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Airbag recall biggest in U.S. history

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2018 | Wrongful Death

Ocean County drivers must realize the risks of the road, which are often increased by other drivers who are inexperienced or careless. Texting, speeding and DUI drivers endanger thousands of lives every year, and so do defective products. Add bad products to dangerous driving conditions and the risk potential only increases.

According to the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, airbags manufactured by Japanese manufacturer Takata are a factor in more than 23 deaths and 300 injuries worldwide. A massive recall of the airbags has grown in numbers from several thousand in 2008 to top more than 50 million by 2018. The airbags are installed in car and truck models from 19 world-leading automakers, including Ford, Nissan, Honda and Chrysler, and affect 37 million vehicles.

The unfortunate facts of the case, Consumer Reports says, is that the company first tried to cover up the problems, which surfaced in 2002. Takata then tried to contain the extent of the recalls by deceiving carmakers while it dragged its feet in recalling products while also continuing to produce them.

The NHTSA fined the airbag maker in early 2015 for its uncooperative stance in the agency’s investigation, following which the manufacturer admitted to the problem and widened its recall. The NHTSA again fined Takata in November of that same year, another $200 million in penalties and fines to come if the recall is not completed. The agency also required the company to discontinue production and sales of the defective airbags. By May of 2016, another 35-40 million airbags were added to the recall list.

In early 2017, a $1 billion penalty is leveled at the manufacturer, including $250 million in criminal fines. The remaining $750 billion is to go to carmakers who are carrying out replacement efforts. Takata then declared bankruptcy and admitted to misleading carmakers.

The NHTSA is working with the airbag maker and vehicle manufacturers to educate consumers in high-risk areas about the recall; as of mid-2016, only about 8.5 million airbags had been replaced. Drivers can also visit the NHTSA website to see if their vehicles are included in the recall.