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The head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is tired of Americans not taking their recalled vehicles in for much-needed repairs. He recently travelled across the country to try and do something about it.
Mark Rosekind spent five days on a 1,500-mile round trip to nine cities across the south earlier this month to bring attention to the need for drivers to take vehicle maintenance much more seriously.
The trip was timed to bring attention to recall repairs that can save lives — namely the Takata airbag recall, which encompasses tens of millions of vehicles. These airbags can explode without warning, sending fragments of metal throughout the inside of a car. These explosions have injured hundreds of people and resulted in at least 11 fatalities. It is the larges automotive recall in the history of the United States.
The trip appropriately took place in Miami and other humid areas across the South. Takata airbags with defective inflators are at a higher risk of rupturing in hot, humid conditions.
The problem is that, according to the NHTSA, people are either ignoring recalls like Takata or they don’t know about them. The agency estimates that at least 20-30 percent of recalled vehicles are not returned to dealerships so that problems can be repaired for free. While there are 70 million vehicles in the U.S. involved in the Takata recall, only about 9.4 million of them have been repaired.
Owners of older cars who rarely visit dealerships are largely unaware of recalls. Rosekind is urging manufacturers to do more to track down these and other motorists to do a better job of letting them know their vehicles might have a dangerous defect.