Airbags are some of the more effective safety features of modern vehicles. When airbags work correctly, they deploy rapidly and protect drivers and passengers from colliding with steering wheels, dashboards, windshields and other potentially deadly objects.
Sometimes, though, airbags do not function properly. In the past decade, Takata, a Japanese manufacturer of the driver- and passenger-side airbags, has participated in the recall of millions of vehicles that have defective airbags. Sadly, faulty Takata airbags are still killing American drivers.
A January fatality
In January 2021, a Takata airbag exploded and killed a South Carolina man. The cause of the explosion was a ruptured inflator, which forced sharp shrapnel into the driver. Regrettably, the vehicle with the defective airbag was under a recall, but technicians had not yet made repairs.
An unnecessary death
The South Carolina man did not have to die, of course, as replacing the faulty airbag would have been free and quick. Still, the man was not the registered owner of the vehicle, so it is unclear whether he knew about either the safety risk or the outstanding recall. Arguably, both Takata and car manufacturers may need to do a better job at informing consumers.
Your safety approach
Even if you think your car has a perfectly fine airbag, it may not be a bad idea to check the National Highway Transportation Administration’s recall list for any unaddressed recalls. If your vehicle’s airbag needs repairs or replacement, it is advisable not to drive until you take care of the safety issue.
Ultimately, though, if you suffer a serious injury or someone you love dies because of a faulty Takata airbag, you may be eligible for substantial financial compensation from the company or a victim’s fund.