Most senior citizens consider ourselves relatively confident when we are driving and obeying all the rules of the road, so confident that if we were involved in a minor accident, we believe we would somehow be ok. However, that way of thinking no longer exists as the Takata airbag recall continues to unfold.
Fortune Magazine reports there have been over 150 injuries and 11 deaths resulting from defective airbags and it has developed into a full blown crisis. As it stands, the recall has expanded to include 70 million vehicles and 100 million worldwide making it the largest safety recall in America's history.
According to a recent Consumer Reports article, 14 different automakers have vehicles that were recalled to replace Takata's frontal airbag located on the driver and passenger side. Even while driving below the speed limit, a minor fender bender can still cause these airbags to rupture causing metal shards to be sprayed throughout the vehicle.
In October 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed a Riverside, CA crash that resulted in the death of a Corona, CA resident was tied to a ruptured airbag inflator. The 50 year old victim was driving a 2005 Honda Civic and records show the vehicle was recalled in 2008, but the repair was never completed. NHTSA's October 20th, 2016 release states, the air bag inflators in these particular vehicles contain a manufacturing defect which greatly increases the potential for dangerous rupture when a crash causes the air bag to deploy. NHTSA believes ruptures are far more likely in vehicles that have spent significant periods of time in areas of high humidity, the Southeast, Gulf Coast, and Southern California.
To determine if your vehicle is subject to a recall, you may access NHTSA's Safecar.gov website to determine if your automobile needs to be recalled. Also, the Department of Transportation created a website www.SaferCar.gov/RecallsSpotlight, to provide regular updates on the recall status and NHTSA’s investigation.
Statistics show that airbags have saved thousands of lives, but it is very important to ensure that older Americans check their vehicles for recalls and make an appointment with the local dealership for repair if necessary. Our most vulnerable senior citizens should take extra precaution when moving their seat closer to the steering wheel and children younger than twelve need to sit in the back seat of their automobile.