Airbags On Track For Record Recalls in 2013

Airbags or Airheads?

airbags2013-resized-600Initially, the airbag was marketed as a ‘replacement’ for the seatbelt. The purpose of the airbag was to protect the occupants in a vehicle against their steering wheel and windshield, in the event of a head-on collision.

Obviously the role of the airbag has evolved and is now designated as a supplement to the seatbelt. Technology has also evolved since the 1940s (when the origins of the airbag are traced back to). With the rapid growth of technology, airbags have been trying to keep up. Modern vehicles may contain multiple airbag modules in various side and frontal locations of the passenger seating positions and sensors may deploy one or more airbags in an impact zone at variable rates based on the type, angle and severity of impact.

Why Are Airbag Recalls on Pace for Record in 2013?

There have been 22 recalls in the last six months due to airbags- covering more than 3.8 million cars.  That is more than a 50% increase in recalls from just the six months prior. In 2012 the record was set at 23 airbag related recalls.

So with consumers spending much more money on vehicles, solely for the additional safety features, why are we experiencing more and more safety recalls? At the current pace, 2013 is set to surpass the total of 23 recalls of 2012.

During May 2013, Bloomberg News reported that “BMW is recalling 220,000 vehicles globally for a front-passenger air-bag defect that caused Japanese carmakers to recall 3 million vehicles last month”. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the BMW sedans a Top Safety Pick, and the federal government  gave them a five-star overall rating.

Do Higher Prices Translate Into Better Safety Features?

Ironically, consumers are led to believe that by paying more for a luxury brand, that they are receiving luxury safety. But it isn’t only luxury cars making empty promises. In April, there were mass recalls at Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. because the supplied airbags are at risk of catching fire or injuring passengers. Takata, the supplier of the airbags in the recall, said they learned of the problem in October 2011. Takata could not reproduce the issue so held off on reporting it to consumers.

Airbags do aid in saving the lives of motorists every day. But it is concerning that one of the original safety features, that we all expect to perform, is still under construction. While consumers are generally tolerant and understand that tweaks must be made in the design to account for today’s technology, the actual safety aspect of the airbag should never be in question.

Even as technology continues to advance, automakers top priority should be the safety of vehicles. A car being able to parallel park itself will not protect the occupants in the event of an accident.

To find out more about the recalls, visit: