Sat, 01 Oct 2022

Exploding airbag claims 20th US victim

Robert Besser
08 Aug 2022, 10:17 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: In July, a Florida man was killed by exploding Takata airbag inflators, possibly becoming the 20th death in the U.S. as a result of the malfunctioning airbag.

Authorities say the driver, a 23-year-old man, was killed near Pensacola, Florida after his airbag inflator apparently exploded and stuck him with metal pieces of the mechanism.

Further, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is confirming the details of the crash before deciding on further action.

Ammonium nitrate is used by the airbag device to create a small explosion to inflate airbags during a collision, but the chemical can become more volatile over time when exposed to moisture in the air and repeated high temperatures, potentially blowing apart a metal canister and hurling shrapnel into passengers.

As a result, the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, involving at least 67 million inflators, have been conducted, yet the U.S. government acknowledged that millions of defective airbags have not been repaired. Some 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.

Most of the deaths, totaling 29 worldwide, have been in the U.S., but they also have occurred in Australia and Malaysia.

After the latest death, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper filed a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reporting that the driver suffered fatal injuries "due to the driver's side air bag deployment."

Ford recalled about 391,000 Rangers in the U.S. and Canada from the 2004 to 2006 model years in January 2016 to replace the driver's inflators.

According to Ford spokesman Said Deep, the Ranger involved in the Florida crash had been recalled and notices were sent out, but repairs were not performed.

Ford even sent a representative to the owner's home to schedule recall repairs, he added, urging all Ranger owners to have recall repairs completed. But apparently the owner did not have the auto repaired.

The last death caused by a Takata airbag took place in January 2021, involving a Honda in Lancaster County, South Carolina.

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