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The Automobile Airbag Controversy Since their invention airbags have been one of the most controversial issues in the country Airbags are designed to help prevent major injuries in car accidents by cushioning the blow delivered to the body However airbags can also cause injuries or death While the government mandates that all new cars be equipped with airbags a growing number of people are convinced that they should have the option of activating them As the number of cars equipped with airbags increases the number of deaths and injuries caused by them increases as well The government should not be allowed to mandate equipment that can cause injury or death Years ago seat belts in automobiles became mandatory to help prevent injuries in accidents The original seat belts were active restraints they required the operator to take some action in order to be restrained While education and advertising increased the use of seat belts over the years a large portion of the population was still not buckling up The governments response was legislation in 1984 that required a drivers side passive restraint device be part of every 1990 model car sold in the United States Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole is credited with sponsoring legislation that would allow passive restraints to be gradually phased in between 1984 and 1990 making the mandate more palatable to the auto manufacturers A passive restraint is one that requires no action by the operator The acceptable passive restraints were either an airbag or a motorized seat belt Although the motorized seat belt is billed as a passive device it still requires the operator to buckle the lap belt Seemingly the airbag is more passive but it is designed to supplement the seat belt so the operator is still required to buckle up The airbag is more discreet than the motorized seat belt being tucked into the steering wheel or just above the glove compartment on the passengers side Motorists
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