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Air bag concerns grow with aging now a possible factor

Requiring air bags in vehicles is considered to be one of the most significant steps ever made toward improving safety for motorists. They’ve been mandated in cars and trucks since the mid 1990s and are credited with savings a lot of lives here in Connecticut and the rest of the country.

But as we observed in a post earlier this year, they are only as good as when they work. And what has become apparent more recently is that regulators and the makers of the safety devices are uncertain about the integrity of the bags these days.

Japan's Takata Corp. is the focus of the lion's share of current recall action by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Takata is faced with having to replace the bags in some 40 million vehicles around the world. Faulty bags are now blamed for at least 8 deaths and 100 injuries. There may well be more, but they haven't been attributed to faulty bags as yet.

The problem being reported in most of the cases is that the bags have exploded with more force than they were supposed to, sending shards of metal into passenger compartments. Why it is happening is still unclear. Experts suspect, though, that high heat and humidity may be causing the chemical propellants in the inflators to degrade and become unstable.

But some analysts say age has to be considered a possible factor, too. They observe that the average age of a vehicle on the road today is 11 years. That means there are a lot of vehicles still out there with original equipment air bags, and experts say even small changes can occur over time that may significantly affect the way bags deploy, and not for the better.

When car accidents occur, it's legitimate to want to assign blame and hold those responsible accountable for damage inflicted. Very often it means going after a negligent individual, but if a faulty part in a vehicle is the source of injury, the manufacturer may be liable. To understand your rights and options, it's important to speak with an attorney.

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