Whether you are driving your personal vehicle or driving a rental car while on vacation in Las Vegas, you shouldn’t have to wonder whether your air bags will work properly in the event of a crash. Air bag defects have been in the news a lot over the past five or six years due to the scandal surrounding Takata air bag inflators. These are the air bag inflators that can expand with too much force, exploding like a bomb and sending shrapnel into the cab of a vehicle. Defective inflators made by Takata have been blamed for 27 deaths around the world, 18 of which were in the United States.
Takata’s dangerous and defective inflators have sparked the largest auto recall effort in history, but the saga still isn’t over. In November 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it was requiring General Motors to recall 6 million SUVs and pickup trucks in the United States – a move which GM has been fighting for at least the last four years. Nonetheless, the NHTSA had the final word and GM will now recall those 6 million vehicles plus another 1 million outside the U.S.
Why are we seeing such long delays?
The entire recall has been lengthy because of its size. Every major automaker was using Takata air bag inflators, and the recall included about 100 million units. It takes considerable time to manufacture safe replacement parts, notify vehicle owners and have new parts installed.
The delay for General Motors, however, seems to be related to its attempts to avoid or greatly limit the expense of a recall. It has filed four petitions with the NHTSA asking to be excluded from recall requirements and claiming that its Takata air bag inflators were safe. The agency took years to reach a decision, but ultimately chose to prioritize consumer safety over GM’s profits.
Air bag defects not limited to Takata
The Takata scandal has been the biggest story about automotive defects in recent history, but it is certainly not the only problem. As we note on our defective air bag injuries page, there are numerous ways that air bags can malfunction and harm vehicle occupants – even when the vehicle itself hasn’t been in a crash.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a defective air bag or any other problematic auto equipment, please discuss your legal options with an experienced attorney as soon as reasonably possible.