Takata airbag explosions have resulted in 8 U.S. fatalities, authorities have announced on Wednesday, December 23.
According to Gordon Trowbridge, a representative of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the latest confirmed case occurred on July 22.
The traffic incident, during which Takata airbags ruptured as a result of a defective inflator, claimed the life of a teenager, who was driving a family member’s 2001 Honda Accord, in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Apparently, the vehicle had been driven and stored in an area with increased levels of humidity, which contributed to the deadly blast.
While the car manufacturer had actually sent a warning letter to the automobile’s owner one day prior to the unfortunate event, it appears that the message wasn’t received or read on time.
So far, the National Highway Safety Administration has issued recalls involving several brands of automobiles equipped with Takata airbags.
More precisely, vehicles manufactured by 12 car makers including Honda, BMW, Subaru, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan and Mazda have been reported to contain this type of life-threatening component.
So far, a total of 19 million cars in the United States have been deemed as hazardous for their drivers, 23 million airbags being included in an unprecedented recall.
The first phase of the recalls occurred in April and May 2013, when 3.6 million vehicles with airbag inflators produced in Coahuila, Mexico were reported to be completely unsafe.
There was another set of recalls in June 2013, and a larger-scale process involving 3 million cars was initiated in June 2014, on the heels of an inquest launched by the NHTSA.
At the time, it was determined that the airbags might explode, especially due to excess moisture disrupting the inflators’ propellants. Such blasts were found to be extremely perilous, causing shrapnel to severely hurt passengers and drivers likewise.
As a result, authorities launched a more extensive airbag recall across the entire United States, now considered to be the most significant ever reported.
Tanaka also received penalties amounting to $70 million following its failure to ensure the safety of its customers.
John Buretta, formerly employed by the Department of Justice, is now the one in charge with supervising the Japanese company’s efforts of curbing the damage it has caused, and if any mistakes are encountered, additional fines of up to $130 million might have to be paid.
According to estimations, just around 26% of the faulty airbags from the dashboard (corresponding to the front passenger’s seat) and 27% of those from steering wheel (corresponding to the driver’s seat) had been repaired by December 4.
Nonetheless, the speed of these overahauls is estimated to have doubled in the last couple of weeks, when approximately 1 million vehicles were fixed.
Before this latest casualty was confirmed, 7 other deaths related to Takata airbag ruptures had been reported across the nation, all of them involving Honda automobiles.
Another case occurred in Malaysia, and resulted in the death of a pregnant woman. In addition, more than 100 injuries have been triggered so far by the malfunctioning airbags.
Image Source: Cars Performance