Monday, February 2, 2015
On Saturday, NHTSA issued an emergency second recall of vehicles from several automakers in connection with airbag problems. More than 2 million vehicles were recalled because their airbags can deploy unpredictably. Commenting on the recall, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Keeping the traveling public safe is our number one priority, and we expect the manufacturers to get this remedy right to prevent injury to drivers and their families.”
ABC World News (1/31, story 6, 0:20, Vega, 5.84M) reported “Toyota, Chrysler and Honda” are among the car companies. According to the broadcast, “half of these cars” being recalled for the airbag-inflation problem “are under another recall because airbags could expel sharp shards of metal.”
The CBS Evening News (1/31, story 2, 2:30, Axelrod, 5.08M) aired a longer piece, reporting that the “2.1 million are being recalled because they may have faulty crash sensors that could cause airbags to deploy by mistake and for about half of these vehicles it’s a re-recall.” Additionally, about one million of the Toyota and Honda cars have Takata airbags installed. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said, “We’re talking about the potential of a double problem here whether there could be an inadvertent airbag deployment, and actually because of the defect that’s involved it could actually be then connected to a Takata airbag inflator problem.” CBS’ newscast also referenced the Safercar.gov/VIN website, which allows consumers to see if their vehicle has an outstanding recall on it by entering their vehicle’s VIN.
NBC News (1/31, Fieldstadt, 3.76M) reported online that Foxx announced the recall, compelled by the fact that “up to 40 cars experienced the issue,” understood to have been fixed by 2014, “after a repair” at the dealership. Rosekind also voiced his concern that the recall could become “a complicated issue for consumers, who may have to return to their dealer more than once. But this is an urgent safety issue.”
For its part, the New York Times (2/1, Jensen, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) highlights the fact that NHTSA “said replacement parts might not be fully available until the end of the year.” As of Saturday, NHTSA is aware of three injuries related to the airbag deployments, “but no deaths.” The three main automakers involved in the recall, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda, are recalling “about one million,” 753,000, and 374,000 vehicles, respectively.
Bloomberg News (2/1, Plungis, 2.94M) reports that NHTSA’s “unusual Saturday press briefing to warn the public” in its “push for a second recall of 2.1 million cars and trucks ... delivered more cautionary tales about a complex life-saving technology that’s had a very bad year.” The report recounts the safety issues with GM cars and cars built with Takata airbag parts, noting recent calls by public officials “for a more aggressive policing of the auto industry by NHTSA.” Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal “praised regulators for acting decisively.” On this matter, Rosekind comments that the agency’s action “really highlights for us that you can have a recall and a remedy, and you still need NHTSA’s ongoing vigilance to make sure it’s fully effective.” Bloomberg News (2/1, Zajac, 2.94M) also reports in a shorter story.
The Los Angeles Times (2/1, Masunaga, 3.49M) quotes Rosekind as saying that “even though it’s a temporary solution until the new remedy is available, they and their families will be safer if they take the time to learn if their vehicle is covered and follow their manufacturers’ instructions.”
NHTSA did point out that people have a higher chance of being in a crash where their airbags could prevent serious injury than they do of being in a scenario where their airbag deploys for no reason, Reuters (2/1, White) reports.
The AP (2/1) reports that “carmakers originally tried to fix the defects by partially replacing the electronic control unit, made by TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. of Livonia, Mich., but that fix didn’t always work,” and so “the new remedy — full replacement of the unit — will be available to all affected vehicles by the end of the year.”The Detroit Free Press (2/1, Gardner, 987K) reports that Rosekind “emphasized that owners still must respond to the initial recall to replace the inflators made by Takata, but this second repair is equally necessary.”