Deadly airbags: Two out of three recalled in Florida still not fixed

Two out of three potentially deadly Takata airbags under recall in Florida still have not been fixed, two years after the first nationwide recall, a flabbergasted U.S. Senator from the state said Thursday.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) holds up a shrapnel damaged airbag made by Takata during a Senate hearing. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“At the rate we’re going, we might land humans on Mars before all of these deadly inflators are off the road,” Sen. Bill Nelson said.

In Florida, only about 1 million of the 3.1 million airbags inflators under recall in the state have been fixed, an independent monitor appointed to oversee the recall told Nelson. Some cars have have more than inflator under recall, such as for a driver and passenger, and about 1.5 million vehicles in Florida still have not been repaired, a statement from Nelson’s office said.

“It’s been two years since the first nationwide recall and we still can’t get these potentially deadly vehicles repaired fast enough,” said Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee. “We’ve got to pick up the pace on boosting production of replacement inflators and assisting consumers who need to get their vehicles fixed.”

Nationwide, about 30.4 million of the 46.2 million recalled inflators nationwide have not yet been repaired as of mid-May.  Florida is considered one of the most dangerous states for drivers with recalled airbags because investigators believe heat and humidity play a role and increase the risk of a failure.

The defective airbags can spew deadly metal fragments inside the car when deployed. They have been linked to as many as 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.

A $553 million settlement in U.S. District Court in Miami announced May 18 was described as helping accelerate fixes for drivers of nearly 16 million Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW vehicles.

The agreement provides for rental-car loaners for certain vehicles, reimbursement of out-of-pocket losses and other compensation for consumers.

“This agreement achieves our goals of educating consumers about the urgent need to have their recall remedies completed while providing them compensation for their economic losses,” said Peter Prieto, court-appointed chair lead counsel of the group that negotiated the settlement on behalf of consumers. “The low number of recalls to-date demonstrates the need for a settlement of this type, and we look forward to accelerating the removal of defective Takata airbags from the roads. We appreciate the efforts of Toyota, BMW, Mazda and Subaru to do right by their customers in reaching these agreements, and we look forward to the Court’s approval so implementation can begin soon.”

Details: www.autoairbagsettlement.com

Economic loss claims are pending against Ford, Honda and Nissan, attorneys said.

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