Since they were mandated in new automobiles beginning in 1989, air bags have undoubtedly saved lives and prevented numerous accidents. But a recent rash of defective air bags incidents is cause for concern for driver and passenger safety.
Since 2011, air bag problems were responsible for the recall of 7.75 million vehicles. This year alone, 1.5 million vehicles have been recalled for possible defective air bags. Honda and Toyota have issued 22 recalls in 2013, covering 18 different models, over this issue. In January, General Motors announced a recall of almost 4,000 vehicles due to air bag concerns, and Chrysler recalled 750,000 Jeep vehicles in November 2012 for faulty air bags.
Honda’s 2013 recall is the automaker’s second recent action in response to problems with the safety devices. Late in 2011, the automaker issued a recall following a number of accidents involving improperly inflating air bags, including two that resulted in fatalities.
Problems with Defective Air Bags
The issues involving defective air bags are varied:
• Faulty sensors or defective control systems that cause air bags to inflate unnecessarily
• Air bags that do not employ when they should
• Air bags that inflate too aggressively or send bits of metal and plastic flying within the vehicle
Air bag systems have improved greatly over the years. Today, new automobiles employ “smart” air bags that adjust the force of inflation to the severity of the crash. And automakers have introduced more of the systems throughout their vehicles in order to improve passenger safety.
However, increased technology and increased deployment may result in a heightened risk for passenger injuries or even death.
The good news is that, as we far as we know, the most recent defective air bag recalls have not been in response to any motor vehicle fatalities. However, the recent run of flawed air bags highlights the ever-present potential danger to innocent victims that exists when auto manufacturers – or manufacturers of any type – sell defective products.