Should Regulators Strengthen Car Safety Rules?

Recent news reports have been everything but encouraging to car safety advocates.

The increase in the number of auto recalls has been concerning safety advocacy groups that have always urged manufacturers to focus on boosting their vehicle’s safety features. Stories involving major automakers knowing about risks linked to their vehicles for a long time before they decided to launch recalls do not help to boost the public’s confidence in the involved brands, making it difficult for them to make their case also before safety advocates.

The recent wave of recalls involving vehicles fitted with air bags that could exposed occupants to deadly personal injury risks has also added a dent in the public’s confidence in major automakers, especially after it was reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allowed such companies to issue regional recalls to have the air bag issue addressed instead of simply recalling all vehicles that were fitted with the potentially defective parts.

The air bag issue was first identified by the Japanese company that produced the modules. According to the reports, the firm found systemic problems with some of their air bags back in 2004. That was the first time an air bag exploded during its deployment. The company then decided to perform secret tests of 50 air bag systems that had been gathered from scrap yards. The results were not very encouraging. According to the reports, the results indicated that the Takata air bags were likely to explode.

Many employees decided to design fixes to the issues that were causing the explosions, but all of their work and results gathered by the tests were in vain. According to the reports, they were soon ordered to stop what they were doing and destroy all of the evidence that the company had ever carried out any of those tests.

According to Takata, once they began being questioned about the issues, they answered by blaming the failures on the weather, not the product’s design. According to the company, those vehicles had been fitted with air bags that had been taken from vehicles impacted by heat or rain.

The risks associated with the impacted air bags are all associated with the inflators inside the modules exploding while being deployed. The rupture of the inflators end up sending shards of metal into the vehicle’s occupants, increasing the risks of serious and even deadly personal injury. The problem led to a recall that affected 14 million vehicles manufactured by 11 different car makers. At least three different incidents involving the air bags exploding resulted in deaths. The firm has stated that up to this moment, 139 complaints involving personal injuries have also been associated with the air bags.

Safety experts are urging regulators to look into all of these problems in order to ensure that automakers are following certain procedures to ensure their consumers’ safety.

If you’re interested in learning more about the air bag issue and how safety advocates are urging the regulators to have the problem addressed, follow this link.


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