US reports another Takata air bag death, bringing toll to 33

FILE - TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., is pictured on June 25, 2017. U.S....
FILE - TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., is pictured on June 25, 2017. U.S. safety regulators are urging drivers once again to make sure their vehicles have not been recalled after another person was killed by an exploding Takata air bag. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, that the person was killed in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord when the driver's air bag inflator ruptured and hurled shrapnel.(Paul Sancya | AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 12:16 PM MST
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DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators and Honda Motor Co. are urging drivers once again to make sure their vehicles haven’t been recalled after another person was killed by an exploding Takata air bag.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that the person was killed in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord when the driver’s air bag inflator ruptured and hurled shrapnel. Honda said the crash occurred on Feb. 22 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The identity of the victim wasn’t available Friday.

The death, which was recently confirmed, brings the number of people killed by the air bags to 33 worldwide, including at least 24 in the U.S.

Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate air bags in a crash. But the chemical can become more volatile over time when exposed to moisture in the air and repeated high temperatures. The explosion can rupture a metal canister and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

Most of the deaths and about 400 injuries have happened in U.S. states with warmer weather.

NHTSA urged all owners to check to see if their vehicles have an unrepaired Takata air bag recall. Drivers can go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and key in their 17-digit vehicle identification number to see if they have any open recalls.

“If this air bag ruptures in a crash, it could kill you or someone you love, or leave them with critical, life-altering injuries,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement. “Every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled air bag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death.”

The agency says even minor crashes can cause air bags to inflate with the potential for explosions that can kill or hurt people.

Potential for the dangerous malfunction led to the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 67 million Takata inflators recalled. The U.S. government says that millions have not been repaired. About 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide. The exploding air bags sent Takata Corp. of Japan into bankruptcy.

Most of the deaths have been in the U.S., but they also have occurred in Australia and Malaysia.

The first death caused by a Takata inflator occurred in Oklahoma in 2009.