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Courtesy of Allstate Insurance company


Just as the summer driving season officially kicked off this past Memorial Day, there was some unsettling news about the safety of car airbags. On May 19 the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the need to recall nearly 34 million vehicles because of concerns about the propellant that launches the airbag in the event of an accident.

Although the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, it is by no means the first related to airbag safety. So what do drivers need to know in order to keep themselves and their families safe?


30 MPH – The vehicle speed at which U.S. federal regulations currently require airbags to inflate in a crash test against a concrete barrier.
Should I worry about the recall?   Given that the recent airbag recall affects about one in seven U.S. vehicles—including cars from 11 automakers—a lot of people are naturally wondering what to do. The DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set up a special website to provide updates and information on this and other recalls. Watch the mail, as automakers are sending information on recalled airbags with steps to arrange a free repair or replacement. While the NHTSA urges drivers to take action, it also says it’s O.K. to continue driving the vehicle and cautions against disabling any of the recalled airbags before they can be replaced or fixed.

What happens after my airbag deploys?  Airbags can only be used once. They are programmed to launch when there is an accident involving a significant amount of force, not a minor fender bender. Special care must be taken when replacing a used airbag. Make sure any maintenance or replacements are handled by a trusted dealership that uses certified, original equipment and replacement parts.

What if I am not part of the recall?  If I’m not part of the recall, does my airbag need maintenance?Airbags have been a required component of a vehicle’s supplemental restraint system (SRS) since the late 1990s. Early on, some automakers advised that airbags be inspected or replaced after a certain period of time. Now the technology is considered durable enough to last for the lifetime of the car. But you should still be alert to warnings. Keep an eye on your dashboard’s SRS indicator light (the icon is a seated driver and a deployed airbag). Though the light should come on briefly when you start the car, it should not stay on. If it does, take your car to the dealer for an inspection.
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