Honda confirms 17th U.S. death in ruptured Takata airbag

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FILE PHOTO: The Honda logo on its Modulo model in its showroom at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan February 19, 2019. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-hoon / File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co said on Saturday it had confirmed a 17th death in the United States linked to a faulty Takata airbag inflator.

The Japanese automaker said after a joint inspection with the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) it confirmed that a faulty airbag inflator was to blame for the Aug. 20 crash of a Honda Civic 2002 which resulted in the death of a driver. in Mesa, Arizona.

This defect, which in rare cases leads to rupture of airbag inflators and the sending of metal fragments, caused the largest automotive recall in US history and is linked to 15 deaths in the United States. United in Honda vehicles and two in Ford Motor Co vehicles since 2009. Over 290 injuries are also linked to defective Takata inflators and at least 26 fatalities worldwide.

Honda said the 2002 Civic has been the subject of a recall since December 2011 for the replacement of the driver’s front airbag inflator, while the passenger’s front airbag inflator was recalled in 2014.

Honda mailed more than 15 recall notices over eight years to registered owners of the vehicle before the accident and made further attempts to contact owners. The killed driver was not the registered owner and Honda said it was uncertain whether the driver was aware of unrepaired recalls.

The last confirmed fatal incident in the United States was the death of a driver in June 2018 after a 2002 Honda Civic crashed in Buckeye, Arizona.

Takata’s recalls cover approximately 100 million inflators among 19 major automakers around the world, including approximately 63 million inflators in the United States.

The NHTSA says the cause of inflator explosions that can emit fatal fragments is propellant degradation after long-term exposure to high temperature fluctuations and humidity.

In August, Honda agreed to pay $ 85 million to settle an investigation by most US states into its use of defective Takata inflators.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Edited by Dan Grebler and Daniel Wallis

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