Peugeot recalls 40,000 cars due to unsafe airbags

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The safety of all cars fitted with airbags was called into question last night after Peugeot urgently recalled 40,962 vehicles for checks on the bags.

The safety of all cars fitted with airbags was called into question last night after Peugeot urgently recalled 40,962 vehicles for checks on the bags.

The announcement came just 24 hours after a decision by the British government to launch an inquiry into the risk caused by airbags. At least two deaths of drivers in the UK have been linked to airbags.

Yesterday the French company said it was recalling its 206 model because of a design fault in the bags. The recall operation has already started in Germany where 11,710 models of the car containing the faulty device were sold. Now all owners of the affected model across Europe will get an individual letter.

Peugeot said the faulty devices were fitted on 206 models, which first came on to the market in November 1998, between June 1999 and 14 March this year. But in a statement, the car firm said although the device was faulty it did not prevent the airbag from operating in case of a shock.

Last year, Jennifer Reichardt, 47, a legal executive, became the first person in Britain whose death was blamed, by a coroner's court, on an airbag. She died after a collision near St Helens, Merseyside.

Although the airbag of her Rover 400 stopped her hitting the windscreen or the steering wheel, she still suffered a fractured skull.

Another victim was Christalla Sergi who died after her car collided with a tree while driving her Vauxhall Corsa.

At her inquest, the coroner said the airbag in her car could have contributed to her death.

Experts in the United States believe that shorter people sitting closer to the dashboard are more at risk of death or injury from airbags. Despite worries about bags, it is estimated that they have saved the lives of about 4,000 Americans, although they are also thought to have directly caused about 60 deaths including more than 30 children.

In Canada, the airbags are being designed to inflate more slowly.

In 1998 General Motors recalled 863,000 cars after reports of 130 injuries caused by airbags bursting open without any crash taking place.

The British government study into the safety of airbags is due to begin next year.

Comments