Honda is confirming an eighth death linked to faulty exploding air bags supplied by Takata. The latest accident involved a 26-year-old woman who died in a Los Angeles-area crash last September. Both Honda and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration say they’ve determined an exploding air bag in her rented 2001 Honda Civic was to blame for her head and neck injuries. She is the seventh U.S. victim and eighth worldwide, including a woman in Malaysia.
Tuesday, Honda’s North American vice president addressed the latest accident, along with another deadly crash in Louisiana, while appearing at hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
“Let me begin by acknowledging that in the past two weeks we have confirmed that two more customers lost their lives – one in September 2014 and the other in April of this year – as a result of Takata airbag inflator ruptures that have occurred in our older model vehicles,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president, Honda North America. “This is heartbreaking, and a painful reminder to us of the reason we continue to urgently accelerate our actions to repair the affected vehicles. But of course the real pain is experienced by the families of the victims. We sincerely apologize to them, and extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies.”
Schostek also discussed ongoing efforts to fix recalled vehicles, which include repairing 50,000 vehicles a week, finding other vendors for replacement parts, and enhancing the recall portion of its website to make finding information easier for consumers.
“Further, to prevent the possibility that any Takata airbag inflators under recall can be used as a replacement part, we’ve been searching salvage yards nationwide to find and secure recalled inflators,” says Schostek. “We have already identified many thousands of inflators from salvage yards that now never will be installed in another vehicle.”
He also addressed the difficulty of tracking down owners of old vehicles. Schostek reiterated a suggestion to tie the annual state vehicle registration process to a requirement that safety defects be addressed before completion of vehicle registration.
“We continue to believe that there is substantial promise with this approach. I want to thank Senators Markey and Blumenthal for introducing S.617, the Repairing Every Car to Avoid Lost Lives Act – the “RECALL” Act,” says Schostek. “I recognize that there are a number of issues about this concept that require further discussion. But I am convinced that this is the single most significant step we can take to achieve what we all want to accomplish, and that is a 100 percent repair rate. Our company stands ready to work with the Congress to help find a path forward.