US reports another Takata air bag death, bringing toll to 33

Dec 9, 2022, 11:31 AM | Updated: Dec 10, 2022, 4:15 pm
FILE - TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., is pictured on June 25, 2017. U.S. saf...

FILE - TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., is pictured on June 25, 2017. U.S. safety regulators are urging drivers once again to make sure their vehicles have not been recalled after another person was killed by an exploding Takata air bag. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, that the person was killed in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord when the driver's air bag inflator ruptured and hurled shrapnel. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators and Honda Motor Co. are urging drivers once again to make sure their vehicles haven’t been recalled after another person was killed by an exploding Takata air bag.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that the person was killed in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord when the driver’s air bag inflator ruptured and hurled shrapnel. Honda said the crash occurred on Feb. 22 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The identity of the victim wasn’t available Friday.

The death, which was recently confirmed, brings the number of people killed by the air bags to 33 worldwide, including up to 24 in the U.S.

Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags in a crash. But the chemical can become more volatile over time when exposed to moisture in the air and repeated high temperatures. The explosion can rupture a metal canister and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

Most of the deaths and about 400 injuries have happened in U.S. states with warmer weather.

NHTSA urged all owners to check to see if their vehicles have an unrepaired Takata air bag recall. Drivers can go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and key in their 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if they have any open recalls.

“If this air bag ruptures in a crash, it could kill you or someone you love, or leave them with critical, life-altering injuries,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement. “Every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled air bag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death.”

The agency says even minor crashes can cause air bags to inflate with the potential for explosions that can kill or hurt people.

Honda said in a statement that the Accord involved in the Kentucky crash had been under recall since April 2011 for replacement of a faulty Takata driver’s air bag inflator. The company said it made more than 300 attempts to notify the car owner, who bought the Accord in 2008. Honda said it mailed more than 40 notices to the registered address, made over 230 phone calls and over 40 email notifications.

The company said older Hondas, especially those from the 2001 through 2003 model years, have a heightened risk of an air bag inflator blowing apart.

Last month Stellantis and NHTSA warned owners of 276,000 older vehicles to stop driving them after Takata air bags apparently exploded in three more vehicles, killing the drivers. The company that was formerly known as Fiat Chrysler is telling people to stop driving Dodge Magnum wagons, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars and Chrysler 300 sedans from the 2005 through 2010 model years. Stellantis says that it confirmed the air bag inflators blew apart in two cases, killing two people. The company suspects an inflator rupture in another case that also killed a driver.

Potential for the dangerous malfunction led to the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 67 million Takata inflators recalled. The U.S. government says that millions have not been repaired. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide. The exploding air bags sent Takata Corp. of Japan into bankruptcy.

Most of the deaths have been in the U.S., but they also have occurred in Australia and Malaysia.

The first death caused by a Takata inflator occurred in Oklahoma in 2009.

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US reports another Takata air bag death, bringing toll to 33