WASHINGTON - There will be no federally ordered recall of Hyundai Accents for airbags that government safety officials suspected of deploying when they should not in low-speed crashes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on March 12 that a 11/2-year investigation failed to disclose a defect that would explain the rash of deployments in 1995-99 Accents. There are nearly 250,000 of the cars in service.
The agency and Hyundai Motor America together collected 11 reports of airbag deployments in crashes at speeds of about 15 mph or less. The airbags in those crashes were blamed for 10 child deaths and one serious injury.
NHTSA investigated eight Accent deaths from the 1996-98 calendar years.
The number of similar incidents in all other kinds of cars and trucks from 1993 through 2000 totaled 63. The data exclude children in crashes who were in rear-facing child seats, those on people's laps, those standing in front of the passenger airbag and anyone who had been with one or more other children on a single passenger seat.
Despite the large proportion of investigated deaths that occurred in Accents, NHTSA said in its 18-page report, 'Further expenditure of agency resources on this investigation does not appear to be warranted.'
Hyundai maintained all along that the vehicles are not defective.
Agency officials noted last week that no airbag-related child deaths have occurred in Accents since 1998 and attributed the improvement, at least in part, to government and industry campaigns to get drivers to put children in rear seats.