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From Products Liability Law Daily, July 28, 2016

Senators urge Honda to issue ‘do not drive’ order for vehicles with Takata air bags

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

Citing recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which revealed that Takata air bags in certain Honda and Acura vehicles have a 50 percent chance of rupture in a crash, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) urged Honda North America, Inc. to issue an immediate "do not drive" order to owners of vehicles equipped with these dangerous air bags. In a July 26 letter to Honda, the Senators urged Honda to take the strongest possible action to ensure that vehicles with such air bags are immediately removed from the road before more people are killed. They also called on the company to take additional measures to make it as easy as possible for owners of these vehicles to have this dangerous defect repaired, without having to drive the vehicle to a dealership.

The Senators first voiced their concerns with NHTSA’s limited recalls and the testing of Takata air bags in October 2014. They have also called on Takata to recall all vehicles with ammonium nitrate-based air bags, and expressed serious concern about the pace of Takata recalls and repairs. Earlier this year, the senators sent a letter urging President Obama to recall every vehicle with airbags using ammonium nitrate as their propellant, and to use "every tool at his disposal" to accelerate the repair of all vehicles with potentially-lethal Takata air bags.

Following the release of the new data, Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx issued a statement urging the public not to drive these vehicles "unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge." The letter to Honda expressed the Senators’ "extreme disappointment that Honda does not appear to have taken this important step." According to the Senators, this new data, coupled with the fact that eight of the 10 confirmed U.S. fatalities linked to defective Takata air bags were in this subset of vehicles, "warranted the strongest possible action that a manufacturer could take to ensure that vehicles with such air bags are immediately removed from the road before more people are killed."

Noting that more than 313,000 vehicles equipped with these dangerous air bags had not yet been repaired, the Senators also called on Honda to take additional measures to make it as easy as possible for owners of these vehicles to have this defect repaired, without having to drive the vehicle to a dealership. They suggested that Honda (1) make available mobile mechanics who could travel to where an owner lives or works to conduct the necessary repair; or (2) provide free towing to the closest repair facility, so that owners would not have to drive these high risk vehicles.

The Senators instructed Honda to provide by July 31, 2016, a report detailing what actions the company had taken to comply with the request for a "do not drive order," what other actions have taken to ensure vehicles with these especially high risk air bags are immediately removed from the roads.

Companies: Honda North America, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory MotorEquipmentNews MotorVehiclesNews

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