A particular subset of Takata airbag inflators in older model Honda and Acura vehicles show a far higher risk of ruptures during air bag deployment, according to new test data. Federal officials have warned drivers to stop driving these vehicles immediately.
The defective airbags, manufactured by Japanese supplier Takata, rupture when deployed, causing metal shrapnel to explode into the occupant compartment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has urged owners to park their vehicles until the defective airbags can be replaced.
“With as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous air bag inflator rupture in a crash, these vehicles are unsafe and need to be repaired immediately,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”
Vehicles affected include:
2001-2002 Honda Civic
2001-2002 Honda Accord
2002-2003 Acura TL
2002 Honda CR-V
2002 Honda Odyssey
2003 Acura CL
2003 Honda Pilot
These vehicles were also included in a broader recall that occurred between 2008 and 2011. Honda says that more than 70 percent of these vehicles have already been repaired, but more than 300,000 of these defective vehicles remain on the road.
Millions of vehicles in the U.S. have been recalled due to defective Takata airbags. It’s estimated that 20% of the 260 million cars on US roads have (or had) a defective Takata airbag.
Our attorneys have handled a number of Takata airbag claims. One of these lawsuits settled for a confidential amount earlier this year. Joshua Reliford was driving his Honda Civic when he was struck by another vehicle. The driver’s side air bag deployed and the air bag inflator exploded and sent shards of metal through air bag material and into Joshua’s face. He suffered a brain injury, loss of his right eye, and facial disfigurement.
“The chemical propellant is housed within the metal inflators, and the inflator and air bag cushion are located within the steering wheel housing,” explained lead attorney Kent Emison. “When a collision occurs, a signal is sent to the vehicle’s electronic control unit, which causes the propellant to ignite and begin emitting gas from the inflator in order to cause the airbag to fill with gas and deploy.”
“These air bags were defectively designed and manufactured so that the metal inflator itself can rupture upon impact and shoot metal shrapnel through the air bag’s cushion and into the faces and necks of the vehicle’s occupants,” Emison said.
Joshua, unfortunately, is just one of hundreds of documented injuries from these defective air bags – including at least 10 deaths.
Ultimately, it may take until 2019 to replace all of the defective air bags in U.S. vehicles because not all of the parts are immediately available. In the meantime, thousands of motorists remain at risk of severe injury from defective Takata airbags.
NHTSA: New test data on particular subset of Takata air bag inflators shows substantially higher risk [NHTSA Press Release]
Stop driving these Hondas right now, says regulator [Chris Isidore at CNN Money]
Stop driving your 2001-2003 Honda or Acura, says NHTSA [Autoweek]
Owners of Older Hondas, Acuras Urged to Stop Driving [Tom Krishner at AP via CBS Boston]
US Automakers to Recall 12M More Vehicles with Takata Airbags [Langdon & Emison]
Langdon & Emison Settles Takata Airbag Defect Case for Confidential Amount [Langdon & Emison]
© Copyright 2016 Brett A. Emison
Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.