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Department of Transportation Adds Millions of Airbags to Takata Recall

Steve Wagner

Up until last week, there had been 28.8 million airbags recalled due to defective inflators manufactured by Takata Corp. in Japan. Last week, an additional recall by the Department of Transportation makes the Takata inflators subject of the largest safety recall in United States history.

An estimated 35-40 million additional airbags with Takata inflators will be recalled between May 2016 and December 2019. The phases of the recall will be prioritized according to the age of the inflators, exposure to high humidity, and fluctuating high temperatures.

The decision to recall more products comes after the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was able to confirm the root cause of the tendency of the inflators to rupture. Over a hundred injuries and ten deaths have been caused by ruptured inflators, which send shrapnel through the airbag into the vehicle during collisions.

Independent Investigations Find Cause

Three independent investigations were reviewed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and an independent expert. The findings were disturbing. In airbags where the ammonium nitrate propellant was used without a desiccant, the propellant degraded due to the passage of time, moisture, and fluctuating high temperatures. The result is that the propellant would burn too quickly, causing the inflator to rupture and send shrapnel through the airbag.

The current list of vehicles carrying recalled airbags is available but does not yet include the recent addition. The NHTSA is being very clear about the science behind the recalls, emphasizing the need for car owners to respond quickly to have the recalled product replaced once informed. It is equally important to ensure your car’s manufacturer has updated address and other contact information. Though millions of recall notices have been sent out, the families of some of those killed in airbag accidents say the victims did not receive information about the recall.

Frustrations with Takata Run High

It appears the NHTSA may have save lives by beginning the airbag recall immediately instead of waiting for the research to be completed. Administrators say the most at-risk products have already been recalled thanks to NHTSA efforts.

Takata, however, has raised the ire of both industry insiders and the public. Some say the auto parts manufacturer has been slow to respond to requests for information and cooperation. In 2015, Takata was the recipient of the largest-ever civil penalty imposed by the NHTSA for violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. In addition to the civil penalty, the NHTSA appointed an Independent Monitor to ensure Takata complied with orders and did their part with regard to the Coordinated Remedy Program. The Coordinated Remedy Program is both process and schedule for the recall and replacement of the faulty products.

Were you or a loved one seriously injured by an airbag? In the case of the Takata defect, most deaths occurred in accidents where all involved would typically have been expected to survive. Our attorneys are experienced with car accidents and product liability and are positioned to fight for you. If you believe a faulty airbag or other auto part caused your injury, call us today for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.


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