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A decade later, defective airbags finally getting attention

This week, we have been discussing automobile defects that can be deadly if automakers don’t act fast enough to issue recalls. We specifically discussed Congress’ response to General Motors’ deadly ignition switch defect, which led to the recall of millions of vehicles but only after at least 12 people lost their lives.

But GM isn’t the only auto manufacturer that has put the public in harm’s way, whether knowingly or not. In fact, vehicle recalls have been extremely common this year and more are expected. In fact, millions vehicles have been recalled recently due to defective airbags.

At this point, more than 100 people have reported being injured by airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation of Japan. The head of the Center for Auto Safety said that this problem is “one of the deadliest defects” that the organization has ever seen and safety officials are only now “beginning to get to the bottom of it” after about a decade of consumers reporting injuries.

At this point, at least two people have died when the airbags did not work properly. In one case, a woman suffered serious injuries to her face when the airbag deployed and sent shrapnel into her face. After several reconstructive surgeries, the woman is suing Honda, the manufacturer of her vehicle.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Honda -- the largest buyer of Takata airbags -- issued a recall of about 4,000 cars in 2008 after first learning about the problem in 2004. Now Honda has recalled 11 million vehicles for the problem, mostly in nine states, including California.

The recall has been regional-based because Takata believes that the defect may have to do with a humid climate. In total, nine automakers have issued recalls for the problem thus far and more could be on the way.

To find out if your car has been recalled due to the airbag defect, visit safecar.gov and enter your VIN.

Source: CBS News, “Despite recalls, defective airbags still in U.S. cars,” Oct. 2, 2014

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