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Senators Ask For Investigation of Takata Over Airbag Flaw

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/10/2014 Jake Holmes
2014 Nissan Rogue IIHS Driver And Airbags© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Nissan Rogue IIHS Driver And Airbags

Two U.S. Senators want the Department of Justice to investigate whether supplier Takata deliberately hid evidence that its airbags were defective and could injure passengers in crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is recalling at least 7.8 million U.S. vehicles because they have Takata airbags that could rupture and send shrapnel toward passengers.

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Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) jointly issued a statement asking that the Justice Department investigate reports that Takata engineers erased test data showing the airbags could fail. "If the reports are true, the company must be held accountable for the horrific deaths and injuries that its wrongdoing caused. These allegations are credible and shocking -- plainly warranting a prompt and aggressive criminal probe," the Senators said in a statement.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Takata engineers tested airbags in 2004 and discovered the possibility they could rupture and send deadly shrapnel toward drivers. The Times reported that engineers were told the discard and erase the test data -- and Takata didn't first issue a recall for some defective airbags until 2008. At least 139 people have been injured as a result of shrapnel thrown from faulty Takata airbags.

In the U.S., Honda is the automaker most affected by the latest Takata recalls, with 5.1 million vehicles on NHTSA's recall list, while Toyota has 877,000 U.S. vehicles (including Lexus models) under recall. NHTSA took the unusual step of publicly urging customers to have vehicles with Takata airbags repaired as soon as possible. The problem is believed to be exacerbated by extreme humidity.

Pictured above are airbags from the 2014 Nissan Rogue -- they are not subject to the Takata recall.

Source: New York Times

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