Is your car dashboard a deathtrap? cautions Royal Oman Police
July 15, 2017 | 9:34 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan/[email protected]
Accessories on vehicle’s dashboard prevent deployment of airbags during accidents

Muscat: Residents in Oman have been warned by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) to make sure their car dashboards are kept clear of all objects and left uncovered.

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Although it is common for drivers to cover their dashboards with carpeting to protect them from the heat, these could impede the deployment of airbags in the case of an accident. What’s even worse is that these objects could cause serious injury to occupants, as they ricochet off the insides of the vehicles.

“There are people who treat their cars like a personal home, which is wrong,” said a spokesman for the ROP.

“It’s not just carpeting on the dashboard, it’s all kinds of objects thrown about the car. A car is a means of transport.

“And as a means of transport, all manner of safety should be considered when using it. You have to be wary of all kinds of hazards, from loose objects, to those that can be a cause of spark, overheating and fire.

“These are things like perfumes and lighters,” he added.

“In the event of an accident, loose objects become like bullets shooting through the car. Loose objects can also become a hindrance to the efficiency and functionality of a car in the event of a collision. These are issues that a car driver, or passenger, should at least be aware of when it comes to owning a car, and keeping unnecessary items in the car.”

This advice was echoed by Seby Francis Maliakial, sales manager at Toyota Automotive.

“We’ve always advised our customers not to put any covering over their cars, because it could impede the deployment of their airbags,” he told Times of Oman. “The carpet and anything on it could fly in any direction, and this could worsen the situation in the car.

“Airbags are deployed at speeds of about 240 to 300 kilometres an hour, and this is very sudden,” added Maliakial.

“This means that anything that comes in the way of the airbags is potentially very dangerous. I understand that people are concerned about their dashboards suffering from wear and tear because of heat and scratches and all of that, but all of our cars come with long-term warranty, and even today, we replace dashboards for cars that have been in service for 10 years.

“If anyone wants to ensure their dashboards are kept cool, they can always use a sunshade while their cars are parked,” he said. I advise everyone to keep their dashboards clear of any objects.”

Ali Al Barwani, head of Oman’s Road Safety Association (ORSA), also expressed concern over this issue.

“Unfortunately, this is a very worrying issue,” he said. “Many people keep bottles of water or perfume on their dashboards and the liquids in them tend to heat up in the sun. In case of an accident, the caps on these could come loose, and this heated liquid could splash on people, causing serious injury.

“An even bigger issue here is that some of these are flammable, so they could catch fire in an accident, and harm people in the car even further, in addition to making it harder for the emergency crews to do their jobs,” added Al Barwani.

“If these bottles are made of glass or hard plastic and they break during an accident, they could pierce the airbags as they are deploying, which means people could hit their heads on the dashboards, causing serious fractures and other injuries.”

“I advise people not to keep anything on their dashboards,” he said. “If they need to keep things, let them do so in the seat pockets in the back, or in the dicky, because people must understand that their cars are not shops, but modes of transportation.”

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