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Malaysia to impose penalties on drivers with recalled Takata airbags

Malaysia’s transport minister on Saturday announced the government would impose penalties on more than 71,000 of the country’s Honda owners who do not replace faulty Takata airbags in their vehicles.

The mandate was announced a day after the Japanese automaker disclosed that a seventh person was killed in Malaysia on May 27, after the individual’s 2004 Honda crashed into a tree in the city of Kuala Lumpur and the vehicle’s airbag inflator “ruptured.” A nearly inch-long piece of shrapnel was found lodged in the victim’s neck, the Associated Press reported.

At least 23 people around the globe have been killed during the last decade by defective Takata airbags, including 15 in the United States, and more than 180 have been injured. The first known death related to the airbags took place in 2009 in Oklahoma, according to the AP.

Honda said in a statement released Friday that the vehicle involved in the most recent crash had been a part of a 2015 recall to replace the faulty airbags.

Anthony Loke, Malasyia’s transport minister, said Saturday that Honda sent the victim’s family 28 recall notices, including one just five days before the fatal crash, but the family didn’t receive them after they moved and didn’t update their address with a government agency.

Honda Malaysia said it has already replaced more than 220,000 airbags in the country, but 71,315 owners have yet to respond to the recall. Loke said following the late-May fatality that those owners would be banned from renewing their road tax until they follow through with the replacements.

“The 71,315 cars are like a time bomb that can kill anytime,” he said.

In 2017, the airbag manufacturer pleaded guilty to fraud in the U.S. and was fined more than $1 billion for hiding the defects. Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Ferrari and Mitsubishi would issue new recalls.

In a statement, the Takata Corporation apologized “to the driving public for the widespread concern and inconvenience caused as a result of our inflators,” and encouraged drivers in the U.S. to visit a website set up by the U.S. Department of Transportation for recalls.