The following is a statement by Josephine S. Cooper, President, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in response to the Advanced Air Bag rule announced today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

"The new advanced air bag rule announced today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) significantly advances motor vehicle safety and is a life-saving victory for passengers of all sizes who ride in cars and trucks equipped with air bags. Throughout this rulemaking, Alliance members have consistently stressed that the new regulation should be a comprehensive rule that adopts several important requirements: 1) new out-of-position tests; 2) a new "family" of test dummies representing infants, young children and small adults; and 3) additional and more stringent injury criteria that will result in enhanced safety performance. We are extremely gratified that these elements have been incorporated into the final rule.

"We are further gratified by the government's decision to adopt our recommendation that rigid fixed barrier crash testing with unbelted dummies be conducted at 25 mph. This decision allows automakers to continue providing air bag systems designed to provide optimal protection for children, teenagers, and smaller adults, as well as large passengers. Alliance members commend the Department of Transportation and the Clinton Administration for making fact-based rulemaking decisions grounded in sound science. Today's rule will help assure advanced occupant protection for millions of Americans.

"Previously, Alliance members committed to contribute to the NHTSA public crash investigation database system by providing sufficient resources to double the number of investigations that can be conducted. We have made this commitment so that future rulemaking decisions can continue to be supported on a data driven scientific basis. We look forward to working with DOT and the safety community on this effort.

"As enhancements are made in air bag systems, it is essential that the nation not lose sight of the need to continue efforts to increase seat belt use. Seat belts are the primary passenger restraint system in vehicles. Alliance members continue to work on increasing belt use and the appropriate use of child restraints, which both enhances air bag safety and advances motor vehicle safety. Alliance members are the principal funders of the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, which works with NHTSA to help achieve the President's goals of increasing seat belt use to 85 percent by the end of this year and 90 percent by 2005. Government estimates indicate that between 4,000-5,000 lives can be saved each year by achieving these goals."

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a coalition of 13 car and light truck manufacturers. Alliance member companies have approximately 600,000 employees in the United States, with more than 250 facilities in 35 states. Alliance members represent more than 90 percent of U.S. vehicle sales. For more information, visit the Alliance website at