Most drivers are already particularly aware of the Takata airbag inflator defect. The defect affects tens of millions of vehicles in the United States and can transform a piece of safety equipment intended to save lives into an incredibly serious safety risk. After the problem had lingered on for more than a decade, researchers determined that certain ammonium-nitrate based airbags could deploy with excessive force. The excessive force would cause the metal casing for the inflator to explode into metal shrapnel. The force from the explosion could launch the metal shrapnel into the face and neck of the driver and other vehicle occupants. Were you injured in a vehicle due to a defect? Contact a Philadelphia car accident attorney for help.
In many cases, the injuries inflicted by the defective inflators was serious and life-altering or fatal. In the case of early injuries inflicted by the defect, some injuries were mischaracterized as the product of violent attacks. However, information recently released by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that many challenges remain in addressing the defect. Furthermore, the problem may get worse before it is fully addressed and corrected.
NHTSA Says Airbag Explosion Risk Tops 50% in these Honda and Acura Models
Based on new testing data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that the risk of experiencing the exploding airbag inflator defect in certain models is significantly greater than previously reported. Previously, NHTSA and others have indicated that the odds of the defect occurring in any affected vehicle were around one-percent. However, a new call by NHTSA indicates that the risk of experiencing the defect is significantly greater.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently indicated that in certain vehicles the risk of an inflator rupture may be as high as 50 percent. Vehicles affected by the higher likelihood of an airbag inflator rupture include:
- 2001-2002 Honda Civic
- 2001-2002 Honda Accord
- 2002-2003 Acura TL
- 2002 Honda CR-V
- 2002 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 Acura CL
- 2003 Honda Pilot
The problems in these vehicles have caused the Transportation Secretary to characterize these cars and trucks as “unsafe and need to be repaired immediately.” He has stated that “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”
Are Certain Vehicles More at Risk?
It’s a near certainty that certain vehicles – even among vehicles of the same make and model – are more likely to experience the defect than others. This is because the cause of the defect is known to be linked to climates and environments where high absolute humidity is present. Vehicles that have spent significant amounts of time in these climates are more likely to experience the defect. In particular, government officials have identified Florida, Texas, the Gulf coast, and Southern California as locations where the defect is more likely to occur.
What Should I do if I am Driving an Affected Vehicle in Pennsylvania?
If you are driving one of the affected Honda or Acura models that are listed above, you should ensure that the airbag has been replaced. It is important to note that the airbag in these vehicles has likely already been recalled. The vehicles listed above were already recalled between 2008 and 2011. Honda has indicated that over 70 percent of the affected vehicles have been repaired. However, that means that more than 300,000 of these high-risk vehicles remain on the nation’s highways and roadways.
According to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, “The airbag inflators in this particular group of vehicles pose a grave danger to drivers and passengers that must be fixed right away.” This particular problem came to light after eight of the ten current fatalities occurred in vehicles of this type. The concentration of fatalities in this vehicle population motivated NHTSA to require Takata to engage in additional ballistics testing.
The Takata defect is one of the largest and most complex recalls in U.S. auto safety history. Regulators expect the recall to affect at least 70 million inflators. Consumers are encouraged to contact their auto dealer or to log-on to safercar.org to determine whether their vehicle needs repair. However, due to the massive scope of the recall, it is possible that replacement parts will remain unavailable. Contact a Takata exploding airbag accident injury lawyer of The Reiff Law Firm for help if you were seriously hurt from this vehicle defect.