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Toyota is conducting a voluntary recall for RAV4 and Highlander models in America, to replace the side curtain airbag sensor assembly.
On certain RAV4s built between 2007 and 2008 and Highlanders from 2008, there are two side curtain sensors that detect the side angle of a vehicle during a rollover. These sensors could fail and illuminate the airbag warning light, which would prevent the rollover detection system from activating. If both of these sensors fail, however, the side airbags could be fooled into thinking a rollover has actually happened, and deploy.
Only North American vehicles have this feature, and no other Toyota or Lexus cars around the world are affected. None of the 214,000 RAV4s or 94,000 Highlanders affected have actually deployed their airbags, but given Toyota’s recent history with recalls it’s fair to say that they are not taking any chances.
We can all feel a little safer in our vehicles, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced recently that automakers will be required to install larger side curtain airbags. These new airbags are a measure to help prevent injuries and deaths that may occur during a rollover accident.
We will start to see these new airbags in vehicles starting in 2013, with full implementation in 2018. According to NHTSA, they will help to curtail the number of people that are ejected through side windows in the event of a rollover.
Coming in second behind frontal crashes, rollovers can be deadly – if you’re involved in a rollover crash, you’re 14 times more likely to die than if you were in a frontal crash. And here are some more scary stats – in the last decade, 47% percent of people killed in rollover crashes were completely ejected from the vehicle.
“This new standard will help save lives and reduce injuries by requiring vehicles to have a safety system that keeps occupants in the vehicle in a rollover crash,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The new airbag rules will apply to vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. The costs that come with the new application are pretty low, so it will add about $31 to the price of a vehicle.