AN EASTLEIGH man died in a head-on crash in which his main airbag failed to deploy.

Cory Martin’s Renault Megane had an electrical fault, meaning his driver’s-side airbag did not launch when he crashed on the B2177, near Marwell Zoo.

The 27-year-old died instantly after suffering a serious head injury in the crash, caused when he swerved into the path of an oncoming Alpha Romeo.

An inquest was told how Mr Martin had driven for hundreds of miles with the fault.

And coroner Grahame Short concluded the HGV driver may have been aware of the issue – which prompts a warning light on the dashboard.

He ruled Mr Martin’s death as a road traffic collision.

The inquest, in Winchester, was told how Mr Martin was driving his 14-year-old Renault on Portsmouth Road around 6am on Friday, November 16.

As Mr Martin approached the junction with Thompson's Lane, travelling towards Bishops Waltham, his car crossed into the opposite lane.

He collided with an oncoming Alpha Romeo, driven by James Tyson.

Mr Tyson, from Curdridge, suffered life-changing injuries in the crash, including two fractures in his spine.

Pathologist Doctor Balvinder Shoker, who performed a post-mortem on Mr Martin, said the 27-year-old suffered multiple injuries in the crash, including a fatal head wound.

He said Mr Martin’s death would have been “instantaneous”.

Dr Shoker was unable to confirm if Mr Martin would still be alive if the airbags had deployed, but said it would have increased his chances.

Investigators said marks on the road showed how Mr Martin’s car moved into the path of Mr Tyson’s just seconds before the crash.

Collision expert PC Michaela Kerr said the reason for the manoeuvre remained a “matter of conjecture”.

She said Mr Martin had not been using his phone at the time and toxicology results showed neither driver had consumed drink or drugs.

PC Kerr also ruled out tyre wear and low tyre pressure on Mr Martin’s car as a major factor, as well as Mr Martin’s speed.

She estimated Mr Martin was travelling between 59mph and 66mph on the 50mph road.

PC Kerr said: “It is possible that he misconstrued the road, perhaps through inattention or distraction and swerved into the opposite lane.”

She added that police could not rule out the possibility that Mr Martin swerved to avoid an animal.

The inquest was also told how police had sent the car’s airbag system for inspection.

It showed the system had called for the airbags to be deployed, but an electrical fault had prevented the main air bag from firing out.

Police said the fault, which was present in Mr Martin’s car for more than 400 hours, would trigger a warning light on the car’s dashboard.

But they were unable to confirm if Mr Martin’s car had displayed the warning.

Coroner Grahame Short said it was likely the warning light had been displayed.

He said: “It is clear that the driver’s side airbag did not deploy, the airbag that could have protected him.

“The response from the examination showed there had been a fault for a considerable amount of time.

“I find that the warning light, on balance, was likely to have been displayed.

“I can’t say 100 per cent, but it seems likely – whether it was something that Mr Martin did not realise was significant or chose to ignore.”