DOT Announces Steps to Address Takata Air Bag Defects
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will coordinate a remedy program.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that air bag manufacturer Takata has acknowledged that a defect exists in its air bag inflators and has agreed to a national recall of certain types of driver and passenger side air bag inflators.
The inflators in question were made with a propellant that can degrade over time and has led to ruptures that have been blamed for six deaths worldwide. The number of vehicles now affected by the recall will reach nearly 34 million.
In the same announcement, Foxx said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a Consent Order to Takata. This order requires the company to cooperate in all future regulatory actions that NHTSA undertakes in its ongoing investigation and oversight of Takata. NHTSA also announced its intent to begin a formal legal process to organize and prioritize the replacement of defective Takata inflators under the agency's legal authority.
"Today is a major step forward for public safety," said Foxx. "The Department of Transportation is taking the proactive steps necessary to ensure that defective inflators are replaced with safe ones as quickly as possible and that the highest risks are addressed first. We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced."
The actions expand regional recalls of Takata passenger-side inflators, currently limited to areas of high absolute humidity, to nationwide recalls involving more than 16 million vehicles. They also expand the current nationwide recall of driver-side inflators to more than 17 million vehicles. It's anticipated that the remedy of vehicles will be prioritized based upon risk, with the vehicles that present the greatest risk in terms of age and geographic location to be serviced first.
"From the very beginning, our goal has been simple: a safe air bag in every vehicle," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "The steps we're taking today represent significant progress toward that goal. We all know that there is more work to do for NHTSA, for the automakers, for parts suppliers, and for consumers. But we are determined to get to our goal as rapidly as possible."