The Danger Of Air Bags And The — страница 2

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automobile crashes taking place at speeds as low as nine miles per hour, and in these cases the air bag causes up to five times more injury then the crash would have without air bag deployment. The risk of the unjustified deployment of an air bag has remained the same, near 8 percent; although the number of air bag equipped vehicles over the same time period has multiplied by a factor of five since the first commercial trials of air bags in 1977. This is an extremely good track record, but the room for improvement is still ever-present. (www.highwaysafety.org/safety_facts/airbags) Overview of Public Concern With the mass media surrounding automobile safety and air bag reform, this is an issue that has taken to the forefront, and therefore warranting legislation. The bulk of this

legislation is written in accordance with or is suggested by the NHTSA. Although in the large picture this practice of air bag usage is extremely successful based upon percentages, it is a constant worry among driving Americans. Based on a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1996, 72 percent of the public would prefer their next vehicle have an air bag protection system, but 62 percent of all surveyed Americans had safety concerns about air bags. The majority, 58 percent of this concern lay with the protection of their children, the highest risk group of air bag deaths in America. (Boyle; Sharp) To put this in prospective, when a large group of Americans were surveyed and asked the question “Based on what you know or have heard, how likely is it that a(n)

[adult/small child] sitting in the front seat would be injured be an air bag when it opens normally?” The results of this question produced a 54 percent return saying that it is very likely that a child would be injured. (Boyle; Sharp) Needless to say, a substantial portion of the public is concerned about the safety of their children when an air bag deploys. The national government along with automobile manufacturers have spent millions dollars in finding an answer to these concerns, and they think they may have found a couple of options Options for reduced-risk in air bag equipped vehicles There are four major types of action that can take place in order to reduce air bag injury/fatality risk: 1) Deactivation of Air Bag systems using an on/off switch mechanism, 2) Proper use

of other restraining systems such as seat belts and car seats, 3) De-powering of air bag systems to reduce amount of deployment force, 4) Development and production of an advanced air bag system. I will individually address each of these three options individually. On/Off Switch One of the hottest, most controversial issues in today’s news is the installation of an On/Off switch mechanism in new vehicles to disable air bag systems. This has been a public concern since the NHTSA first mandated that air bag restraint systems be placed in new vehicles, and with the total number of deaths increasing year by year, this is an option that many Americans have considered and carried-through. The basis for this theory is that Americans should be able to choose whether they desire the

protection of an air bag or not, especially if they are in a vehicle type with no back seat and children must ride in the front. This has become a standard feature on most vehicles that have no back seat such as standard trucks and sports cars, but in order to install such a mechanism in a vehicle with a back seat, you must obtain a permit that states you fully understand the risk of the deactivation. (www.highwaysafety.org/safety_facts/airbags/stats.html). This option has proven to be hassle some and not to mention costly, and is a practice that most manufacturers and government officials are adamantly opposed to. Despite lengthy reading and forms to acquire permission to get an on/off switch and the expense and hassle of having one put in a vehicle, the NHTSA has (as of 8/1/99)

66,805 on record of gaining permission and having a manufacturer’s switch installed. This is an option, but it also disables the ability of the air bag to protect you in a collision, so it shows itself to be an ineffective way of saving lives in the long-term picture. (St. Edmunds; Eisentein) Proper use of other passive restraints such as seat belts and car seats When airbags were being designed in the late 1970’s through the early 1980’s, one major stumbling block for engineers was that they were instructed to design a system that would protect passengers and drivers under the assumption that they were not wearing a safety belt. This sounds like a good theory, but in reality it makes the process of saving the lives of passengers much more difficult to accomplish. The