Betsy Benjaminson has written extensively about the CORRUPTION and WIDESPREAD BRIBERY in the AUTO INDUSTRY [in the US, we call it CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS - they got their money's worth and consumers lost! ]:
Senator Blumenthal: Secret settlements play important role in allowing lethal defects to "fester"
ADDITIONAL POSTS HERE:
Beware of Toyota. Their next victim may be YOU...
Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution Online
By Hiroko Tabuchi
The New York Times Posted Nov. 8, 2014 @ 7:41 am
Three senators are calling on the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of the air bag maker Takata after former employees reported that the Japanese supplier had carried out tests on air bags over a decade ago and found signs of defects, yet did not seek the involvement of federal safety regulators.
“These allegations are credible and shocking — plainly warranting a prompt and aggressive criminal probe,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, said in a statement, responding to an article in The New York Times on Friday that reported on the employees’ disclosure.
Four deaths and more than 30 injuries have been linked to the defect, including the death last month of Hien Tran, 51. Law enforcement officers in Florida said she died after her air bag erupted violently in her 2001 Honda Accord.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, also called for a criminal inquiry. She said in a statement that if the accusations were true, Takata needed “to be held fully accountable, not just with financial penalties, but also with criminal charges.”
The accusations involve air bags that can rupture when they deploy in an accident, sending shrapnel into the car’s cabin and injuring the driver or passengers, instead of protecting them. Eleven automakers have recalled more than 14 million cars worldwide over the defect, including 11 million cars in the United States.
The former Takata employees say they took part in the testing of air bags retrieved from scrapyards in 2004, after an air bag ruptured in a Honda Accord that year, injuring the car’s driver. Of the air bags retrieved, two of the air bag inflaters cracked during the tests, a condition that can lead to rupture.
But instead of alerting federal safety regulators to the possible danger, Takata executives discounted the results and ordered the lab technicians to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the air bag inflaters, they said.
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the latest allegations warranted a closer investigation into what Takata, and the automakers that it supplies, knew and when.
“As the recalls continue and the faulty air bags are replaced, we also need answers about when the danger was discovered and whether it was concealed from regulators, or not adequately understood once the regulators became aware,” Upton said.
Capitol Hill has also increased pressure on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to order automakers to expand recent air bag recalls, some of which have been limited to regions with high humidity because Takata says moisture could play a role in the defect. But in the face of continued uncertainty over the cause of the ruptures, lawmakers and auto safety advocates have called for nationwide recalls.