The largest automotive recall in history continues, and millions of cars with potentially deadly airbags are still on the road.
A federally appointed independent monitor overseeing the recall in the U.S. just issued a new report, entitled “The State of the Takata Air Bag Recalls.” You can find a link to that report here.
But first, a warning about that report if you’re at all squeamish.
The monitor, John Buretta, didn’t hold back when describing the gruesome injuries of the 13 (now 14) known victims killed in the U.S. when the Takata airbags in their cars exploded, sending shards of metal at high speeds towards them.
“The injuries caused by the shrapnel were so extensive that police responding to the scene initially thought Mr. Xu had been shot in the face,” reads one description. “Metal shrapnel severed Mr. Solis’s neck,” reads another.
In addition, there are some unsettling photos, especially the one taken of Air Force Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman in the hospital, after the airbag in her 2002 Honda Accord exploded in an accident. Erdman survived, but she was required numerous surgeries, and is permanently blinded.
In addition to the 14 people killed, hundreds more have been injured, yet there remain nearly 30 million vehicles on the road with original Takata airbags in them. In Michigan, about 391,000 unrepaired recalled vehicles are still on the road.
The report details the difficulty of getting owners of the vehicles to respond to recall notices, even in regions that have exposed the airbags to multiple cycles of high temperatures and humidity. That poses the highest risk for the unstable chemicals used in the airbags. Yet many people remain unaware of the recalls, or they don’t think they are important.
The report says pilot projects and focus groups show that recall notices with words like “faulty” or “defective” are often not enough to get the owner’s…