brain trauma. Like a Joe Frazier left hook from a big glove. That is the issue with young kids.
 

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Petear said:
Randy, an airbag can throw a young child's head back so violently that it causes brain trauma. Like a Joe Frazier left hook from a big glove. That is the issue with young kids.
I assume that is due to the height of the child. Is that correct? Where on an adult, the bag would hit them primarily in the chest, but a child would take it in the head?

Also, I suppose a child's upper torso may not be as well restraind by a 3-point harness because of their height and narrow torso. The 3-point harness may act more like a lap belt for them (my speculation).

I would think, though, that with the Elise passenger seat being as far back as it is, with the degree of recline it has and the fact that it can't be adjusted in any way, might make it reasonably safe. But, the argument is probably moot...who would take the chance with their child's life?
 

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I believe it is not only an issue of the child's height, but their degree of development. Their bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles are not as developed (and not as strong) as an adult's. There has been at least one case of a child (I can't remember the age) being decapitated by a 1st generation airbag. However this may have been an infant in a rear-facing car seat; a definite no-no.

Aftermarket airbag on-off switches can be installed if you have younger children. My son will be 9 by the time I get my Elise and I plan on letting him ride in it. He would never forgive me if I didn't.:)
 

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Good information. We should look to creating a FAQ on how to install, or have installed, the airbag disable switch.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
OK, so at what age would you let your child sit in the Elise if it had a airbag switch.
 

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Hmmmm, excellent question for which there is no good answer. I suppose it would depend on how much you like that child. (Sorry, just kidding.) I guess any child who can use a forward facing car seat or a booster would be able to ride with you. It would probably be less safe the younger the age. Also, the Elise is inherently somewhat less safe than most other cars on the road if someone runs into you.

On the other hand, I took my 7-year-old for rides in my 1971 Spitfire.

In other words, I don't know.:confused:
 
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