HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When an airbag is activated, it deploys at speeds of up to 200 mph.
That's why a recall of Takata airbags in some older-model Hondas and Acuras is so important. Lab tests showed the airbags had up to a 50 percent change of rupturing in a crash, sending shrapnel into the occupant the airbags are meant to protect.
"If you're traveling down the freeway at 60 mph and that airbag decides to pop in your face -- that's it," automobile expert George Nitta said.
On Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned that more than 300,000 Hondas and Acuras manufactured from 2001 to 2003 need to have their airbags changed immediately.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said people "should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge."
Hawaii Automobile Dealers' Association Executive Director David Rolf said, "Everyone took it very seriously. It added somewhat of an urgency, particularly that model."
The vehicles are leftovers from a recall Honda issued eight years ago. The automaker replaced 70 percent of the airbags.
But for whatever reason, remaining owners didn't take in their vehicles. Rolf said Hawaii Honda dealers say the fix can be done quickly.
"In that model, I understand that Honda dealers have the airbag," he said.
Nationwide, defective Takata airbags are linked to 14 fatalities and more than 100 injuries from metal fragments.
In May, Hawaii sued the Japanese auto parts maker, alleging it knew about the deadly defect but failed to act to save lives.
Nitta said an exploded airbag can act like a a small bomb.
"The person looks like somebody got a 2-by-4 and slammed them in the face," he said.
Honda and other auto manufacturers are slowly working through another much larger recall of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags.
"There has been such a backlog of the Takata air bags, so that's why when people are asked once they get a notice to go and take it to the dealer and say, 'I'd like to have this airbag repaired,'" Rolf said.
Nitta said automobile manufacturers issue recalls to cut their liability.
"If you don't listen, then it's not their fault, right? It's yours," he said.
If you're wondering about the airbag in your vehicle, call your dealer or click here.