Less powerful air bags are reducing passenger deaths

Tuesday, October 26th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Safety regulators say the air bags in most new vehicles are much less powerful than the old kind -- and that's saving lives.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the redesigned air bags, which were tested by the agency, pose less
risk of death or serious injury. And the agency says real-world crash data confirms the design changes are leading to fewer deaths.

Starting in 1998, many automakers began installing air bags with at least 20 percent less force. And nearly half of the newer vehicles have driver air bags that are more recessed into the steering wheel so that they inflate farther away from the driver.

The change was in response to a public outcry over deaths in low-speed crashes blamed on the impact of air bags against the humans they were designed to protect.