Airbags are one of the most important safety features in vehicles. Unfortunately, a personal injury lawyer knows sometimes problems can develop with airbags. Recently, more than eight million airbags were subject to a recall.
When airbags are recalled, the manufacturer should repair or replace the problematic safety device so drivers are able to get back on the road and enjoy the accident protection airbags provide. Unfortunately, in the recent large-scale recall, this may not be possible.
Approach to Airbag Recall May Endanger Motorists
The company that made the recalled airbags is Takata, and its products are found in vehicles made by 10 different automobile manufacturers. According to CNN, these airbags can explode and can result in drivers being struck by metal. There have already been four deaths allegedly caused by the airbags, as well as dozens more people injured by the exploding safety device.
Because so many airbags are affected, Takata does not have a sufficient number of replacements. As a result, when vehicles are taken to the dealer for repair under the terms of the recall, putting in a new airbag may not be possible. Toyota, one of the manufacturers of vehicles affixed with Takata airbags has said when supplies run out, mechanics will disable the airbag entirely.
The passenger's side airbag is the one that will be disabled under Toyota's plan. A sticker will be placed on the dash warning people there is no airbag, and no one should sit in the front passenger seat until the parts are obtainable and the airbag is properly replaced.
Airbags are required by law, so Toyota had to get special permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in order to take this action. The NHTSA gave its permission to the plan. However, some safety advocates are arguing disabling the airbags is a bad idea.
When airbags work properly, they definitely reduce the risk of motor vehicle deaths. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 2,213 lives were saved by airbags just in 2012. When an airbag is taken out of a car, motorists don't get the safety benefits an airbag could provide. This means if there were passengers in the car with the disabled Takata airbag, the passenger would be at much greater risk of being seriously hurt or killed in a collision.
The executive director of the Center for Auto Safety believes this approach is a bad one, and it is better to leave the potentially exploding airbags in the vehicles. Not every airbag actually explodes, so it is possible more lives would be saved by leaving the airbags in the car where they might work than by removing the airbags entirely on the off chance they will be defective.
The question is a difficult one, and it is one that shouldn't have arisen if the manufacturer of the airbags had ensured its product met minimal safety guidelines.
Accident lawyers in Houston can help after your injury. Call today at (800) 632-9404 or visit https://www.h-nlaw.com to schedule your free consultation with Hagood & Neumann. Serving clients in Houston, Galveston, Alvin and throughout Texas.