Senator Nelson Demands Car Manufacturers Take More Action In light of the Recent Faulty Airbag Recalls
You have to commend U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla) who said, “You fix it and fix it right,” on the second day of his campaign calling for attention and action regarding the deadly defective air bags which have been the subject of a recent recall. Faulty air bags produced by Takata Corp., a major air bag supplier, have been found to explode on impact and have been known to propel sharp metal shards into victims. Currently, recalls focus in Florida, Puerto Rico, and other regions where heat and humidity make the problem with the malfunctioning air bags worse.
Sadly, the Federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and automakers not been able to pinpointed why steel airbag inflators have been blowing apart. Airbag defects are extremely dangerous. Some defects involve shards of metal exploding like shrapnel into a vehicle occupant’s face, neck or other parts of the body. Some of the airbags fail to deploy in a significant crash. Either way, the consumer who purchases or rides in a vehicle equipped with an airbag expects the airbag to be a safety feature, not a danger.
Sen. Nelson has joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in demanding nationwide recalls of vehicles. In a demonstration in Orlando on Tuesday, Nelson voiced his disapproval of car manufacturers taking minimal to no action thus far in response to the faulty airbags stating, “This is absolutely unacceptable and absolutely outrageous.” He supports daily million-dollar fines to car manufacturers who fail to take action. He went on to call for rental cars or “loaner” vehicles to be provided to car owners awaiting replacements and repairs.
Present at the Orlando demonstration were victims of the faulty airbags. A Eustis motorist, who lost his right eye when his airbag inflated during a 15-mph crash, stated, “I think people have the right to know if they are driving around in a metal coffin.” In a crash on September 29, 2014, which the Orange County Sheriff’s Homicide Unit attributes to this ongoing airbag controversy, an Orlando motorist died after shrapnel struck her neck and severed her trachea. The Sheriff’s Office originally thought they were investigating a murder due to the severity of the injuries.
The New York Times conducted an investigation and reported in September that the dangers associated with malfunctioning airbags have been known and hidden for years by car manufacturers through confidential settlements and weak safety-reporting requirements. In fact, we posted in July about Toyota’s recall of certain models due to faulty air bags. Yet owners of affected vehicles are still forced to drive vehicles which are known to pose this unreasonable and uncalled for risk.
According to certified master mechanic Ray Zembower, replacing an air-bag inflater takes approximately one hour. The cost of replacement parts range from $425 to $1,200 depending on the brand of vehicle. So why are manufacturers taking so long to address the faulty airbags? Why are owners being placed in a situation where they are forced to choose between driving a vehicle with a defective air bag and disabling the “safety feature” all together?
The demands are growing for more action from manufacturers. If the manufacturers are not going to do it, it is up to us – the people, the public and the government – to force them to take appropriate action. You have to commend Sen. Nelson for taking a strong stance in trying to protect the public safety and forcing automobile manufacturers to take responsibility for their actions.
A civil trial attorney with the firm Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A., Mr. Damaso concentrates on cases involving personal injury and wrongful deaths and solely represents individual victims and consumers. He takes his clients' cases personally and is committed to their best possible outcome. His strong sense of community has led to his support of numerous charities in the Orlando area.