Man says he lost consciousness at the wheel due to Benz's 'new car smell'

Numerous studies have shown that the so-called new car smell – which is actually a potent outgassing of volatile organic chemicals and heavy metals – can be potentially dangerous to breathe in, and that some people are more bothered by these VOCs than others.

But could that new car smell be so insidious that it could cause you to lose consciousness long enough that you get into an accident? And if so, could an attorney use such a new car smell defense to ease a client's legal woes? Sounds a bit odd, but just such a case is currently taking place in Colorado.

Here are the facts: Martin Erzinger, owner of a 2010 Mercedes-Benz sedan (model unknown), fell asleep at the wheel, drifted off the road and struck a bicyclist named Dr. Steven Milo before colliding with a concrete barrier. The unresolved questions are whether Erzinger's sleep apnea was compounded by his car's odors, as suggested by a forensic specialist, and if he was aware that he had struck a pedestrian.

Of course, it's not up to us to decide how guilty or innocent Erzinger may be... we'll leave that up to the court. But we are curious what you think. Could a particularly noxious new car smell be a contributing factor in an accident?

[Source: | Image: DyannaCC 2.0]

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