NHTSA Warns Steering Wheel Decals, Decorative Emblems May Become Projectiles in a Crash

Consumers are being urged not to buy aftermarket steering wheel "bling", often involving decals or stickers covered in rhinestones or other shiny objects, which could cause serious injuries in a crash.

Federal highway safety officials are warning consumers to avoid adding decorative decals to their steering wheels, because they could be forcefully blasted into the driver’s face when the airbag deploys during an auto accident, posing serious injury or death risks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release on November 6, indicating the agency has become aware of at least one incident involving a driver who was permanently blinded in one eye, after an aftermarket steering wheel emblem ejected rhinestones onto the driver’s face in a crash.

Officials warn the accessories, and any objects covering them, can easily dislodge from the steering wheel and become dangerous projectile objects in an accident, due to the force of a deployed airbag.

Aftermarket Steering Wheel Decals

The decals are adhesive metal or plastic plate accessories used to embellish the vehicle’s factory-made logo in the center of the steering wheel. They are usually covered in rhinestones or other shiny objects, and have become an increasingly popular aftermarket decoration. Many online retailers distribute the decals and emblems, including Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy.

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While a factory-made vehicle logo is permanently fastened to the center of the steering wheel, and is specifically designed to withstand the force of an airbag deployment event, aftermarket decals and emblems are attached with adhesive that can easily weaken from the impact and separate.

The NHTSA indicates any changes or alterations to an airbag or the cover can cause it not function correctly.

“NHTSA is asking consumers to avoid purchasing these steering wheel decals for all vehicle makes and models,” the warning states. “Consumers should also remove any such decals that they have already applied to their steering wheels.”


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