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The Center for Public Health Law

Administrative Law - Winter 2001

The Seat-Belt Story

First, there is popular concern about accidents

Individual stories - MADD is an example

Interest Groups

Nader and Public Interest

Unsafe at any Speed - 1965

Insurance industry

Then Congress passes the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act

1967 - regulation requiring seatbelts

1972 - realized that people where not wearing the seatbelts

Regulation requiring automatic seatbelts or airbags by 1975

Required cars between 1973 and 1975 to have automatic seatbelts or ignition interlocks

Chrysler v. DOT affirmed the regs

Industry choose interlocks - why?

1974 - Congress passed a law banning regs requiring interlocks and said that all future regs on passive restraints had to be submitted to Congress for legislative veto

DOT under Ford withdrew the regs

DOT under Carter (a few months later) passed new passive restraint regs for 1982 and Congress did not veto them

1979 - Regs were affirmed in Pacific Legal Foundation v. DOT

1981 - DOT under Reagan withdrew the regs because the car companies were going to use automatic seatbelts that could be disconnected.

1983 - Motor Vehicles Manufacturers Assoc. v. State Farm hit the United States Supreme Court

The court ruled that the DOT could not withdraw the reg without a proper explanation of its actions

Remanded to the agency for review

1984 - DOT (E. Dole) promulgated a reg requiring automatic seatbelts or airbags in all cars after 1989, unless

2/3 of the population were covered by state seatbelt laws

The laws had to meet certain criteria

What did MO do?

$5 penalty

No stop

No meaningful seatbelt defense

1997 - most newer cars had airbags

1998 - airbags kill grannies and little kids!

Nothing new - known at the time

Save many more

1999 - You can get your airbag disconnected

Products liability issues?

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