AUSTIN (KXAN) — An air bag that deployed during a fender-bender near Houston earlier this year ended up killing the driver. His death, along with others, is leading to the largest automotive recall in history. Auto part maker Takata said it will double the number of recalled air bags. It was revealed shrapnel can come flying out with the air bag, which is what killed the driver near Houston.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx called this the most complex product recall in history. Some 34 million cars, trucks and motorcycles across the country are affected. Many of those are on roads here in Austin.
“I got the letter in the mail letting me know my car falls under the recall as well,” said Michael Lilley, who found out his 2003 BMW could have a faulty air bag.
A manager at Yost Automotive, Lilley works on cars day in and day out. But when it comes to this recall he is sending his customers, and taking himself, straight to the dealership.
“The main reason for the recall is at the time of detonation, the thing is tearing itself apart and creating shrapnel,” said Lilley. “It’s like a hand grenade.”
The metal from an air bag can cause cuts to the face, injure the eyes and even parts of the body.
Andrew Traub, a personal injury attorney in Austin for nearly 12 years, said he has a client whose air bag did not deploy.
“When you talk about a product defect the consequences can be lifelong and very serious,” said Traub. “Usually you just don’t have time to react to save yourself so we rely on that technology and equipment to protect us.”
And the thought of it not working properly has people like Lilley afraid of what could happen.
“Somebody texting and driving pulls out in front of you just enough to deploy the air bag. Maybe you’re fine…maybe you’re not.”
There are several different kinds of vehicles on the recall list. Click here to see if your vehicle is one of them.