Takata air bags have now officially been confirmed as the cause of death of a 50 year old woman who died in a car accident in California last month. This brings the total number of U.S. fatalities attributed to Takata airbags to 11.
On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed the woman’s death, but declined to release her identity. Up to five people also may have been killed by Takata air bags in Malaysia, which would bring the number deaths caused by them to 16.
NHTSA said that the woman died on September 30 in Riverside County, just east of Los Angeles. Honda Motor confirmed that the woman was driving a 2001 Civic. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time,” Honda said in a statement.
Takata air bags have been the subject of multiple recalls in the U.S. affecting millions of cars. They can inflate with too much force, which causes a metal canister to rupture and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. Unlike other air bag manufacturers, Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash. However, when exposed to prolonged high heat and humidity, the chemical can deteriorate and burn faster than designed. This can cause an explosion with such force that it can blow apart a metal canister that is supposed to contain the explosion.
So far, almost 70 million units have been recalled in the U.S. with the number of worldwide recalls topping 100 million. Tokyo-based Takata is facing billions of dollars in costs, and significant future business uncertainty as some manufacturers have declined to continue to work with Takata.
Honda says that it has mailed more than 20 recall notices to the car’s registered owners, but that according to its records the vehicle was never repaired.