Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - September 20, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Your United Way
Ingenuity Used To Disconnect Seat-Belt Unit
By Edward S. Lecbtzin
UPI Auto Writer
DETROIT (UPI) -American ingenuity being what it is, about 4 million motorists who paid $50 extra for that buckle-up-or-don’t-drive safety belt have found ways to stop it from working.
That means $200 million spent for the safety device has. in the words of one industry analyst, “Gone right down the tube.”
Congress is on the verge of changing the law that required the safety belt - ignition interlock system on the 1974
Family life has changed for Charles and Stephanie Ka-cena — for the better. Charles worked at Link-Belt Speeder on the night shift. He could spend little time with Kevin and Scott, his and Stephanie’s 9-and 11-year-old sons. Changing to the day shift and becoming a part of the Marion YMCA has brought the family together in lots of recreational and social activities.
Stephanie plays on a women’s volleyball team, attends women’s fitness classes three days a week, has served on the program committee, helped organize the open house, and is now teaching the aquatics program The boys are taking swimming lessons, and are involved in wrestling, basketball, gymnastics and track. Charles is active in men’s fitness classes, and volunteers in taking boys and girls on outings, assisting the two program directors, and helping with needed painting in the building.
The Kacenas’ family membership brings them together on family nights at the Y for swimming and volleyball. They are no longer an “alone” family — they are building good family relationships
Thanks to you and your fair share pledge to United Way this family plays together and will stay together.
Greeks Give Hunting Dogs Bus Fare Break
ATHENS (UPI) - Retriever dogs can travel at half fare on Greek buses for the duration of the hunting season, the ministry of transportation said.
“The dogs must have a valid health certificate and wear
muzzles,” the announcement said.
ON THIS DATE in 1519. the Portuguese navigator, Ferdinand Magellan, set out from Spain with five ships on his global voyage to find a western passage to the Indies.
Lost of a series
model cars. It also may eliminate the requirement for mandatory air bags on all 1977 models.
Safety experts say higher casualty figures may be one of the first consequences of a change in the law.
A house commerce committee staff memo estimates that wide use of the belt in 1974 models means 13,000 lives saved each year In Victoria, Australia, a seat belt law cut traffic fatalities the first year by 20 percent — the first decline in traffic fatalities in 38 years — and greatly reduced the severity of accident injuries.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently completed a study that claims 85,000 lives could be saved in the next nine years by a combination air bag-seat belt system; and that vehicle injuries could be reduced by more than 5.4 million.
Fewer than 5,000 people have been willing to pay the $225 General Motors charges for optional air bags on its cars. Without a law requiring the devices, the price will rise and use will drop. GM says the air bag is a $300 option on the 1975 models.
If congress is supposed to
mirror public opinion, disconnecting the safety devices is what many Americans apparently want. Surveys by the automakers and others indicate the interlock system increased belt use from 23 percent on 1972 model cars to about 60 percent on the 74s.
Close to half a billion dollars for safety has been added to the cost of the 74s. But owners of about 4 million of the 9 6 million 1974 model cars have already disconnected buzzers, lights and intricate electronic circuitry that make the system work.
After Goldie Alper picked up her 1974 Plymouth Gold Duster this spring, her first stop was a neighborhood service station in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. She paid $10 to have the plug pulled on the belt system.
Harry Bendena of Detroit simply reached under the front seat of his 1974 Ford Torino and disconnected a module that controls the electronic circuit that made him sit down and buckle up before he could start the car.
“Now if I want to use belts I do,” Bendena says. “But nobody tells me I have to. ”
The house of representatives apparently agreed and last August passed 337 to 49 a measure that may do away with the mandatory interlock system. It is now in a senate-house conference committee.
Seat belts themselves would continue to be mandatory under the anti-interlock amendment of Rep. Wyman (R-N.H ), who called it a “citizens’ rights amendment.” Automakers never really wanted the interlock system, ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
GM fought installation of the untried interlock system, claiming that as many as 300,000 persons might, at least
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once in the first year, he unable to start their cars. GM now admits its estimate was high. There have been fewer than I percent “no starts.”
( hallenged “Experts”
While congressmen debate the need for mandatory seat belts, a safety researcher at the University of Michigan has challenged “self-styled experts” who question their value
Donald Huelke, professor of anatomy at the U-M medical school and head of a field accident investigation team at the university’s Highway Safety Research Institute, says 20 to 30 percent of occupant
deaths could be prevented if available car belt systems are worn
The U M safety researcher says he’s appalled by the arguments used by foes of seat belts.
“For example, these self-styled experts are trying to make the exception look like the rule, as when a motorist is ejected from a crushed car but miraculously remains uninjured,” Huelke says.
“If this driver had worn a |belt, he'd be dead, they say. Or they cite a case in which a belted occupant fails to survive a crash of such magnitude that survival would be4 impossible,” he says.
lf seat belts and interloc k systems stir a debate, the air bag system usually starts an argument.
CJM, a prime researcher on the air bag and the only auto company offering them to the public, wants it to remain optional rather than mandatory in 1977. Safety experts say 90 percent use of safety belts would make the air bag unnecessary The American Automobile Assn says one of its studies shows that benefits of air bags have been grossly overstated.
Rather than a switch to air bags, the AAA urged, there should be* greater use of safety belts bec aune "there still is no evidence to show that air bags approach the known life saving capabilities of properly worn licit-harness systems.’’
To get greater use of safety belts would require new laws Given the mood of congress to do away with the ignition interlock system, it is doubtful that mandatory seat belt laws introduced in 30 states have much chance of passage.
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