Senators want certain Hondas with Takata airbags taken off the road

Photo via U.S. Transportation Department

The airbags in question have a 50 percent chance of exploding in a collision

Two U.S. senators are calling on Honda to issue "do not drive" orders to owners of 2001-2003 Honda and Acura models with Takata airbags that have been shown to have a 50 percent chance of rupturing in a crash.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said earlier this month that new data has found “as high as a 50% chance of a dangerous airbag inflator rupture in a crash."

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) say Honda should take "the strongest possible action to ensure that vehicles with such air bags are immediately removed from the road before more people are killed."

They're also calling on Honda to do whatever it takes to make it as easy as possible for owners of these vehicles to have the defect repaired, without having to drive the vehicle to a dealership.

Grave risks

“Honda has a responsibility to clearly communicate the danger to consumers so that they understand the grave risks at hand,” the Senators wrote. “A ‘do not drive’ instruction should be conspicuously displayed on any recall notices, as well as this new test data so owners are informed that in the event of a crash, there is a 50 percent change that the airbag will violently explode."

"This new test data, coupled with the fact that eight of the 10 confirmed U.S. fatalities due to defective Takata airbags were in this subset of vehicles, make it abundantly obvious that a ‘do not drive’ instruction is absolutely warranted,” they said.

The senators have been expressing concerns about the slow pace of the Takata recalls since October 2014. 

Earlier this year, the senators sent a letter urging President Obama to recall every vehicle with airbags using ammonium nitrate as their propellant, and to use “every tool at his disposal” to accelerate the repair of all vehicles with potentially lethal Takata airbags.

Models listed

The higher-risk inflators are in the following vehicles:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic;
  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord;
  • 2002-2003 Acura TL;
  • 2002 Honda CR-V;
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey;
  • 2003 Acura CL; and
  • 2003 Honda Pilot.

The airbag inflators in these models contain a manufacturing defect that, according to federal safety regulators, greatly increases the potential for dangerous rupture when a crash causes the airbag to deploy.

Ruptures are much more likely to occur in inflators if vehicles have spent significant periods of time in areas of high absolute humidity -- particularly Florida, Texas, other parts of the Gulf Coast, and Southern California. Testing of the inflators from these vehicles show rupture rates as high as 50% in a laboratory setting, the agency stated.

The vehicles in this grouping were recalled between 2008 and 2011. Honda has reported that more than 70% of this higher-risk population of vehicles have already been repaired, but nearly 313,000 vehicles remain unrepaired.

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