Brutal penalty for stubborn drivers. Picture: iStock
Brutal penalty for stubborn drivers. Picture: iStock

Some drivers still 'flat out refuse' to get airbags fixed

WITH tens of thousands of motorists continuing to drive around with faulty Takata airbags, manufacturing companies are trying to find new ways to make stubborn drivers take notice.

Last year, the majority of Australian states - excluding Victoria and New South Wales - banned car owners from renewing their registration if they still had the Alpha Takata airbags installed.

This prompted an increase in the number of airbags being replaced in those states, with several manufacturing companies now pushing for the Beta type airbag to be included in the registration ban.

Testing of both of these types of Takata airbags has found there is a one in two chance that the Alpha version will spray shrapnel when deployed.

Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi are just some of the brands affected by the massive recall. Picture: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi are just some of the brands affected by the massive recall. Picture: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Though this is significantly higher than the one per cent chance the Beta airbags have, the latter still poses a major risk to drivers and passengers.

There are 12,000 of the more volatile Alpha type airbags awaiting replacement in Australia, compared to the massive 1.3 million Beta type airbags that need replacement.

Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan and Mazda are some of the manufacturers that have come out in support of the registration ban being extended to the Beta airbags.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia spokesman, Karl Gehling, told news.com.au that it is possible people falsely believe the Beta airbags are not as dangerous as the Alpha ones.

"One of the issues we think is that there has been a lot of publicity around the Alpha bags, with people mistakenly thinking that means the Beta bags are safer," Mr Gehling said.

"It is still absolutely a risk to have one in your vehicle."

There are two known cases of Australian motorists being hit by shrapnel from Takata airbags.

One person died and another was seriously injured as a result of the Beta type airbags in Australia. Picture: ACCC
One person died and another was seriously injured as a result of the Beta type airbags in Australia. Picture: ACCC

One 21-year-old driver was seriously injured when a metal shard from the airbag hit their head in Darwin in April 2017.

The other, a 58-year-old driver in Sydney, died after a metal shard struck his neck after a minor collision in July 2017.

Both incidents involved cars that were equipped with the Beta type airbags.

Motorists that get their airbag changed within a year of being informed about the recall or are waiting for their replacement airbags to be in stock wouldn't be affected by the proposed registration restrictions.

"The customers who took their vehicle in for the recall within the first 12 months of being notified won't be affected but if they refuse then those restrictions should be put in place," Mr Gehling said.

It isn’t just the driver that at risk, it is the passengers as well.
It isn’t just the driver that at risk, it is the passengers as well.

"We have some customers that we have sent up to nine letters to, as well as emails, text messages, phone calls and even door knocks."

He said that some of the people they speak to will tell them they will get the recall done but never do, while others will flat out refuse, despite the replacement being totally free.

The proposed change would also help manufacturers to recover airbags from unregistered vehicles and stop them being sold to unwitting drivers and going back into circulation.

Mr Gehling said that while it is the car owners decision to drive around with potentially dangerous airbags, it isn't their lives they are risking.

"For anyone you take in that vehicle there is a risk to them if there is an accident," he said.

There are at least 14 brands that are carrying the potentially harmful Takata airbags.

Drivers can check if they are affected by the recall by visiting ismyairbagsafe.com.au or recalls.gov.au.



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