Although Takata knew as early as 2012 that ammonium nitrate could be dangerous, they waited over two years to tell regulators, resulting in the recent Takata airbag recall. Consumers must still be concerned with how much risk is too much risk, particularly when it comes to an individual’s safety in a vehicle. The airbags have potentially endangered up to 20 million vehicle owners, causing severe injuries (and even death, in some instances) when they exploded. Other vehicles are now under investigation, as manufacturers suspect that 2015 and 2016 models may also need to be recalled. In addition, these incidents have many other consumers constantly wondering whether the airbags in their cars are, in fact, safe.
Manufacturers most recently blamed the use of ammonium nitrate—the chemical propellant used in the bags—as the source of the problem, and no one knows how many additional bags have been manufactured using the chemical. Although Takata has been banned from using ammonium nitrate to fill new orders, the company is still allowed to fulfill existing orders using the chemical. Technically, it does not have to completely phase out use of the propellant until the end of 2018.
What about consumers who need to buy a car, but have no idea if the airbag that comes with it will be safe? Figuring out whether a particular new or used car has a defective inflater is extremely difficult for anyone at this point.
Although individual airbag recall notices were mailed to vehicle owners, to make sure, consumers should go to safecar.gov and search by vehicle ID number or year/make/model. According to automakers, the following new vehicles definitely have Takata airbags:
- 2016 Honda CR-V (driver’s side);
- 2016 Acura RDX and RLX (passenger side);
- Nissan Infiniti & Nissan vehicles (passenger side);
- BMW’s 2016 models;
- 2015 Mazda CX9 (passenger side); and
- 2016 Subaru Legacy and Outback (passenger side).
Those airbags with the highest risks include those with the older inflaters (i.e. more than five to seven years old) and/or those that have been exposed to areas with high heat and humidity, as those are more likely to rupture. In addition, driver’s side airbags are more likely to cause fatal injuries in comparison with passenger’s side.
Airbag Recall- Priority Groups
There are many people whose vehicles have definitively been recalled, but who still cannot get the parts they need in order to have their vehicles properly fixed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that, given the shortage of parts available, it could take years to fully address all the issues. Top priority regarding replacements has been assigned to cars manufactured during the year 2008 or earlier and those sold in states with high humidity, such as Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico. Regulators expect parts for these cars to be available by March, but manufacturers technically have until the end of 2017 to replace the inflaters.
Those who are waiting for parts are encouraged to ask car dealerships to provide them with a loaner car, but the automakers are not legally required to provide them. However, is it fair to make consumers wait this long to replace a part that could potentially explode and become deadly? If someone is injured or killed due to a defective airbag, they can hold the company responsible.
Pennsylvania Auto Accident Attorneys- Solnick & Associates
The auto accident attorneys at Solnick & Associates represent victims of car accidents in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation.