The auto industry has long touted airbags 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 airbags are now considered a dangerous product after causing numerous injuries and even some deaths. Takata manufactured the airbags 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 airbag deployed, the driver of the Honda suffered injuries due to metal shrapnel that flew out of the airbag. 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 airbags.
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 airbag. 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 airbag 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