Defective Airbags: A Cause of Great Risk to Car Occupants
A car airbag, otherwise identified as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 (FMVSS 208), is a vehicle safety device that is designed for a dual purpose: provide protective cushion and lengthen the time of impact between a car driver (and passenger) and a car’s interior components, such as the steering wheel, dash board and the windows – in order to lessen the possibility of serious crash injuries.
General Motors was the first car manufacturer to introduce the use of frontal air bags, offering this “Occupant Crash Protection” device as optional equipment in at least 10,000 of its vehicles from 1974 to 1976. Lack of consumer interest, however, made General Motors terminate this program, which majority of car manufacturers in the US resisted anyway. Thus, rather than equip their vehicles with a device which the government considered as life-saving, these manufacturers designed their cars with a fancy trim and striking upholstery instead since customers obviously preferred these more. Even when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated in July 1984 that all passenger cars manufactured after April 1, 1989, should be equipped with an automatic occupant protection (an air bag or an automatic seat belt), some manufacturers continued to invest on improving their car’s look, allotting for crash protection devices a budget which could afford nothing more than an airbag with a cheap and unsafe design.
Despite the “unintentional” fatalities and severe injuries that deploying frontal airbags inflicted on adults (with small stature) and children during low speed or minor crashes, the NHTSA was convinced that the said occupant protection device was more beneficial than harmful, especially during potentially fatal crashes. To make sure, therefore, that this protection which an airbag can provide during crashes would benefit all motorists, the 1991 US Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, a law that mandates the installation of a driver (frontal) air bag, a passenger air bag, and manual lap-shoulder belts in all passenger cars and light trucks manufactured after September 1, 1997, and September 1, 1998, respectively.
Now, while it may be true that airbags save thousands of lives, one cannot simply disregard reports which speak of malfunctioning ones, such as airbags failing to deploy, an airbag suddenly deploying on its own, or one that deploys with such an impact, thus, causing death rather than saving lives.
Very recently, Takata airbags unexpectedly inflating with excessive explosive power and shooting potentially-fatal metal fragments inside the vehicle have been linked to hundreds of injuries and at least five deaths. This particular defect has resulted to 19 million vehicles being recalled in the US (this figure is based on safercar.gov records as against the more than 30 million stated in other sites) and a total of 53 million cars worldwide, including Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, BMW and Lexus.
As explained by on the website of a personal injury attorney in Milwaukee, the mechanical and electrical systems of an automobile are incredibly complex and there are times when one its parts is either manufactured or installed improperly. A mistake can appear without warning, endangering the safety of a vehicle’s occupants in the process.
The website of Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys also affirms the high risk of injuring-causing accidents that defective auto parts can bring about.