Stillman and Friedland reported on the recall of Takata airbags in a previous blog post— now news outlets are publishing the alarming news that the recalls have expanded dramatically. The New York Times reports that the recall has expanded to 34 million vehicles, doubling the number of cars originally known to have defective airbag mechanisms.At this time vehicles produced by ten manufacturers are being recalled. According to the NYT, this means that approximately one in seven cars on the road today was produced with dangerous airbags. As we reported earlier, the inflation mechanism may spew parts on activation, sending shrapnel-like pieces flying inside the interior of the vehicle.
At the end of March, following recalls of Toyota vehicles with defective steering columns, we suggested that everyone use an internet alert to stay on top of vehicle recalls. We strongly urge that you stay on top of these reports, by using the Department of Transportation’s NHTSA recall alert form here. You can specify your vehicle information, so you only get alerts for your brand and model. This form will also allow you to get alerts for tires and child restraints.
According to the NHTSA:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will organize and prioritize the replacement of the defective air bag inflators that were used in nearly 34 million vehicles. NHTSA will also be coordinating with Takata and automakers that used the defective inflators in their vehicles, to ensure the American public receives information regarding these recalls as it becomes available.
However, Car and Driver notes that your dealer may not have sufficient parts to fix your airbag system— Toyota, for example, “has advised its dealers to disable the airbags and affix ‘Do Not Sit Here’ messages to the dashboard”. While this temporary solution is a poor one, it may the best you can do until parts become available.
In the meantime, it appears there have been at least 139 injuries related to Takata airbags, and even several deaths. As of this time it appears that there will be a Federal investigation. News reports have indicated Takata was aware of the problem and covered up its own findings, while failing to notify manufacturers and consumers.
If you or someone you know suffered an injury through a possibly defective vehicle, we urge you to contact a lawyer before speaking with the car company or their insurance.