A Hidden Threat to Drivers

U.S. traffic safety officials should get a better handle on the problem of missing air bags in used vehicles.

April 4, 2011



In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study examining fatal accidents in which a car's air bag should have deployed but didn't. The most common reason wasn't poor manufacturing by automakers. It was that the air bag was simply missing, never replaced after a previous crash.

The numbers weren't large, averaging 51 accidents a year nationwide over the five years studied. But that doesn't mean there's no cause for concern. Who knows how many more cars are on the road without air bags? Presumably a whole lot more than the 51 that happen to get into accidents each year. Many used cars being offered for sale have been in accidents, then salvaged and resold, possibly without air bags. And the buyers may never know.

Click here to read the full editorial from the Los Angeles Times