Honda Confirms Another Death Related to Takata Airbag Defect

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On Saturday, Honda Motor Co. confirmed another death linked to faulty Takata airbag inflation units. While this is the seventeenth known fatality within the United States related to the defect, at least 26 deaths have been tabulated globally with nearly 300 injuries on the books since 2009. But it’s assumed the actual numbers are quite a bit larger since the affected vehicles go back much further than that.

The most recent incident involved a 2002 model year Honda Civic that crashed on August 20th in Mesa, Arizona. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Honda jointly confirmed the airbag inflator as the culprit. Unfavorable conditions had led to the defective part rupturing during an accident after the propellant had broken down, causing the system to spray shrapnel inside the cabin just inches from the driver’s chest.

Considering the size of the Takata recalls (roughly 100 million units split between 19 major automakers), these are relatively rare occurrences. But they’ve impacted Honda at a much greater frequency due to its heavy reliance on the supplier. Of the 17 U.S. deaths, 15 are linked to Honda  with the other two having taken place inside Ford vehicles.

Honda noted that the 2002 Civic’s driver-side inflator had been under recall since December 2011 and the passenger-side airbag unit was recalled in 2014. According to Reuters, the vehicle had not been taken in for repairs for either issue:

Honda sent more than 15 mailed recall notices over eight years to registered owners of the vehicle before the crash and made other attempts to contact owners. The driver killed was not the registered owner and Honda said it was not certain if the driver was aware of the unrepaired recalls.

The most recent previous fatal confirmed U.S. incident was the June 2018 death of a driver after the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic in Buckeye, Arizona.

While taking care of recalls is always important, these are the kind of life-or-death repairs owners definitely shouldn’t ignore. Those living in particularly warm climates where humidity fluctuates throughout the year should take particular care, as these are the conditions that seem to exacerbate the issue most. Though we wouldn’t recommend sitting on anything if you happen to live in an arctic tundra. This is basically the equivalent of having an IED strapped to your steering wheel.

Worried your vehicle might be under recall? Head over to the NHTSA website and input your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if there’s anything that needs fixing.

[Image: 360b/Shutterstock]

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