Millions of vehicles could be subjected to a new airbag recall after two U.S. Senators recently sent a letter to Japan-based Takata requesting they voluntarily recall all airbags manufactured with a cheaper ammonium nitrate propellant.
This propellant has been used by Takata since the early 2000s and the airbag maker continues to be use it in its its current airbags including those it has replaced from previous recalls. There have been more than 18.6 million vehicles recalled for defective airbags to date. Takata’s competitors, however, use a different compound and they have also been providing replacement airbags to some 34 million vehicles equipped with the defective Takata airbags.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who are part of a Senate Commerce Committee that is investigating the airbag issue, are now coming down hard on Takata. The senators recently learned of a collision involving a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan which became a turning point in their investigation. They say vehicle is the first to involve side airbags, the Volkswagen brand and a model newer than 2011.
The crash has now called into question what is triggering the airbags to break down and cause catastrophic failures. Takata had previously blamed the cause of the airbag ruptures on aging and long-term exposure to heat and high humidity in some regions. It was determined that the propellant was too sensitive to temperature changes and moisture. Over time, the propellant breaks down and becomes combustible.
Prior to using ammonium nitrate propellants in its airbags, Takata had success with a tetrazole propellant that was a safer and greener alternative to others on the market at the time, but it was expensive and the airbag industry was competitive so Takata allegedly chose the cheaper alternative.
AIRBAGS ARE A SAFETY ISSUE
The safety of consumers who may be at risk of injury or death in vehicles made with these airbags is the key reason behind the committee’s letter to Takata. Indeed, there have been eight people killed and139 others have suffered injuries due to defective airbags.
One of those injured was 18-year-old Angelina Sujata of South Carolina who suffered serious injuries when a Takata airbag in her 2001 Honda Civic exploded and sent shrapnel or metal shards into her body. She was only traveling about 25 miles per hour at the time of the crash.
“People shouldn’t have to worry about being injured or killed by a device that they paid to protect them from harm,”said Attorney James Johnson. “Takata should immediately stop using this explosive propellant and get these defective airbags off the market.”
Takata may not have a choice in the matter if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decides to take this new information and use it to force them to recall their airbags.
Johnson Attorneys Group, a California Lemon and Personal Injury law firm, handles cases involving defective Takata airbags. Consumers who have been injured in a traffic accident due to a defective airbag should preserve evidence and call an attorney immediately to help them build a case against an automaker or manufacturer.
James Johnson is a respected California attorney with offices and meeting locations throughout California to best serve our clients. Give us a call at 800-235-6801 for a free consultation.