Eighth U.S. Death Linked To Takata Airbag Defect; Additional Vehicles Added To Recall List

Yet another death has been linked to Takata airbags that can explode and spew potentially lethal shrapnel at passengers, federal regulators said on Wednesday, increasing the number of fatalities in the U.S. to eight, and nine worldwide. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Wednesday that the death was the result of a driver side airbag rupture in a vehicle located in an area of high humidity.

A spokesperson for NHTSA tells Reuters that the fatality took place in July when a 2001 Honda Accord was involved in an accident near Pittsburgh.

The teenaged driver was hospitalized after the rupture, but died several days later.

Honda, whose vehicles have been linked to all seven prior Takta-related deaths, tells Reuters the company is working to determine the teen’s cause of death.

The car manufacturer say the previous owner of the vehicle first got a recall notice in 2010, and that the company had mailed a new notice on July 21 – one day before the crash.

In addition to confirming the eighth U.S. death related to the exploding airbags, NHTSA announced Wednesday that the recall process for affected vehicles has been “accelerating rapidly.”

According to the agency, in the two-week period ending Dec. 4, just over 950,000 vehicles have been repaired. To ensure the pace of recall completion continues, NHTSA has appointed John Buretta, a former official in the Justice Department’s criminal division, to serve as independent monitor overseeing the recall.

Buretta will be responsible for assisting the agency in providing important oversight of both the coordinated remedy program and of Takata’s compliance with consent orders.

While more cars than ever are being fixed for the Takata default, automakers have also added new models to the list of affected vehicles.

Honda, Subaru, and Mazda each added hundreds of thousands of vehicles to the massive recall.

The expansions include the model year 2005 to 2008 Mazda6, 2002 to 2004 Honda CR-V and 2005 to 2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback.

[via Reuters]

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