The New York Times

September 1, 2003 

Much more on airbags in: Chapter 11

Occupant protection

Chapter 12

Airbag benefits, airbag costs

Chapter 15

The dramatic failure of US safety policy


published August 2004


Make Air Bags a Choice

To the Editor:

Re "Fear of Air Bag Sends Children to Back Seat, Saving Many" (news article, Aug. 27) quotes the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board as saying, "Old air bag, new air bag, no air bag, kids are safer in the back seat properly restrained."

True. But it's equally true that adults are safer in the back seat. An adult moving from a front to a rear seat enjoys a 26 percent fatality-risk reduction, far more than the 8 percent reduction from air bags. Children are placed in rear seats to avoid being killed by air bags.

We need effective policies aimed at crash prevention, not publicity campaigns aimed at preventing children from being killed by air bags when crashes occur. This can be achieved by simply making air bags a consumer choice, rather than a government mandate.


Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Aug. 27, 2003