Defective Airbag Killed Texas Driver: Autopsy

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Car Manufacturer Not Admitting Airbag Defect to Blame for the Death

A 35 year-old father of two ran into another vehicle almost a month ago in a low speed collision in a parking lot in a Houston suburb. His airbags deployed. Tragically, a piece of metal shot shot out from the airbag of the Honda and pierced Carlos Solis’s neck. The Houston man died at the scene. 

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences just released its autopsy report which concluded that Mr. Solis died from blunt-force injuries to the neck.

“Takata’s No. 1 priority is the safety of the driving public.”

Despite the clear evidence, Takata and Honda deny the obvious: Mr. Solis died because of a airbag defect. The car manufacturer has claimed it “was too early to conclude the airbag was responsible,” according to the New York Times.

In an interview with the New York Times, Takata spokesperson Jared Levy said, “Takata’s
No. 1 priority is the safety of the driving public.” However, the airbag manufacturer was aware of the frightening problem as early as 2004 and didn’t take substantial steps to fix the defects until 2009, and only after multiple injuries and deaths.

Although Honda is urging drivers to repair recalled cars as soon as possible, the manufacturer has also noted that a shortage of parts may make timely repair impossible. Honda is sending out letters notifying car owners only as parts become available. This backlog means thousands of these dangerous cars remain on the road.

Dealers Not Obligated to Make Recall Repairs or Notify Buyers of Defects

Thousands of car owners have not even received their recall notices yet. This was the case with Mr. Solis, who bought his car last April from a Houston dealer. Honda had sent a letter to the dealer about the recall, but had not yet notified Mr. Solis.

Shockingly, used car dealers are not legally obligated to correct a recall defect, or even notify the buyer of the recall. This safety risk has to change. Lawmakers should heed the advice of 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and pass a statute that mandates repair of defective vehicles that are subject to recall by used car dealers and rental agencies.

Texas Drivers at High Risk of Injuries

Typically, at the point of vehicular impact, a canister releases gas into the chamber to inflate the airbags. However, the Takata airbag canisters can instead explode, sending sharp slivers of metal into the cabin of the car. The risk of explosion increases with moisture. Texas drivers are, therefore, at particular risk of injuries because of our high humidity. 

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