Repeated Takata Airbag Malfunctions Cause Death, Injury, and Hassle for Over 7 Million
Takata, a Japanese company, provides airbags to 10 manufacturers worldwide. These companies include Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. For Americans, that means nearly everyone with a car is affected by these airbags.
And yet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just issued a recall notice in October 2014. According to the NHTSA website, “Over seven million vehicles are involved in these recalls ... The message comes with urgency, especially for owners of vehicles affected by regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, limited areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana, as well as Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.”
NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman explains that the issues with the airbags were “related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,” which explains the geographic makeup of the recall notice. Takata airbags were over-inflating and, in many cases, exploding. The effect of this phenomenon was a dangerous shower of metal and plastic pieces for vehicle occupants. The NHTSA website also lists the affected models from the 10 different manufacturers, which totals 53.
In January, 2015, the NHTSA did a follow up on their October recall. They discovered that the attempts to fix the original issue only created more problems for drivers of certain models. The January press release states, “The new recalls cover 2.12 million Acura MDX, Dodge Viper, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty, Honda Odyssey, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix and Toyota Avalon models made in the early 2000s.” Where at first Takata airbags were exploding in the faces of vehicle occupants, they are now being set off at random times without being triggered by a crash. The NHTSA goes on to say, “NHTSA has identified about 40 vehicles in which airbags deployed unexpectedly after receiving the original remedy.”
These tandem recalls have sent many drivers back to their dealerships more than once in a matter of weeks. As such, these repeated issues not only cause unnecessary death and injury, they also present a serious inconvenience for many drivers. But what is NHTSA doing about it? According to their January press release:
“NHTSA will take a series of additional steps to ensure safety, including:
- Seeking additional information from TRW, which made the electronic part believed to be involved in the inadvertent deployments, about the potential defect, its causes, and whether other makes or models might be affected.
- Seeking information from the automakers about how quickly they can make the new, more effective remedy available.”
What’s more, NHTSA urges drivers of all makes and models to check available resources to see if their automobile falls under any recall notices. Hassle though it may be, it’s still better than having an airbag explode in your face while driving to the grocery store.