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Florida Ranks Number One In Takata Airbag Deaths, Injuries

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Shizuo Kambayashi
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Listen to the story airing on 89.9 WJCT-FM

Update 2:55 p.m., May 14: A spokesperson with Fiat Chrysler has designated May Airbag Recall Repair Month statewide, with an emphasis on Miami, Orlando and Tampa. The designation also applies to Jacksonville residents.

Florida has the highest number of injuries and fatalities as a result of defective Takata airbags, according to automakers.

Since the recall began in 2014, the government has struggled to get people to replace them. It’s the largest automotive recall in history, according to NPR.

The Japanese-made airbags are in many makes and models. They were recalled because they sometimes explode and send debris into vehicles, killing or injuring drivers and passengers.

Since the recall began four years ago, 83 people have been injured by the airbags and three have lost their lives in Florida. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates more than a million Florida vehicles still have the defective airbags.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, says just 45 percent of Florida vehicles under recall had been fixed as of mid-April.

“We still have a huge problem with getting these dangerous airbags replaced and out of the cars and off the highways. To stop these horrible tragedies, we have to get these vehicles fixed,” he said.

Nelson is calling on the agency to require automakers to makes plans to replace the airbags faster.

“…and to post those plans on their websites by June 30. These plans should include a commitment to get folks with a recall vehicle — get them in for service as quickly as possible and on a schedule that meets their needs. And a promise to provide people with rental cars ought to be there, or alternate transportation,” he said.

Nelson said he requested the new statistics from automakers and intends to raise the issue during the next Senate Commerce Committee meeting, which is expected to focus on the nomination of Heidi King to lead the Traffic Safety Administration.

Car dealerships say the replacement shouldn’t take more than an hour, and as the Miami Herald reports, some Fiat Chrysler sellers in Miami have designated May as Airbag Recall Repair Month.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Ryan Benk is originally from Miami, Florida and came to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. He worked on Miami Dade College’s Arts and Literature Magazine- Miamibiance Magazine and has published poetry and a short film called “ The Writer.” He’s currently working as the Newsroom’s Researcher while finishing his Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree at Florida State University. When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida.