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WBBM's Investigative Reporter Dave Savini Uncovers Inadvertent Airbag Deployments

CHICAGO, Feb. 8, 2005 -- CBS 2's Dave Savini and the station's investigative team have uncovered a concerning trend of airbags inflating for no apparent reason. Savini learned that 117 complaints involving 2001-2003 Volkswagen GOLFS, GTIS, and JETTAS have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In some cases, the deployments have resulted in serious injuries including bruises, burns, broken bones, and in one case, the loss of an eye.

CBS 2 learned of driver complaints about airbags deploying after hitting potholes, rocks and curbs; while driving on the highway; backing out of driveways; and even when cars are parked. "We heard this loud bang like a shotgun," recalls one driver whose airbag deployed in her 2001 VW Jetta while on the highway with her family. "Immediately the car filled with smoke. I kept saying no, the airbags didn't just go off by themselves, something must have hit us. And my husband said, nothing hit us."

A Volkswagen spokesman says there are no defects with the airbags. He says that although the devices are not "100% perfect," the company's airbags still save lives.

The NHTSA has launched an investigation.