A Florida congressman will introduce legislation this week to permit automakers to install cut-off switches for air bags in vehicles on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allows cut-off switches for the passenger-side air bag in new vehicles without back seats that are coming off the assembly line.
However, NHTSA has received more than 1,000 letters from frightened consumers who wanted to disconnect air bags immediately in older vehicles or those with back seats that are already on the road.
The agency issued a written proposal last month to allow mechanics to disconnect air bags for consumers, and President Clinton has endorsed it. It is now illegal for anyone other than the car’s owner to disable an air bag, and few people know how to do it safely.
Air bags have saved more than 1,600 lives, but also have been blamed for the deaths of 36 children and 20 adults.
“Small children, the elderly, or petite individuals may be at risk.
” So let’s give consumers the option to protect themselves and their passengers by allowing them to turn off their air bag if necessary,” said Rep. Dan Miller, R-Fla., who plans to introduce his bill this week.
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