Federal safety regulators are warning of the dangers of counterfeit air bags being installed by auto repair shops across the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's testing found that the counterfeit air bags either fail to deploy or malfunction and send metal shrapnel flying into the vehicle. The counterfeit air bags look almost identical to the originals, including the insignia and branding of major automakers. This problem affects almost every major auto brand.
The NHTSA is also investigating air bags following a complaint that loose metal was flung from a side air bag in a 2012 Hyundai Elantra, severing the driver's ear.
A video was released by the agency, showing the dangers of the counterfeit air bags.
About 1.5 million airbags are deployed in police-reported crashes every year, and have saved an estimated 20,000 lives. However, even functioning air bags have been known to be dangerous. Since the NHTSA has kept records, there have been a reported 264 deaths related to air bags.
The Florida Highway Patrol warns that air bags are meant to supplement seat belt usage. Although most injuries sustained from air bags are minor burns and abrasions, passengers not properly restrained can be hit with the full 100 MPH force of an exploding air bag which can easily break bones, including the neck.
Air bags are especially dangerous for little children sitting in the front seat. Of the 264 deaths linked to air bags, 138 were children and 24 were infants. Children age 12 and under should always sit in the back seat.
For more information regarding injuries sustained from air bags, please contact us.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Counterfeit airbags could malfunction, explode, regulators warn," Oct. 10, 2012.