LANSING — State Representative Patrick Green (D-Warren) has introduced legislation that would impose criminal penalties for individuals who install or reinstall counterfeit or nonworking air bags in a vehicle.
House Bill 6089 was referred to the House Committee on Criminal Justice, where it awaits further action. Green is committed to pursuing this important public safety provision, even if it means reintroducing the bill at the beginning of the next legislative session.
“I was surprised to learn that the Michigan Penal Code does not already include penalties for individuals who sell or install counterfeit air bags,” Green said. “I cannot stress enough the threat faulty air bags pose to the health and safety of my constituents and all Michiganders. It is time for us to join the 31 other states that have introduced legislation holding these entities accountable for deliberately tampering with what is arguably the most important safety feature in our vehicles.”
In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a consumer safety advisory that flagged counterfeit air bags as a problem, specifically citing the sale of counterfeit air bags for use as replacement parts in vehicles that have been involved in a crash. In many cases, these air bags closely resemble the original product, including the insignia and branding of major automakers, a task made easier by recent improvements in technology. NHTSA testing revealed “consistent malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment of the air bag to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.” According to the study conducted by the department, counterfeit air bags are available for more than 100 vehicle makes and models.
“It is my hope that my colleagues will recognize the significant risk that counterfeit air bags pose to residents of our state and will join me in advocating for increased consumer protection and accountability from automotive repair and retail shops,” Green said.
Consumers may be at risk if they have had air bags in their vehicle replaced within the past three years by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership. To learn more about this problem or to verify authenticity of replacement parts, visit www.safercar.gov or contact a NHTSA call center.