Check Your Air Bags… It May Mean Life or Death

September 13, 2005

Air bags have helped protect motorists in the United States and around the world for years. In fact, in 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that air bags saved about 2,500 lives. However, a recent development has left motorists at risk.

A company located in Laceys Spring Alabama, Hicks Air Bag Covers, has been marketing air bag covers to automotive groups not only in Connecticut, but also throughout the country. These covers do not contain actual airbags, which could have very dangerous, and potentially deadly, consequences for drivers. For instance, two years ago, a Washington woman was killed while driving a car with a fake air bag cover manufactured by a different company.

Bill Denya, who owns and operate a garage in Meriden and is a representative of the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC) received promotional material from Hicks and took it upon himself to order one of the covers. When he discovered the covers were just that, and did not contain protective air bags, he immediately contacted me.

I then contacted Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who has begun exploring legal action to ensure that these types of products are not sold in our state. We held a joint press conference in mid-August in an effort to help alert Connecticut drivers who unknowingly may be operating motor vehicles without an air bag.

While federal law already prohibits auto repairers or dealers from installing air bag covers without air bags in vehicles whose bags have deployed, non-professionals are not covered by either federal or state law. Along with the ABAC, I am committed to pushing legislation imposing a total ban on the sale and installation of air bag covers without air bags. I am confidant that Connecticut will join Florida and New York, who have already enacted similar laws.

In the meantime, the only way for drivers to know to the difference is to check for the maker’s logo on the bag cover. If no logo is present, there is an excellent chance that the cover is a fake and there is no air bag underneath. Especially if you have purchased a used car, be sure to look at the steering wheel for a logo.
Please be on the lookout for fake air bag covers. If you discover any, please do not hesitate to call my office toll-free at 1(800) 841-1421 or report them to the ABAC at (860) 848-0534.