The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided it wants to swiftly find out people that can offer insider information “of possible defects or any wrongdoing” by Takata Corp, as the federal regulator increases the pressure on the Japanese safety parts producer.
The auto parts maker is currently at the center of a global safety crisis (though most of the recalled vehicles are in the US), centered around Takata’s inability to find the root cause of a defect that causes airbag inflators to explode with too much force and send metal debris and shrapnel inside the cabin at high velocity. The flawed part has been so far linked to at least five deaths and numerous injuries. The NHTSA has told Reuters it wants people to offer potential information on the matter, and informants have been offered the hotline at 1-888-327-4236 – while any whistle blowing also comes with legal protection. A Reuters report claimed that six former Takata officials were asked to hide or alter data on parts and materials that fell below Takata’s specifications or showed potential crucial flaws in key components such as inflators and cushions.
Takata’s executives have been called on two occasions already in two US congressional hearings, with the Japanese auto safety equipment producer still under investigation in federal inquiries and the subject of numerous lawsuits. Late last year Takata also established a quality assurance panel directed by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner “to conduct a comprehensive review” of the company’s manufacturing processes and practices.