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Federal Regulators Promise to Investigate Deadly Takata Airbags

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Federal safety regulators have pledged to delve deep into an investigation of deadly Takata airbags, which have prompted 10 automakers to recall more than 12 million vehicles globally.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said on Friday the Justice Department needs to open a criminal investigation into allegations of a cover-up at least a decade old. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believes Takata has had serious problems with its airbags dating back to 1998, years before the air bag and safety-belt supplier is alleged to have quietly tested dozens of airbags after one of the bags malfunctioned in an Alabama crash that sent shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment, injuring the driver, according to USA Today.

At least four deaths have been linked to the exploding airbags, which all occurred in Honda or Acura cars made by Honda Motor Co., PIX11.com reported.

The New York Times (Times) reported Thursday that two former Takata employees revealed to the publication that secret testing took place in 2004 that results of the test, which raised concerns about the airbags, were destroyed and no report was made to regulators. On Friday, Takata responded by saying “the allegations contained in the [Times] article are fundamentally inaccurate” but would not give specifics. The company told the Times it was cooperating and participating with the government investigation.

“Reports that Takata concealed and destroyed test results revealing fatal air bag defects, along with other evidence that the company was aware of these deadly problems, clearly require a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice,” Blumenthal and Markey said in a statement viewed by USA Today.

On Friday, Honda expanded the number of cars that it is recalling because their airbags might explode. The company had already recalled 5 million vehicles in the U.S. that are outfitted with the defective bags. Humidity appears to be a possible cause or at least a contributor to the airbags exploding, so Honda previously said it would focus on repairing 2.8 million of the cars that had been sold or even registered in 13 states and territories with high humidity, according to PIX11.COM.

The chemical propellant that produces the gas that inflates the Takata airbags in a crash was mishandled during manufacture. It can deliver too much force, causing it to break away from its bracket and spew small bits and pieces of airbag shrapnel into the faces and chests of people in the vehicles, USA Today explained.

The NHTSA is demanding that both Honda – the biggest user of Takata airbags – and Takata produce documents concerning the airbags dating back to 1998. It has demanded that Takata produce documents about the matter from as far back as 2000. The agency is also eager to hear from whistle-blowers from both companies.

“Any additional information that may aid our ongoing investigation is welcome and we encourage current or former employees to please contact NHTSA directly,” the regulators said in a statement to USA TODAY.

 

breakinglawsuitnews.com disclaimer: This article: Federal Regulators Promise to Investigate Deadly Takata Airbags was posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 at 5:18 pm at breakinglawsuitnews.com and is filed under Personal Injury Lawsuits.

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