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Faulty Air Bag Recalls Issued on a Regional Basis Leaves Many Still at Risk

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that frontal airbags saved 2,213 lives in 2012. This number has risen each year since 1998, when federal legislation mandating frontal air bags went into effect.  But now a potential safety crisis involving defective air bags may affect more than 4.7 million people.  The defective equipment in the inflator mechanisms of the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed in crashes.  At least four people have died from the problem and there have been multiple injuries. Humidity is being blamed for the defect as testing has shown a high incidence of inflator failures along the coasts.

There may be many more injuries caused by the defective air bags as there are more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S. currently equipped with them.  The warning covers cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, General Motors and Ford. Passenger or driver air bags or both could be affected depending on the vehicle.  However many of the recalls only cover vehicles in South Florida, along the Gulf Coast, in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa

Two U.S. senators questioned why the safety agency is allowing the recalls to be done on a regional basis because cars could be driven to, or people could move to the high-humidity states.  They also cited the May 27, 2009, death of 18-year-old Ashley Parham of Oklahoma City. She was driving a 2001 Honda Accord across a high school parking lot in Midwest City, Oklahoma, when it hit another car. The air bag inflated and sent shards of metal into her neck, causing her death.

As Virginia defective equipment attorneys we know that auto manufacturers are forced to recall a vehicle when it has the potential to put drivers and passengers in danger.  But by limiting the recall to only states with high humidity car manufacturers are trying to save money instead of lives.  


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