In 1996, the National Transportation Safety Board said that air bags were not safe for children. Air bags could even kill or hurt them.
The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) agreed. They advised that all children under the age of 12 should always ride in the back seat, away from air bags.
The National Automotive Occupant Protection Campaign urges anyone who is five feet or shorter to sit buckled in the rear seat.
For more information on air bags, see the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Governor's Traffic Safety Committee's website.