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Takata air bag fiasco: a growing national concern

If, as is being reported, about one of every seven cars in the United States has  problematic air bag, how many drivers in Maricopa County should be concerned?

Likely, a lot. And if they haven’t yet apprised themselves of all the material details concerning the Japan-based Takata Corporation and the outsized — truly massive — air bag recall it is centrally involved in, this post might play a modest part in providing some relevant background information.

That information must lead with this dismal and sad news, namely, a cited estimate positing that more than 100 people across the country have been injured by air bags that simply deploy — suddenly and at inopportune times — and send exploding shrapnel at high speed into the faces and bodies of drivers and their passengers.

And, lamentably, there is a wrongful death dimension to the tale, given eight air bag-related deaths that have been reported in the United States.

Thus far, about 34 million passenger vehicles have been recalled domestically.

What sharply troubles safety regulators and some legislators is evidence indicating that Takata principals knew of serious bag-related problems many years ago and yet failed to take purposeful action to deal with them at that time.

Reportedly, the company changed the main chemical propellant for its bags in 2001, substituting a cheaper alternative for what had been a more stable compound. A recent report authored by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee stated that internal Takata communications cited “dire warnings about safety and quality lapses” that issued years in advance of the company’s acknowledgment of a problem with its product.

The story continues to unfold. We will be sure to keep readers notified of material developments that emerge.

Source: The Atlantic, “How airbags are supposed to work,” Adrienne Lafrance, June 27, 2015

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