Fleet News

Concern as airbags cause damage to hearing

COMPANY car drivers are suffering permanent hearing damage and even deafness as the result of an airbag inflating, according to new research. Graham Buckley, a consultant head and neck surgeon at St James's University Hospital, Leeds, says that hearing damage and tinnitus can be caused by the noise of an airbag going off.

He described two recent cases where airbags could be linked to the loss of drivers' hearing. The first case involved a 38-year-old woman who was in a collision at 20mph and the airbag struck her on the right side of the face. She suffered immediate hearing loss and tinnitus, and also had unsteadiness on her feet for about two weeks.

In the second case, a 68-year-old man drove into the back of another vehicle at 15mph. He too suffered hearing loss and tinnitus after the airbag went off. Buckley says the injury is caused by the sound of the airbag inflating - up to 170 decibels, which is a noise level normally described as deafening. It rates higher than a gun shot or plane's jet engine at close quarters.

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