According to US reports, 31 children and 20 adults have perished from injuries consistent with the explosive force of airbags. There are, however, no records of such deaths occurring in the UK or mainland Europe. MIRA experts said US airbags were much larger than the majority of those fitted to European-spec cars and were almost universally used in conjunction with seatbelts.
Group leader of body engineering and safety Mike Dickson explained that US airbags were larger because they were subject to crash tests involving unrestrained dummies meaning they had to absorb the full inertial forces of the whole body.
'In the UK, we use seatbelts which can dissipate a tremendous amount of energy leaving the airbag to support just the head and upper body,' said Dickson. He stressed, however, that babies should never be placed on the front passenger seat in rear-facing child seats where cars were fitted with passenger airbags.