The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday took steps toward exercising legal authority it was first given about 15 years ago as it moves to speed up and coordinate the recall process for millions of cars and trucks with Takata air bags that have been recalled.
The action came on the heels of the agency’s announcement Tuesday that Takata had agreed to nearly double the number of vehicles it will recall with potentially defective air bags to 33.8 million nationwide.
On Thursday, the regulatory agency filed the outlines of a legal process with the Federal Registrar asking automakers to respond and provide input into how to prioritize the unprecedented number of cars and trucks that will be recalled.
NHTSA will consider that input, but ultimately, the agency plans to coordinate the recall process.
“NHTSA is launching a legal process that will allow us to bring together auto manufacturers whose vehicles are affected, along with Takata and other parts suppliers,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Tuesday. “That way, they can organize this recall effort and get it done as quickly and effectively as possible.”
It is the first time the agency is using the authority, which was granted as part of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation Act, or TREAD Act, that became law in 2000 following the recall of Ford Explorer SUVs.
“It’s not enough to identify defects. To save lives and prevent injuries, defects must be repaired,” NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said Tuesday. “That’s why we are launching the coordinated remedy proceeding. At more than 33 million vehicles and with 11 manufacturers and multiple suppliers involved, this is an enormously complex situation.”