Product News and Recalls

Takata Airbags are Still Killing People a Decade Later

takata airbags still killing motorists a decade laterNearly ten years have elapsed since one of the largest recalls in U.S. manufacturing history was initiated. In that time, 22 fatalities and over 400 injuries have occurred. And yet, Takata airbags are still killing motorists.

We last wrote about the Takata airbag recall in the spring of 2020 when 370,000 Volkswagen vehicles were added to the tally of over 70 million airbags installed in 42 million cars of nearly every make and model. However, a death earlier this year has reminded the public, as well as vehicle safety regulators, of the threat posed by devices generally kept out of sight and out of mind.

The latest fatality occurred in Florida – an environment perfectly matched to the kind of high humidity; high temperature conditions that can lead to the catastrophic failure that has brought the former auto parts manufacturer to its knees. The vehicle involved in the incident was a 2006 Ford Ranger and its driver was killed after the air bag inflator exploded and ruptured after being triggered during a crash. A spokesman for Ford told The Wall Street Journal that the vehicle’s owner had been visited at home by a canvasser working to establish contact with owners of affected vehicles. The owner told the canvasser that he would schedule an appointment to have the airbag replaced.

Despite efforts to reach affected vehicle owners, the Takata airbag recall saga has left neither Takata nor the world’s auto manufacturers in a positive light. Evidence indicates that Takata itself was aware of the dangers posed by its airbags and that the company manipulated test data to conceal the fault. This does not, however, mean that auto manufacturers were the victims. A 2017 report published by The New York Times covered a lawsuit that sought to prove that four of the largest automakers in the world knew about the dangers posed by Takata airbags for years and decided to install them in their vehicles anyway. Toyota was known to have “large quality concerns” over the construction and function of Takata airbags and considered them to be “unacceptable.” This did not stop Toyota from installing the devices in millions of vehicles. The same can be said of Ford and others.

Regulators are pushing for the Takata airbag recall to once again enter the mindset of the driving public. As said by the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled airbag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death.”