Another death has been blamed on an exploding Takata airbag, and the victim in this case wasn’t even a driver or a passenger but someone who was performing repairs on an idling 2001 Honda Accord.
On July 10, Honda said it notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of a fatal incident that occurred in Hialeah, Florida, on June 8, 2016, involving a ruptured Takata airbag.
An individual, who was not the car owner, was performing unknown repairs on the Accord with the ignition turned on. The car was parked in the driveway of a private home and the individual was using a hammer for the repair. Honda says this triggered the deployment of the airbag.
The defective airbag exploded, blasting fragments of the device at the individual. Honda reports the individual died from injuries sustained by the exploding airbag, possibly in conjunction with the hammer, at the hospital the following day.
The death is the 12th in the U.S. linked to Takata airbags, which are made with inflator mechanisms containing ammonium nitrate, a highly volatile chemical that can cause the airbag to rupture with lethal force, even with minimal impact. All but one of the U.S. deaths have occurred in Honda vehicles.
There have been at least six more deaths caused by exploding Takata airbags outside the U.S. Most of those have been in Malaysia.
Honda said the 2001 Accord involved in the latest reported death was included in “multiple recalls” as well as a safety campaign related to the original defective Takata airbag inflator. Honda also said it mailed registered owners of the vehicle 12 recall notices over seven years, but as it happens with recalls on many older vehicles, there is no certainty that the current owner of the vehicle had received the notice or understood its seriousness.
The first recall of Takata airbags was launched by Honda in 2008. That recall included the 2001 Accord involved in the Hialeah incident. By 2011, that recall expanded to encompass more than two million Honda vehicles. By 2017, the Takata airbag recall had swelled to include about 70 million airbag units installed in 42 million U.S. vehicles, including those made by Honda and more than a dozen other automakers.
Last month, Takata filed for bankruptcy protection, paving the way for the sale of its assets to a Chinese-American competitor based in Michigan.
Honda advises the public that it currently has sufficient supplies of replacement inflators to complete the required airbag repairs for all its vehicles under recall. “We continue to encourage all Honda and Acura vehicle owners to immediately check for open recalls at www.recalls.honda.com and www.recalls.acura.com and contact an authorized dealer as soon as possible to schedule the free repair,” the automaker said in a statement.