Because of modern safety enhancements, traffic fatalities have been mostly on a downward slide in recent years. Still, if a seat belt or airbag malfunctions, the safety feature may do more harm than good. Regrettably, this was the case for a South Carolina driver earlier this year.
The motorist was driving a 2002 Honda accord with a Takata airbag. When the airbag’s inflator ruptured, the driver sustained fatal injuries, making him the 19th American to die in a vehicle with a faulty Takata airbag.
A defective safety feature
Takata, a Japanese company, began manufacturing airbags in 1988, eventually gaining nearly a quarter of the market share. Regrettably, as early as 1998, Takata’s airbags began to show signs of defect. Specifically, these airbags may explode, overinflate or underinflate after exposure to heat and humidity.
An ongoing recall
After receiving reports of hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths, most major automakers issued recalls for vehicles with Takata airbags beginning in 2013. The recall continues to be in effect, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommending owners of affected vehicles take them to a dealership or service center for repairs.
A critical problem
Even though the Takata airbag recall is nearly a decade old, some drivers may not be getting the message. With the recent fatality, the driver was not the registered owner of the sedan. Regardless, the vehicle had not undergone repairs, potentially making it a ticking time bomb.
Because Takata airbags are on many different vehicles, it is critical for drivers to check the recall status of all vehicles they own. Ultimately, if a driver or passenger sustains a serious injury or dies due to a defective Takata airbag, it may be necessary to seek financial compensation.