Every time you get in the car, you probably do a few basic things: Seat in position? Check! Mirrors adjusted? Check! Seat belt on? Check! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the seat belt use rate in the U.S. was at 90.7 percent in 2019. They also estimate that seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017. But new information has just come to light that indicates there's a chance that that seat belt you depend on to keep you safe isn't doing its job. According to recent reports, the car industry is bracing itself for a case with potentially huge repercussions with the news this week that a Japanese company shipped millions of seat belts with inaccurate test data to car manufacturers around the world. In fact, of the 9 million shipped, 2 million seat belts may be affected and a recall is looming, Reuters reports. Read on to learn more, and for additional info on car safety, check out The No. 1 Thing You Should Never Keep in Your Car.
News of a possible impending recall first appeared in the Nikkei Asia newspaper regarding Takata Corp., a now-bankrupt airbag manufacturer. Their factory in Hikone, Japan, was acquired in 2018 by U.S. car component maker Joyson Safety Systems (JSS) when they took over what remained of Takata after it went bust.
Now, JSS is investigating inaccuracies in how seat belt webbing strength test data was reported prior to their acquisition and whether numbers were manipulated to make it appear that they met legal safety standards. "JSS is currently reviewing available and relevant data over a 20-year period on a test-by-test and product-by-product basis," the Michigan-based company's global communications director Bryan Johnson said in a statement.
Takata's pre-bankruptcy history was already mired in corporate scandal. In 2017, the company pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing relating to the submission of fabricated inflator test results to car manufacturer clients, agreeing to pay a $1 billion fine. Investigations had begun in 2014 when it was revealed that their airbag inflators could malfunction with age, and fill with such force that the inflator device exploded, sending plastic and metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment. This led to one of the auto industry's biggest safety recalls—56 million Takata airbags having been recalled since 2013. The case revealed that senior managers had known of the problem but tried to cover it up. The faulty inflators have been blamed for hundreds of injuries worldwide, and 17 deaths in the U.S.
This latest story has the potential to be equally huge. JSS Japan is now the leading seat belt maker in the country, owning 40 percent of the domestic market as well as almost 30 percent of cars worldwide. Takata's key customers were Japanese, including Honda, but they also supplied foreign brands including Ferrari and General Motors. Automakers in Japan have been told by the Transport Ministry to prepare for a recall that may cover 2 million vehicles nationwide. Sources have also told reporters that in addition, strength data on child safety seats was also manipulated. In a statement, a JSS Japan representative said, "We're not aware of any belts breaking or any other accidents at this point."
Read on for other items that have been deemed too dangerous, and for another hazardous product to be aware of, These Two Common Bathroom Products Have Just Been Recalled.
Peloton bike pedals
Peloton saw a massive surge amid the pandemic, but on Oct. 14, the company announced a major recall due to a defect. Bikes that had been fitted with PR70P pedals were recalled due to multiple reports of pieces snapping off and causing injury. The company says that 27,000 units that were sold between July 2013 and May 2016 are affected. So far, Peloton says it has received 120 reports of pedal breakages with 16 causing injury. Out of those, five injuries required medical care, "such as stitches to the lower leg."
The company notes that these pedals are outside the one-year warranty, and suggests that "members change their Peloton bike pedals annually." And for another instance of this company being in hot water, check out Peloton Says Controversial Commercial Has Been "Misinterpreted."
Super Soaker water guns
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (UCPSC) recalled two versions of the Super Soaker water gun in August because a decorative sticker on the products had ink that contained levels of lead surpassing the amount allowed by the federal government. The recall affected nearly 54,900 of the green-and-orange Super Soaker XP 20 and the orange-and-blue Super Soaker XP 30 in total.
Sunshine Mills dog food
In mid-October, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that nearly two dozen popular dog food products by Sunshine Mills were being recalled for containing high levels of aflatoxin, a mold byproduct that is harmful to pets in high doses. In total, 21 brands and counting have been affected by the recall. And for more dog-related products being eliminated, discover why Petco Just Took This Controversial Product Off Its Shelves.
Spice Hunter spices
On Oct. 12, Spice Hunter recalled multiple kinds of its spices, including parsley, cinnamon, pepper, paprika, and garlic. The FDA reported that the voluntary recall was issued by the manufacturer after it was discovered they had been potentially contaminated with salmonella. And for another potential hazard hiding in your culinary space, learn which Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows.
Harbor Breeze indoor ceiling fans
Lowe's recently issued a recall on a specific model of a popular ceiling fan due to a high number of customer injuries. Harbor Breeze's Kingsbury indoor ceiling fans were taken from Lowe's shelves and online store after the manufacturer received 76 reports of the fan's light globe falling, resulting in at least four laceration injuries.
Metformin hydrochloride extended-release tablets
A popular pill prescribed to type-2 diabetes patients was recalled on Oct. 14 because it contained higher levels of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) than the acceptable daily intake limits. NDMA is "a probable human carcinogen," which raises the risk of cancer in high doses. The affected products are sold under the brand name Time-Cap Labs, Inc. And for more updates on products that could harm you and more, sign up for our daily newsletter.