There’s probably going to be another major recall of a popular car because of danger of serious injury or death due to air bags. That’s right, air bags are placed in cars to protect the occupants from harm in the event of an accident. There’s been lots of happy talk about how wonderful air bags are for auto safety, like this discussion of “air bag safety facts.” Problem is, these things just aren’t all that safe – as we can see from this week’s announcement that the federal government is investigating the safety of air bags placed into Hyundai Motor Co’s Elantra sedan.
Car’s Air Bag Cut Off Man’s Ear – NHTSA Investigating
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating 2012 Elantras (see its Investigation Report here) after it got a complaint from an air bag victim that his ear was “… sliced in half…” from a piece of flying metal that zoomed out during the Elantra’s air bag deployment when he was in a car accident. It was a side air bag, it did what it was meant to do: inflate when there was a sudden impact, and then instead of protecting this man, it hurt him. So he reported what happened to the NHTSA, and now the federal agency is concerned that this may happen to other people, too.
This means that it may not be a single, faulty air bag, but instead a problem of the entire product line or product design. (A product liability issue.) There’s no recall yet, but no one should be surprised if Elantras are recalled very, very soon because of this air bag problem.
Investigations into Air Bag Dangers Seem to Happening Way Too Often – How Safe Are Air Bags, Really?
Perhaps we all need to ponder the dangers of air bags overall. After all the Elantra isn’t a fluke situation here.
In February 2012, another investigation began at NHTSA into a possible side air bag defect in air bags supplied by one company, a Swedish air bag maker named Autoliv, to Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru, because of complaints that they wouldn’t inflate.
In March 2012, Volvo recalled 17,000 of its 2012 model sedans because of side air bag issues – again because of deployment problems.
Search for yourself, and you will find all sorts of news stories about all sorts of different kinds of vehicles with air bag dangers. Sometime they don’t deploy when they are supposed to do so. Sometimes they deploy without warning. Sometimes they hurt people when they do deploy, children are especially vulnerable to injuries from air bags.
Perhaps air bags are not the safety product that we’ve been assuming that they are. Be careful out there.