WASHINGTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will hold a public hearing next month on its effort to coordinate the Takata airbag inflator recalls affecting nearly 20 million vehicles in the United States.
In a notice to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, the agency said it will present potential strategies for “prioritizing, organizing, and phasing the multiple recalls” at the hearing. It will also provide information about the progress of the Takata recalls to date and about issues related to its first-ever attempt to coordinate a recall of this scale, with 19.2 million vehicles from 11 automakers affected.
NHTSA in May announced its intent to coordinate the massive recalls of Takata airbag inflators that can explode in a crash, a defect linked to at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.
At the time, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind called the recall plans of individual automakers a "patch-work solution that NHTSA believes may not adequately address the safety risks presented by the defective Takata inflators within a reasonable time."
The move marked the first time that the agency invoked the authority.
It allows the agency to direct and prioritize the flow of replacement parts, and, if necessary, issue an order to speed up the recalls. Depending on what the final plan looks like, NHTSA could have an unprecedented level of involvement in the execution of a recall plan.
“Millions of Americans are affected by Takata-related recalls, and this informational meeting will be an opportunity to provide the information we’ve gathered since launching the coordinated remedy proceeding in May,” Rosekind said in a statement.
“Helping the public understand the risks involved, what NHTSA and the auto industry are doing to address them, and how affected vehicle owners can take action to protect themselves and their families is an essential element in removing defective air bags from our roads and protecting public safety.”
The agency is also seeking comments from the public about the plans. The meeting will be held on Oct. 22 at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C.