A new audit takes vehicle safety regulators to task for delayed reaction in its oversight of automobile recalls that likely left consumers in the dark about dangerous defects for months.
The vehicle recall oversight audit, issued by the U.S. Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General (requested by Congress in 2015), concluded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) isn’t doing enough to make sure vehicle manufacturers are following through on their safety recalls and the public is deprived of critical information about the safety of their vehicles. The analysis delved into several years’ worth of data, with particular interest in the several years during which vehicle recalls spiked. It includes the time frame during the Takata airbag recall, now recognized as the largest and most complex vehicle safety recall ever. A total of 15 deaths and more than 220 injuries in the U.S. have been linked to the airbag defect, which involves spraying shrapnel at drivers when deployed. (A total of 23 Takata airbag-related deaths have been reported globally.) Vehicles involved include 21 vehicles manufactured by Honda and two by Ford Motor Co.
The inspector general noted the number of light passenger vehicle recalls issued annually rose from 180 in 2012 to 346 in 2016 – a stunning increase of 92 percent. The number of actual vehicles involved in those recalls also rose during that time, from 15.6 million to 46.6 million – a rise of 200 percent. Overseeing those recalls at the NHTSA was an office of just eight people, including five recall specialists, one program management, an assistant and a single engineer. Continue reading →