Nissan to replace older Altima air bags
Nissan to replace older Altima air bagsBy David Kiley, USA TODAY
DETROIT Nissan said Thursday it will replace passenger side front seat airbags on nearly 250,000 1994 and 1995 Altima sedans. The airbags have been blamed for eye and facial injuries and were the focus of a two year government investigation.
With the recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its investigation. However, hermes uk it said Thursday that ending the investigation “does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that no safety related defect exists.”
Nissan was more positive. “The important thing is that NHTSA closed the investigation without finding a defect,” spokesman Fred Standish said.
Automakers trying to keep up with changing regulations and technology saw airbag recalls reach a record level last year, with more than a million vehicles affected.
The Nissan recall involves an airbag developed more than a decade ago, when the technology leaned toward faster and more powerful deployments than are state of the art today. Nissan said it will replace the airbags with today’s less aggressive ones.
Whether the bags caused eye injuries at an unacceptable rate or more often than competitors has been the crux of the argument between Nissan and NHTSA since the investigation was opened in March 2001.
NHTSA confirm hermes uk ed that of 77 eye or facial injuries reported from the Altima bags, 37 48% were moderate to severe. When NHTSA looked at 100 facial or eye injuries caused by airbags on similar vehicles made by other automakers, it found 2% in the hermes uk moderate to severe category.
Nissan countered that NHTSA’s sample was skewed by reports in lawsuits filed by one plaintiff lawyer who singled out Nissan for personal injury claims.
NHTSA also noted the absence of moderate to severe eye injuries in 1995 1997 Altimas that had a redesigned airbag. Of 24 injury reports for th hermes uk ose cars, three involved minor eye injuries.
Plaintiff lawyers and safety advocates have accused Nissan of stonewalling consumers and delaying a recall they saw as inevitable.
“The 1994 95 Altima airbag can and has caused retinal detachments and ruptured eye globes. For a defect that doesn’t cause death, this is one of the worst ever,” said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety.
Over the years, airbags have saved an estimated 9,325 lives, according to NHTSA. But 215 people have been killed since 1990 as a result of front airbags deploying. Most were children or small women riding without a safety belt and sitting close to the airbag.
Automakers are now phasing in sensors that automatically sense when children, infants or small adults are in the front passenger seat and turn the airbag off.