November 7, 2014 / 4:14 PM / in 3 years

U.S. lawmakers want criminal probe of Takata as air bag concerns grow

A visitor walks past displays of Takata Corp at a showroom for vehicles in Tokyo November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Democratic lawmakers on Friday called for the U.S. Justice Department to examine whether air bag-maker Takata broke the law, as authorities study the dangers of the safety device that is now part of a sweeping recall.

The statement comes a day after the New York Times reported that officials with Takata Corp examined air bag dangers in 2004 but halted the probe after initial tests raised concerns.

“Reports that Takata concealed and destroyed test results revealing fatal air bag defects, along with other evidence that the company was aware of these deadly problems, clearly require a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice,” Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey said in a statement.

At least four deaths, all involving Honda cars, and more than a dozen injuries have been linked to defects in Takata devices.

At least 7.8 million vehicles may contain defective air bags made by Takata, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated.

Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors are asking whether Takata misled regulators about the number of defective air bags it sold to automakers.

Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Dan Grebler

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