NHTSA Wants National Recall of Exploding Takata Airbags
At least four deaths and more than 100 injuries had been linked to a terrifying defect in Takata airbags by mid-November, 2014. Nearly 8 million vehicles made by 10 different automakers had been recalled in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the recall needs to be expanded from a regional recall to a nationwide recall of all vehicles containing the driver’s side airbags. The agency gave Takata until Tuesday, December 2, to do its part in initiating the recall.
Too Slow to Act
Takada may have known about the defect as early as 2004, and the NHTSA has known since 2008. The majority of recalls of vehicles containing the defective airbags were regional recalls in areas with high humidity, and most did not include driver’s side airbags, only passenger airbags. The NHTSA is finally requesting that the recalls expand to include driver’s side airbags and to include the entire country.
In its letter to Takata, the NHTSA says, “The inflators also pose an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury that may result from a component that, when not defective, is designed to save lives.”
The NHTSA can fine Takata $7,000 per day, per vehicle, if the airbag maker does not comply with its demand. Unfortunately, the agency is not allowed to fine a company more than $35 million, a limit that would be reached very quickly.
Government fines may not be enough to make a dent in Takata’s profits, but according to a Reuters report the company is facing more than 20 class-action lawsuits. In the end, it may be up to those who have been injured and the loved ones of people killed by the defective airbags to truly hold Takata responsible for the harm it has caused.