A second person has been killed by a dangerous exploding airbag inflator made by Tennessee-based company ARC. The company has been under investigation by a federal agency for more than six years regarding the faulty inflators, but there has been no resolution.
According to an Associated Press news report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posted recall documents filed by General Motors that revealed the second death, the driver of a 2015 Chevy Traverse SUV with an ARC inflator that blew apart, spewing shrapnel.
There were no details provided about where and when the death occurred. NHTSA has said that the ARC Automotive of Knoxville has manufactured about 8 million inflators used nationwide in vehicles made by GM, Fiat Chrysler, Kia, and Hyundai. Some auto safety advocates say the investigation has dragged on for too long.
Serious Safety Issue
Auto safety advocates say NHTSA should have moved faster with the process because there is no denying that this is a safety defect. Advocates say the second death should not even have occurred and probably would not have occurred if the faulty ARC airbag inflators had been recalled sooner. The GM recall covers 550 Chevy Traverse SUVs from the 2013 through 2017 model years as well as Buick Enclave SUVs from 2008 through 2017.
Customers are expected to be notified starting around Nov. 22. GM has said previously that 1.2 million of its vehicles had ARC inflators. NHTSA began investigating ARC inflators in July 2015 after two people were injured by flying shrapnel. The investigation became more urgent in 2016 when metal airbag fragments killed a Canadian woman driving an older Hyundai Elantra.
ARC inflators are similar to those made by the now-defunct Takata Corporation. Both use ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash. They can both send metal shrapnel into the vehicle compartment, which could then strike and seriously or even fatally injure occupants. Ammonium nitrate could deteriorate when exposed to high temperatures and humidity and burn too quickly making explosions larger.
As auto defect lawyers who have represented victims of Takata airbag defects, we understand the seriousness of the situation. These auto safety defects have the potential to result in life-changing injuries and even fatalities as we have repeatedly seen.
We hope NHTSA will not just pick up the investigation but complete it expeditiously and recall the defective vehicles before another person is injured or killed.