The State of the Takata Airbag Recalls Report of the Independent Monitor
The Takata air bag recalls are the largest and most complex vehicle recalls in U.S. history. Currently these recalls involve 19 vehicle manufacturers and approximately 46 million Takata air bag inflators in an estimated 34 million vehicles in the United States alone. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a steadfast commitment to the safety of the American public, and has taken unprecedented steps in overseeing the Takata recalls to fulfill this commitment. Below is a brief overview of the efforts NHTSA has taken to ensure that every defective Takata inflator is replaced as quickly as possible:
- NHTSA’s Coordinated Remedy Program: Recognizing that the unprecedented Takata recalls involve many challenges, in November 2015 NHTSA established a Coordinated Remedy Program, which prioritizes and phases the various Takata recalls to not only accelerate the repairs, but ensure that the highest-risk vehicles are fixed first. As part of the Program, NHTSA urged the vehicle manufacturers to take innovative and proactive actions to maximize recall completion rates, including conducting creative consumer outreach campaigns at nontraditional venues such as sporting events and through large employers, offering mobile repair programs, and door-to-door community engagement.
- Consent Orders Issued to Takata: Through its Consent Orders with Takata, NHTSA retained an Independent Monitor with authority to assist NHTSA in overseeing and monitoring the Coordinated Remedy Program. Under NHTSA’s direction, the Independent Monitor provided coordinated communications recommendations to the affected vehicle manufacturers to promote effective consumer-outreach strategies. The Monitor also provided recommendations regarding strategic outreach efforts, forecasting tactics, and dealer engagement activities. Both NHTSA and the Independent Monitor work with manufacturers to incorporate these recommendations into their recall activities.
- Engagement With Vehicle Manufacturers and Part Suppliers: To effectively oversee the various facets of the Takata recalls, NHTSA regularly engages with vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers on topics including remedy completion rates, remedy parts supply, and consumer-outreach efforts. This engagement includes regular meetings and calls with vehicle manufacturers, part suppliers, and the Independent Monitor. NHTSA and the Monitor have also held several summits for all affected vehicle manufacturers to collectively share their experience and best practices on recall completion efforts, and to collaborate on opportunities to efficiently and effectively reach vehicle owners and remedy their vehicles.
- Additional Consumer Awareness Efforts: NHTSA continues to engage in efforts to increase consumer awareness of recalls through social, paid, and earned media. In 2017, NHTSA engaged in a radio tour educating the public on safety recalls and how consumers can check their VIN to find out if their vehicle is affected by a recall. NHTSA also maintains a Takata Recalls Spotlight webpage providing extensive information to the public and hosting a video to help consumers understand the Takata recalls and what actions the consumer should take.
At the end of 2017, the Independent Monitor of Takata provided NHTSA with a thorough report on the state of the recalls, which NHTSA is making publicly available. This report provides an overarching assessment of the progress that’s been made to date, and identifies some key observations for the future. The report shows the progress made by manufacturers to improve completion rates during these unprecedented recalls. However, there is still much to be done by all involved.
NHTSA will continue its vigilant oversight of the Takata recalls and will ensure that manufacturers continue to make appropriate efforts to maximize recall completion. In doing so, NHTSA will continue to advocate for consumers and take the necessary steps to ensure that every defective Takata inflator is replaced as quickly as possible.