A teenage driver in Texas was killed on March 31 after the Takata airbag in her 2002 Honda Civic exploded in a minor collision, sending a metal shard into her neck. Sadly, the driver, 17-year-old Huma Hanif, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. With this death confirmed by Honda, the number of fatalities linked to dangerous, recalled Takata airbags in Honda vehicles has risen to 11.
Millions of cars with recalled airbags, produced by Takata, are still on the road. These airbags contain a chemical that prevents proper deployment, with many airbags exploding and expelling metal fragments throughout the vehicle’s passenger cabin. While many owners of affected vehicles have already received recall notices, many of these affected vehicles are more than 10 years old and have been sold to multiple owners. So while law makers are cracking down on recalls, many companies have no way of knowing who now owns the recalled cars.
To make matters worse, only about 27 percent of recalled vehicles have been upgraded with a new airbag. Some of the reason for this is that many dealerships do not even have the parts in stock needed to repair the recalled vehicles. For instances, some Honda owners have been informed that the parts necessary to address this recall will not become available until Summer 2016.
After denying airbag defects in their products for more than a decade, Takata doubled their recall of U.S. vehicles equipped with potentially dangerous airbags this past Tuesday, resulting in a total of almost 34 million recalled vehicles. Takata has been one of the largest suppliers of airbags for automobiles for several decades, and because of this expanded recall, one in seven U.S. cars is now recalled, making this the largest recall of automobiles in American history. To date, six deaths and over 100 injuries have resulted from the malfunctioning Takata airbags. Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and BMW are among the automakers impacted by the faulty airbag system.
Takata was investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 for similar problems with their airbags. The case was shut down six months later due to inadequate evidence. However, reports as early as 2000 were discovered that blamed Takata for faulty airbag systems. The new discovery alludes to a flaw in the design of the airbags that causes excessive force from the gas that inflates the airbag, causing dangerous explosions.
Representatives from Takata stated that they were committed to working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and automakers to promote driver safety. More specifics about newly recalled makes and models are expected to come out in the next few days.