Last month Australia’s Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester was dumped from the Australian federal cabinet in a ministerial reshuffle of the Turnbull government, probably dumped as a result of political battles within the coalition rather than his performance or lack of as a minister. I won’t miss a minister who showed zero interest in the serious vehicle safety hazards in Australia covered in this blog when they were bought to his attention last year, but I can’t say that his shadow Anthony Albanese showed any real interest in those matters either, and I don’t hold out much hope that the new federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce will show any interest or do anything at all. Does Australia get the government that it deserves? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-19/chester-dumped-joyce-set-to-become-infrastructure-minister/9270222
The public road upon which this incident happened was faultless, with no potholes or debris on the road with any potential to cause damage to the underside of the car. The road had speed humps, but none on the section of road that the car travelled on before the incident. The driver was the only occupant of the car at the time, with arms that were injured by the deployment of the driver side airbag.
The model of car in the photograph, the Proton Gen-2, has been recalled three times in the UK since 2005, one of those recalls for a fault that can cause a false airbag activation.
To put this into perspective, this is a make of car that is no longer exported to the UK, following a collection of recalls in the 1990s-2000s, and was never exported to the United States because the Malaysian car company Proton was unable to satisfy stringent US regulatory requirements.
Nevertheless, you could buy a Proton tomorrow in Australia, if you so desired.
False airbag activation is more than just a nuisance and a substantial unnecessary repair cost. Car airbag activation commonly causes injury to car occupants. Car airbag activation commonly smashes windscreens, so clearly major forces are unleashed when an airbag deploys. Researchers have reported a wide spectrum of mild to severe injuries to various parts of the body resulting from normal airbag deployments, including deaths, so any motorist would want to be certain that their car airbags will not deploy abnormally in situations that are not life-threatening.
The risk of death due to normal airbag deployment when a child is seated in a front seat (against safety guidelines) has been well known for many years, but it has also been reported that small adult drivers face a similar risk of death by airbag.
We would like to make it clear that the primary focus of this article is not the well-publicized potentially-fatal Takata airbag safety hazard, but it is also worth noting that those undeniably dangerous and faulty airbags have also been reported to demonstrate the safety hazard of random or false deployment of airbags.
We are wondering why a similar recall has not been made in Australia on the make and model of car in the above photograph. Could it be due to some weakness in Australia’s vehicle safety regulation?
Does an Australian child or adult have to die before the Australian Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, will issue a vehicle safety recall? Would this even happen if an Australian was seriously harmed or killed by the above vehicle hazard? In 2017 the previous minister the Hon. Darren Chester was made aware of all of the circumstances of the airbag incident and he chose to do nothing. When will Australians decide that this inaction must stop?