Chevrolet recalls 55,000 Sparks because of dumb regulations

Should it really be the automaker's fault if an owner willfully ignores seat belts?

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

Fun fact: Did you know that, in order to comply with US regulations, automakers have to design airbags to work with unbelted occupants? Now you do, thanks to a new Chevrolet recall.

Chevrolet has issued a recall for 55,068 examples of the 2016-2017 Spark compact car. The recall was put in place because these vehicles were found to be in violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, "Occupant Crash Protection."

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While Chevrolet works on a fix, the easiest way to prevent injury is to make sure children are belted. You know, common sense stuff.


The reason for the recall might sound odd. If a young child is seated improperly in the front passenger seat and is also not wearing a seat belt, a deployed airbag might increase the risk of injury to that child. That means the car fails to comply with FMVSS 208, so the automaker must recall the vehicle to fix the problem.

The trouble is, that problem isn't technically with the airbag -- it's with the owner that placed a child in the front seat improperly. There are a number of rules about how children should be seated in a vehicle, and not wearing a seat belt is straight-up illegal. Yet, the car's airbags must still be designed to avoid injury, even for improperly seated and belted occupants.

You can't fix stupid, but the onus is still on GM to engineer a solution for this recall. While the recall has been announced, GM has not yet devised a solution to remedy the issue. Therefore, there's no notification schedule for owners just yet, but when the fix is in, owners will be notified by first-class mail.

In the meantime, common sense would suggest putting children in the back seat and making sure they're buckled up.