State considers removing air bag requirement from vehicle safety checks

Air bags are designed to save your life, but should you be required to have them in your car?

KHON2 has learned that the Hawaii Department of Transportation is exploring the possibility of eliminating the air bag requirement from safety checks.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but the administration is currently reviewing an amendment to the Hawaii Administrative Rules.

Once the review is complete, the transportation department will conduct public hearings on the proposed changes.

You’ll have 30 days to let them know if you think it’s a good idea or not.

One Hawaii mechanic has already written to state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, D, Kalaeloa, Waianae, Makaha, saying he’s seen how dangerous airbags can be, and he doesn’t think drivers should be forced to have one if they don’t want to.

“He says there’s a requirement where he has to tell people that he must install air bags, and he’s really torn about it, because he’s seen incidents where he’s seen it’s been harmful, so he really feels he shouldn’t be forcing people to get the air bag, that it should be an option,” Shimabukuro said. “If the consumer wants one fine, but not to force them to have an air bag, so I believe that’s what DOT is now willing to consider.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, frontal air bags reduced driver fatalities by 29 percent, and fatalities of front-seat passengers by 30 percent.

However, air bags were also estimated to have caused more than 290 deaths between 1990 and 2008 in low-speed crashes.

Again, this is all still under review, and the public would be allowed to comment before any changes become permanent.

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