Rockefeller: Takata, Automakers Must Take Responsibility and Action for Deadly Airbag Defect

November 20, 2014

Statement for the Record

Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

“Examining Takata Airbag Defects and the Vehicle Recall Process”

I want to thank Senator Nelson for chairing this important and timely hearing on yet another safety crisis in the automobile industry that has killed and maimed Americans for reasons we must uncover. He and Senators McCaskill, Blumenthal, and Markey have been on top of this developing situation, and have kept pressure on Takata and the automakers who use Takata products. And I would like to applaud Senator McCaskill’s leadership over the past several months on leading the Committee’s investigation into GM’s deadly ignition switches and oversight of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The latest safety crisis the Committee is examining today involves exploding airbags – manufactured by a single parts supplier, Takata Corporation – that have plagued Americans for nearly a decade. Who would have thought the very thing meant to protect us in a collision would end up doing the killing instead? Also troubling are Takata’s myriad of explanations over the years. Every time an airbag explodes, Takata seemingly comes up with yet another novel theory to explain why its airbags are killing and injuring people. Automakers that use Takata as their airbag supplier must also take responsibility for the safety defect they have exposed to so many Americans.

I am also greatly concerned about reports that vehicle owners cannot get their potentially deadly vehicles fixed, because there aren’t enough replacement parts. American consumers are rightfully nervous that they are driving ticking time-bombs, but there is nothing they can do about it. These consumers deserve auto manufacturers and parts suppliers to do absolutely everything in their power to replace these dangerous airbags. NHTSA has the authority to expand the number of airbag suppliers and repair facilities. If automakers are unable to fix this deadly defect in a timely manner, then NHTSA should use all of its statutory authority to accelerate the remedial process.