Rep. Helen Chenoweth wants a federal agency to speed its consideration of possible changes in air bag safety regulations.
On Nov. 26, 12-month-old Alexandra Greer of Boise was killed when the air bag in her mother’s car was triggered by a low-speed collision.
In testimony Thursday before a House subcommittee on transportation, Chenoweth said it was the first fatality caused by an air bag in Idaho.
In August, the American Automobile Manufacturers Association asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to write a rule to allow the power behind air bags to be cut by up to 35 percent without reducing their effectiveness.
“However it is my understanding (the agency) has not yet announced any determination on this rule request,” Chenoweth said. “I ask this committee to impress upon NHTSA the importance of this issue and the need to expeditiously consider new air bag regulations.”
Although she has no firm position on the issue, Chenoweth said Congress should study whether in certain circumstances car owners should be allowed to turn off air bags.
“I think we all recognize that traveling by automobile carries certain inherent risks. We cannot legislate away all of those risks. But we also recognize that government pressure - in the interest of public safety - played a crucial role in the development of air bags.”