National Poll on Air Bags Shows Need for Change

National Poll on Air Bags Shows Need for Change

Americans Want Choice on Air Bags by Nearly 3-1, Poll Finds
March 27, 1997

WASHINGTON, DC March 28, 1997 — By a ratio of nearly 3 to 1, the public favors giving people the choice of purchasing a new car with or without an air bag, according to a new national poll to be released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute on whether the federal air bag mandate should remain in force.

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman criticized the current government focus on microtuning the air bag mandate. "This poll demonstrates that the public is way ahead of Congress in realizing what's right and what's wrong. Given the risks they pose to children and other vulnerable groups, air bags should be a matter of personal choice. Whether or not air bags are depowered or can be deactivated, the fundamental issue remains—they should not be mandated."

Based on a sampling of 1,000 registered voters, the results were as follows:

l 72% AGREED—PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE THE CHOICE TO PURCHASE NEW CARS WITH OR WITHOUT AIR BAGS

l 25% AGREED—THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD CONTINUE TO REQUIRE FRONT SEAT AIR BAGS IN NEW CARS

The survey was conducted by the polling company. Its margin of error was + 3.1%

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, recently decided to allow carmakers to depower air bags, and is currently considering whether to allow widespread deactivation.

On March 10, CEI released a study by noted philosopher Loren Lomasky on the ethics of the air bag mandate. Entitled Sudden Impact: The Collision Between The Air Bag Mandate And Ethics, the study concludes that the government's imposition of the air bag's risks on children, women, and other vulnerable groups cannot be justified by the safety benefits that it offers to society overall. The study attacks the "women and children last" approach of the mandate, and argues that "balancing life against life is odious."

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to free markets and limited government. For more information, please call Greg Smith at (202) 331-1010 or gsmith@CEI.org.