The NHTSA specifically states "the risk to vehicle occupants is dire."
Honda has issued a dire "Do Not Drive" warning for owners of 8,200 US-based Acura and Honda vehicles from model years 2001-2003 that still have defective Takata airbag inflators. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is telling these owners that "the risk to vehicle occupants is dire" and immediate action must be taken.
That action, quite clearly, is to stop driving the following vehicles from those model years: Honda Accord, Civic, CR-V, Odyssey, Pilot, plus the Acura CL and TL.
All originally came equipped with the proven deadly "Alpha" inflators. Over 30 deaths - 23 in the US alone - have been attributed to these exploding Takata-supplied airbag inflators. Because of a major design defect, these inflators can release potentially fatal metal shrapnel inside vehicles. The Takata airbag scandal, which later forced the company into bankruptcy, began back in 2009 and has since resulted in hundreds of serious injuries.
To date, over 67 million of these inflators have been recalled in the US and over 100 million globally. It is the biggest automotive safety recall in history.
Honda says it has attempted to contact affected owners over 18.3 million times through various methods, including mail notifications, emails, phone calls, and home visits. The Japanese automaker even tried the unusual tactic of sending out cartoons to attract these owners' attention. Honda is further offering free towing and loaner vehicles during the repair process. Fortunately, the carmaker says it has replaced and/or accounted for over 99% of these fatal inflators.
"We're concerned for the safety of those who have not responded and are now adopting the new Stop Driving messaging to spur them to act," Honda said.
Just last month, the NHTSA was urging owners to check whether their vehicles are part of the open Takata recall. Older vehicles are at an especially higher risk for exploding inflators because of the aging airbag system. Equally concerning is that relatively minor crashes can lead to these older airbags exploding.
As with any recall, replacing these defective airbag inflators is free of charge. Getting into contact with owners still driving defective vehicles is not easy. Many are unfortunately not even aware their vehicle has been recalled.
In one tragic case, the owner of a 2002 Honda Civic was killed back in 2018 only three months after purchasing the car. The purchase was so recent at the time that Honda itself was unaware of the ownership change. Takata was apparently aware of the airbag inflator design defect for a decade, from 2000 to 2010, but ultimately took no action.
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