November 18, 1997
Consumer Group Asks FederalAgency to Require Auto Manufacturers to Disclose CrucialInformation about Air Bags
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public Citizen today petitioned theDepartment of Transportation to require automobile makers todisclose crucial information about the design and performance ofair bags so that consumers can make informed decisions aboutwhether to install on/off switches.
“The decision announced today by the Department ofTransportation, while not perfect, allows owners of cars withflawed air bags to protect those who might be at risk because ofcertain physical factors beyond their control,” said PublicCitizen President Joan Claybrook. “If it saves a singlelife, then it is a good decision.”
Claybrook said, however, that the National Highway TrafficSafety Administration, an arm of the DOT, should requireautomakers to divulge important information about air bag safety,including the inflation rate, the threshold for inflation,whether it deploys at the same rate in all crashes, and whetherit deploys vertically or horizontally. Public Citizen’spetition asks that these facts and others be provided toconsumers when they are deciding whether to purchase a vehicle.
“Unfortunately, most people are not equipped with theknowledge or the information they need to make an informeddecision, a decision that could one day mean the differencebetween life and death for themselves or a loved one,”Claybrook said.
“The bottom line is, some air bag designs have neverharmed anyone. It would be a tragedy for someone with a perfectlysafe air bag to turn it off only to need it in a crash later on.This type of tragedy can be prevented, but only by givingconsumers the tools they need to make the right choice.”