Police used to marvel at how people walked away from head-on accidents that would have killed them prior to the widespread use of airbags. Now they marvel at the people who are killed in minor fender-benders when their airbags explode and hurl tiny pieces of metal into the passenger compartment.
That's what happened to Huma Hanif, 17, when she rear-ended the car in front of her while driving outside Houston in her Honda Civic. A metal fragment became embedded in her neck and she bled out at the scene, police said.
“She wasn’t speeding. The car had only moderate damage,” Sheriff's Office Danny Beckworth said, according to a report in The New York Times. “It’s a crash that we work with every day that everybody walks away from.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla,) said the death illustrates the shortcomings in the U.S. safety recall program.
“Sadly, this is yet another tragic death caused by a product that Takata knew was defective,” said Nelson. “And it shows that the current recall efforts are just not getting the job done. Takata and the automakers have to step up their efforts to locate, notify and fix every impacted car as soon as possible — before anyone else dies."
Investigators said the teen's car had been recalled several times since 2011, but her family said they had never received any recall notices. Honda said it had mailed at least one recall notice to the car's registered owner, a member of the victim's family.
Fourteen automakers have recalled 28 million Takata airbag inflaters in about 28 million vehicles, but millions of them have never been repaired and millions of other vehicles with Takata airbags have not yet been recalled.