Automakers recalled a record 53.2 million vehicles in the U.S. last year after Takata Corporation expanded its recalls of airbags at risk of exploding with deadly force.
The Japanese auto supplier’s massive airbag recall has affected just about every automaker producing vehicles for the U.S. market and millions of consumers.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), aggressive enforcement under the Obama Administration prompted automakers to issue a record 927 safety recall campaigns – a 7-percent rise over 2015, which was also a record-setting recall year with 51.1 million vehicles recalled..
In fact, 2016 was the third year in a row that a record number of U.S. vehicles were recalled to repair safety defects. The number of auto-industry safety recalls in 2014 also topped 50 million for the first time ever.
Reuters notes that the surge in U.S. auto safety recalls has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in traffic deaths, although it’s undetermined how much auto defects contributed to the correlation. After decades of steady decline, U.S. traffic deaths suddenly jumped 8 percent in 2015, “the highest annual increase in a half-century, and preliminary estimates show they rose sharply again in 2016,” Reuters explained.
Takata’s recall, the largest auto recall in U.S. history, covers about 70 million airbag inflators installed in the airbag units of about 42 million U.S. vehicles.
Takata pleaded guilty to a felony charge last month for hiding evidence of failed airbag inflators for about 15 years. The admission was part of a $1 billion deal with the U.S. government that included compensation for automakers that have had to conduct costly recalls, as well as victims of the defective airbags.
Takata’s faulty airbags have been blamed for the deaths of at least 16 people, including 11 in the U.S., and nearly 200 injuries.