A U.S. senator who heard testimony last month on the recall of Takata automotive air bags, which have sprayed shrapnel that has killed 22 people and injured hundreds more, is continuing to put pressure on Honda Motor Co. about its efforts to track down the most dangerous of the air bags.
Honda acknowledged in communication with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation last month that 62,307 people continue to drive with air bags that were tainted by high humidity at a Takata factory in Monclova, Mexico, before they were installed in Honda or Acura vehicles. While most Takata inflators go bad over time when exposed to temperature changes and humidity, these “Alpha” inflators have been given the highest priority in the recall effort, and Honda said that more than a million of them have been replaced.
“Takata air bag inflators known as ‘alphas’ installed in certain 2001, 2002 and 2003 Honda and Acura models have been shown to pose a 50 percent risk of rupture when the air bags deploy. According to Honda, more than 60,000 vehicles still contain alpha inflators,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) wrote in a letter Wednesday to Honda Vice President Rick Schostek. “Given the significant public safety threat caused by these defective parts, the removal of all alpha inflators from America’s roads must be an immediate priority.”
Schostek testified before the commerce committee, of which Klobuchar is a member, last month that Honda has made unprecedented efforts to contact the more than 60,000 customers with Alpha bags, and all other Honda drivers with the dangerous Takata air bags. He said Honda’s efforts included a door-to-door campaign to alert owners, a canvassing recommended by John D. Buretta, who was appointed as an independent monitor to oversee the Takata recall.
Overall, the recall is the largest in U.S. history, involving more than 37 million vehicles built by 19 automakers.
Klobuchar, who has been involved with the Takata recall for several years, wrote Schostek three days after a Washington Post article describing the recall effort.
Takata, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, reached a $650 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in February for criminal misconduct involving an alleged coverup of testing which uncovered the defect. As part of the settlement, Takata paid a $25 million criminal penalty and $850 million in restitution to automakers. The company also established a $125 million compensation fund for motorists harmed by the air bags.
(article excerpt)


08/May/2018


Ladies and gentlemen, 
Where are your airbags?

By  on August 30, 2016
traffic highway (Bryce Watanabe/Flickr)
Traffic deaths skyrocketed last year by the largest amount since 1966, erasing safety gains made in recent years.
(blog's underlining)


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released raw 2015 data yesterday, revealing that 35,092 people died on U.S. roads — a 7.2 percent spike in fatalities compared to the previous year. The data shows the deaths weren’t confined to any particular demographic.

As bad as it sounds, the increase is less than the NHTSA’s July estimate of a 7.7-percent gain.
Vehicles are safer today than even a decade ago, when traffic deaths were 25-percent higher, but a range of factors cancelled out the extra airbags and driving aids offered up by automakers.

The NHTSA blames low fuel prices, job growth, increased leisure driving, and increased youth driving for the increase in vehicles on the road. Vehicle miles traveled rose by 3.5 percent in 2015, the largest increase in a quarter century. And more vehicles boost the odds that some of them will crash.

Data shows that old habits die hard — in this case, literally. Lawmakers have made gains in reducing impaired driving, but a third of last year’s crashes can be blamed on drunk driving and simple speeding.

 About half of the vehicle occupants killed weren’t wearing a seatbelt. 
(blog's underlining)


One in ten deaths involved distracted driving.
The jump in fatalities occurred outside of vehicles, too. 

The Department of Transportation, along with the NHTSA and the White House released a call to action in the wake of the findings. The government wants experts, scientists and safety groups to propose “novel solutions to old challenges.”

“The data tell us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, or drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled,” said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind in a release. “While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.”

At the very least, expect new campaigns against drunk, distracted and reckless driving in the short-term.

[Image: Bryce W
(article exerpt)


25/May/2018


They changed your airbags under recall? Better to think of it twice.







By  on July 19, 2017
airbag
Takata, the parts supplier that furnished automakers with millions of extremely dangerous airbag inflators, was forced to issue another recall last week. Considering the hundreds of millions of units already recalled by the company, another 2.7 million is a drop in the bucket. But there’s a slight problem, as these newly recalled inflators are devices that have already been replaced.

In 2015, regulators specified Takata had until the end of 2019 to ensure its replacement airbag inflators were safe. With the “fixed” units now under scrutiny, automakers may be liable for the supplier’s wrongdoing as the millions upon millions of recalled inflators would need to be replaced for a second time. 

The current recall was prompted after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the drying agent added specifically to combat the moisture that degrades the ammonium nitrate compound wasn’t effective.

“Absent proof that the other desiccated inflators are safe, they will also be subject to recall,” the NHTSA said in a statement last week. 

Takata stated it has produced roughly 100 million replacement inflators containing drying agents. The 2.7 million recalled last week used calcium sulfate while the rest used zeolite.

According to Reuters, automakers have been burdened with a significant portion of the estimated $10 billion cost of replacing the faulty inflators. They’d also be liable in the event of NHTSA deciding Takata failed to adequately address the safety issues with the remaining recalled units. At this point, there isn’t much more that can be done with the Japanese supplier. 

“The automakers … and Takata — they all know that this is a future issue,” said Scott Upham, chief executive at Valient Market Research, whose clients consist of several auto parts suppliers. “But I think everybody is concerned about the near-term issues, and the financial arrangements of the bankruptcy.”

Obviously, the most pressing short-term danger consists of additional harm to motorists. So far, the faulty inflators have contributed to at least 17 known fatalities and countless injuries.

Takata is the only airbag manufacturer to use ammonium nitrate as a propellant in its systems. It’s unlikely that will ever change, due to the compound’s volatile tendencies. Takata’s inflators can rupture the airbag, spraying vehicle occupants with shrapnel, after the compound is exposed to moisture or high temperatures for prolonged periods. 

While the drying agents used appear to have stabilized the propellant somewhat, fears remain that it’s simply too volatile to be used in inflators and will require removal if the NHTSA isn’t satisfied.

Honda is likely to be the company most hurt by a second round of recalls, since it used more of Takata’s inflators than any competitor. But it won’t be the only one to suffer.

 Toyota, Nissan, General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Mazda, Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Tesla, Fisker, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen Group have also all been affected by the recall.
(article excerpt)
The Truth About Cars.