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Airbag Kills Driver In Freak Accident Says Coroner

A UK court has delivered a stunning verdict on the dangers of the airbag, saying that when one was discharged, it split on a broken window, discharged a chemical that killed the driver, who had only slight injuries after the accident.

The Coroner determined that the chemicals in the airbag poisoned the unfortunate driver, Ronald Smith, from Sunderland. He was involved in a six car accident in 2010, the airbag was activated, but punctured after the window in his car was smashed during the accident. Whilst Smith survived the accident he died a couple of months later from bronchial pneumonia, with his lungs showing clear signs of infection.

The Coroner blamed the airbag, saying:- “This man died as a result of this incident, and more pointedly, because of the explosion of his airbag”. Apparently when the airbag exploded it emitted a large amount of  ‘white powder’. Airbags inflate with a gas created by igniting a chemical called sodium azide, which is extremely toxic, so much so, in fact, that it is apparently comparable in its toxicity to cyanide.

Whilst UK safety authorities acknowledge there could be a danger, they say it is “extremely small”. This is said to be the only recorded case in the UK.

But they also said that the chemical that preceded sodium azide, nitrocellulose, was even more toxic and also highly inflammable!

Modern cars now carry as many as nine airbags – could this mean there are nine toxic danger points? We’ll talk to the Australian car safety agencies and ask for their comments and let you know.