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Auto Safety Agency Chief In Miami On Air Bag Tour

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind was in Miami Wednesday on a tour dealing with defective air bags.

Rosekind held a news conference in Downtown Miami, accompanied by Miami-Dade law enforcement officers, to personally warn South Florida drivers about the recall involving defective Takata airbags.

Miami is Rosekind's second Florida stop to encourage drivers to check if their vehicles are affected by recalls of Takata air bag inflators.

"Basically you're at higher risk because of the heat and humidity than where we've seen from anywhere else," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.

Takata has recalled more than 32 million air bag inflators in the United States.

According to NHTSA, defective airbags manufactured by Japanese company, Takata, have caused eight deaths and more than 100 serious injuries worldwide.

The explosive force of the deployment in the defective airbags can send flying shrapnel at occupants with deadly consequences.

"Recently, when we've recovered inflators and tested them, the ones that are rupturing in the lab, 70%-80% are from Florida," said Rosekind.

Thirty-two million vehicles from nearly a dozen car manufacturers are affected by a nation-wide recall. During the news conference, Rosekind stressed the importance of South Floridians checking if their vehicle is on the recall list.  If it is on the list, he says to get it taken care of immediately.

"Call your dealer immediately to arrange for a free repair.  This is a free repair," said Rosekind.

South Florida resident Sara Baker is among the dozens of people who've been injured by the defective Takata airbags.  In January, the airbag in her 2002 Honda Accord deployed during a crash, cutting off part of her ear and tearing her saliva gland.  She's urging anyone who hasn't done so to check if their airbags are part of the recall.

"Make it your first priority, you know, because your life, you know, is more important than, you know, if you got to miss a day of work, you got to miss a day of work but make sure you get that vehicle fixed, all your recalls done," said Baker.

The NHTSA asks that drivers input their VIN on to check if air bags need to be replaced. Also, to see a list of the affected cars, click here.

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