Today, members of Airbag Recall: Houston and automakers affected by the ongoing airbag recall announced the launch of Airbag Recall: Operation Find & Fix, a new intensive, collaborative, outreach program aimed at finding and repairing potentially deadly, recalled airbags across Fort Bend County.
According to the Independent Monitor of Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program, more than 2.1 million defective airbag inflators remain unrepaired across the state of Texas.
The new, targeted program represents the next extension of the Airbag Recall: Operation Find & Fix program that launched earlier this year, first in Southern California, then in South Florida. Building on these programs, the Houston effort will involve daily outreach to Fort Bend County drivers through frequent recall-check events and other community-based efforts and seek to raise awareness of the recall and increase airbag repair rates across three communities: Sugar Land, Missouri City and Sienna Plantation. In these three communities alone, tens of thousands of drivers have vehicles with unrepaired defective airbags that can explode like a grenade upon impact, blasting sharp metal fragments into the passenger compartment.
“The Airbag Recall: Operation Find & Fix program is making unprecedented strides in protecting drivers and saving lives across the United States: first in Southern California, then in South Florida and now right here in our own community. Through outreach efforts designed to help drivers in Fort Bend County get their vehicles fixed quickly and conveniently, Operation Find & Fix serves as a model for communities across the country on how to protect drivers from injury or death caused by defective airbags,” said Rabbi Josh Lobel, Fort Bend Interfaith Council.
At least 15 people – including two Houstonians, one of whom lived in Fort Bend County – have been killed by defective airbags, and at least eight Houstonians and 220 Americans have suffered injuries, including cuts or lacerations to the face or neck, broken or fractured facial bones, loss of eyesight and broken teeth. The risk of serious injury or death is particularly acute in Texas, due to the state’s high temperatures and humidity, which cause these defective airbag inflators to degrade more quickly over time.
“The Fort Bend County community has already suffered one tragedy from a defective airbag. With tens of thousands of potentially deadly, defective airbags still on Fort Bend County roadways, we must work together to keep our community safe. That’s why I, along with automakers and Airbag Recall supporters, urge all drivers to check your and your family’s vehicles at AirbagRecall.com today, regardless of what you drive. The repair is free,” said Keri Schmidt, President, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.
While the Takata airbag recalls impact 19 automakers, certain 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras as well as 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks are considered high-risk, and are unsafe to drive. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, defective airbags in 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras pose up to a 50 percent or higher chance of exploding upon deployment. Parts for higher-risk vehicles are in good supply at area dealerships, and free towing is available. The repair is absolutely free.
“High-risk vehicles in Texas have deadly airbags that need to be replaced immediately because the airbags could explode in a crash - lives depend on it. The Takata airbag recall impacts many makes and models, and older vehicles are higher risk. No matter what you drive, it is critical to check your vehicle identification number (VIN) on NHTSA.gov to find out if your vehicle is included in this or any other safety recall. Recall repairs are free,” said Heidi King, Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Local residents can find out if their vehicle has a defective airbag by visiting AirbagRecall.com. If their vehicle is affected, they can use the website to connect with a local dealership and schedule a free repair. They can also check their vehicle by using the free Airbag Recall app, now available on Google Play or iTunes. The easy-to-use app provides all the same information as the website, plus it allows users to scan license plates directly from their mobile device.
“Spread the word and save a life. If a vehicle contains a defective airbag, even a minor collision can be fatal. It’s too easy to fix and too dangerous to ignore. Check your license plate or VIN today at AirbagRecall.com,” said John D. Buretta, Independent Monitor of Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program.
Fort Bend County residents who do not own high-risk vehicles that may be waiting for replacement parts for their vehicle, or who are not affected by the current recall, are also encouraged to call their local dealer and confirm that their contact information is up-to-date, so they can receive recall-related updates.