The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it wants a nationwide recall of vehicles outfitted with certain side frontal side air bags manufactured by Takata. The move comes after the regulator decided that the manufacturer is not acting swiftly enough to expand the recall of defective air bags that may rupture when deployed.
Already there have been five deaths, four in the U.S., linked to the faulty auto safety device, which may shoot out shrapnel when rupturing. Today, two U.S. Senators said there might even be a sixth death linked to the deadly air bags. All of the air bag deaths occurred in Honda vehicles.
A national recall would broaden what has to date been regional action involving 4.1 million vehicles in states that are humid and hot, which is where the safety devices are more likely to fail. Automakers involved in that initiative included Mazda, Honda, Ford, BMW, and Chrysler. NHTSA said that unless Takata and the car manufacturers swiftly agree to the wider recall, it will use its authority to make sure that such an initiative happens.
The regulator also wants Takata and the ten automakers that use its air bag inflators—Toyota, BMW, Subaru, Chrysler, Nissan, Ford, Mitsubishi, General Motors, Mazda, and Honda—to provide a detailed report and generate all documents about the testing of the Takata inflators that are behind the existing recall.
According to The New York Times, a low cost air bag propellant made with an ammonium nitrate formula that Takata has been using for inflating its airbags is under scrutiny as a possible cause of the air bag safety issues. The formula is very sensitive to moisture and changes in temperature. It has been known to eventually erode, which is when it can violently combust.
Executives from Takata, Chrysler Group, Honda Motor Co., NHTSA’s deputy chief, and a victim of a 2013 air bag deployment incident are expected to testify in front of a Senate panel tomorrow about the air bag controversy.
Air bags are supposed to protect passengers, not inflict serious injury or death. But when an air bag does not deploy, deploys when it isn’t supposed to, inflates too quickly, or ruptures while inflating, the outcome can be deadly.
Air bags defects and malfunctions can lead to cuts, lacerations, concussions, facial bruises, head injuries, severe injuries, concussions, fractures, and death. They can even lead to traffic collisions that could otherwise have been avoided.
In Massachusetts, our Boston car accident law firm represents clients who were injured or who lost a loved one in traffic crashes involving a defective safety device or another auto defect. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP to speak with an auto products liability lawyer today.
You may have reason for pursuing a claim against an automaker, an air bag manufacturer, the auto dealer, or other negligent parties.
USDOT Calls for National Recall of Defective Takata Driver Side Air Bags, NHTSA, November 18, 2014
Takata’s Switch to Cheaper Airbag Propellant Is at Center of Crisis, The New York Times, Nov 19 2014
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