Tag Archive | "National Highway Traffic Safety Administration"

Takata Air Bag Recall Expands to Record 34 Million Vehicles


As part of an agreement with Takata, federal regulators expanded the recall of vehicles equipped with the company’s air bags to 33.8 million in the U.S., making it the largest safety recall in the nation’s history, reports Detroit Free Press.

The move essentially doubles the number of vehicles being recalled to replace potentially lethal air bags made by the Japanese supplier. At least six people have died and more than 100 have been injured from shards of metal from exploding air bags.

Takata, for its part, officially acknowledged the defects for the first time on Tuesday, even though 17 million vehicles with its air bags already have been recalled.

Mark Rosekind, recently appointed administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said no one knows how long it could take to fix the vehicles, but “it could take some years. … We intend to make sure at the end of this process there is a safe airbag in every vehicle.”

The NHTSA recall now involves 11 automakers, including the Detroit Three, most affecting 2002 through 2008 model years. Takata is partly owned by Honda, which has the highest percentage of recalled vehicles. The total number could change as automakers sift through the specs of all of their models to determine which ones contain any of the four defective inflators, which activate the air bags in a collision.

Many consumers will have to drive their vehicles for a long time before the parts are available to fix them, with the industry unable to manufacture replacement bags fast enough. They could also be waiting months for the notification their vehicle is subject to recall because automakers must prioritize vehicles at most risk based on their age and geographic location

The announcement is the second example in as many days of Rosekind cracking down on automakers to address safety on U.S. roads. On Monday, Rosekind announced he has scheduled a hearing in July for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to explain their slow response in completing repairs in 20 different recalls.

NHTSA has been pushing for Takata to expand its air bag recall. Automakers had recalled about 17 million vehicles, many of them from Honda. The latest move largely makes this a national recall of vehicles from 11 automakers with vehicles that potentially have faulty inflators in the driver or passenger-side air bag.

“Up until now Takata has refused to acknowledge that their airbags are defective, that changes today,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Takata has agreed to declare their air bag inflators are defective.”

Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada, in a statement, said, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which presents a clear path forward to advancing safety and restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public.”

The supplier has also agreed to enter into a consent order with NHTSA to supply all related documents and information about the defective airbags and pledged full cooperation going forward.

In return, NHTSA has suspended more than $1 million in accumulated fines — $14,000 per day since February — for not responding to all NHTSA’s inquiries. The agency has not ruled out more fines in the future and there could be further civil penalties.

Initially the exploding air bags were considered a problem only in hot and humid climates but the recall has been expanded nationally as Takata and affected automakers continue to try to identify the root cause of the problem so they can fix it.

The recall has also expanded to cover both driver and passenger side air bags in more vehicles and regions.

Automakers with affected vehicles include Honda, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and the newly added Daimler Trucks. The automakers formed a coalition and hired independent engineering firm Orbital ATK to try to find the cause of the exploding air bags. Their investigation is in addition to those being conducted by NHTSA and Takata in an industry-wide effort to find the reason for the defect to make sure it is fixed properly.

NHTSA also is opening its own testing program to focus on ensuring the remedy is completely safe. Rosekind said while the replacement air bags are safer than the ones they replace, he cannot guarantee their long-term safety at this time.

“We are doing our best to keep focused on the investigation,” said former NHTSA Administrator David Kelly who was hired to oversee the investigation by the automakers. Efforts to determine the root cause are still in the early stages of testing, he said.

Safety officials warn consumers to keep checking their vehicle VIN number on the www.safercar.gov website because even some of the vehicles previously fixed – or excluded in the past — could be back on the recall list in the future.

Consumer who receive recall notices should call their dealer immediately.

“Folks shouldn’t have to drive around wondering if their airbag is going to explode in their face or if their car is going to be on another recall list,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee and a key figure in a congressional probe into the defective airbags. “We’ve seen the recall list double now to 30 million cars. Let’s hope Takata’s admissions today tells us the whole story.”

Rich Newsome, an attorney representing seven victims of faulty Takata air bags, including Corey Burdick, a Florida man disfigured and blinded in one eye by shrapnel from an exploding air bag in May, called it a victory for consumer protection.

But, he said, “today’s expanded recall is already too little, too late for people injured and their families. Hopefully today’s news will push the agenda for recall reform to the forefront and result in legislation that will help NHTSA identify these kinds of defects before regular families with defective cars are needlessly harmed in the future.”

Automakers say they will continue to work with NHTSA and share test results. Honda said many of the recalls announced Monday already were included in previous safety campaigns and the automaker is “reviewing the information released (Monday) to determine what new actions may be required.”

Honda owners can check their recall status at www.recalls.honda.com or call 800-999-1009. Acura owners should go to www.recalls.acura.com or call 800-382-2238 and press option 4.

“A recall of this scope illustrates the potential for massive automaker expense and consumer inconvenience when a common, mass-produced part is defective,” said Karl Brauer, analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

“While this is the largest consumer recall in history it’s likely we’ll see future vehicle recalls of similar, if not larger, size as the automotive industry becomes more globalized.” Brauer said.

Takata boosted production to 450,000 replacement kits per month in March, up from 350,000. Other suppliers are also ramping up capacity to meet the demand the recall has created as the industry works to address the problem collectively.

Autoliv, another global supplier of airbags, said Tuesday it could make more airbag inflators than it has already promised to the industry.

In January, Autoliv committed to providing several automakers with as many as 25 million airbag inflators and could begin delivering them later this year.

“Our focus has really been to help the industry and the customers in this situation and clearly if we would be asked to supply more we would work to do that as rapidly as we could,” said Thomas Jonsson, spokesman for Autoliv.

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Feds Fine Honda $70 Million for Safety Reporting Violations


DETROIT – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Thursday Honda Motor Co. has agreed to pay $70 million for failing to report deaths, injuries and certain warranty claims to the federal government, reported MLive.

NHTSA said the Japanese automaker was in violation of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act. Signed into law in 2000, the TREAD Act in part requires auto companies to report any defects, death or injuries related to their products.

The fine includes two separate, $35 million civil penalties. NHTSA said an investigation of the Japanese automaker found that it failed to submit early warning reports, which identify potential safety issues. The federal regulator said Honda did not report 1,729 death and injury claims between 2003 and 2013.

In addition to the fines, NHTSA is requiring Honda to develop written procedures for complying with requirements for early warning reports, as well as to train its relevant personnel on this front on an annual basis.

In 2014, NHTSA levied a record $126 million in civil penalties. It was more than the agency had collected over the course of its entire, 43-year history.

“Honda and all of the automakers have a safety responsibility they must live up to – no excuses,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Last year alone, we issued more fines than in NHTSA’s entire history. These fines reflect the tough stance we will take against those who violate the law and fail to do their part in the mission to keep Americans safe on the road.”

NHTSA said its total fines in 2014 break down as follows:

  • Honda, $70,000,000, for failing to both submit early warning reports and warranty claims.
  • Gwinnett Place Nissan, $110,000, for failing to perform recall remedy in new motor vehicles prior to sale and delivery.
  • Ferrari S.p.A. and Ferrari North America, Inc, $3,500,000, for failing to submit early warning reports.
  • Chapman Chevrolet LLC, $50,000, for failing to perform recall remedy in new motor vehicles prior to sale and delivery.
  • Hyundai Motor America, $17,350,000, for the failure to issue a recall in a timely manner.
  • General Motors Company, $35,000,000, for the failure to issue a recall in a timely manner.
  • General Motors Company, $441,000, for failing to fully respond to Special Order by due date.
  • Prevost, a division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc; Volvo Industrial de Mexico S.A. de C.V.; and Prevost Car (US) Inc., $250,000, the second of six annual installments of a total of $1.5 million in civil penalties, for untimely recalls and untimely submission of early warning reports, and technical service bulletins (TSBs).
  • Southern Honda Powersports (a/k/a Big Red Powersports LLC), $25,000, the second of five annual installments of a total of $125, 000 in civil penalties, for the sale of unrepaired, recalled vehicles.

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Senate Close to Confirming New NHTSA Chief


The Senate is nearing an agreement to confirm the next head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reported The Detroit News.

National Transportation Safety board member Mark Rosekind’s nomination was “hotlined” Friday — an informal request to members of the Senate to agree to allow a nomination or resolution to be approved by the Senate without debate or amendment.

The Senate is expected to be in session at most another day or two. Senate aides think Rosekind will get through and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D, said earlier this week he expected Rosekind to be approved.

NHTSA has been without a permanent administrator as it faces a record-setting nearly 60 million vehicles recalled this year. The agency is also facing scrutiny about how it holds automakers accountable and ensures that unsafe cars are quickly repaired.

On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved the nomination of Mark Rosekind to head NHTSA on a voice vote.

Rosekind, a former NASA scientist and expert on human fatigue, has been a member of the National Transportation Safety Board since 2010. He has been the on-scene board member for many significant crashes, including an April incident that killed 10 when a FedEx truck slammed into a bus carrying high school students in Northern California.

Last week, Rosekind vowed to boost the agency’s personnel and technology in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Rosekind said if automakers don’t act on safety issues, “NHTSA needs to be the enforcer.”

He acknowledges that work needs to be done and the challenges are “tremendous.”

“We need to increase — not just the people, but also the technology,” Rosekind said. He raised concerns about the “slowness across all of the (auto) recalls.”

The highway safety agency has come under harsh criticism for not doing more. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said last week NHTSA “is neither feared nor respected” by automakers.

“These companies are way more afraid of a civil lawsuit than they are of NHTSA,” she said. “If you are not feared and respected, then you cannot do a good job policing the safety of automobiles.”

McCaskill questioned if the administration has been taking NHTSA’s job seriously.

On Oct. 31, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx confirmed he’s ordered a review of how regulators handled a recall of millions of vehicles by 10 major automakers for Takata Corp. air bags linked to four deaths in Honda vehicles since 2009.

Senators from both parties have faulted the White House for leaving NHTSA’s top slot vacant for nearly a year, after David Strickland resigned.

Last week, Rosekind recounted his own personal history with auto safety. His father, a San Francisco police officer, was killed in 1958 when a driver went through a red light.

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Honda Safety Campaign Reminds Millennials About Dangers of Texting and Driving in Conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month


Torrance, Calif. – Honda is initiating a social media program aligned with April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month to call attention to the dangers of texting while driving. In support of this first-ever National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiative, Honda is launching the “Thumbs Up” (#ThumbsUp) social media campaign to reach young drivers by utilizing the emoticons that are essential to millennial texting, along with a video that illustrates the importance of safe driving.

Honda also is launching a Hispanic-focused “Hands on the Wheel” campaign with two videos, “World’s Fastest Texter” and “Mom,” which expound on safe driving with a cross-generational message.

“Honda’s ‘Thumbs Up’ campaign is designed to resonate with a diverse group of younger drivers to raise awareness of the perils of texting while driving,” said Jeff Conrad, Honda division senior vice president and general manager. “Honda is deeply concerned about the safety of all of our customers and we remain committed to enhancing the safety for all of those on the road.”

In order to reach millennial drivers, the campaign brings to life emoticons. Integrated still images and GIFs will be used on social platforms, providing information about distracted driving and tips on ways to stay focused while driving. Corresponding downloadable mobile wallpaper and banners will help remind drivers not to text and drive.

Communications efforts aimed at Hispanic drivers include videos, online banners, branded giveaways in both Spanish and English and an experiential component that launched at the Long Beach Grand Prix race on April 13. Verizon IndyCar Series driver Carlos Munoz, from the Honda-sponsored Andretti team, made a special appearance at Honda’s Fan Village booth during the Long Beach Grand Prix race weekend to talk about the importance of not texting and driving.

The Thumbs Up campaign will live on safety.honda.com, as well as on Honda’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and @HondaLatino, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter content will be promoted through April.

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National Safety Council Estimates Traffic Deaths Down Three Percent in 2013


Itasca, Ill. – The National Safety Council announced its preliminary estimate that approximately 35,200 motor vehicle fatalities occurred in 2013. This is a three percent decrease from 2012. Crash injuries requiring medical attention also are estimated to have fallen by two percent since 2012 to a total of 3.8 million.

Although 2013 traffic fatalities are three percent lower than 2012, they are one percent higher than 2011. The relatively high number of fatalities in 2012 appears to have been a one year bump, partially due to a mild winter. The 2013 numbers have dropped back down to 2010 and 2011 levels.

“More than 90% of crashes are due to human error,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of Strategic Initiatives, National Safety Council. “Drivers are taking a lot of risks on our roads today – people are speeding, driving impaired from alcohol and drugs, not wearing seat belts, talking on phones, reading or sending e-mail and texts, and parents are letting teens drive before they are ready. We all need to look at the risks we take and the resulting harm that may be caused to ourselves and others. Many of these 35,200 fatalities last year surely involved people taking risks they thought they could handle. Sadly, they were wrong.”

In addition to devastating human loss, car crashes present a significant national cost in lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage. The estimated cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damage in 2013 was $267.5 billion, a three percent decrease from 2012.

Each month, motor vehicle fatality data is supplied to the National Safety Council by traffic authorities in 50 states and the District of Columbia. This data is used to make current year estimates based on the latest final count from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NSC counts total motor vehicle-related fatalities that occur within a year of the crash, consistent with data compiled from death certificates by the NCHS, and includes those occurring on public roadways and private property. This differs from the methods used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA method counts traffic fatalities that occur within 30 days of a crash and only those occurring on public roadways.

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Toyota Alerts U.S. Safety Board to Issue That Could Result in Recall


(Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp. alerted U.S. safety officials about seat material in several vehicles that does not meet fire retardation standards, which could result in a recall depending on what the safety agency decides.

The Japanese automaker said on Thursday it had stopped selling several models in North America equipped with seat heaters made since August 2012 after being alerted by South Korean safety officials that material in the part did not meet fire retardation standards also used in the United States. The cars are built in United States and some are exported to Korea.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the company had informed the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the issue and would file an official report later on Thursday outlining the non-compliance with the standard. He added that Toyota did not feel a recall was necessary. “We don’t believe that it is a defect issue or a safety-related issue because there has been no occurrence of any problems out in the real world,” Hanson said.

There have been no reports of accidents, fires or injuries related to the issue in the affected vehicles in the United States, Canada or Mexico, he said. The NHTSA will make the final determination on whether a recall is needed, and Hanson said he did not know the timeline for that decision. Toyota does not know yet how many cars are affected by the issue, he said.

NHTSA officials could not immediately be reached to comment.

Toyota dealers have been told to stop selling any of the affected vehicles until the part can be replaced, Hanson said. The automaker will handle requests by individual owners to replace the part at no cost on a case-by-case basis.

Affected vehicles are the Camry sedan, Camry hybrid, Avalon sedan, Avalon hybrid, Corolla subcompact, Sienna minivan and Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks equipped with seat heaters that were sold since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was changed, he said.

Toyota found out about the issue when it was notified that the seat heater did not pass a test conducted by the Korean Automotive Test and Research Institute (KATRI), which uses the same standard as NHTSA, Hanson said.

The Korean agency found that the material in the seat heater does not meet standards that require it to retard a flame across the material surface at a specified rate, he said. KATRI notified Toyota of the failed compliance.

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