Competitive Enterprise Institute | 1899 L ST NW Floor 12, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: 202-331-1010 | Fax: 202-331-0640
As the public comment period on NHTSA's air bag proposals came to a close today, the Competitive Enterprise Institute called on the agency to recognize its lethal incompetence in safety issues and to give consumers and car companies the maximum degree of flexibility in air bag design and choice.
"From air bags to fuel economy standards to ignition interlocks to truck antilock brakes, NHTSA has demonstrated that it is an agency out of control. First it grabs at new technologies like a baby in a toy store, then it runs for cover when the alarm bells go off. Until NHTSA demonstrates that it can take responsibility for its mistakes, it has no business involving itself in the life-and-death issues of auto safety," CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman stated.
In its comments, CEI called on NHTSA to remove all federal restrictions on air bag deactivation and on air bag deployment levels -- actions which NHTSA is empowered to take even under the congressional air bag mandate. CEI argued that individual car companies should be free to build air bag systems to their own best judgment, and that consumers should be free to pick the systems they prefer. At most, NHTSA should set criteria which would minimize air-bag inflicted injuries, while giving carmakers the option of offering more powerful air bags to consumers desiring such devices.
CEI pointed to a series of events which demonstrated NHTSA's lack of competence and accountability on safety issues:
"Any car company that had this sort of history would have been driven out of business long ago. But because NHTSA is a federal agency, it walks ago from these disasters scot-free," Kazman added.
For more information, contact Greg Smith at (202) 331-1010 or gsmith@CEI.org .