Investigators find faulty U.S. oversight of vehicle recalls, Takata inflators

The IG report found staff did not adequately oversee the completion of recalls.

July 18, 2018, 4:16 PM

A government audit released to Congress today said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's poor oversight of recalls may have left dangerous vehicles on the road for longer than necessary, including those affected by exploding Takata air bag inflators.

The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General report, requested by Congress in 2015, says managers within the government office charged with monitoring defective vehicles and their recalls did not hold employees responsible for sufficiently monitoring "the remedy or scope of Takata recalls."

PHOTO: Takata Corp. faced its biggest recall crisis in almost two decades after defective airbag inflators led Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. to call back more than 3 million vehicles, April 11, 2013.
Takata Corp. faced its biggest recall crisis in almost two decades after defective airbag inflators led Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. to call back more than 3 million vehicles, April 11, 2013.
Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In the event that a vehicle is recalled for a safety defect and customers are slow to remedy the problem, NHTSA may order a manufacturer to send a second recall notification. But the report found staff were not verifying completion rates.

Additionally, an Inspector General analysis of 36 Takata recall reports found that manufacturers did not include the required information in more than 40% of initial reports -- and NHTSA rarely notified the manufacturers of the incomplete information.

PHOTO: A screen displays a video on airbag safety on Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, April 11, 2013.
A screen displays a video on airbag safety on Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan, April 11, 2013.
Koichi Kamoshida/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

The agency fully agreed to three of the six recommendations made by the report and partially agreed to the others.

“This is further evidence that the federal auto safety regulator isn’t doing enough to protect the public,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees NHTSA.

The Senate is expected to vote soon on NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King's confirmation to become the head of the agency.

At least 23 people have died worldwide as a result of the exploding airbag inflators and about 300 more have been hurt. It's turned into the largest safety recall in auto industry history, with about 100 million inflators in vehicles made by 19 major automakers.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events