A Florida woman has died in a crash near Tampa from injuries that may have been caused by an exploding Takata air bag inflator.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the July 19 death in Holiday, which could be the 19th worldwide and 13th in the U.S. blamed on the Japanese company’s faulty parts. Authorities in Florida have not yet released the cause of death.
Takata inflators can explode with too much force and blow apart a metal canister, spewing shrapnel. The defective inflators have touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, involving 42 million vehicles and 69 million inflators. More than 100 million have been recalled worldwide. All the deaths but one have occurred in Hondas. Five happened in Malaysia and one in Australia.
Authorities identified the woman as a 34-year-old who was driving a 2002 Honda Accord when a 19-year-old man turned left in front of her in a 1999 Pontiac Firebird. The Accord struck the passenger side of the Firebird, causing the driver’s airbag to inflate. Three other people in her car, including a 4-year-old girl, suffered only minor injuries according to a Highway Patrol press release. The woman’s car was equipped with the original Takata air bag. The woman died of blunt force trauma.
The Accord, like many of the Hondas in which people have died, had been recalled by the automaker, but repairs had not been made. Honda said in a statement that it mailed 21 recall notices to the owners of the Accord, including 10 to the current registered owner. The company also tried “numerous times” to reach the owners by email and telephone.
Honda and investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the Accord on Thursday and determined that the driver’s inflator ruptured, according to Honda.
There are about 98 million Takata inflators still on the road in the U.S., according to figures provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Takata supplied about 114 million inflators in the U.S., and only about 16 million of them have been replaced. A total of 46 million have been recalled in 34 million vehicles thus far, with more recalls to be phased in through 2020.
Millions of motor vehicles may have been manufactured with Takata airbags that contain a defective inflator and propellant device. If a collision occurs, the airbag could deploy improperly and shoot metal fragments that could injure or kill the driver and passengers, as this case shows.