US: NHTSA seeks to increase legal pressure to hasten Takata airbag recall image

US auto safety officials have been hard at work these days as Japan’s Takata Corp. announced it would expand its airbag inflator recall to almost 34 million autos in the country, affecting eleven automakers.

The US auto safety regulators are now sending numerous signals they want the problem to be addressed as fast as possible, after doing the same with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles last week, when the NHTSA Announced it would call a public debate in July on the carmaker’s recall process surrounding 20 safety campaigns of more than 10 million units. At the start of the week, the safety agency reported it was forcing Takata – which finally admitted they were flawed – to recall airbag inflators produced for 33.8 million vehicles in the US – after initially only around 17 million were called back to service. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now today followed the decision with an outline of the legal process that would see the agency call on the automakers to deliver details on how they set up the priorities for the recalled cars and trucks.

The agency is planning to oversee the recall process and the new legal plan is an integral part of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation Act – the TREAD – implemented back in 2000 after the scandal surrounding the Ford Explorer SUVs. If the agency determines the manufacturer’s program is not able to complete the task in reasonable time, the NHTSA can order the automaker to “accelerate” the process if the Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has evidence the risk of injury or death is increased because of the delay.