Report calls for a stop to death and injuries — 11 deaths and over 100 injuries
The “largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, took another troublesome twist June 1 when a report found that four automobile manufacturers still are selling vehicles with defective Takata airbags.
The practice has endangered consumers and left automotive-industry experts and members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, Transportation, which released the report, scratching their heads.
“It’s kind of a mess on so many levels,” Karl Brauer, an analyst for Kelley Blue Book, told CBS News in an article titled “The Takata air bag mess: Danger and confusion mount.”
100 million vehicles in the United States and abroad have been recalled, a number so massive that the NHTSA has given dealerships until 2019 to conduct fixes, primarily because Takata, the Japanese company that engineered the airbags, does not have enough inventory.
“There’s no way you can recall all these cars simultaneously,” Brauer said.
The report identified Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen as the companies continuing to sell the potentially deadly vehicles. It urged them to stop and instead focus on repairs.
“The Takata airbag crisis is an unprecedented safety recall of airbags – safety devices that are supposed to save lives, not injure or even cause death,” according to the report, titled “The Takata Recalls: Consumers Are Still Stuck in Neutral.”
At issue is the chemical used in the airbags that causes them to inflate upon impact. The chemical is ammonium nitrate, which CBS News reporter Aimee Picchi accurately noted was the same chemical used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 explosion of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.
Picchi explains: “Inside the inflators, the chemical can degrade with age, moisture and temperature fluctuations, leading to suddenly inflated airbags that can send shrapnel flying toward a vehicle’s occupants.”
Eleven deaths have been blamed on the airbags and over 100 injuries.
“It is reprehensible & possibly illegal that automakers are knowingly sending Americans home in new cars that are equipped with the same ticking time bombs that have caused injuries and taken lives across our country,” Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, a committee member, said in a Facebook post. “The fact that some automakers continue to sell new cars with these potentially lethal airbags demonstrates a pernicious disregard for the safety of the American public.”
Consumers can find out whether they are driving a vehicle with a recalled airbag by using the VIN-lookup tool.