Another death has been conclusively linked to exploding airbags manufactured by Japanese supplier Takata. It's the eleventh fatality worldwide, the tenth in the U.S., and the tenth to occur in a Honda vehicle.
The incident took place just one week ago, on March 31, in Fort Bend County, Texas. The victim was a 17-year-old high school senior, who was driving a 2002 Honda Civic. The driver rear-ended another vehicle that was stopped at an intersection, waiting for traffic to clear.
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Injuries should have been minor. News accounts indicate that the victim wasn't speeding and was wearing her seatbelt.
However, the collision was strong enough to trigger the driver-side frontal airbag, which ripped open when shrapnel from the airbag system punctured it. That shrapnel hit the driver's neck. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Though investigators will take a close look at the device, it likely exploded for the same reasons that other Takata airbag systems have: unstable ammonium nitrate, which Takata employed to inflate its airbags.
Honda issued a statement regarding the incident that reads, in part:
"Since 2011, the vehicle involved in this crash has been included in multiple recalls and a market campaign. Multiple mailed recall notices were sent over the course of several years to registered owners of this vehicle, including the current registered owner. Our records indicate that the recall repair was never completed."
We would note, however, that while it is of the utmost importance for owners to repair their recalled vehicles promptly, it is not their fault when a component--in this case, an airbag manufactured by Takata--is fatally flawed.
Honda was once Takata's biggest client, and as such, many of the 24 million vehicles affected by the Takata recall are Hondas and Acuras. If own one and want to know if it's been recalled, visit www.recalls.honda.com or www.recalls.acura.com. Owners of Honda, Acura, or any other brand of vehicle can also check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recall database at SaferCar.gov.