The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied fines against Takata Corporation of $14,000 per day for not cooperating with the Department of Transportation’s investigation into defective air bag inflators. The defective air bag inflators have killed at least 6 people and injured more than 60 others both here and abroad.
Most recently Honda Corporation revealed that an air bag inflator exploded in January of this year killing a 35 years old man in Houston. Takata has flooded the NHTSA with 2.4 million pages of information and has failed to provide any index or guide which they are required to do by law. This guide is necessary for a speedy investigation.
The problem with the inflators is that the explosive charge that is used to quickly inflate the air bag and thus provide a cushion for the occupant in the time of a crash is blowing apart and sending shrapnel into the cabin. This shrapnel has led to deep lacerations, severed carotid arteries, slit throats, eye injuries including blindness and in at least 6 cases it has led to death. Takata says that the air bag may inflate as designed or for no reason at all and this investigation was recently elevated to a criminal investigation.
NHTSA said unless Takata and the respective auto manufacturers quickly agree to a national recall, NHTSA will use all its statutory powers to make sure the vehicles are recalled. NHTSA seems to be taking the issue seriously after the beating it has taken over its alleged failures in the GM ignition switch disaster. The agency has issued a general order to Takata and all 10 manufacturers that use Takata air bag inflators, including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.
The order requires each automaker to file, under oath, all reports and documents related to testing of Takata inflators outside the current regional recall areas. Additionally, NHTSA issued a separate order for Takata to turn over all documents and information about the propellant used in the air bag inflators.
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