A 22-year-old woman who died days after crashing her 2005 Honda Civic into a utility pole in Louisiana has been confirmed as the seventh victim of a malfunctioning Takata airbag in an ongoing safety nightmare that has affected millions of vehicles thus far. This past April in Lafayette, Kylan Langlinais was involved in an accident which caused her airbag to not simply deploy, as it should have, but to explode, sending shrapnel flying throughout her vehicle. She died four days after the crash as a result of injuries sustained from the airbag failure.
While that particular Honda model was part of a “safety improvement campaign” that began in June 2014, the previous owner of the car never received notification of the potential dangers associated with the vehicle, and consequently sold it in as-is condition to Langlinais in October of 2014. The car manufacturer finally alerted current car owners to the problem on April 2, a mere three days before Langlinais’ accident, but that turned out to be too late.
Louisiana was one of the later states to receive notice of the defective airbags, with other high-risk regions (like Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) being alerted in September of last year. It was initially believed that areas with greater humidity levels were more likely to experience these ruptures, but with seven deaths and over 100 injuries now linked to the airbag manufacturer, it seems that no region is safe. In a statement, Honda spokesperson Chris Martin noted, “Honda deeply regrets that mailed notification appears to have not reached Ms. Langlinais prior to her crash.”
Lawsuits that have been leveled against the automaker claim that the industry giant knew about the issues for over a decade, but consistently failed to bring them to the public’s attention. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied a record-setting $35 million fine against Honda, and repercussions in terms of public perception are likely to be far more damaging.