Authored By: Iris Garrett
More bad news for Takata airbags. A recent article on The Hill shows the company failed to inform U.S. regulators about an incident in Switzerland involving a ruptured airbag inflator. Although Takata’s defective airbags have been the topic of the largest auto recall in American history over the past few years, this rupture was different; it dates all the way back to 2003.
According to The Hill, the concealed 2003 airbag rupture was brought to light in a Takata Corp. internal report released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The report linked the incident to an inflator overload issue that Takata claims it attempted to fix. Because of those attempts, the company chose not to share the rupture with the NHTSA. Takata also claims that its American branch was responsible for testing, designing and producing the millions of defective airbag inflators and not the parent company.
Now, the NHTSA is forcing Takata to pay up for not immediately reporting the airbag safety problem, but there are many in Washington that say it will take tougher enforcement to end the company’s behavior. Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) recently said, “Meager fines do nothing more than change the costs of doing business and provide no meaningful deterrence for continuing reprehensible and irresponsible behavior that costs countless preventable injuries and lives,” (The Hill). They, along with Florida Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson, are pushing for legislation that would impose criminal penalties on automakers that fail to report safety defects and eliminate the cap on NHTSA fines automakers receive for not complying with recall regulations.
As the numbers increase for Takata’s airbag issue (so far, more than 28 million inflators have been recalled here in the U.S.), it appears that only time will tell if the lawmakers’ efforts, as well as the NHTSA’s hope for 100 percent compliance for recalled vehicles, will be enough. Just last month, Cars.com reported that several automakers are installing Takata inflators in their 2016 and 2017 models, despite the fact that their use has resulted in 11 deaths and hundreds of injuries nationwide.
Photo Credit: Anastasiya Aleksandrenko