Automakers hasten Takata repairs; NHTSA confirms 8th fatality

Automakers hasten Takata repairs; NHTSA confirms 8th fatality

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced that Takata airbag recalls are finally being completed at a faster pace.

Nearly a million vehicles have been repaired in the two-week period ending December 4, though some automakers continue to revise and expand their recall campaigns to include more vehicles and model years, including the 2005-2008 Mazda6, the 2002-2004 Honda CR-V and the 2005-2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback.

The official death tally has risen to eight individuals in the US, representing nine total globally. The incident involved a 2001 vehicle that had been recalled for years but left unrepaired. Operated for most of its service life in a region of high absolute humidity, the vehicle’s driver airbag inflator ruptured and killed the driver.

The agency has also appointed former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John D. Buretta to serve as a compliance monitor, overseeing the company’s efforts to comply with a consent order related to violations of federal safety laws.

“[Buretta’s team] will play a significant role in helping oversee Takata’s compliance with its obligations under NHTSA enforcement orders, and in implementing the Coordinated Remedy Program to accelerate and prioritize the largest, most complex consumer safety effort in US history,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.

Takata has been ordered to phase out the controversial ammonium-nitrate propellant that is at the center of the failures, if the company cannot absolutely prove that the propellant is safe. The explosions are believed to be caused by chemical degradation over time when exposed to humidity.

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