Defective Airbags in Nearly 34 Million Vehicles

crash5Motor vehicle consumers, drivers and passengers have an expectation that our vehicles are safe to ride in.  We often hear about roll-over tests and safety ratings.  Vehicle safety requirements took a step further by requiring that vehicles be equipped with seat belts for all vehicle occupants.  When it was determined that seat belts, alone, could not prevent death or serious injuries to vehicle occupants, the installation of airbags became a vehicle safety requirement.

However, at least six deaths have been determined to be linked to the defective airbags.  In all, at least 17 million vehicles have been recalled in the United States, in addition to over 36 million worldwide due to defective airbags.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that inflators in certain airbags were made with a propellant which may degrade over time and lead to ruptures.  The Takata air bags could possibly explode resulting in shards of metal being propelled throughout the vehicle passenger compartment.

 

Airbags are critical components of passenger safety in motor vehicle accidents.  The airbag is designed to prevent passengers from making contact with the vehicle dashboard, steering wheel, the vehicle windshield, or other components of the passenger compartment.

Once a vehicle collision occurs (for example, a head-on collision), collision sensors detect the collision and send a signal to the Electronic Control Unit (ECU).

The severity of the impact is determined by the ECU based on data input.  If it is determined by the ECU that deployment of the airbag is necessary, a signal is sent to initiate the airbag inflators (airbag inflators are gas emitting devices).

An igniter activates the inflators resulting in a chemical reaction which emits gas and deploys the airbag.  The airbag deploys inside the passenger compartment thereby restricting passenger movement.

Driver side airbags typically inflate between 20-30 milliseconds, with the passenger side airbag deploying between 30-40 milliseconds.

 

The Transportation Secretary has issued a statement ensuring that the Department of Transportation is aggressively taking proactive steps to ensure that the defective inflators are replaced, and that the Department will not stop addressing the issue until all of the defective air bags are replaced.

The recall of defective air bags is the largest in the history of NHTSA, and an agreement was reached between NHTSA and Takata for full cooperation with the NHTSA investigation prioritizing the replacement of the defective airbag inflators.

Some of the affected vehicle brands include: BMW (approximately 765,000 affected vehicles), Chrysler and Dodge/Ram (approximately 2.88 million affected vehicles), Ford (approximately 538,977 affected vehicles), Honda and Acura (approximately 5.5 million affected vehicles), Nissan including Infiniti, (approximately 1,091,000 affected vehicles), Pontiac, Saab, Subaru (approximately 17,516 affected vehicles), Mitsubishi (approximately 11,985 affected vehicles), Mazda (approximately 330,000 affected vehicles), Toyota including Lexus and Pontiac Vibe (approximately 1,514,000 affected vehicles).  Most affected vehicle model years range between 2001-2011.

To determine whether your vehicle is included in the recall, enter your vehicle VIN number at: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/.

If you believe that you, your passengers and/or family has been injured due to defective airbags, call (404) 551-2428 or e-mail us at: info@vanjohnsonlaw.us for a free consultation.