Civic and community leaders in the Los Angeles area have formed a coalition to urge motorists with vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recalls to have their airbag inflators repaired , saying hundreds of thousands of local residents continue to drive around with the potentially explosive airbags.
The group is trying to convey to motorists what can happen if they fail to take the recall seriously. Speaking at a news conference at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in downtown Los Angeles, the group warned that airbags in millions of vehicles can deploy with lethal force and blast shrapnel from the airbag container at car occupants.
These potentially deadly explosions can occur even in very minor, low-speed fender benders, the group warned.
“The ongoing air bag inflator recall is the largest auto recall in U.S. history, and it demands immediate attention, especially here in Southern California,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price.
“More than 1 million defective air bag inflators in Southern California remain unrepaired, putting far too many members of our community at risk.”
The risk is especially high for owners of certain older model Honda and Acura vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns that the airbags in many 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles have a 50 percent chance of exploding, even in minor collisions that shouldn’t normally trigger airbag deployment.
Those vehicles include the 2001 and 2002 Honda Civic, the 2001 and 2002 Honda Accord, the 2002 Honda Odyssey, the 2002 Honda CR-V, the 2003 Honda Pilot, the 2002 and 2003 Acura TL and the 2003 Acura CL.
Millions of other vehicles are at risk, but the older the car gets, the more its ammonium-nitrate-loaded hair-trigger airbag inflators become compromised by heat and air moisture.
Takata’s airbag recall encompasses more than 70 million airbag units in 42 million U.S. vehicles.
To date, the airbags have been blamed for the deaths of at least 16 people worldwide, including 11 in the U.S. More than 180 people have been injured. Three of the 11 people killed were in Southern California.
According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, State Farm Insurance agent Araceli Cazales told people at the news conference that her friend Delia Robles of Corona, California, was one of those killed by the faulty Takata airbags. Ms. Robles died in September when the airbag inflator in her 2001 Honda Civic exploded after it struck a pickup truck that turned in front of her.
“I’d like everyone to think about this,” Cazales said. “It’s Friday and you go about your normal day. Then you leave work, and on your way home you decide to stop and get a flu shot. But before you make it to the clinic, you get into a minor fender bender, … and you are only driving 25 miles an hour. But your air bag explodes and shoots sharp pieces of metal toward your face and neck. These are the circumstances under which my friend Delia Robles lost her life.”
Lawyer John Buretta, who the NHTSA hired to be an independent monitor for Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program, spoke of the recall’s massive scope.
“Parents have died, grandmothers have died, … all-American gymnasts have died,” he said, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “All walks of life are affected by this recall. Over a million unrepaired inflators are here in Southern California, and we’re so grateful on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation that this coalition has come together to take on this issue, to raise awareness and to get the repairs done.”
Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune