U.S. safety regulators are investigating a complaint made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning a 2012 Hyundai Elantra whose airbag allegedly deployed and sliced the driver’s ear in half.
The owner-driver of the Elantra reported that the incident occurred on April 7, 2012 when a collision prompted the driver’s side airbag to deploy. Along with the airbag, the complaint states, came a metal bracket that sheared the driver’s ear in half. The complaint includes pictures of the wreckage as well as the injury.
“It appears that the metal component caused a laceration to the driver’s ear/face,” the NHTSA documents state. According to the Associated Press, pictures provided by the owner show a metallic part sticking out of the car from above the driver’s seat.
In response to the complaint, NHTSA said that it is investigating the incident to determine whether the problem could happen in other model-year 2012 Elantras. Approximately 123,000 of the Hyundai vehicles have been sold in the U.S. from the same model year.
Hyundai is cooperating with NHTSA investigators, who have not yet had an opportunity to examine the injured driver’s vehicle.
Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson told the Associated Press that the incident was likely an isolated one because Hyundai has not received any other reports of injury caused by side curtain airbag deployment in 2012 Elantras.
Hyundai Elantras from older model years have been subject to airbag recalls, though not for potential laceration hazards. Some 2004 and 2005 model-year Elantras were recalled over non-deployment concerns, and about 189,000 of the 2007 – 2009 model-year vehicles were recalled for potentially faulty airbag sensors. An additional 95,783 Elantras from the 2007 and 2008 model years were recalled over concerns the device’s second stage could deploy too closely to the driver because of faulty sensors that measure the driver’s distance to the airbag.