Airbags provide silent, invisible protection for front seat passengers of modern automobiles. At least, that is what they are supposed to do. Now, it appears that a defect-of which most consumers would only become aware when it is too late-necessitates the recall of millions of vehicles.
The problem is with the propellant wafers that inflate the bags. An industry spokesman said that they could lead to “abnormal” inflation. This defect has required the recall of about 3,000,000 cars made by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. The maker of the airbags being recalled is a Japanese firm named Takata Corp., which claims to be the second largest manufacturer of safety parts in the world. The units in question were fabricated about a decade ago. They have now compelled the corporation’s largest recall since 1995. At that time, several automobile companies were forced to recall about 9,000,000 vehicles because of its faulty seat belts.
Because almost everyone uses motorized transportation, and because of the foreseeability of wrecks of every degree of severity, it is troubling when there is any defect with an automobile. But when the problem lies with a safety component of a car, one that cannot be observed by consumers, it poses an especially dangerous situation. We should be able to trust that the components which we purchase to provide that sometimes extra critical measure of safety will perform when they are needed.
Lastly, this recall demonstrates once again the importance of multiple layers of oversight of the transportation industry. The automakers should verify the integrity of the vehicle as a whole, as well as each part individually. In addition, legislative bodies should not relax their efforts to create, authorize, and fund regulatory agencies. And, most importantly, the doors to the courthouse must be open to those harmed when manufacturers and government officials fail to successfully do their jobs to protect us.