By Peter Valdes-Dapena | CNN
New York — While personalizing one’s vehicle is a long-cherished American tradition, the federal government is warning that one particular customization option can result in serious injuries in a crash. The little rhinestone bedazzled ring you’ve slapped over the manufacturer’s logo on the steering wheel has got to go.
Car owners should not affix hard stick-on decorations to the center of a vehicle’s steering wheel, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an announcement Monday. People should immediately remove any decorations they may have already put on their steering wheel, the agency said. Those decorations could become shrapnel-like projectiles in a crash, potentially causing serious, or even fatal, injury.
“At least one driver suffered a serious injury that resulted in the loss of sight in one eye, when an aftermarket emblem adorned with rhinestones became dislodged from the steering wheel in a crash and hit the driver in the face,” NHTSA said.
NHTSA described a potentially dangerous product as a “metal or plastic plate, usually covered with rhinestones or other shiny decorations, with an adhesive back that covers the vehicle’s logo in the center of the steering wheel.”
The agency didn’t name any specific products or manufacturers but said, in general, such steering wheel decorations are potentially very dangerous.
Most passenger vehicles today have driver-side airbags that, in a serious impact, deploy from the middle of the steering wheel. The airbag inflates with near-explosive force toward the driver’s head and face, providing a cushioning effect in a crash. While most vehicles have a logo built into the center of the steering wheel, those factory-added decorations are designed to stay in place when the airbag is released. (Nissan recently had to recall some vehicles because their steering wheel logos could come loose.)
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