Lawmakers Call for Investigation To See If Takata Lied to Consumers

Nov 10, 2014 04:36 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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It's already been a rough year for the auto industry with a record number of recalled vehicles in the U.S. and General Motors' ignition switch disaster.

Takata's faulty air bags, which have been known to explode and are connected with at least four U.S. traffic deaths, seem to be the current industry debacle. Three senators last week called for the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation to see if the Japanese supplier lied in government filings, the New York Times reported.

An investigation into Takata's actions surrounding the problematic air bags used in at least 14 million vehicles worldwide should take place as soon as possible, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told the Times.

"You've got the safety of countless citizens at risk, and a situation that cannot wait for action," he said.

Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri are standing with Blumenthal to call for the investigation.

Two former employees have said that Takata knew about the air bags' danger more than a decade ago, discovering signs of the issue but covering up the find by erasing computer files and tossing out tested air bags.

For its part, Takata issued a statement on Friday saying that it was taking the accusations "very seriously," but they were "fundamentally inaccurate." 

Takata air bags have been related to at least four deaths and 30 injuries.

The Times reported in September that Honda was aware that the air bags could potentially explode at least a decade ago.

Even though the first problematic air bag was reported a decade ago, a flawed reporting system throughout the auto industry concealed the seriousness of the issue, according to the report.

"Honda was aware of the problem," said Jennifer Griffin, whose Honda Civic's air bag exploded following a minor accident six months after Honda had recalled other vehicles for faulty air bags. "This should never have happened at all."

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