Statement Regarding the Air Bag Roundtable of Monday, Jan. 6, 1997 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
January 6, 1997
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 6, 1997
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that a public meeting will be held on Feb. 11 and 12 to discuss criteria for designing advanced air bag systems and the procedures that should be used for testing them.
The announcement of the public meeting was one of the developments arising from a gathering of about 40 advocates and experts on Monday, Jan. 6, to discuss measures that should be taken to make air bags safer for children and small-statured adults.
Monday's roundtable, hosted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, was suggested in December by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Frank Wolf of Virginia as part of NHTSA s ongoing efforts to focus the resources of diverse groups on the common goal of enhancing traffic safety.
The roundtable was attended by representatives from NHTSA, NTSB, Chairman Wolf s office and the committee, domestic and foreign automakers, law enforcement officials, medical organizations, safety advocacy groups, highway administrators, vehicle dealers, insurance companies, and other safety officials.
Most of the discussion was devoted to identifying the barriers to air bag safety and greater seat belt use, and setting an agenda for action that can be implemented by existing safety coalition efforts.
The group created a list of actions that should be taken to improve public education about seat belt use, the proper use of child restraints, risks and costs associated with crashes, and correcting misconceptions about seat belts and air bags.
The attendees also agreed that it was important to pursue model seat belt use and child restraint laws, and mount a concerted campaign to encourage states to adopt primary restraint laws.
Funding, training of law enforcement officers, media and political support, and the early involvement of law enforcement officials were among the priorities identified to improve enforcement of seat belt laws, the group agreed.
The group also discussed advanced air bag systems. Automaker representatives present encouraged NHTSA, as the air bag rulemaking authority, to continue its policy of setting performance standards when considering new rules governing advanced air bags. They also called for well-defined performance criteria and testing.
NHTSA Administrator Dr. Ricardo Martinez announced that NHTSA would host the two-day public meeting to focus on such criteria. He said it was the agency s intent to move as quickly as possible after the February meeting to develop new rules on advanced air bag systems.
The Air Bag Safety Campaign also will host a follow-up meeting, this one to discuss the educational, legislative and enforcement priorities. That meeting will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 30 at the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers in Arlington, Va.
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