Tenth death linked to exploding Takata air bags
A Ford pickup driver killed last month in South Carolina is the 9th person to die in the U.S. and the 10th worldwide because of defective Takata air-bag inflators that explode, firing off shrapnel-like shards, government safety officials said Friday, as they announced a new expansion of the largest auto safety recall in history.
Based on the South Carolina accident and tests of a different kind of Takata inflator, an estimated 5 million additional vehicles with potentially defective air bags are being recalled, but that number could change because there may be some overlap with previous recalls, said Gordon Trowbridge, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman.
The South Carolina crash occurred in late December when the driver of a 2006 Ford Ranger swerved to avoid an obstacle in the road, ran off the side and struck another obstacle, Trowbridge said.
He said he was unable to provide further details of the accident.
The safety administration found out about the accident last week, from an attorney for the victim's family, Trowbridge said. NHTSA investigators, police and family representatives examined the vehicle on Friday morning and were able to confirm the death was due to an exploding air bag inflator, he said.
A woman in Malaysia was also killed by a rupturing Takata air bag last year, the only known fatality outside the U.S.
In the U.S., about 23 million Takata air bag inflators have previously been recalled on 19 million vehicles sold by a dozen manufacturers.
Despite the unprecedented size of the Takata air bag recalls, NHTSA expects the number of vehicles recalled to continue to increase, Trowbridge said. He noted that there are probably tens of millions of cars with Takata air bags on the road that have not yet been recalled.
“The agency is using all the tools available to clean up this mess as quickly and safely as possible,” he said.