A defective Takata airbag inflator has been linked to a 19th death in the U.S. The driver of a 2002 Honda Accord died Jan. 9 in Lancaster County, S.C., after the inflator ruptured, Honda confirmed in a statement. The announcement follows a joint inspection by the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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The 2002 Accord is part of a group of models at especially high risk for inflator ruptures. The so-called “alpha” inflators, all installed in early-2000s vehicles from Honda and its Acura luxury brand, are responsible for 12 of the 19 U.S. deaths linked to Takata inflators thus far, including the Jan. 9 fatality. It’s the first Takata-related death reported since November, when NHTSA confirmed BMW’s first Takata-related fatality.
Honda said the Accord involved in the Jan. 9 incident had been under recall since April 2011 for replacement of the original driver’s front airbag inflator. The automaker claims that from June 2011 on, it made more than 100 attempts to reach various owners of the car by mail, phone calls, email and in-person canvassing visits, all without success.
“Our records indicate that the recall repair was never completed,” the automaker added in a statement. “The driver killed in this crash was not the registered owner of the vehicle, and Honda does not know if the driver was aware of the unrepaired recalls affecting this vehicle.”
The automaker said it “continues to urge” owners to get their Takata recalls fixed for free, and older vehicles — especially those from the 2001-03 model years — pose the highest safety risk.
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