Air bags have saved over 1,500 lives, but the extreme noise that results from their deployment has caused hearing damage in many more people. Below are copies of correspondence from top professional organizations concerned with hearing loss, written to those who would make air bags standard in all American cars.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) wrote this letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)in February of 1997. They suggest a warning label regarding the air bag's loudness, and an on/off switch.
The National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) wrote this letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)in March of 1997. They agree with the AAO-HNS letter listed above.
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) wrote this letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in September of 1999. They mention, and agree with, the AAO-HNS letter above, and offer to meet with NHTSA members to discuss their concerns. In addition to suggesting on/off switches and warning labels, they provide percentages of people who may be affected by air bag noise.
Elliott Berger of E-A-R, maker of hearing-protection devices, wrote this letter to inform interested parties of the auditory risk associated with air bags. He notes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ignored the recommendations of the first two letters listed here. He also references several studies that make the life-saving benefits of air bags look less impressive, and some cases in which air bags have actually caused fatalities that would not have occurred otherwise.