Honda has confirmed that a Takata airbag in a 2004 Honda Civic exploded and killed a person in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, making it the 20th death worldwide linked to defective Takata airbag inflators.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials examined the Honda Civic on Tuesday, Dec. 19 and confirmed that the drivers-side Takata airbag blew apart and caused the person’s death.
Neither Honda nor NHTSA released much specific information about the latest deadly Takata airbag explosion. The details they did provide are that the crash occurred on July 10, 2017 and that the airbag at fault had been salvaged from a 2002 Honda Civic.
A Honda spokesperson told the Associated Press (AP) that the salvaged airbag was likely one of a family of Takata airbags that industry and government officials consider to be the most dangerous. Those airbags, from the 2001-2003 Honda line, contain inflators that cause potentially fatal explosions in 50 percent of deployments, tests have shown.
Takata airbag recalls encompass some 70 million units in 42 million vehicles in the U.S. alone. The Takata airbag recalls together make up the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. The recall is also complex, affecting 19 automakers and dozens of vehicle models from various model years.
Takata airbag recalls have also had a strong regional emphasis, with cars in humid areas of the U.S. prioritized, given the sensitivity of the ammonium-nitrate-based inflator mechanisms to heat and moisture.
Because Takata airbag recalls have been underway for more than 15 years, there is also a problem with older airbags salvaged from junked cars being reused in other vehicles, as the latest confirmed fatal incident demonstrates.
Many older vehicles have also changed hands multiple times, making the current owners harder to track down. A report issued last month shows that just 43 percent of the faulty airbags have been fixed.
According to the AP:
The report, issued by an independent monitor who is keeping tabs on the recalls, also shows that auto companies are only about halfway toward a Dec. 31 goal of 100 percent replacement of older and more dangerous inflators.