SUGAR LAND, Texas – A new program aimed at repairing defective air bags in vehicles in Fort Bend County kicked off Wednesday.
Organizers said Operation Find & Fix hopes to track down owners of vehicles that contain air bags that could explode upon impact, slinging shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
"With time, heat and humidity, the airbags deteriorate, and they can explode, as you have heard, like a hand grenade in the steering wheel of a vehicle, sending deadly shrapnel into the face, neck and chest of unsuspecting drivers. Across the United States, at least 15 deaths and more than 220 serious injuries have already occurred," said Heidi King with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "In this area, only 50 percent of the recalled airbags have been prepared."
The well-publicized Takata recall spans 19 automakers. Certain 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras, as well as 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks, are considered high-risk and unsafe to drive, organizers said.
"The Takata airbag recall is the largest and most complex recall in this nation's history. Tens of millions of defective airbags have been recalled and should be replaced as soon as possible," King said.
Two Houston-area drivers have been among 15 nationwide deaths attributed to the defective air bags.
"So these airbags. This inflator, when it came out at such velocity, it fragmented. A piece of that inflator then came through the airbag -- just like being shot from a gun -- and a piece of that airbag lodged in the neck of [the victim],” Danny Beckworth, with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, said, describing a minor accident that ended in death.
Repairs are free.
Go to AirbagRecall.com to check whether your vehicle's airbags need to be repaired.