Airbags can reduce the chance of injury or death in a crash. But a defective airbag increases the risk of serious or fatal injuries in an accident. Four deaths and dozens of injuries linked to defective airbags produced by Takata Corporation have forced 11 automakers to begin airbag recalls of more than 11 million in the U.S.
The propellant used to inflate the airbags is reported to be too strong for the canister, causing it to rupture and become lethal. In addition to four deaths,
A number of auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, have recalled vehicles to replace defective Takata airbags.
Consumers should determine as quickly as possible whether their vehicle is involved in the recall. Residents of Florida and Hawaii, states with high humidity, should be on immediate alert because the problem could be worse in their climate, the New York Times reported.
The National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is renewing a probe of the company’s faulty airbags after reports that the company knew as early as 2004 that its airbags were defective but continued shipping them to auto manufacturers. Takata didn’t acknowledge testing the defective airbags for four more years, which led to the first related recall in November 2008, the Times reported.
According to The New York Times, Takata became aware that one of its airbags had sprayed metal debris at an Alabama motorist driving a 2002 Honda Accord in 2004, injuring the motorist.
One of the world’s largest manufacturers of airbags, Takata conducted tests on 50 airbags retrieved from vehicles in scrap yards, and the inflators in two of the airbags cracked during testing-a condition that can lead to ruptures.
The NHTSA conducted a short investigation and closed it in 2010 without taking any action against the company, the New York Times reported. But that didn’t make the problem subside.
Initially, the nature of his injuries led Alhambra, Calif., police to treat the case as a homicide. But an autopsy linked the death to the airbag, reporting that lacerations in his face came from a metal part of the airbag inflator. Tears in the airbag also were discovered.
This list is compiled by the Times from information manufacturers provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some could be regional and not all makes and models are affected.
Motorists should contact their dealer for information.
Many more vehicles made by these manufacturers could be impacted as well.
Federal regulators make statement
NHTSA has been notified by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota that they are holding limited regional recalls to deal with a possible safety defect in the Takata airbag inflators, according to safecar.gov. Those are based on NHTSA probes into six cases of airbag inflator ruptures in Florida and Puerto Rico.
The federal agency supports automakers’ efforts to deal with immediate risks in regions where the weather is hot and humid for long periods.
Vehicle owners who believe they are affected should seek service for their vehicles as soon as they receive notice from their manufacturer.
NHTSA provides a search tool that allows vehicle owners to use their Vehicle Identification Number to learn if a specific vehicle has not been repaired in a recall over the last 15 years.
One factor that could affect the recall on faulty airbags is that there might not be enough replacement parts for vehicles, especially since many of them are more than 10 years old, the New York Times reports.
Toyota, for instance, is shipping extra stock to Gulf Coast distributors and requesting that they expedite deliveries to dealers in areas where the humidity is high. Because of supply constraints, Toyota has gotten permission from the federal government to disable front-passenger airbags, at least temporarily. Dealers also will put a small sign on glove boxes warning against use of the passenger seat.
Manufacturers may be held legally responsible when their products are defective and cause injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective airbag, contact a Hawaii attorney experienced with faulty automotive parts who can guide you through the legal process and help you obtain an award that enables you to make your way through the healing process.