How Airbags Went From Controversial to Commonplace

This article describes the paradigm shift in the field of automobile manufacturing regarding the inclusion of airbags as standard in new vehicles. This trend began with frontal airbags, which became standard in the late 1990s, and has now extended into head-protecting side airbags that come in 70 percent of new cars. Originally, however, the general view of frontal airbags, far from being a supplementary protection to seat belts, was that of an alternative to those who did not use seat belts. Contemporary drivers now have an 80 percent seat belt usage rate, with frontal airbags having been standard since 1990. In order to require the use of seat belts, Congress initially compelled auto manufacturers to install interlocks to lock the ignition from starting without the belt being buckled; however, this law was soon repealed due to the overwhelmingly negative response.


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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01042997
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 23 2007 1:32PM