Skip to Content


Results of the Survey on the Use of Passenger Air Bag On-Off Switches; Technical Report

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation.


Request for comments on technical report.


This notice announces NHTSA's publication of a technical report describing the use of passenger air bag on-off switches in pickup trucks. The report's title is Results of the Survey on the Use of Passenger Air Bag On-Off Switches.


Comments must be received no later than June 4, 2004.


Report: The report is available on the Internet for viewing on line in HTML format at​cars/​rules/​regrev/​Evaluate/​AirBagOnOffSurvey/​index.html and in PDF format at​cars/​rules/​regrev/​Evaluate/​AirBagOnOffSurvey/​images/​809 689.pdf. You may also obtain a copy of the report free of charge by sending a self-addressed mailing label to Christina Morgan (NPO-321), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590.

Comments: You may submit comments [identified by DOT DMS Docket Number NHTSA-2004-16996] by any of the following methods:

  • Web site: Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the DOT electronic docket site.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Nassif Building, Room PL-401, Washington, DC 20590-001.
  • Hand Delivery: Room PL-401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

You may call Docket Management at 202-366-9324 and visit the Docket from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Start Further Info


Christina Morgan, Evaluation Division, NPO-321, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Budget, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room 5208, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: 202-366-2562. Fax: 202-366-2559. E-mail:

For information about NHTSA's evaluations of the effectiveness of existing regulations and programs: Visit the NHTSA Web site at and click “Regulations & Standards” underneath “Car Safety” on the home page; then click “Regulatory Evaluation” on the “Regulations & Standards” page.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information


The technical report includes the results of a survey conducted by NHTSA to investigate how pickup truck drivers are using the passenger air bag on-off switches. On-off switches have been standard equipment in most pickup trucks since 1998. They enable a driver to turn off the air bag and prevent harm to a child passenger, but turn it on to protect an adult passenger. How often were the switches turned off for child passengers and how often were they turned on for adult passengers? The survey was conducted from July to November 2000 in four States—California, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas.

On the whole, the switches have been a necessary and a fairly successful interim measure that made it possible to offer life-saving air bags to adult passengers in pickup trucks without back seats, while allowing the opportunity to protect infants and children from the hazards of air bags when they must ride in the front seats of those vehicles. Nevertheless, the survey shows many of the air bags are being left on for children and turned off for adults. Drivers with children in rear-facing child safety seats achieved the highest rate of correct use of the air bag switch—86 percent. Forty-eight percent of the air bags were left on when only child passengers 1-12 years old were in the front seat, potentially exposing these children to a deployment. There is also a problem when drivers ride with only adult passengers (age 13 and older). While 83 percent of the switches were on, as they should be, 17 percent were switched off.

How Can I Influence NHTSA's Thinking on This Subject?

NHTSA welcomes public review of the technical report and invites reviewers to submit comments about the data and the statistical methods used in the analyses. NHTSA will submit to the Docket a response to the comments and, if appropriate, additional analyses that supplement or revise the technical report.

How Do I Prepare and Submit Comments?

Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the Docket number of this document (NHTSA-2004-16996) in your comments.

Your primary comments must not be more than 15 pages long (49 CFR 553.21). However, you may attach additional documents to your primary comments. There is no limit on the length of the attachments.

Please send two paper copies of your comments to Docket Management, submit them electronically, fax them, or use the Federal eRulemaking Portal. The mailing address is U.S. Department of Transportation Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. If you submit your comments electronically, log onto the Dockets Management System Web site at and click on Start Printed Page 5661“Help & Information” or “Help/Info” to obtain instructions. The fax number is 1-202-493-2251. To use the Federal eRulemaking Portal, go to and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

We also request, but do not require you to send a copy to Christina Morgan, Evaluation Division, NPO-321, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room 5208, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590 (alternatively, Fax to 202-366-2559 or e-mail to She can check if your comments have been received at the Docket and she can expedite their review by NHTSA.

How Can I Be Sure That My Comments Were Received?

If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket Management will return the postcard by mail.

How Do I Submit Confidential Business Information?

If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, send three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NCC-01, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room 5219, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Include a cover letter supplying the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

In addition, send two copies from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information to Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, or submit them electronically.

Will the Agency Consider Late Comments?

In our response, we will consider all comments that Docket Management receives before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider comments that Docket Management receives after that date.

Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new material.

How Can I Read the Comments Submitted by Other People?

You may read the comments by visiting Docket Management in person at Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

You may also see the comments on the Internet by taking the following steps:

A. Go to the Docket Management System (DMS) Web page of the Department of Transportation (

B. On that page, click on “search.”

C. On the next page (​search) type in the five-digit Docket number shown at the beginning of this Notice (16996). Click on “search.”

D. On the next page, which contains Docket summary information for the Docket you selected, click on the desired comments. You may also download the comments.

Start Authority

Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30111, 30168; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

End Authority Start Signature

James Simons,

Director of the Office of Regulatory Analysis and Evaluation.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 04-2326 Filed 2-4-04; 8:45 am]