"Under Duress, a Safer Air Bag" (editorial, Jan. 11) asks: "And they couldn't come up with a safer air bag before now? Oh, please."
As editorials in Car & Driver magazine have pointed out many times, the U.S. government demanded that air bags be able to stop a large man who was not wearing a seat belt. The auto industry pointed out that an air bag that powerful would be hazardous to children and small people, but the government ignored those warnings. And you couldn't have known this before now? Oh, please.
JAMES ASHLEY SHEA
First we get government-mandated air bags whether we want them or not. Then, when they kill people, we are told that a "smart" air bag will not kill.
Race car drivers walk away from 200-mph crashes without the benefit of air bags. They use safety harnesses, which are essentially beefed-up lap-and-shoulder belts. In contrast, air bags have severely injured or killed people of all ages in low-speed crashes or by accidental deployment.
Something is clearly wrong when a so-called safety device is a hazard. Drivers and front-seat passengers are at risk, not just children. Even "smart" air bags can malfunction. I would rather see a kill switch or air bags made optional. Then we could decide for ourselves.