Joe Raedle, Getty Images
A deployed Takata airbag in a wrecked 2001 Honda Accord, similar to the 2002 Civic involved in a March collision that killed a Texas teen.

Faulty Takata Airbag Kills Texas Teen

April 7, 2016
The U.S. death count rises to 10 after a 2002 Honda Civic — recalled five years ago but never repaired — collided with another vehicle.

A 10th American has died in a crash involving a ruptured Takata Corp. airbag inflator, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A 17-year-old woman died from injuries sustained in a March 31 crash in Fort Bend County, Texas, NHTSA said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. Worldwide, 11 deaths have been linked to the air bags.

The victim’s 2002 Honda Civic collided with another vehicle, activating the airbags, NHTSA said. A subsequent investigation revealed that the car had been recalled in 2011 but hadn’t had the defect repaired, the agency said.

“NHTSA is renewing its call to all auto manufacturers involved in the Takata airbag recall to intensify and expand their outreach to affected vehicle owners,” agency spokesman Bryan Thomas said. The car had been registered in the high-humidity Gulf Coast region its entire life, NHTSA said.

Takata’s costs could add up to $24 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, or four times more than Tokyo-based company’s annual revenue. The figure is about $7 billion more than Jefferies Group LLC estimated in a February report. Takata said in a statement it’s still investigating the root cause and can’t accurately project its final costs.

NHTSA said March 31 that it won’t take Takata’s financial viability into account when deciding whether to expand the largest-ever U.S. automotive recall.

Honda Motor Co. said in a statement that it’s shared all available vehicle history information collected to date with NHTSA and will continue to cooperate with NHTSA throughout the process of investigating this crash.

There are currently 28.8 million airbag inflators under recall, according to NHTSA. The agency has ordered vehicle manufacturers to target cars with the highest risks for repairs first. Vehicle age and exposure to high humidity for a prolonged period of time are two of the biggest risk factors, the agency has said.

By Jeff Plungis

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