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Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP | Jun 9, 2015

Driver's Safety: Just How Safe Is Your Vehicle?

Categories: Product Liability

Can you imagine driving down the road when you suddenly find yourself in a crash? Accidents happen right? Well what happens when one of the only things that is supposed to preserve your life in these types of situations does the opposite?

Takata Corporation, a Japanese airbag supplier, has been found to be using a volatile propellant that can cause airbags to deploy in unpredictable and dangerous ways. Some airbags have been bursting with excessive force sending deadly metal fragments within the vehicle.

Kevin Kennedy, executive vice president of Takata subsidiary TK Holdings, reported that ammonium nitrate, the chemical, has been linked to six deaths and hundreds of injuries since 2003 due to its link to inflator ruptures. Kennedy stated that Takata has “alternate propellants now with guanidine nitrate. We started production a year or two ago, and we’re continuing to ramp those up. I think overall you will see our production of ammonium nitrate go down rapidly.”

Out of all major air-bag manufacturers, Takata is the only one using ammonium nitrate as an air-bag propellant. Kennedy reported that their corporation plans to continue using this chemical, however, they will be implementing a newer version of guanidine nitrate (ammonium nitrate) that does not react as violently to moisture.

U.S. Congressional Representative, Michael Burgess, responded in utter shock to the fact that Takata still planned to incorporate this chemical into their products. “They are still making an air bag with ammonium nitrate as a propellant without a desiccant and they’re putting that in replacement vehicles and new vehicles. It almost seems like there should be a warning label stamped on the car.”

Takata has since distributed four million replacement inflators to automobile manufacturers.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that some of those replacement parts might not offer consumers a solution that lasts the life of the vehicle. In fact, many of the cars equipped with older Takata air-bag systems are likely to require being fixed more than one time, said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Atiyeh and Blackwell, 2015).

This recall now affects approximately 13 percent of U.S. cars on the road - the largest U.S. recall of any consumer product (Shepardson, 2015). Help to ensure your safety by finding out if your vehicle has been affected by this recall today.