Driver Safety Crisis – Global Air Bag Recall

Crash Management has the latest update on the Takata airbag scandal after a 20mm piece of shrapnel hit a Malaysian driver in the neck.  Malaysia’s taken urgent action and ordered another 70,000 Hondas off the road for replacement airbags due to driver safety concerns. Last year, Takata pleaded guilty to fraud in a U.S. court and agreed to pay more than $1 billion in penalties for concealing the defect and putting driver safety at risk. This is a global crisis that will have affected thousands of kiwi drivers too, though it gets little  profile here. See more at

Malaysia’s transport minister said Saturday that owners of more than 71,000 affected Honda cars will be penalized if they fail to replace flawed Takata air bags, in a drastic move to address driver safety and curb fatalities.

The deaths of seven people in Malaysia have been linked to the defective air bags that are subject to one of the world’s largest auto recalls. The latest victim was a 23-year old student whose 2004 Honda City crashed in Kuala Lumpur on May 27, the second death this year alone. Transport Minister Anthony Loke said owners of 71,315 Honda cars have disregarded the driver safety warning notices and still not responded to the recall replacement so will be barred from renewing their road tax if they don’t do so.

“The 71,315 cars are like a time bomb that imperil driver safety and can kill anytime … the government has to take such (a) drastic measure because human lives are more important than a little inconvenience,” Loke said after visiting the victim’s family at their home. Top of Form

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In the latest case, he said a 2-centimeter (0.79-inch) -long shrapnel was found embedded on the left of the victim’s neck after his car crashed into a tree.  Loke said Honda has sent 28 recall notices to the victim’s family but it didn’t reach them because they moved and didn’t update their address with the Road Transport Department. The last letter was dated May 22, five days before the crash, he said.

Pong Yew Loong, the victim’s father, told reporters that the family wasn’t aware of the recall and didn’t receive the letter so was unaware of driver safety concerns.  “It is proven that over the last four years, the awareness campaign is not enough, the awareness campaign has not been effective,” Loke said. He said he will meet car manufacturers next week to discuss further measures.

The latest Malaysian death raised the global death toll linked to the defect to 23. The U.S., with 15 deaths, and Australia with one are the only other countries to have reported such fatalities.  All the deaths in Malaysia involved the Honda City, a subcompact made for Asia and Europe. Families of some Malaysian victims have blamed Honda, the leading foreign brand in the country, of not doing enough to warn car owners of driver safety concerns, the potentially deadly risks from the air bags, or track down second-hand car owners.

The defective air bags have faulty inflators and propellant devices that may deploy improperly in an accident, shooting out metal fragments that can kill or injure.  Last year, Takata pleaded guilty to fraud in a U.S. court and agreed to pay more than $1 billion in penalties for concealing the defect.

  1. Hammer
    | Reply

    Thats not quiet right to say the Takata @#$%^-UP gets no profile in NZ actually it was just on Fair Go. Heres the story here according to the TVNZ website who said another 250,000 cars are being recalled in NZ and the full list is at
    A list of vehicles affected in the airbag recalls has been released after Minister of Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi announced that several hundred thousand airbag units in use in New Zealand cars will need to be recalled for safety reasons. Mr Faafoi said all Alpha type Takata brand airbags in new and used cars are now subject to a compulsory airbag recall, and he said they are used in “many of the common car makes in New Zealand”.

    While there have been “no serious or fatal incidents” so far involving the airbags, “the risks are too great to do nothing”. “I am concerned to say …. in New Zealand more than 450,000 vehicles are affected by the overall Takata recall,” Mr Faafoi said. “79,000 of these are the higher-risk Alpha-type airbags – 50,000 vehicles still need Alpha-type airbags being replaced. “In summary, we have inherited a situation where 307,000 vehicles are still on the road in New Zealand being used by everyday families where a safety risk known to the previous government since 2013 has not been sufficiently addressed … we can not allow this to go unaddressed.”
    A the time of this 2016 report NZTA’s national manager of delivery, Robyn Elston, said “there are safety ramifications but no immediate risk to safety” from the airbags. The recall announced today is compulsory for vehicles with Alpha type Takata airbags. It is the second ever compulsory recall in New Zealand and comes into effect immediately. A further 257,000 vehicles will be monitored via a voluntary system. A total of 450,000 vehicles are affected, of which 307,000 are still on the road. The issue has been known about since 2013 but a voluntary system has operated since then. An urgent inquiry was called after Australia announced a compulsory recall.

    Consumer NZ head of testing Paul Smith said today manufacturers and importers will have 18 months to finish repairs on possibly defective vehicles. “Not all Takata airbags will explode on deployment, in fact it’s unlikely – a one in 400 risk is reported globally,” Mr Smith said. “But the older ‘alpha’ airbags, fitted to cars manufactured between 2001 and 2006, are more dangerous – tests have shown there’s a chance every other deployment could be explosive.”

    The Japanese company Takata has manufactured airbags that are fitted to about 100 million worldwide. The airbag inflator can be negatively affected by moisture, with the result being it could deploy with explosive force in a crash. In the worst cases they have sent metal shards flying into the passenger cabin.

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