Friday, January 30, 2015

Honda investigating sixth Takata airbag death.

In continuing coverage of Takata Corp.’s exploding airbags, The AP (1/29) reports that Honda is investigating a crash that occurred on January 18 in Houston in which the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord “was found unconscious” in the vehicle following a minor two-car crash. The AP reports that the victim, identified as Carlos Solis, was killed “when an air bag inflated and sent shrapnel into his neck,” according to Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). Christina Garza, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, said that the deputy responding to the accident “observed [Solis] had a large open wound to his neck.” In a statement, Honda said that the model involved in the accident had been recalled in 2011, but repairs had not been made on Solis’ vehicle; the automaker “urged anyone with a vehicle recalled for air bag problems to take cars to dealers as soon as possible.”
        Bloomberg News (1/29, Plungis, Green, Fisk, 2.94M) reports that a lawsuit filed by the Solis family against Honda, Takata, and the dealership from which the vehicles was purchased alleges that the incident was the result of a “relatively minor collision resulting in minimal damage to both vehicles.” In a statement, Honda Executive Vice President Tetsuo Iwamura said the automaker “will try to facilitate the recall and improve the ratio of cars fixed.” Takata also released a statement on the incident, saying, “We are working in close collaboration with Honda to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the vehicle’s status at the time of the incident. Takata’s number one priority is the safety of the driving public.”
        The Detroit (MI) News (1/29, Shepardson, 577K) reports that Honda notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the event, and claimed, “We are currently working with representatives of the driver’s family to gain the access necessary to conduct a comprehensive investigation.” The news reports NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge “said the agency was awaiting information from Honda,” but he “encouraged all car owners to go to and enter their vehicle’s vehicle identification number to check for outstanding recalls — and for owners who receive recall notifications from manufacturers to get repairs made.”
        A second article in the Detroit (MI) News (1/29, Shepardson, 577K) reports that a “bipartisan group of U.S. senators led by the top Republican and Democrat on the Commerce Committee reintroduced” the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act on Thursday which would “give automotive sector employees incentives to sound the alarm on vehicle defects.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the chairman of the Commerce Committee, said “Ensuring the safety of American motorists is a priority, but the public’s trust has been shaken due to the record number of recalls this past year,”noting, “There is much more work that needs to be done.”
        Additional coverage was provided by the New York (NY) Times (1/30, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.97M), the Los Angeles (CA) Times (1/30, Hirsch, 3.49M), Bloomberg News (1/30, 2.94M), USA Today (1/29, Woodyard, 10.32M), NBC News (1/30, 3.76M), and Reuters (1/30, Lienert). 

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