Two U.S. Senators are calling on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate one more crash involving Takata airbags, but this is a different kind of crash.
Last week in Texas, a truck a truck carrying Takata airbag parts, including ammonium nitrate crashed into a home which caused an explosion and fire. One person was killed and four others were injured.
Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal say the ammonium nitrate compound, which is also used in agricultural fertilizers and as an explosive in construction and mining industries, can explode violently if it comes into contact with an open flame or other ignition sources. It’s been confirmed that ammonium nitrate is the root cause of the Takata airbag defect which has led to the recall of tens of millions of vehicles (the largest recall in U.S. automotive history) because of its tendency to become unstable when exposed to moisture.
“We already know Takata has endangered millions behind the wheel – the recent tragedy in Texas raises questions about how many millions more are in harm’s way because of Takata’s practices transporting its hazardous product,” said the Senators, members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
“Takata has a terrible track record of cutting corners to put profits before safety, creating tragic consequences for drivers and families, and then lying to federal regulators,” say the pair. “The National Transportation Safety Board must investigate this incident and determine whether this company took appropriate precautions, or if it is just one more example of its reckless behavior. We also seek answers on what steps must be taken to ensure other towns and communities aren’t endangered by the shipment of ammonium nitrate on our highways. The independent expertise of the NTSB is uniquely tasked with looking at these wide-ranging problems, and we urge the agency to take immediate action.”
The Senators first expressed concerns about “limited recalls” and testing of Takata airbags in October 2014. By August of 2015, they called on Takata to recall all vehicles with ammonium nitrate-based airbags. Later, they indicated concerns about the pace of Takata’s recalls and repairs.
In February, Blumenthal and Markey also urged President Obama to recall every vehicle with airbags using ammonium nitrate as their propellant, and to use “every tool at his disposal” to accelerate the repair of all vehicles with potentially-lethal Takata airbags.
They have also asked regulators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make public the make, model, and year of all vehicles that contain Takata airbags that use an ammonium nitrate propellant.
In July of this year, they also called on Honda to immediately issue a “do not drive” order to owners of older vehicles with these dangerous air bags. That was after NHTSA said there was a much greater chance the airbags in those older vehicles would explode in a crash.