Shocked and saddened by her friend’s Takata airbag death, Southern California resident Araceli Cazales is on a personal mission to spread the word about the serious dangers that unrepaired Takata airbags pose to California motorists.
According to KESQ Channel 2 Palm Springs, Ms. Cazales’ friend Delia Robles, a mother of three and grandmother of three, was killed when the Takata airbag in her 2001 Honda Civic exploded with deadly force in a car accident last September. Her death, caused by a spray of metal shrapnel from the airbag unit, is one of 11 deaths in the U.S. the government blames on defective Takata airbags. Worldwide, the death toll from the airbags in 16. About 180 people have been injured by the malfunctioning airbags.
Ms. Cazales, told KESQ her friend’s death is especially heartbreaking because it was easily preventable. All it would have taken to make her Honda Civic safe was a quick fix at a local Honda dealership.
Deadly Alpha Cars
Ms. Robles’ car was one of a series of Honda and Acura vehicles made between 2001 and 2003 that contain Takata airbags at extremely high risk of a potentially lethal rupture. These so-called “alpha cars” are top-priority on the massive recall list because they have an “alarming rupture rate of as high as 50 percent,” one Honda official told KESQ, citing government records.
And it doesn’t take a major accident to trigger these hypersensitive airbags. A low-speed, parking lot fender bender is enough to set them off.
According to KESQ, 44,000 of these high-risk alpha cars remain on the road in California alone.
Older Vehicles Difficult to Recall
Honda and the California Office of Traffic Safety say these vehicles, the first generation of Honda vehicles to be made with the defective Takata airbags, remain on the road largely because they have traded hands so many times throughout the years. Current owners, therefore, are often not aware that their vehicle is equipped with highly unstable airbags.
“I think most people don’t know about this at all. I’ve talked to several people about it, and everyone that I spoke to didn’t even know that this was an issue,” California Highway Patrol officer Mike Radford of Indio told KESQ.
Meanwhile, Ms. Cazales told KESQ that because of her friend’s death, she’s determined to spread the word about the airbags, including speaking at press conferences and community events about the recalls.