Driver’s side steering wheel airbags have saved many lives. However the government’s requirement of extending airbags to the front passenger’s side by 1999 in the cause of safety, has proven quite hazardous to children. Of the 23 people killed by passenger side airbags, 22 were children. The lone adult was a frail woman. For years, federal regulators and safety advocates ignored industry warnings, first predicted by General Motors in 1969, that passenger side air bags could kill kids. Now the government is in the awkward position of fumbling for ways to minimize the danger of a government required safety device that has been called a “lethal dashboard bomb.” The whole idea was to have passive restraints because the government thinks we can’t think. They want to protect us from ourselves.
However, one solution the government proposed, and is now implementing, is to keep the requirement but allow the airbag to be disconnected by the passenger. Now does that really make sense? Having the car manufactures install airbags for which they must charge us up to $700 and then allow us to deactivate them, at an additional cost of $150, is a waste of our hard earned money. But this is typical government logic. Rather than back off and say they made a mistake, they forget the original purpose was to eliminate our choice and now give us the choice to have or deactivate but not to spend the money unnecessarily.
The driver, a mature adult, needs the protection of the steering wheel airbag. But the passenger in front does not need this risk. An easy step would be to require the passenger dash to be “cushioned” to prevent hard blows to the head from impact on a metallic dash or window. That, combined with the seat belt law already in place, would not cost us hundreds of dollars unnecessarily or the lives of our women and children.