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1/18/2018 Kennedy introduces legislation that would eradicate substandard automobile airbags
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, has introduced legislation that would tighten the regulatory controls on automobile airbags.

The legislation (2018-H 7125) would comprehensively expand the registration of motor vehicle airbags to prohibit the manufacture and importation of substandard airbags and broaden the definition of airbags.

“Air bag counterfeiters have improved their ability to replicate the look of certified, original parts, right down to the logos of major manufacturers,” said Representative Kennedy. “This legislation would effectively prohibit the importation, manufacture or sale of dangerous counterfeit and nonfunctional airbags that are currently flooding the market.”

Counterfeit air bags might look like the real deal, but they perform much differently. The pretenders consistently malfunctioned — from not deploying at all to spewing metal pieces when deployed—during tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Drivers who have bought air bags online, or had their air bags replaced by an unscrupulous repair shop in the last several years, or who purchased a used car that has been rebuilt or has had its air bags replaced, are at risk.

“Combined with seat belts, airbags save lives,” said Representative Kennedy. “Frontal airbags have saved more than 28,000 lives. They have reduced driver fatalities by 29 percent, and fatalities of front-seat passengers by 32 percent. But consumers need to know that what they’re getting when they purchase an airbag or a car is the real deal.”

The legislation — a national model from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — was showcased during a session moderated by Representative Kennedy during the fall forum of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The session, called “Buyer Beware” focused on counterfeit and hazardous goods bought and sold online.

Those who violate the law would be guilty of a deceptive trade practice and a felony, which would be punishable by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than two years. If the violation resulted in serious bodily injury, the fine would be increased up to $100,000 or up to 10 years in prison.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), Cale P. Keable (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester), Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) and Kenneth A. Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren), has been referred to the House Corporations Committee. Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903