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Former Takata employees report secret testing to airbags in 2004

Marion MunleyIf there is one part of your vehicle that can save your life in the event of an accident, it may be your airbag. However, that might not be the case if your airbag was made by Takata. The New York Times reported that after learning that one of its airbags ruptured, spraying metal fragments at a driver in Alabama, Takata conducted secret tests on 50 airbags that were retrieved from scrap yards. The New York Times cited two former employees who were involved in the secret testing as the source of the report.

During the testing, which was done in 2004, the steel inflators in two of the airbags cracked, which can lead to a rupture. Although the engineers began designing possible fixes, they never alerted federal regulators to the danger. According to the New York Times, Takata executives went so far as to order lab technicians to delete testing data from their computers and destroy the parts they were testing. CNBC reported that the secret testing was performed after normal working hours and on weekends and holidays at Takata’s American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The company did not reveal the problems to regulators until 2008, and the first airbag recall was not issued until November, 2008.

USA Today quoted federal safety officials as saying they would “leave no stone unturned” in their probe. The NHTSA issued an order last week to Honda, the biggest user of Takata airbags, to turn over documents and answer questions related to airbags dating back to 1998. The regulator also ordered Takata to turn over information dating back to 2000, and answer questions under oath.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey, members of the Senate Commerce Committee, are also demanding a criminal investigation into what they feel is a ten-year cover-up by the Japanese manufacturer.

Faulty airbags produced by Takata have prompted 11 automakers to recall more than 14 million vehicles worldwide. Four deaths and countless injuries have been tied to the defect, which can cause airbag steel canisters to crack and explode into pieces when deployed in a crash.

The most recent death linked to the airbags happened in Los Angeles last year, when a 47-year-old man was killed by an airbag that deployed in his 2002 Acura TL. Police initially treated the case as a homicide, because of the type of injuries, but an autopsy suggested the wounds were caused by the airbag. The autopsy report concluded that the extensive lacerations found on the man’s face came from the metallic portion of the airbag inflator that hit him as it deployed.

If you have suffered airbag-related injuries in a crash, and believe it may be as a result of a faulty Takata airbag, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. Call the Munley team today for a free consultation at 855-866-5529.

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