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Federal Government Tells Honda And Acura Owners They Risk Death If They Don’t Stop Driving Models Affected By Airbag Recall


WASHINGTON — U.S. auto safety regulators warned on Thursday that Takata air bag inflators on more than 300,000 unrepaired recalled Honda vehicles show a substantial risk of rupturing, and urged owners to stop driving the “unsafe” cars until they have been fixed.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cited new test data that shows some 2001-2003 model Honda and Acura vehicles have as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash.
Takata air bag inflators are linked to as many as 14 deaths worldwide, including 13 in Honda Motor Company vehicles.

“With as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash, these vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”

Honda said in a statement that it agreed with the analysis of testing and the 313,000 vehicles “should only be driven to a dealer in order to have their Takata air bag inflators replaced as rapidly as possible.”

Takata said it had no immediate comment.

Honda said it was recently informed by NHTSA of the analysis of the front driver air bag inflators on 2001-2003 vehicles tested in Florida over the last few months. The analysis revealed a very high rupture rate in laboratory testing, it said.

Honda has already repaired more than 70 percent of the original population of vehicles recalled with this specific version of inflator.

The vehicles include the 2001-2002 Honda Accord, Honda Civic, 2002 Honda CR-V, Honda Odyssey, 2003 Honda Pilot, 2002-2003 Acura 3.2 TL and 2003 Acura 3.2CL.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, said urgent action is needed.

“These vehicles are deathtraps, and Takata and Honda have understated the risks for far too long,” he said in a statement. “Merely telling people to come to dealers is not enough – they need to go out and find these vehicles and get them off the road.”

Nearly 100 million Takata inflators have been declared unsafe worldwide. In May automakers agreed to recall another 35 million to 40 million U.S. air bag inflators by 2019. Previously, 14 automakers had recalled 24 million U.S. vehicles with 28.8 million inflators.

“The risk posed by the airbag inflators in these vehicles is grave, and it is critical they be repaired now to avoid more deaths and serious injuries,” the NHTSA said in a statement.

The situation is urgent for these vehicles:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot
“The air bag inflators in this particular group of vehicles pose a grave danger to drivers and passengers that must be fixed right away,” said NHTSA administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind.

These airbags reportedly contain a manufacturing defect that makes them even more likely to rupture than other Takata airbags, according to the NHTSA.

If you own one of the affected vehicles, you should immediately take it to the dealer to get it fixed at no charge.

Additionally, if you have been harmed as a result of a product or vehicle defect, you may be entitled to file a claim against the manufacturer, for the injury-related costs. The world of NHTSA complaints can get complicated, so it’s worth contacting a specialist law firm like Louthian Law for more information.

One of the main causes of these ruptures has been identified as moisture getting inside the inflator, so cars in high humidity areas such as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas are much more susceptible to this danger.

Of the 10 deaths already attributed to this Takata airbag defect, eight of them have occurred in one of the Honda or Acura models specified above.

Another death linked to recalled Takata airbags happened as recently as late last month when a 17-year-old driver of a 2002 Honda Civic died from an injury caused by the deployment of an airbag during a rear-end collision.

The victim drove into the back of a Honda CR-V that was waiting to make a left-hand turn at a traffic light, which triggered the airbags, Reuters reports.

The police said that the driver of the 2002 Honda Civic had not been speeding excessively and that the crash itself caused only moderate damage to her car. The driver was also wearing her seat belt.

According to Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Beckwith, shrapnel punctured the airbag and cut the woman’s neck and carotid artery. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Some 313,000 vehicles with the defective airbag still haven’t been fixed, so it’s important for owners to heed the recall and take their car in to avoid the potential safety risks.

Drivers should visit to check whether their vehicle has any outstanding recalls.

During testing, NHTSA discovered that this certain subset of Takata airbag is about 50 percent more likely to rupture than others thanks to a manufacturing defect. When the inflator ruptures, metal shrapnel is hurled into the cabin, resulting in serious injuries and in some cases death.

A recall for these vehicles were already conducted between 2008 and 2011, but Honda’s data shows that about 313,000 of them remain on the street.

If you own one of these vehicles, contact your dealer or check to see if there is an outstanding recall on your vehicle by clicking here.

To read more:

honda airbags

A late model Honda affected by the recall.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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