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Consumer auto safety groups aim for zero Takata airbag deaths in 2023

Suzanne Potter

(Nevada News Service) It's a brand new year - and consumer auto safety groups are hoping to avoid further deaths from faulty Takata airbags - by raising awareness about the ongoing recall. 

More than 41 million vehicles from 34 brands from model years 2000 to 2018 are affected

Michael Brooks, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, warned that the ammonium nitrate that causes the airbags to inflate has become unstable and can explode with even a small fender bender.

"So when there's an airbag trigger," said Brooks, "that means that you're just going to have an uncontrolled explosion that instead of pushing the gas into the airbag, simply destroys the entire housing of the airbag and shrapnel out towards the driver or the passenger and causes injuries or death."

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34 deaths have been recorded worldwide so far since the recall started in 2018, with 25 in the U.S. - five of them in 2022 alone. 

Fiat Chrysler issued a "stop drive" warning for 276,000 vehicles in November for model years 2005 through 2010 Dodge Magnums, Chargers and Challengers - as well as model years 2005 through 2010 Chrysler 300s. 

At least two of the deaths this year involved 2010 Dodge Chargers. 

Brooks called these vehicles ticking time bombs that get more dangerous as time goes on. So he said he wants states to require owners to get the defect fixed.

"Maybe states need to step in," said Brooks, "and refuse registration to vehicles that haven't had the recall repair performed yet, effectively forcing consumers to save their own lives."

The repairs are free and some manufacturers are even offering $100 gift cards to entice people to bring in their vehicles. People can check if their car is on the recall list on the website