Recalled Takata Airbags Causing Severe Injuries
In April of 2013, automobile airbag manufacturer, Takata, announced that some of their airbags contain potential defects. The defect involves airbag inflators bursting open and spraying drivers and front seat passengers with sharp metal fragments causing injuries and deaths.
Airbags are designed to cushion the blow in an accident and slow down the passenger’s forward movement in the event of a crash. On the driver’s side, the airbags are stored in the center of the steering wheel. There is a sensor in the steering column that triggers the airbags’ deployment in the event of a collision. When the car crashes into something, the airbag is supposed to inflate like a balloon and save the driver from crashing into the steering wheel or being propelled through the windshield. In the case of the defective Takata products, the airbags have been exploding and causing injury to the driver, rather than or in addition to the injuries caused by the collision.
Five deaths and approximately 139 injuries have been reported in connection with the defective airbags. The severe injuries were a result of the shards of metal that the exploding airbag inflator box expelled at close range. Victims of these accidents have suffered severe facial trauma, including eye injuries resulting in blindness and puncture wounds in the face and neck area, depending upon the height of the driver.
After allegations of a cover-up on Takata’s part with regard to their knowledge that their airbags had serious defects as early as 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has demanded that Takata conduct a nationwide recall of cars equipped with the potentially defective driver’s side airbags. This recall will potentially affect approximately 17 million automobiles in the U.S. from 12 automakers.
Both Toyota and General Motors are warning owners to forbid people from riding in the front passenger seat of the affected models if the airbags have not been deactivated or replaced. You can consult this complete list of car models included in the defective airbag recall to see if you own one of these vehicles. The NHTSA strongly urges drivers of vehicles with Takata airbags to get them repaired without delay, as this has now become a serious safety issue.
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