U.S. drivers looking to make a fashion statement with their vehicles may want to stick with bumper stickers, as a customization option could lead to serious injuries in a crash, a federal agency warned Monday.
At least one driver was seriously injured, blinding them in one eye, when an aftermarket rhinestone emblem came loose from a steering wheel in a crash and hit the driver in the face, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned in a consumer alert.
Typically adorned with rhinestones or other shiny decoration, the metal or plastic products have adhesive backings that cover factory-made logos in the center of the steering wheels, according to NHTSA. In a crash, the force of a deploying air bag could turn the product into a projectile and seriously injure — or even kill — the person behind the wheel, the agency said.
NHTSA advised vehicle owners not to use steering wheel decals in any vehicle, and also urged drivers who have affixed them to remove them.
Unlike the permanently applied logos that automakers put on steering wheels, the aftermarket decals can come off easily, the agency noted.
Nissan in February recalled more than 400,000 older models of SUVs, vans and pickups after the automaker became aware of four injuries allegedly related to the Nissan emblem breaking off the steering wheels when airbags deployed, according to to Associated Press.
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