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Rhinestones on Steering Wheels Could Kill, Injure Occupants, Regulators Warn

Airbags can turn products into projectiles in a crash

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Toru Hanai/Reuters

Drivers are advised not to apply decorative decals, such as rhinestones, on their steering wheels because they can cause significant injury or death, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned.

At least one driver has suffered loss of sight in one eye after an emblem adorned with rhinestones became dislodged from the steering wheel during a crash and hit the driver in the face.

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The products typically come in a metal or plastic plate, usually covered with rhinestones or other “shiny decorations,” with an adhesive back that covers the vehicle’s logo in the center of the steering wheel, the NHTSA said.  The force of an airbag deploying during a crash can turn the product into a projectile, which can result in serious harm.

“Unlike the permanently affixed logo on your vehicle’s steering wheel, these aftermarket decals can easily become dislodged when the airbag is deployed,” the agency said. “Any alterations or changes to your airbag or its cover can also cause it to not function correctly.”

Consumers should not purchase these steering wheel decals for any car make or models, the agency said. Drivers who already have one of these decals on their steering wheel should remove them.

Airbags prevent the upper body or head from hitting a vehicle’s interior during a crash. To avoid an airbag-related injury, make sure to wear a seat belt and be properly seated. If not, you could be thrown into the airbag with force that could cause injury or death. Airbags inflate in less than 1/20th of a second, said the NHTSA.

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