DETROIT (AP) — In a story July 25 about the performance of air bags in some Chevrolet Impalas, The Associated Press reported erroneously that federal safety regulators had opened a formal investigation into the matter, based on incorrect statements from an agency spokeswoman. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is informally looking into the matter, but no decision has been made on a formal probe.
A corrected version of the story is below:
US looking into Impala air bag performance
US safety agency looking into Chevrolet Impala air bag performance
By TOM KRISHER
AP Auto Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government's highway safety agency is looking into air bag failures in some Chevrolet Impala full-size cars made by General Motors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is informally checking out the problem after receiving a petition from Donald Friedman of Xprts LLC, a Santa Barbara, California, company that examines crashes.
Friedman examined an April 2011 car crash in Hidalgo County, Texas, that severely injured an elderly man named Roberto Martinez. His wife Aurora was driving their 2008 Impala when it was hit by an SUV and forced into a concrete highway divider and a fixed barrier in front of the car. The passenger air bags didn't deploy, and Roberto suffered permanent brain injuries, according to a lawsuit filed by the couple against GM. He died about 10 months later.
Friedman alleges that because Roberto Martinez was bounced around during the incident, the weight sensor in the passenger seat misread his weight and didn't fire the air bag. The air bag is supposed to inflate for anyone other than a child or small adult.
The petition, filed last November, asked NHTSA to investigate and recall the cars that use the same computer to sense a passenger's weight. It says GM used the same system in other models from 2004 through 2010. The inquiry covers about 320,000 Impalas from the 2007-2009 model years. Friedman says the cars should be recalled and the computers reprogrammed.
A NHTSA spokeswoman said that although the agency will look into the matter, it has not granted Friedman's petition and no formal investigation has been opened.
NHTSA said in documents that it will review all available data and take appropriate action. But it said initial reviews found no defects. "However, in an abundance of caution regarding the performance of air bags in the nation's fleet, NHTSA is looking further into this allegation," the agency said in a statement.
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