Despite evidence that defective Takata airbags pose a risk outside of high absolute humidity areas, Takata for months refused to comply with requests from federal transportation safety officials to expand its recall nationally
Today’s announcement will expand regional recalls of Takata passenger-side inflators to nationwide recalls involving 16 million vehicles; will also expand the current nationwide recall of driver-side inflators to more than 17 million vehicles
WASHINGTON, DC – After calls for action from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Takata Corp. has expanded its national recall of defective airbags linked to a string of horrific injuries across the country. Despite evidence that defective Takata airbags pose a risk outside of high absolute humidity areas, Takata for months refused to comply with requests from federal transportation safety officials to expand its recall nationally. Today’s announcement will expand regional recalls of Takata passenger-side inflators to nationwide recalls involving 16 million vehicles. It will also expand the current nationwide recall of driver-side inflators to more than 17 million vehicles.
In a December 2014 letter to Takata’s senior vice president, Klobuchar urged Takata to address the threat that defective air bags pose to public safety and to ensure all vehicles with defective components are removed from the road.
“After months of being asleep at the wheel and refusing to take action to protect consumers, Takata has finally stepped up and expanded its recall,” Klobuchar said. “Defective Takata air bags have transformed a safety feature responsible for saving lives into a ticking time bomb that has already been linked to numerous deaths and serious injuries in Minnesota and across the country. Expanding the recalls is a step in the right direction to help protect consumers, and I will keep holding Takata’s feet to the fire until there are no more vehicles on the road with these dangerous airbags.”
Mrs. Shashi Chopra from North Oaks, Minnesota, was a passenger in a 2002 BMW that crashed, deploying a Takata airbag. The investigation surrounding the case remains open, but Mrs. Chopra was left permanently blind. The crash occurred in March 2013, yet the family was not informed about the defect until September 2014 as part of an expanded recall from 2013.
During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing last year, Klobuchar pressed a Takata executive, automakers, and a key federal transportation official about these dangerous air bags and urged them to do everything possible to protect consumers.
The full text of Klobuchar’s December 2014 letter is below:
Dear Mr. Higuchi:
Since the November 20, 2014 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing examining Takata air bag defects, new information has emerged almost daily that shines light on Takata Corp. and reveals more and more what appears to be its complete mishandling of the defective air bag inflators recall. Current regional recalls focused on high humidity regions are insufficient. I urge Takata Corp. to immediately issue a nationwide recall that encompasses all vehicles with potentially defective air bag inflators.
On November 26, 2014 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter to Takata Corp. requesting that it expand the current high humidity regional recall for driver's side air bag inflators nationwide by Tuesday, December 2. Despite evidence that driver’s side air bag inflators pose a risk outside of high absolute humidity areas, Takata Corp. has thus far refused to expand the recall nationally. I strongly encourage Takata Corp. to act immediately to address this threat to public safety and ensure all vehicles with defective components are removed from the road.
Defective Takata air bag inflators transform a vehicle safety feature responsible for saving countless lives into a ticking time bomb ready to injure or kill. During the November 20, 2014 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, I shared the story of the Chopra family from North Oaks, Minnesota. In March 2013, Mrs. Shashi Chopra was traveling in the passenger seat of a 2002 BMW 325xi when it was involved in a crash that deployed a Takata air bag. The investigation surrounding this case remains open but Mrs. Chopra was left permanently blind.
In addition to expanding the recall nationwide, I also urge Takata Corp. to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations of defective air bag components by NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate, automobile manufacturers and any legal proceedings brought by victims or their families. We must ensure those responsible for any wrong-doing are held accountable, the necessary reforms to our nation’s motor vehicle safety oversight regime are enacted, and any barriers to protecting public safety and providing for the strongest possible enforcement of motor vehicle safety laws are removed so that no one has to go through what Shashi Chopra has gone through.