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The Troubling Takata Airbag Recall Widens

A hard, cold fact is every vehicle on the road is in danger of being involved in an auto accident. Whenever we get behind the wheel or sit in a passenger seat, most of us take for granted the numerous safety features in which our car is equipped while indulging all the new-age comforts. Today's automobile provides far more safety and technology than what they did just a decade ago, from integrated navigation, communication and musical systems as well as their sleek styling and great gas mileage.

We all want to arrive safely at our next destination, even if it's a few blocks or several hundred miles away. Modern vehicles are equipped with all kinds of safety features such as improved safety harnesses, anti-lock brakes, rear mounted back-up cameras, all-terrain tires, run-flat tires and, of course, airbags. The airbag was designed to inflate rapidly then quickly deflate during a collision or impact and to provide occupant protection and restraint during a crash event. This safety technology was first introduced in the 1970's and has been refined over the subsequent decades. While the technology has been installed to limit the hazards of driving, airbags aren't flawless in deployment. Sadly, one manufacturer, Takata, has known this fact all too well over the last several years.

A hard, cold fact is every vehicle on the road is in danger of being involved in an auto accident. Whenever we get behind the wheel or sit in a passenger seat, most of us take for granted the numerous safety features in which our car is equipped while indulging all the new-age comforts. Today's automobile provides far more safety and technology than what they did just a decade ago, from integrated navigation, communication and musical systems as well as their sleek styling and great gas mileage.

We all want to arrive safely at our next destination, even if it's a few blocks or several hundred miles away. Modern vehicles are equipped with all kinds of safety features such as improved safety harnesses, anti-lock brakes, rear mounted back-up cameras, all-terrain tires, run-flat tires and, of course, airbags. The airbag was designed to inflate rapidly then quickly deflate during a collision or impact and to provide occupant protection and restraint during a crash event. This safety technology was first introduced in the 1970's and has been refined over the subsequent decades. While the technology has been installed to limit the hazards of driving, airbags aren't flawless in deployment. Sadly, one manufacturer, Takata, has known this fact all too well over the last several years.

The Takata Airbag Recall Saga

Since 2008, when problems first surfaced and explosive headlines hit the press, passenger vehicles equipped with Takata air bags became the targets of an ever-growing recall. Initially, the problem was believed to be quite limited in scope, but by fall 2014, the recall of Takata airbags exceeded 14 million vehicles. The problem: the air bags deploying in an explosive fashion, causing tiny, fragmented metal shards to fly into a vehicle's interior.

A consortium of 10 automakers led by Toyota Motor Corporation and includes Honda, has separately commissioned engineering firm Orbital ATK to conduct independent testing of Takata's air bag inflators, which can rupture with too much force, shooting metal shards into vehicles. Six deaths have been linked to the problem so far, all on Honda cars. About 25 million vehicles with Takata air bags have been recalled worldwide since 2008.- Reuters

The first two automakers who discovered the problem categorized it as, "an anomaly;" and, the vehicle manufacturers relying on Takata products included Japanese, German, and American automakers. The recall has extended to include an additional 105,000 passenger vehicles, making the total number of recalled vehicles in the United States to rise to 17 million, and 22 million worldwide. According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, several auto manufacturers have recalled vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. Auto manufacturers like BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, and Mitsubishi have taken steps to correct the defective airbag problem.

A disturbing investigative look into the airbag recall saga by The New York Times has suggested in 2004, a full four years before the 2008 acknowledgement by the Takata, problems were known. This investigation has alleged that Takata executives were aware of the problem, but did not notify federal safety officials. However, the news article did report Takata instead opted to test their airbags at an off-site facility in an attempt to find the root cause. The New York Times report further alleges the research data was ordered to be destroyed by Takata company executives. As a result , two United States Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey, urged the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the matter.

Japan Outpacing the U.S. in Takata Air Bag Replacements

Though the recall has garnered much public attention, replacement of potentially defective equipment remains at a crawl across the country. However, in Japan, replacements are far outpacing those in the U.S. Of the 17 million U.S. vehicles recalled for airbag replacement, approximately 2 million have been performed. By contrast, in Japan, 3.05 million vehicles were recalled and by February of this year, 2.13 million had been fixed. The disparity could not be starker: a 12 percent rate of replacement in the U.S., compared to a 70 percent rate of replacement.

Experts point to the very fluid pre-owned auto market and to the sheer size of the population explaining used vehicles sold between private parties makes targeted recall difficult. Manufacturers state they are seeking a more cohesive strategy to make the public aware of the Takata airbag recall. Unfortunately, this leaves thousands of consumers in danger, putting lives at-stake.

If you have been injured by an airbag during an accident you should consult with an experienced attorney about your case to learn what options might be available to you.

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