While car accidents are often the result of driver error, manufacturing and design defects can also cause or greatly exacerbate crashes. And it seems as though these problems have become more frequent in the past decade or so.
Most Americans are familiar with the Takata air bag scandal of the past few years, wherein the Takata Corporation supplied dangerous and defective airbag components to numerous automakers. The air bag inflators can inflate with too much force, exploding and sending shrapnel into the cab of the vehicle. The defect has so far been linked to 23 deaths and has led to millions of vehicles being recalled. Unfortunately, a similar problem seems to be occurring here in the United States, and the investigation into it has been unacceptably slow.
According to a recent news article, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a Tennessee-based company called ARC Automotive. The company makes air bag inflators that operate in a substantially similar way to Takata’s and seem to be suffering from the same type of defect. The NHTSA opened the investigation in mid-2015, and it remains open with little progress being reported in the last couple years.
While the investigation has largely stalled, the defective inflators continue to harm drivers. In 2016, one woman was killed in a low-speed collision because her defective air bag sent shrapnel into the cab of her vehicle. And another crash in 2017 resulted in injuries to the driver linked to the exploding air bags.
The ARC controversy is much smaller in scale than the Takata scandal, but it has nonetheless led General Motors to recall a batch of 2010 and 2011 Chevrolet Malibus, with the possibility of expanding the recall, as necessary.
The NHTSA’s pace has been unacceptably slow in this investigation. Unfortunately, there is little the average American can to do hold the agency accountable. However, injured drivers can pursue litigation against automakers and parts suppliers who distribute dangerous and defective products. If you or a loved one has been injured (or killed) by a car accident linked to a vehicle defect, please discuss your concerns and legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney.