NHTSA Plans to Allow On-Off Airbag Switch for the Next Three Years image

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to allow dealers to retrofit cars with on-off air bag switches in the next three years for some at-risk owners.

In 1997 the NHTSA allowed dealers to install retrofit on-off switches for frontal air bags in cars, if they also had permission from the agency. This regulation is to expire this August. Now NHTSA tries to extend the period over the next three years, saying that some disabled individuals may still need an air bag deactivated.

“There may still be a need for deactivation of air bags (via a switch or permanent deactivation) beyond September 1, 2012, for at-risk individuals who cannot be accommodated through the advanced air bag technology. Therefore, the agency has decided that it may be appropriate to propose extending the on-off switch provisions … for some risk groups despite the presence of advanced air bag technology”, said NHTSA.

Back in the 1990s air bags helped reduced significantly the number of fatalities but also caused a series of troubling deaths due to the fact that occupants sat to close or made contact with the air bag when it started to deploy, or due to the aggressive design of some air bags.