Since 2014, 67 million vehicles with Takata airbags have been recalled due to a significant defect in the bag’s inflators.
A January 2021 report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that over 20 people in the U.S. have died and more than 400 have been injured because of the faulty airbags. High temperatures and humidity over a period of time caused the inflators of the bags to explode and spit shrapnel through the airbag toward drivers and/or passengers.
Although the safety recall has resulted in the replacement of several million inflators in vehicles on U.S. roadways, there are still millions of recalled cars on the road yet to receive a repair, putting their occupants at risk.
Repairs to Defective Inflators Are Key
The defective inflators are susceptible to moisture intrusion. Moisture can get into the propellant—a highly volatile ammonium nitrate—that inflates the bag, causing the inflator to malfunction. The inflator, under these circumstances, provides a more rapid and aggressive burning of the propellant during a crash, causing what is called an “energetic disassembly” of the metal inflator housing. It results in the housings metal fragments to pierce the bag and be propelled into occupants.
It has not been possible for all replacement parts to be available as fast as they are needed. Certain car models were at a much higher risk of dangerous airbag explosions and required more immediate attention.
A January 2020 recall of 10 million airbags is the last one that the bankrupt Takata company agreed to in a 2015 settlement with safety regulators. The action could end what is essentially the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history.
NHTSA Lists Actions to Resolve the Issue
In its January report, NHTSA listed some of the steps being taken to remediate the problem.
They include a more aggressive awareness program to reach a greater number of drivers so that the recall completion can be improved. Industry groups have been formed to generate a collaboration between Takata, the auto manufacturers and industry stakeholders. Many of the affected 19 auto manufacturers have given local car dealers’ contact information about the car owners, which has resulted in more repairs. For a complete a list of airbag recalls over time, visit www.AutoSafety.org.
Our law firm represents severely injured people, some of whom have been harmed by the faulty Takata airbags. If you believe you have a case or want further information, contact us at [email protected].