According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an eighth U.S. death has been linked to faulty Takata airbags. This brings the total number of deaths world-wide to nine, in addition to more than 100 injuries.
The majority of victims have been in the United States, though a pregnant woman in Malaysia was killed in 2014. When exposed to prolonged humidity, the controversial ammonium nitrate propellant in the airbags can explode violently, propelling shrapnel toward victims.
Accident Under Investigation
The NHTSA learned of the most recent death in mid-December, after being contacted by an attorney for the victim’s family. The vehicle involved was a used 2001 Honda Accord coupe, owned by the victim’s relative.
In July 2015, a 13-year-old boy was driving the vehicle alone near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when the vehicle went off the road and crashed into a fallen tree. The teen was hospitalized after the Takata airbag in the vehicle ruptured. He died a few days later.
Upon initial investigation, the agency has provisionally determined that the fatality was caused by the airbag rupture. Additional examination of the vehicle will be performed.
The vehicle was included in the massive Takata airbag recall. According to Honda, a notice was sent to the previous owner in 2010 and another was sent on July 21, one day before the accident.
Expanded Recall Announced
The Takata airbag recall is already the most expansive and complicated vehicle recall in U.S. history. After additional testing of the passenger-side airbags in several vehicles, the NHTSA is expanding the recall once again to include several hundred thousand more automobiles. The following models are being added to the recall:
- Honda 2002-2004 CR-V
- Mazda 2005-2008 Mazda 6
- Subaru 2005-2008 Legacy and Outback
The agency has also named John Buretta as the independent monitor who will oversee the recall, monitoring Takata’s compliance with the terms of a compliance agreement between the manufacturer and the U.S. government.
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