MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The government is demanding a recall of millions of airbags in the United States.
Officials said defective Takata airbags are responsible for at least five deaths and more than 100 injuries — but they’ve only been recalled in southern states.
The defective airbags have exploded incorrectly and sent shrapnel at drivers and passengers.
Nationwide, it’s estimated that about 140 people have been hurt by Takata airbags, including a Minnesota woman named Shashi Chopra.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Chopra was blinded when an airbag deployed during a crash in 2013.
Her family didn’t learn about the defective airbag until this year.
A victim in Florida, Stephanie Erdman, said she got lucky when a metal piece flew into her eye.
“Every day, even when I look in the mirror, I can still feel that piece in me,” Erdman said. “I have no idea … how I kept my eye. It was a miracle.”
So far, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has recalled 11 million vehicles made by 10 different car makers.
But the NHTSA only ordered recalls in southern states because Takata said the airbags are more likely to explode in high humidity.
Now, Sen. Klobuchar is asking transportation officials to get all vehicles that use the air bags off the road, and to get answers from Takata.
In a letter to the Secretary of Transportation, Klobuchar said the Chopra case “underscores an alarming lack of urgency on the part of the NHTSA and automakers.”
Takata accounts for 22 percent of the airbag market worldwide.
Click here to see a full list of recalled cars.