The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has denied a petition seeking an investigation into the airbag seat sensor found in certain 2004-2010 model year General Motors full-size sedans.
The petition was filed by private crash investigator Donald Friedman of Santa Barbara, California-based firm Xprts LLC back in 2013. Friedman alleged the passenger-side seat airbag sensor in affected vehicles would inadvertently turn the passenger airbag off. The filing stemmed from a crash involving 2008 Chevrolet Impala in which the passenger airbag did not deploy after the vehicle was hit by an SUV. The passenger of the vehicle suffered brain injuries in the crash and died 10 months later.
While Friedman alleged the passenger bounced around during the crash, causing the airbag not to deploy, NHTSA found this not to be true. Instead, the safety agency found the passenger reached for the steering wheel during the crash, lifting the weight off of the seat sensor and switching the airbag off.
“NHTSA did not identify an issue with the subject model-year 2008 Impala involved in the subject crash, nor has it identified a safety-related defect trend existing in the OCS (Occupant Classification System) used in model-year 2006-2008 Impala vehicles,” NHTSA said.
Friedman had previously called for affected General Motors vehicles to be recalled, which included the 2004-2010 model-year Chevrolet Impala.
Not only did NHTSA find no issues with the airbag seat sensor in question, it confirmed the rate of airbag sensor failure in the 2004-2010 Impala was slightly lower than other comparable vehicles from the same time period.
The family of the passenger in the crash sued General Motors in a separate case. The case was settled by GM out of court for an undisclosed sum. GM has not commented on NHTSA’s findings.
Source: Associated Press