NHTSA Warns of Deadly Risks from Aftermarket Steering Wheel Decals

An example of a rhinestone Honda steering wheel decal for sale online.

A driver lost sight in one eye when the rhinestone decal on their steering wheel was launched into their face by an airbag in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alerted consumers to the life-threatening dangers posed by aftermarket steering wheel decals, following an incident in which a driver suffered severe injury, losing sight in one eye, when an adorned rhinestone emblem detached during a crash, striking the driver's face. The force of the deploying airbag transformed the decorative accessory into a dangerous projectile

The NHTSA is urging vehicle owners to avoid these potentially lethal accessories and remove any already affixed to their steering wheels.

These aftermarket steering wheel decals are typically metal or plastic plates with an adhesive backing that covers the vehicle's logo at the center of the steering wheel. While they may add a touch of personalization to a car's interior, their detachment during a collision can lead to devastating consequences.

Unlike the factory-installed logos on steering wheels, these aftermarket decals lack the secure attachment necessary to withstand the force generated by deploying airbags. Consequently, when an airbag is activated, these decals can break free and become hazardous projectiles, putting vehicle occupants at risk of severe injury or fatality.

Furthermore, the NHTSA emphasized any modifications or alterations to an airbag or its cover can jeopardize its proper functioning, potentially rendering it ineffective during an accident. Such alterations may include attempts to customize or replace the airbag cover with aftermarket options.

In response to these grave safety concerns, the NHTSA is urgently advising consumers to refrain from purchasing aftermarket steering wheel decals for all vehicle makes and models. Additionally, vehicle owners who have already applied these decorative accessories to their steering wheels are strongly urged to remove them immediately.

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