• side impact crash

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced two separate recalls over side curtain air bags that may fail to deploy in the event of a crash.  Honda recalled 347 of its 2012 Accord and Crosstour hatchback models, while Toyota recalled 427 of its 2011 Rav4 vehicles.

A side curtain airbag is an important safety device which is designed to deploy in a rollover or side impact crash.  If the bag fails to deploy, serious injuries or deaths may occur that the bag was designed to prevent.

Unlike frontal air bags, side curtain air bags are not required by the NHTSA.  According to NHTSA estimates, 700 to 1,000 lives would be saved every year if all the vehicles on the road today were equipped with head protection SABs.

In the case of the Honda recall, a faulty indicator may prevent the side curtain air bag from deploying during an accident.  According to the recall notice, the carmaker will begin notifying owners of these vehicles on February, 10th and the affected airbags will be replaced free of charge.

In addition to this air bag recall, Honda also announced the recall of 206 Ridgeline trucks for incorrect labeling on the vehicle’s tire information placard last week.  According to the NHTSA, this could lead to “improper tire inflation which could result in a tire failure, increasing the risk of a crash.”

Toyota’s recall involves 2011 Rav4 vehicles that were manufactured from November, 24 to December 19, 2011.  The Chicago Tribune reports that vehicles manufactured between these dates did not receive “the correct propellant that helps to initiate the expansion of the airbag.”

As a result, the air bags of these vehicles may not deploy during an accident, increasing the injury risk.  Toyota will begin to notify owners in March, the Chicago Tribune reports, and “dealerships will replace one or each of the side curtain airbags, if necessary, free of charge.”

Neither of these recalls has appeared to have any impact on either of these automakers’ sales or share prices.  Despite increased competition and the destructive natural disasters of 2011, Reuters reports that Toyota’s shares gained 21 percent so far this year, while Honda’s ticked up 20 percent.