Northern Territory Police have revealed that a 21-year-old woman has suffered serious injuries from metal fragments in the airbag of her Takata airbag equipped car - one of millions involved in current recall actions
Police described the accident, involving the woman’s Toyota RAV4, which saw the airbags deploy after another car turned across her path on a suburban street, as a low speed collision.
She received serious head injuries and remains in Royal Darwin Hospital. The woman is not believed to be at fault.
Sergeant Mark Casey, a crash investigator with NT emergency services, said in a statement that "this type of crash, in normal circumstances, would not have caused this level of injury".
"Investigations have revealed the vehicle was the subject of a worldwide recall for faulty airbag manufacture in 2015," he said.
"The recall involved approximately 100 million vehicles around the world, including 2.1 million vehicles in Australia."
Police have encouraged the public to check the Product Safety Australia website to check if their vehicle is affected, and encouraged owners to have vehicles repaired as soon as possible.
The affected vehicle range starts as early as 1999 with the most recent vehicles built as late as 2016, with Toyota and Honda worst hit, out of a total of 13 vehicle manufacturers with everything from economy cars to high-end sports cars, and some left-hand drive converted imports part of the Australian recall efforts.
A Toyota spokesman told TMR that this is the first Takata-related injury in Australia, and that the manufacturer is "cooperating with Northern Territory Police in their investigation".
At the heart of the issue, ammonium nitrate propellant used in airbag inflators supplied by Takata is susceptible to chemical instability from moisture damage that may occur in humid conditions, causing the airbag housings to explode in an uncontrolled fashion, resulting in harmful shrapnel.
As one of the largest automotive recalls to date, the Takata airbag recall is believed to involve over 100 million vehicles worldwide, leading to production delays in replacement parts. Some Australian vehicle owners reported delays of over 12 months between being made aware of the defect and parts becoming available, with additional vehicles still being added to the recall list by vehicle manufacturers.