Vehicle manufacturers have been conducting the largest safety recall in US history after it was discovered that the Takata company had manufactured defective airbags that could injure or even kill drivers and passengers if they rupture.
Authorized dealerships are replacing defective airbags for free. But still, many motorists, even after being contacted, are ignoring the warning.
As the weather heats up, the recall is particularly urgent for residents of the San Fernando Valley — especially for drivers of older vehicles — because prolonged exposure to high heat or humid conditions over time worsens the defect in these faulty airbags.
“The Department of Transportation is maintaining its aggressive oversight of the efforts to recall Takata air bags as quickly as possible,” then Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.
Motorists are being warned that tens of millions of airbags are defective, and even a minor fender-bender can cause these airbags to rupture, spraying metal shrapnel into drivers and passengers. More than a million vehicles being driven in Southern California contain these dangerous airbags.
This problem is across the country, so much so that formed coalitions of legislators, community organizations and faith groups have been contacted to help get the the word out.
“For those that drive a vehicle with a recalled airbag, they face as high as a 50 percent chance of serious injury or death if your airbags are activated,” Foxx said. It was also pointed out that three people living in Southern California have been killed and at least 180 people have been injured. Injuries have included loss of eyesight, broken teeth, broken facial bones and lacerations.
“In Southern California, many of us drive or ride in a car every day, several times a day,” said Kenn Phillips, President & CEO, Valley Economic Alliance. “If your vehicle contains a defective airbag, this part of your daily life could threaten your life.
“Our organization is committed to supporting outreach efforts throughout Southern California and to helping prevent another deadly accident caused by a defective airbag inflator.”
The air bag inflators in certain 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras pose the biggest threat. Those models include the 2001 and 2002 Honda Civic, the 2001 and 2002 Honda Accord, the 2002 Honda Odyssey, the 2002 Honda CR-V, the 2003 Honda Pilot, the 2002 and 2003 Acura TL and the 2003 Acura CL.
In January, according to Consumer Reports, Takata agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud charges after the US Department of Justice said the company deceived automakers about the safety of their products. Takata is expected to pay a $1 billion penalty.
Owners of those affected vehicles are advised to schedule a free repair by calling (800) 234-2138. Drivers can also visit SaferCar.gov, AirbagRecall.com or contact their local dealer to see if their auto is affected.