As requested by the U.S. Department of Transportation, air bag manufacturer Takata acknowledged that its air bag inflators contained a defect and agreed to a national recall of specified driver and passenger side air bag inflators. The recall includes almost 34 million vehicles in the country. Six deaths worldwide were attributed to inflators that ruptured because of a propellant in the devices that degraded prematurely.
Testing and investigation by Takata, auto manufacturers and independent researchers has not yet determined a certain root cause of the malfunctions. The NHTSA’s review of test results and engineering reports from independent organizations indicate that moisture infiltrated the defective devices for a period of time.
The moisture changes the structure of the chemical propellant that ignites when an air bag deploys. This propellant is degraded, ignites too fast and produces excess pressure that causes the inflator to rupture and send lethal metal shards into the passenger compartment.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also issued a consent order requiring Takata to cooperate in all of the NHTSA’s regulatory actions in its investigation and oversight of Takata. The NHTSA will also begin a formal legal process to organize and prioritize the air bag recall. It is planning to issue a notice of intent to begin a proceeding to coordinate the remedy program for Takata inflators to quickly act upon the highest risks.
Most likely, vehicles will be fixed based upon priorities of risk predicated upon their age and geographic location. This recall was expanded from the 16 million vehicles with passenger-side inflators in high absolute humidity areas to another 17 million vehicles equipped with driver-side inflators.
Negligent drivers and defective equipment, individually or in combination, can cause fatalities and serious injuries in New York car accidents. Prompt legal assistancecan help determine the causes of auto accidents and protect the right to compensation.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Takata files defect reports, enters consent order; NHTSA to coordinate remedy program,” May 19, 2015