The auto industry has long touted air bags as being life-saving devices.
They are heavily marketed to car buyers across the country and here in
New York who are concerned about their survivability in an accident. However,
one manufacturer's air bags are now considered a dangerous product
after causing numerous injuries and even some deaths. Takata manufactured
the air bags in question, and it now appears that automaker Honda knew
about the problems with the product well in advance of the current recall.
An out-of-state accident back in 2004 brought the problem to the attention
of Honda and Takata, but it was thought to be an isolated incident. When
the air bag deployed, the driver of the Honda suffered injuries due to
metal shrapnel that flew out of the air bag. This is the same concern
that has led to the recall of no less than 14 million vehicles manufactured
by 11 separate automakers. Takata manufactured all of the air bags.
A handful of incidents were reported to Honda after the 2004 accident,
including one woman who bled to death -- while her children watched helplessly
-- due to shrapnel from her air bag. It appears that Honda and Takata
did issue an extremely limited recall in 2008, but it did not raise any
red flags for other automakers until recently. It is possible that the
limited reporting requirements for these types of incidents could have
contributed to the problem.
Between this recall and the GM ignition switch recall, it appears that
regulations regarding reporting of incidents such as these may need to
be overhauled. Considering the number of vehicles that are subject to
the recall of this dangerous product, it is amazing and fortunate that
more people were not killed or seriously injured over the years. A New
York resident who suffered injuries -- or the family of someone who died
-- as a result of a faulty air bag retains the right to file a products
liability claim against the parties deemed responsible.
Source: The New York Times, "Air Bag Flaw, Long Known to Honda and Takata,
Led to Recalls", Hiroko Tabuchi, Sept. 11, 2014