The Kansas City Star released a report on the failure of airbags in over 1,000 fatal crashes. The investigation culled NHTSA’S own records regarding the variety of fatal car crashes from 2001-2006, of which there were over 14,000. However, when the list was pruned for a speed, alcohol, and other factors, the reporters found 1,400 questionable fatal crashes where, with seatbelts in place, the airbag failed to deploy. The airbags failed in both foreign and domestic automotive brands, regardless of model, vehicle age or driver experience, as far as the study concluded.
The NHTSA says the analysis is flawed, and requires greater study, including “black box” technology. The difficulty in delving deeper comes with a lack of evidence or information available after the vehicle is destroyed. Many crashes involve circumstances that leave victim’s families unwilling and unsure of how to proceed with an investigation or attorney’s with minimum experience in manufacturer liability issues. Safety experts point to the greater good of airbag safety heralding over 15,000 lives saved during the same time period. A spokesperson for the government agency indicated there were no plans on NHTSA calendar to open an investigation into these findings.
Given new “buckle-up laws” in many states incurring a hefty ticket for the offender, our respect for seatbelts just got a big jump as we hope our airbag deploys when needed.
By Sarah Lee © 2007
Sarah Lee is a twenty year veteran of the automotive industry. As a frequent television and radio show guest and author of “The Complete Internet Car Buying Guide,” she is dedicated to helping clients get the best car at the best price and enjoying the experience of car ownership. Feel free to visit her