A Chicago woman was in the news recently when her side airbags "exploded" as she was driving down the road at about 25 miles per hour. Moments later, the steering wheel airbag exploded.
According to consumeraffairs.com, a driver of a Toyota Corolla 2007 was severely injured last June 2011, when his airbags didn't deploy. He contacted Toyota and "got the same answer from the other costumers: The impact was not severe enough for the airbags to deploy." He added that after reading so many complaints "Toyota should do something about it."
This new generation of airbags, known as "advanced airbags" are supposed to decrease the risk of airbag injuries. But they are not designed with children in mind and now there appears to be a new problem with sensors (airbag sensors note conditions such as seriousness of the crash and passenger size, posture, and proximity to the air bag, and automatically deploy the air bag at a higher or lower force or perhaps not at all).
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One GM owner said that, if a passenger is seated in the right front seat with an electronic device in his or her lap, EMI may disable the airbag. So, if the sensor correctly perceives that an occupant is in the seat, then interference from the iPad will tell the sensor to turn the airbag off. In another complaint to GM, a front seat passenger holding an electronic device will cause the airbag sensor to turn off.
Airbag designers: back to the drawing board?