The massive Takata airbag inflator recall has claimed its 17th casualty in the United States, following a car crash in Arizona involving a 2002 Honda Civic.
No other details of the crash were made public other than one of seven “Alpha” Honda models from the early 2000s figured in the accident. The vehicle reportedly had frontal airbags that are likely to explode during a crash and release shrapnel from the inflator towards the passengers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these Alpha cars have a 50% chance of having their airbags fail. This prompted the wide-scale Takata airbag recall involving 56 million vehicles since 2013. It is currently the largest recall in the US.
Including other parts of the world, there have been a total of 26 deaths related to the defective airbag inflators, some of which have occurred in Malaysia and Australia. Most of these incidents involved Honda vehicles, save for two accidents in the US that occurred in Ford vehicles. A separate crash in Arizona in June 2018 also claimed the life of a 2002 Civic occupant.
Shortly after the August 2020 accident in Arizona, Honda agreed to a settlement with 46 states in the US, paying $85 million due to the massive airbag inflator fiasco. Based on investigations, Honda already knew about the defect for years even before the recall was ordered.
The now-bankrupt Takata brand was also fined $1 billion by the US government on top of the multiple lawsuits filed against it by concerned parties. Auto suppliers are now in the process of replacing the defective airbag inflators through aggressive recall efforts. However, there is still about 30% of affected cars in the US that have not been repaired to this day.