According to a New York CBS affiliate, two United States Senators are pushing the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to expand the Takata airbag recall. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts sent a letter to the agency asking that the Takata airbag recall be expanded to cover all states and not just those with higher than average humidity.
Why Are Airbags Being Recalled?
Takata Corporation, a Japanese-based company, claims that high humidity causes the inflator mechanism to rupture when the airbag is deployed, causing metal and plastic fragments to be sprayed into the cabin of the vehicle. The fragments, which travel at a high rate of speed, have been compared to shrapnel. Because the problem only seems to occur only in areas with high humidity, some auto-makers have chosen to only issue recalls in states with warmer climates and not issue them in cooler states, such as New York.
Climate as a Factor in Recall
The legislators fear that drivers, including New York residents, who spend winter months in warmer climates may not be notified of the Takata airbag recall, placing them at risk for injury or death should the airbags in their vehicle malfunction. They are requesting that the recall be expanded to cover all states, including New York and other states where absolute humidity is lower. In addition, the legislators say even cooler states occasionally suffer from periods of high humidity and that the climates there may place drivers and passengers at the same level of risk as those in more typically high humidity states.
Problems Posed For Dealerships, Car Manufacturers
There are reports that at least one auto manufacturer, Honda, has been aware of the problem since at least 2004 when it filed a report with NHTSA. It identified two more cases in 2007 and again filed a report, but allegedly neglected to inform safety regulators at the agency. Honda settled two lawsuits, a personal injury suit in 2009 and a wrongful death claim in 2013, related to the airbag problem. Takata reportedly paid the majority of the settlement in those cases.
The NHTSA has urged vehicle owners to check their vehicle identification number against a database on their website to determine if it is included in the Takata airbag recall. Dealerships are reporting difficulty in getting replacement parts from Takata, making it difficult to make repairs to the vehicles. In an effort to address the problem, Toyota has instructed dealers to disable the passenger-side airbag and place a warning to passengers not to sit in the seat. Lawmakers say the solution is unacceptable and that owners of vehicles covered under the Takata airbag recall should be provided loaner cars until parts can be obtained.
Injured by an Airbag? Call Us Today.
If you or a loved one has been injured by an airbag, and you suspect it is included in the Takata airbag recall, contact Attorney Group for New York today to learn more. I you have a personal injury or product liability claim, we can connect you with an affiliated attorney. Your consultation is free and you are under no obligation.