The NHTSA has issued a recent warning that vehicles equipped with Takata airbags are potentially dangerous and may cause injury. In its statement, the agency raised the number of vehicles possibly affected to over seven million. The automobiles included in this warning are models from the early 2000’s, and spread across many manufacturers, including: Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.
While the actual cause of the malfunction of the airbags is still under investigation, it seems that the cause of the problem is that the chemical which causes the airbag to deploy was improperly handled during manufacturing. As a result, upon being deployed the airbag can tear free and project metal shrapnel from its housing, spraying the heads and chests of the driver and passengers of the car with metal fragments causing injury, and in some cases, death.
Further investigation leads the NHTSA and the car manufacturers to believe that this defect is exacerbated by high humidity. For this reason, the NHTSA is placing the emphasis of this warning, and car manufacturers are limiting their recalls, to residents of areas with hot and humid climates: Florida, Hawaii, some areas on the Gulf Coast, such as Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana as well as certain U.S. Territories.
This emphasis of the NHTSA and auto manufacturers is peculiar, though. Thus far, four deaths have been associated with these defective airbags; one in California, one in Florida, one in Oklahoma, and one in Virginia. The obvious question is why, considering that half of the deaths caused by these airbags occurred outside of humid climate states, would the recalls not include all areas?
Even with limiting their recalls to these specific areas, though, the car manufactures seem to not have an ample supply of non-defective airbags with which to replace the old, defective ones at this point. In some cases, car manufacturers are simply removing the faulty airbags and advising drivers not to have front seat passengers until they can replace the airbags with adequate ones.
Equally disturbing is the fact that Honda was made aware of the possibility of injury from these airbags in 2004, yet did not begin recalling their vehicles until 2008. Furthermore, the Center for Auto Safety has pointed fingers at Honda, accusing the car manufacturer of failing to report all airbag related deaths to the government database, as auto manufacturers are required to do. Honda has responded by initiating an audit to examine the possible shortcomings of its quarterly warning report and committed to sharing this information with the NHTSA.
Unfortunately, here at The Casper Firm we are all too familiar with severe injury due to defective airbags. We have witnessed first-hand the pain- both physical and emotional- that our clients have had to endure due to airbags functioning improperly. These new recalls are even more upsetting, as the very technology we rely on for safety in our vehicles may be that which ultimately causes us injury. We therefore urge you to please visit your car manufacturers’ website and type in your VIN number to receive the information you may need as to how this recall may affect your vehicle. Additionally, you may call the NHTSA safety hotline at: 1-800-327-4236.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to an automobile defect, either airbag or otherwise, please call our office at (410) 989-5079 or visit our website at www.casperfirm.com to set up a free consultation.
News sources: USA Today, Fox News, CBS News, autonews.com