Detroit, MI – November 1, 2016 – Expressing concern that hundreds of thousands of older vehicles might still contain faulty airbags, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said at a press conference that automakers have “ultimate responsibility” for paying to replace components recalled by Takata Corp.
Though the though efforts to repair these vehicles has been ongoing for some time, NHTSA head Mark Rosekind estimates that more than 300,000 older vehicles still have airbags with a 50 percent chance of exploding. Most of these are cars made by Honda.
Safety regulators have linked 11 deaths to these airbags in the U.S., according to Reuters. The most recent incident was the death of a 50-year-old woman on Sept. 30. She was driving a 2001 Honda Civic in Riverside County, California, when a crash led to an airbag explosion and a subsequent burst of metal shrapnel.
The NHTSA is likely reasserting its message now due to Takata’s plans to seek a buyer and possibly bankruptcy protection. Rosekind told reporters that the recalls of as many as 70 million defective airbags will continue, and that the NHTSA has “several layers of protection” to ensure that the process will not be halted by any new deal. However, it appears that the agency wants to make sure the affected automakers are aware of this.
Rosekind added that the NHTSA has had numerous meetings with Honda to discuss plans to find the hardest-to-reach vehicle owners. One potential idea is to send mobile teams of mechanics out to knock on the doors of owners who have not brought their vehicles in yet.