Almost all cars are now equipped with smart air bags. These sensors measure the weight of the person in the front passenger seat. Depending on the weight of the person or object in that seat, the air bag may or may not deploy. With this light, there is nothing you need to do. If there is a small child in the front seat, the smart bag knows it. If the weight in the front seat does not meet a certain criteria established by the manufacturer, the smart air bag light will come on to let you know that the airbag is off on the passenger side.

The reason the airbag doesn’t deploy with a child in the front passenger seat is because the car industry has learned that small children do not withstand the explosion of an airbag as well as an adult.

The inside of an airbag contains a substance similar to gunpowder. When triggered, the “gunpowder” explodes the bag out of the dash at an extremely high rate of speed. The air inside that bag immediately deflates, but is present for just long enough to provide a cushion to the blow of an impact.

Typically, the occupant of the seat moves forward while the bag deploys rearward so a collision takes place between the bag and the occupant. Because the airbag deploys at such a high rate of speed, a child’s body simply cannot withstand that kind of force. Injury or death can occur as a result. After learning this, car manufacturers introduced smart bags—which was quite a “smart” thing to do.

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