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Takata air bag safety crisis: an ever-growing debacle

Talk about an unbridled mess and safety-related debacle of a nearly unimaginable magnitude.

And "there's no fix, no easy out," says an auto-industry commentator.

What that individual is referring to is something that many Floridians are already likely well aware of. In fact, many of them might have a personal stake in the matter.

That matter relates to air bags, specifically those manufactured in high number by Japan-based Takata Corporation.

Candidly, it would be hard to find many persons who pay attention to auto-related news that don't know a few salient facts about the woes Takata has been experiencing over the past couple years.

Here's one, which is instantly the most central takeaway in the sad saga surrounding Takata's air bags: some of them summarily explode. And when they do, notes a recent CNN Money article, the shrapnel they propel "has been known to tear through [the bags] and hit drivers in the face and neck."

Unsurprisingly, the outcome in many such cases is dismal and predictable. Many serious injuries have been reported. And, tragically, nine reported deaths have been linked to the defective air bags in the United States.

It is certainly understandable that safety regulators would deal purposefully and with dispatch to such a harrowing reality, and they have, with the 20 million-plus vehicles recalled being termed "one of the largest ever" safety call backs.

And the recall seems destined to grow, following an announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that more cars than previously anticipated might be outfitted with faulty bags. Specifically, the NHTSA notes that newer vehicle models not previously identified in the recall might also be vulnerable to dangerous air bag deployments.

By any measuring yardstick, the recall thus far seems ineffectual in a major way. For starters, replacement parts for affected bags in many newer models are not even available presently. That puts their drivers into this no-win situation: either forgo using a vehicle or continue driving it with an identified and potentially fatal safety risk.

And here's another concerning point, as passed along by the above-quoted industry insider: hundreds of thousands of bags that have already undergone fixes may need to have additional remedial work done to address replacement parts that could be defective.

The end game seems far off. An obvious safety risk of dire proportions remains a constant on American roadways until every recalled air bag is properly fixed.

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