Figure 1: The ARC Automotive manufacturing plant in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo credit: www.APNews.com.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is demanding an airbag part manufacturer to recall upwards of 67 million potentially dangerous air bag inflators across the U.S., but the company, ARC Automotive, Inc., has been refusing to do so.
The NHTSA argues that the extensive recall is necessary and justified because people have been killed and several injured by ARC’s airbag inflators, which can explode with too much force and expel dangerous and potentially fatal shrapnel. The explosions started happening back in 2009 and have continued until as recently as this year – prompting an eight-year long investigation by the NHTSA. However, ARC is putting up a fight against the NHTSA’s investigation findings and maintains that no safety defect exists.
ARC alleges that the NHTSA’s findings lack scientific evidence, and that the NHTSA has no authority to order a parts manufacturer to issue a recall. Despite ARC’s current position and refusal to publicly acknowledge the safety risks associated with their products, ARC evidently changed its inflator manufacturing process in 2018 to install a scope that can now detect whether debris can block inflator vents and cause explosions. Thankfully, the NHTSA is not backing down and is continuing to demand answers and accountability from ARC.
At this time, there’s no easy way for vehicle owners to determine whether their airbags contain dangerous inflators as ARC supplies inflators to airbag manufacturers of at least a dozen different automakers. ARC inflators can be found in both driver and passenger front air bags, meaning people who travel in at least 33 million vehicles in the United States could unknowingly be at risk from the dangerous and sometimes lethal exploding airbags.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed during an airbag explosion, please contact an attorney at Abraham Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1 800-870-9584.