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Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned drivers to be aware of Takata airbag recalls, and to get their vehicles in for repairs as soon as possible, they’ve never gone so far as to tell drivers not to operate their vehicles before getting them fixed…until now.

In a February 12, 2018 news release, the safety organization warned that drivers should not operate their 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks with defective Takata airbags until these airbags are replaced.

Ford Issued First “Do Not Drive” Warning in January 2018

In January 2018, Ford actually told about 2,600 owners of 2006 Ford Rangers not to drive them because of airbag dangers. This was after Ford received a report showing that a West Virginia man had been killed by an exploding Takata airbag.

According to Detroit News, the man was 56 years old when he got into an accident in Martinsburg. He passed away on July 1, 2017, because of airbag-related injuries. Ford stated that it received notification of the accident in December 2017, and conducted an investigation. They found that the airbag was to blame, and was made on the same day as another airbag responsible for a South Carolina man’s death in 2015. That man was also driving a Ford Ranger.

Ford subsequently issued a “do not drive” warning for certain 2006 Ford Rangers that were believed to have similar potentially dangerous Takata airbags. They have now expanded that warning.

Mazda had also issued a previous “do not drive” warning following Ford’s initial warning, for about 1,800 model 2006 Mazda B-Series trucks that were built by Ford.

Vehicle Owners Urged to Get Trucks Repaired Immediately

The expanded warning includes an additional 33,000 pickup trucks. Additional testing by Ford showed that the airbags could be potentially dangerous. The NHTSA stated,

“These vehicles have defective Takata airbags that are an immediate risk to safety.”

They urged owners not to drive these vehicles until they could get them repaired. Both Ford and Mazda are offering free replacements for these vehicles.

Consumers can visit the NHTSA’s site at NHTSA.gov/recalls to find out if their vehicles are under recall. Reuters notes that so far, nearly 3,000 vehicles have been repaired since Ford’s first “do not drive” warning.

Over 20 Deaths Linked to Defective Airbags

So far, about 22 deaths have been linked to defective Takata airbags worldwide, and the related recall is the largest in automotive history. The defective inflators can become unstable over time, and instead of deploying during an accident, they may explode, sending pieces of shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle. Potential injuries include knife-like wounds, life-threatening bleeding, vision and hearing loss, and death.

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