The shocking federal directive appears to be a first in American automotive history. It’s proof of growing concern about Takata airbags in older cars. The official fear is well-grounded. A new study finds they are “extremely dangerous.”
According to CBS News, the study “…showed that about half” of the airbags in older Hondas along the Gulf Coast blew apart when they were tested.
Takata airbags have killed at least 14 people and injured more than 100 worldwide, many critically. Eight of the deaths occurred in older cars. CNN reports that 10 Americans died in the fatal crashes, victims of older Takata airbags.
The government’s new “don’t drive” directive includes 313,000 Hondas and Acuras sold between 2001 and 2003. Takata airbags in the 16-year old cars have a 50% greater chance of exploding in a crash “…compared to a 1% chance for other cars,” according to the new study.
One U.S. congressman calls the older airbags “death traps.” Florida Senator Bill Nelson is the ranking member of the U.S. Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is urging owners to stop driving the affected cars immediately and have their airbags replaced. But he thinks a recall may not protect them quickly enough. He says the government and the auto makers should go out and find the cars “…and get them off the road.”
What causes the bags to explode?
Heat and humidity - both are prevalent in southern states, especially those along the Gulf Coast. Takata’s airbags are filled with ammonium nitrate. The chemical helps generate the gases that inflate the airbags. But it breaks down over time when it is exposed to moisture or temperature swings. Then, when activated, the bag spews metal shards that have disintegrated, at high rates of speed, into the car.
Since 2014, nearly 70 million cars in the United States “have been or will be…recalled as part of a massive safety scandal enveloping Takata airbags,” according to CNN. The news agency reports that 13 different auto makers, ‘including all of the major ones” have Takata airbags in their vehicles. But Honda and Acura have the most.
There is legal recourse for those who have been injured by a Takata air bag. Even the newer versions can explode. Their ammonium nitrate is protected by a drying agent for a longer period of time. But all Takata air bags are dangerous. They diminish the value of cars in which they are installed and increase the danger. Nevertheless, dealers are still putting them in new cars, according to a June 2016 report in The New York Times.
Wayne Wright can represent you in a lawsuit against the powerful Japanese ai bag manufacturer. He is one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America. In the last eight years, his firm has earned more than $237 million for clients in the U.S. His Litigator Award – the rarest and most sought after legal honor in the United States - is testament to his legal expertise and unflagging attention to his clients.