Takata airbags have likely claimed another victim--this time, in Malaysia. If an investigation conclusively links Takata's fatally flawed devices with the driver's death, it will be the 14th confirmed worldwide. The airbags have also caused more than 100 injuries.
Like most of the other fatalities associated with Takata's exploding airbags, this one occurred in a Honda vehicle. (In the U.S., where the majority of deaths have taken place, the only non-Honda incident involved a Ford Ranger.)
The victim was a 44-year-old woman, who was "found with injuries to her chest from an item protruding from the center of the steering wheel". Honda has confirmed that the airbag in the driver's Honda City had deployed and ruptured. However, the cause of her death on Saturday hasn't officially been determined yet.
Sadly, the driver's car had been recalled over a year ago to replace both driver- and passenger-side airbags. According to Honda, recall notices were first issued in May 2015, and a total of three were sent to the owner. Unfortunately, the repairs were never made.
The recalls stem from problems with the ammonium nitrate that Takata uses to deploy airbags. When exposed to heat and humidity, that compound can become dangerously unstable, exploding when activated and pelting vehicle occupants with hot shrapnel.
The Takata recall was already one of the largest automotive recalls on record when it expanded dramatically in May. Today, nearly 70 million Takata airbag inflators are slated for recall, and if Takata can't prove that the compound is safe--as it claims, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary--it has agreed to recall all of them by 2019.