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Airbag Deployment Fatality

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  • Airbag Deployment Fatality

    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    (Compiled from various media sources)

    A 47 year old Toronto woman is dead following a relatively minor low speed collision at a city intersection Wednesday, and Airbag deployment is being looked at as the cause.

    Karol Steinhouse was the driver of the third in a line of cars stopped at a red light when her vehicle was struck from behind by a fourth auto, causing her to bump the car ahead of her. TV news showed deployment of both frontal Airbags in her 2000 Accura. The coroner described her fatal injuries as “...six broken ribs and a ruptured aorta...” caused by “blunt force trauma”. The woman was VSA upon arrival of EMS crews at the scene of what was described as a “fender bender”.

    Transport Canada and Honda (the maker of the Accura) intend to download event info from the “black box” early next week.

    Crews are being interviewed to determine whether the victim was wearing a seat belt at the time of collision. Compliance with seat belt legislation in Canada is approximately 92 per cent, compared with 65 per cent use in the United States.

    Transport Canada had previously reported six similar fatalities in Canada, all attributable, they say, to occupants being too close to the Airbag upon deployment. It was reported that Steinhouse was a mere 4 ft. 10 in. tall. A Television news reporter who visited an dealership stated that a person of such short stature, having positioned the driver’s seat to its forwardmost position, would have 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in.) clearance from the airbag module. (Remember our 5-10-20 rule of thumb, or whichever version you preach).

    George Iny, President of the Automobile Protection Association said that airbags are unnecessary in most city traffic situations and that “Some air bags deploy when the vehicle is moving at too low a speed....”.

    Police report total damage estimate in the collision to be less than $1000 (Cdn.!).

  • #2
    Unfortunately, these relatively rare instances tend to attract a lot of media attention, and can undermine the positive aspects of Supplimental Restraint Systems. As noted in the article, the decedant was someone with a rather small body mass (both height and weight) and therefore one can surmise that she may have had the seat positioned in the fully forward position. As rescuers, we've all been taught the importance of staying out of the deployment path of "loaded" airbags at extrication scenes (the "10-18-5" rule) and it may be that the decedant was positioned with her torso (sternum) in that 10" range (25 cm for us Canadians) while she was operating the vehicle. As rescuers, we should all be making sure that our comunities are properly informed of the benefits (and risks) associated with seat belt and air bag usage. It's in everyones best interests to make sure that those that we serve have accurate information on these systems. Transport Canada has some excellent information on air bags and deactivation concerns. Check out their website at www.tc.gc.ca
    STAY SAFE!!!
    Diesel

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