Blumenthal, Markey on NHTSA Recall Completion Rates: “Completely Unacceptable and a Massive Disappointment”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued the following statement on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) current completion rates for replacing recalled Takata airbags:

Today’s update from NHTSA reiterates what we already know: the current pace of recall efforts is completely unacceptable and a massive disappointment. While they have increased somewhat in the last few weeks, these completion rates are dismal – NHTSA and automakers deserve a lump of coal this year for failing to get their act together to get every potentially deadly airbag off the road. As the holiday season brings increased travel, Americans on the road to visit family or friends should not be at risk because of NHTSA’s lethargic recall.

The coordinated remedy and appointment of an independent monitor are helpful steps, but are largely required because NHTSA has moved too slowly and ineptly for years, allowing a patchwork of recalls too confusing for consumers to follow. Automakers have dragged their feet and failed to quickly and clearly communicate the extent of the risk to NHTSA and the public. While NHTSA’s appointment of John D. Buretta, an experienced litigator with a track record of protecting consumers, as independent monitor of the recall is a positive step, NHTSA must ensure that Mr. Buretta has all resources necessary to effectively oversee this critical task.

While we appreciate Honda, Subaru, and Mazda’s recall expansions to ensure an adequate safety margin, there remain many un-recalled vehicles on the road  that still contain potentially defective Takata airbags. The identification of yet another preventable death – this time a young boy and well after when this safety defect was first made known – reiterates the urgent need for swift recall of all cars with these potentially defective airbags, which we have been urging NHTSA to require for months. The longer it takes to require and complete this recall, the more drivers and passengers are at risk of injury or death.”

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