Takata Airbag Deaths Could Have Been Avoided Says Father Of Airbag Systems

Steve Syson, the automotive engineer known as the “Father of the Airbag system”, reveals that Takata chose to use a cheaper unstable explosive propellant to inflate its airbags that General Motors excluded decades earlier because of its dangers. Syson is an expert used by Crashworthiness Attorney Todd Tracy in his safety defect cases against carmakers.
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Todd Tracy: Hello, this is Todd Tracy, with the Tracy Law Firm in Dallas, Texas, with another Todd Talk. Today I want to talk to you about the importance of airbags. Many people think that airbags are a relatively new safety feature but they really aren’t. In fact, today I have with me one of my primary experts on restraint system safety. This gentleman’s name is Steve Syson and he is really one of the fathers and creators of the air cushion restraint system, that ultimately became known as the airbag restraint system with General Motors. Steve, tell us about how the air cushion restraint system ultimately became known as frontal airbags and offering frontal protection to drivers and passengers in the front seats.
Steve Syson: Well it was a very long process. I began working on airbags in 1971, and airbags at that time were very experimental, but the government wanted the car companies to put airbags in their vehicles back in those days. So we were doing a lot of work at General Motors trying to make airbags safe for kids.

Todd: Now why did it take the manufacturers so many years to ultimately—if you started working on them in 1971—the vast majority of vehicles didn’t even have them until the early 1990’s. Why did it take almost 20 years to get them in place?
Steve: Well I think there was a big resistance and a lot of the issues that we find today were even issues back then. It’s very difficult to develop a crash sensor that sets off an airbag in every crash where you want it to deploy. And it’s also very difficult to develop a crash sensing system that doesn’t set off airbags where you don’t want them to deploy.
Todd: In fact, we’re still having problems with airbags even today. I think Takata is now approaching 100 million vehicles where the Takata airbags are basically an improvised explosive device, blowing shrapnel all over people.
Steve: We looked into the propellant (ammonium nitrate) that Takata is using, which is basically the same stuff that Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the federal building in Oklahoma City, and we concluded at General Motors, and also after I left General Motors and went into consulting on airbags for a private consulting company, that that propellant was not safe to use. And we concluded that back in the 1970’s. For some reason, Takata redeveloped that propellant, and it’s proven to be just as dangerous today as it was anticipated to be back in the 1970’s.


If you, a family member, or friend have suffered a traumatic car accident injury or they were killed in an auto accident, there may be grounds for a product liability lawsuit against the car maker. The victim’s or family members of the deceased person may be entitled to significantly more money in damages than just a negligence case about the cause of the accident.
The Tracy Law Firm focuses on “Who Caused The Traumatic Car Accident Injuries or Death” — not who caused the accident.
Whether you were at fault or not in the cause of the accident, car companies are required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to make vehicles that will protect the driver and passengers from catastrophic injuries or death.
Contact Todd Tracy directly to request a complimentary catastrophic accident case review at the Vehicle Safety Firm.
Or call the Tracy Firm for a consultation at 214-324-9000.
The Tracy Law Firm is a nationwide law practice dedicated to making cars safer for the public.

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