WASHINGTON - Exploding Takata airbags have been linked to 15 deaths and 278 injuries in the U.S. and its territories, according to new numbers released today by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
Florida ranks first in the number of people killed and injured, followed by Puerto Rico, Texas, California and Georgia. Nearly three-fourths of all U.S. casualties occurred in the four states and the territory of Puerto Rico.
“These numbers show that we still have a huge problem with getting these dangerous airbags replaced and off our highways,” said Nelson, who serves as the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the automakers. “Consumers should heed the recall warnings and get their vehicle repaired as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in death or life altering injuries."
In Florida, injuries have risen almost 400-percent since December 2014. Honda vehicles with defective Takata airbags accounted for all three deaths and 55 injuries in the state, while Toyota ranked second with 13 injuries.
The casualty numbers were tallied from information provided to Nelson by the 19 automakers that use Takata’s non-desiccated ammonium nitrate-based inflators.
As of March 30, 58 percent of recalled Takata inflators nationwide have been repaired, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Some 16.4 million unrepaired inflators remain in vehicles on the highways.
Meantime, only 45 percent of vehicles in Florida had been fixed as of mid-April, according to data obtained from the Takata Independent Monitor. 1.3 million recalled vehicles have yet to be repaired in the state.
Release of the new numbers comes in advance of a hearing the Senate Commerce Committee will hold next week on the nomination of Heidi King to head NHTSA, which ordered the Takata recalls. Nelson intends to seek a commitment from King that, if confirmed, she will speed up efforts to get the exploding airbags replaced.
Consumers who wish to check whether their vehicles are under active recall due to defective Takata airbags can visit the U.S. government's website at SaferCar.gov.