Steering wheel decals can cause blindness, severe injuries, regulators say

The deflated airbag of a 2015 Honda Civic (Photo By Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Federal regulators are warning drivers not to place aftermarket decals on their steering wheels after rhinestone-adorned pieces flew off and caused severe injuries, including blindness in one eye.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, aftermarket decals are typically made of metal or plastic and covered with rhinestones or other "shiny" decorations. They’re placed on steering wheels to cover the vehicle’s logo, but if a crash happens and the airbag deploys, the decals can turn into projectiles.

"Unlike the permanently affixed emblems on your vehicle’s steering wheel, these aftermarket decals can easily become dislodged when the airbag deploys," the NHTSA said. "Any alterations or changes to your air bag or its cover can also cause it to malfunction."

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In one case, an airbag deployed and sent two pieces of a metal decal into someone’s face and neck. Another driver lost sight in one eye after a decal with rhinestones dislodged and hit them in the face. 

Federal regulators say you should avoid buying steering wheel decals for any vehicle. If you have one on your current vehicle, the NHTSA says you should remove it. It’s the second such warning issued by the NHTSA in the past six months.