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Blumenthal, Markey: NHTSA’s Takata Recall Expansion One Year Late

Senators Recently Introduced Sweeping Auto Safety Legislation

(Washington, DC) – Following reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will expand its recall of Takata’s deadly exploding air bags, U.S Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Edward J. Markey (D-MA.) released the following statement:

“This latest news that Takata and Honda may have willfully ignored scientific evidence key to more quickly identify  the root cause of their airbags’ deadly defect, casts their reluctance to conduct broader recalls in a new light. It's now clear they knew about the potential danger much earlier, and their delays increasingly look like an effort to cover up rather than uncover a root cause."

NHTSA’s expanded investigation of all airbags with ammonium nitrate is a welcome step, but long overdue, and too late for the families that have lost loved ones. They must act with expediency to get all cars that contain Takata airbags off the roads and remedied- aggressively enforcing the law rather than enabling further delay. 

This latest revelation underscores even more the need for meaningful criminal and civil penalties for auto companies and executives that knowingly conceal life-saving information from the public. Under current auto safety laws it is impossible to bring ‎charges against companies or individuals who choose protecting profits over protecting lives.  It is the height of injustice when there are laws on the books that enable criminal charges to be brought against companies whose actions result in the death of migratory birds, but no laws that enable criminal charges to be brought against companies whose actions result in the death of people in unsafe cars.  That's why we've introduced the MVSA of 2015, which would change this." 

Under sweeping legislation introduced this year by Senators Nelson, Blumenthal and Markey, automotive industry executives who cover up or conceal the death and injury risks of defective vehicles or parts could face up five years in prison.

In August 2015, the Senators called on the airbag manufacturer to voluntarily recall all vehicles with Takata airbags.

On October 23, 2014, Senators Blumenthal and Markey urged NHTSA to provide clearer guidance to drivers with potentially-defective Takata airbags, and to urge NHTSA to issue immediately a nationwide recall on all affected cars, regardless of where the vehicle is registered. Then in December of 2014, Takata rejected the move by the NHTSA to recall nationwide the company’s faulty driver’s side airbags.

In March 2014, following the recall of more than a million GM vehicles after dozens of deaths and injuries, Senators Markey and Blumenthal introduced legislation to ensure auto manufacturers provide more information about incidents involving fatalities to NHTSA.