Honda US confirms 17th worldwide Takata airbag-related death

According to Honda, a man was repairing a 2001 Accord when its Takata airbag inflator was activated, resulting in his death.
Justin Hilliard
GoAutoMedia

11 Jul 2017 • 3 min read

Honda Motor Company in the USA has confirmed another death related to a faulty Takata airbag, but on this occasion the deceased was performing repairs on the 2001 Accord instead of driving it.

In a series of statements to US publication The Detroit News, the company said the incident occurred in Hialeah, Florida, in June 2016 and involved a male that was using a hammer while the vehicle’s ignition was switched on.

While the centre console was being dismantled, the tool triggered the activation of the airbag inflator, which then ruptured upon deployment.

According to a Honda spokesperson, a deceleration sensor that activates the airbags is mounted on the wall between the engine and the passenger compartment.

However, the exact repair that was being performed is still unknown.

The company said photos from a local police report indicate the inflator exploded and shot out metal fragments, but it remains unclear if this shrapnel caused the injuries the man died from the next day.

“It is difficult to determine whether the cause of death in this incident was the inflator rupture, or an interaction of the hammer with the deploying airbag,” Honda said.

“While the absolute cause of death may never be fully determined, Honda now considers this to be the 11th confirmed fatality in its vehicles related to Takata airbag inflator ruptures in the US.”

Current and former owners of the specific Accord involved were mailed 12 safety notices over a seven-year period, but the company said “records indicate that the recall repair was never completed on this vehicle.”

The 2001 Accord reportedly includes one of the more hazardous versions of Takata driver’s side airbag inflators, with laboratory testing showing they have up to a 50 per cent chance of rupturing during an accident.

Accounting for this latest fatality, the deaths of 17 people globally – including 12 in the US – have been linked to the defective inflators, while more than 180 US-based injuries have been related to the issue.

As previously reported, an Australian motorist was allegedly injured by a Takata airbag following a car crash in the Northern Territory in April this year.

Last month, Takata filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Japan following call backs for over 100 million faulty airbags, with global liabilities expected to reach up to $US10 billion ($A13.2 billion).

These liabilities include a $US1 billion ($A1.32 billion) fine issued earlier this year by the US federal court over a felony charge that the Japanese automotive supplier pleaded guilty to.

US-based Key Safety Systems (KSS) will take over Takata’s global assets and operations in the coming months for the sum of $US1.6 billion ($A2.1 billion).

Should Takata face harsher penalties over its deadly airbags? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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