It is likely safe to say we all remember the Takata Corporation, the company behind the largest product safety recall in history. More than two dozen people lost their lives due to Takata’s defective airbags, with hundreds more suffering serious injuries. The company declared bankruptcy in 2018, selling the majority of its assets to Joyson Safety Systems (JSS).
However, it turns out that the company’s problems have not ended with the faulty airbags. According to Reuters, after reviewing and auditing Takata’s reports, JSS discovered suspicious inaccuracies in Takata’s test data for seat-belt webbing. JSS discovered these inaccuracies in reports from a plant in Hikone, Japan. In a statement, JSS Global Communications Director Bryan Johnson said, “JSS is currently reviewing available and relevant data over a 20-year period on a test-by-test and product-by-product basis.”
What kind of risk are consumers facing from potentially faulty seat belts?
Although it is too early to tell at this point if the Takata-made seat belts will cause another defective auto product disaster like their airbags, experts are quick to draw comparisons between the two.
As reported in The Drive, “If inaccurate Takata data feels like déjà vu, well, that’s because it is. Takata sold its defective airbag inflators to automakers using false inflator test results. Takata’s airbags inflated with excessive force, breaking up components and blasting deadly shrapnel at passengers. The company pled guilty in 2017 to criminal charges related to its airbags.”
In fact, Japan’s Ministry of Transport has already asked automakers to prepare for a recall of the affected Takata seatbelts. The Ministry also requested that JSS submit a full report on its investigation of the data inaccuracies. If a recall is necessary, it could be widespread and substantial. Takata provided seat-belt webbing for about 40 percent of Japanese-produced automobiles and 30 percent of vehicles produced worldwide.
Japanese news agency Nikkei reports that Takata produced nearly nine million potentially defective seat belts, including some belts on child safety seats. A recall could involve approximately two million seat belts.
In an email to NBC News, a spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said, “If NHTSA finds that this belt webbing leads to noncompliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or otherwise represents an unreasonable risk to public safety, the agency will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”
It is important to note that, as of now, no injuries or accidents related to these seat belts have been reported.
If you own a vehicle with a safety defect or were injured due to a defective product, get in touch with the injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP. We can help you seek compensation. To schedule your free case evaluation, call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.
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