posted 4 years ago

Airbag causes death of Driver

A man involved in a minor car crash died months later after breathing in contents of an airbag

A man involved in a minor car crash died months later after breathing in contents of an airbag. Grandfather Mr Ronald Smith who was fit and active developed breathing problems and was admitted to hospital where he was placed on a ventilator. At the time of the accident the airbag had been torn open by a shard of glass as it inflated and Mr Smith inhaled gases contained in the airbag along with a large amount of white powder.

A spokesman from the AA motoring organisation said 'in the event of a crash, sensors in a car, behind the bumper for example, measure the rate of deceleration. If the impact is severe enough, an explosive device triggers the inflation of the airbag. In some systems a sodium azide tablet is fitted inside, and this is ignited electronically. When it ignites it produces nitrogen, which inflates the airbag. Nitrogen already makes up 78 per cent of the air we breathe so it’s not hazardous. As soon as the bag has fully inflated it starts to deflate once it’s taken the force. A lot of powder is also released. This is mainly talcum powder, which manufacturers use as a lubricant to help the airbag slide into the correct position during assembly.’

South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney recorded a verdict of misadventure on Mr Smith, from Marsden, South Shields. He said ‘this man died as a result of this incident (the car crash) and more pointedly because of the explosion of his airbag and exposure to noxious substances.’

It is believed to be the first time a driver has died after inhaling the contents of an airbag, and Mr Smith’s widow spoke her shock and devastation that something designed to save life had actually taken it. ‘He told me about the white powder straight away,’ said Mrs Smith. ‘He said there was so much of it he couldn’t see. ‘I just thought that the white powder had got into his lungs. I thought his body would get rid of it by itself, I didn’t think it would be permanent. Not long after that I noticed that he wasn’t right, he would become breathless walking up the drive. Ronnie has never smoked so that was very worrying. He started to cough a lot as well. It wasn’t normal because he wasn’t like that, he never got colds. He had always been so healthy and was extremely fit. I knew from the beginning that it was the air bag but other people would look at me as if to say, “Don’t be silly”.’

 

i have a friend who repairs damaged cars but when he handles the burst airbag extensively he will feel unwell. i have also heard that firemen have been advised to be cautious, not to handle the burst airbags at the scene of an accident

I'm with John Douglas on this. So often we get only some of the facts and therefore cannot make balanced comments. Still, any death is sad. RIP

What age was the car? How has airbag manufactured changed since since the offending bag was manufacutured? Let us have the facts before we pass comment.

How does " exposure to toxic substances---etc " emanating from an air bag lead to "death by misadventure" !!! Got to disagree strongly with the coroner on this.In Using toxic substances motor manufactirere was guilty ofa failure of care!! Gotta agree with jack flash on this one. Seems pretty basic to me.

airbags do save more lives, however in this modern age with all the new fabrics surely manufacturers can come up with a puncture proof airbag. my thoughts go out to mrs smith and her family.

To second Sam's comment, I am one of the people who an airbag has saved and say yes they should be compulsary. However there contents or active components should not be dangerous to life.

The verdict should be manslaughter, seat belts also cause many injuries including WHIPLASH

Drivers and passengers SHOULD be given the option of disabling the relevent airbag if they so wish.

'a verdict of misadventure on Mr Smith' hardly! He was killed due to bad design or poor manufacturing.

Reply to Ana gram's comment "For this study to be a fair comparison, how many lives have airbags saved? Yes airbag manufacturers should look at using non toxic substances but to say airbags are not useful is a dangerous stance." Nobody ever said that airbags are not useful. Please do try to appreciate the message. This message was useful to allow Motor manufacturers to improve the design so that such an unfortunate incident is not reported.

I wonder if the talc used as a lubricant contained asbestos? Talc in its natural form contains asbestos and whilst most of this is removed during processing, particles still remain. A large amount of talc on the lung, particularly if it has traces of asbestos, will not be good for anyone. In fact, there are warnings on baby talc to keep it away from their mouths and noses. I would definitely question the use of this amount of talc being released with the airbag and sue.

For this study to be a fair comparison, how many lives have airbags saved? Yes airbag manufacturers should look at using non toxic substances but to say airbags are not useful is a dangerous stance.