Dole, Claybrook Honored for Roles in Air Bag Implementation

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a national coalition of consumer, health, safety, and insurance groups, today presented its first Lifetime Achievement Awards to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook in recognition of their "significant contributions to advancing air bag technology."

Today, frontal airbags are standard equipment on all passenger vehicles, and U.S. government figures credit airbags with saving more than 25,000 lives over the past two decades. In addition, side head air bags are saving additional lives and will shortly become standard equipment on most passenger vehicles, AHAS says.

Claybrook was the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1977-81 and oversaw the issuance of the first rule requiring automatic occupant protection, including air bags. Although that rule was later rejected, it served as the basis for Rule 208, which Dole espoused during her tenure as U.S. Transportation Secretary from 1983-87.

"When we enacted Rule 208, our goal was simple: to save as many lives as possible as quickly as possible," said Dole upon receiving the award. "This action totally changed the climate for automotive safety in America, and the statistics prove that the rule worked just as designed."

Because of the lifesaving benefits of air bags, in 1991 Congress enacted legislation with bipartisan support requiring automakers to install frontal air bags in all vehicles as standard equipment. Advances and new applications of air bag technology have resulted in their use for side impact protection that further increases the number of lives saved and traumatic injuries prevented.

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