California State Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (District 39) 

A father of two, who worked as a chef. A twenty-something All-American gymnast pursuing her dream of being a model and actor. A grandmother, who worked the early shift as a breakfast attendant at a hotel.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, jobs and family lives, these three Californians met the same tragic end: each was killed by shrapnel blasting out of their defective airbags.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, their vehicles are among the nearly 42 million U.S. vehicles impacted by the ongoing Takata airbag recall – the largest safety recall in our country’s history. Vehicles included in this recall contain faulty airbags that can explode like a grenade, blasting shrapnel at the driver and passengers – even in a minor fender bender.

To date, at least 11 Americans have been killed by exploding airbags, and more than 180 have suffered serious injuries, including cuts or lacerations to the face or neck, broken or fractured facial bones, loss of eyesight, and broken teeth.

Certain 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras pose the highest risk – with up to a 50 percent chance of exploding upon deployment.  That’s 1 in 2. These vehicles are unsafe to drive for any reason.

The crisis is particularly acute here in Southern California because the defect at issue is exacerbated by prolonged exposure to heat and humidity.

This public safety threat demands urgent action from individuals, community organizations, businesses and local leaders. That’s why I’ve joined Airbag Recall: Southern California, a new coalition dedicated to educating drivers about the airbag recall and how to obtain free repairs at a local dealer. Currently, more than 1 million defective airbags remain unrepaired in Southern California – a number our coalition will be working tirelessly to reduce.

You can take two simple steps to support us in this effort and to protect yourself or others against a potentially fatal airbag explosion. First, check your vehicle’s risk by visiting and entering your 17-digit VIN, found on the driver-side dashboard by the windshield or on your insurance card. If your vehicle is impacted, schedule an appointment at your automaker’s local dealership as soon as possible, where they will replace the airbag for free.

Then, pay it forward by helping a loved one, a friend, a neighbor or colleague do the same. The process of checking a vehicle takes less than five minutes and could have a life-saving impact.

Together, we can achieve our goal of replacing every defective airbag in Southern California, and also saving lives of thousands of motorists who might be at risk.

California State Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (District 39) is a member of the Airbag Recall: Southern California coalition.