Brad Pistotnik Law
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Are Airbags a Car Safety Feature You Can Rely On?

Are Airbags a Car Safety Feature You Can Rely On?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that frontal airbags saved 50,457 lives. That's an average of 7 lives per day. In 2017 alone, it is estimated that these devices saved the lives of 2,790 people aged 13 and older.

Frontal airbags became mandatory in 1999. Since then, automobile manufacturers have voluntarily added side-curtain airbags and other airbag systems in their vehicles to protect passengers from injuries in sideswipe accidents, rollovers, and rear-end collisions. In 2015, it was estimated that frontal airbags reduced the rate of driver fatalities in frontal collisions by 29%, and front-seat passengers by 32%.

Moreover, side-curtain airbags have proven highly effective and in 2007 it was estimated that side-curtain airbags reduced an automobile driver's risk of death by 37% and a SUV driver's risk by 52%. As of 2012, it was estimated that side-curtain airbags had saved 2,252 lives.

Takata and the Risk of Faulty Airbag Systems

The most well-known example of airbag risks arose just a few years ago with the recall of millions of Takata airbags. The devices were equipped with faulty sensors and inflators that inflated with a force strong enough to send shrapnel through the airbag and into the eyes and facial tissue of motorists and their passengers.

Additionally, new problems are being discovered with Takata airbags. In particular, the propellant within the inflator is known to degrade with the passage of time. This problem is accelerated by exposure to high-temperatures and humid conditions. As the propellant degrades, it weakens the inflator which can lead to shattering on deployment; this further increases the risk of shrapnel ejection into the cabin of the vehicle.

While these problems are being addressed through mandatory recalls, new problems have emerged. In particular, Honda is currently recalling millions of cars and SUVs following the discovery of design flaws that can trigger sudden and unexpected airbag deployment.

The Issue of Fake Airbags

Airbags are a common target of counterfeiters eager to make a quick buck. While the NHTSA estimates that only .1% of airbags sold in the United States are fake, that adds up to nearly 3 million fake airbags on the road. In most cases, these counterfeits aren't discovered until after an accident occurs which means that drivers have them installed on their vehicles and drive around with a false sense of security.

Call in the Bull when you are injured by an airbag or other car safety device in Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, or Missouri. You can call us at 1-800-241-BRAD, or call us on or local line at 316-684-4400 to speak with a motor vehicle accident attorney who can review your claim. You can reach Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL.