NHTSA chief on Capitol Hill to talk about air bag recall

On the heels of federal regulators saying another 85 million Takata air bags may need to be recalled, the head of the National Traffic Safety Administration said not just yet.

N.H.T.S.A administrator Mark Rosekind told a congressional committee Thursday that evidence so far shows the rupturing air bags are mainly in older vehicles, occurring around the 7 1/2 year mark. 

That was the case in the most recent death due to a faulty airbag. A 17-year-old Texas girl was killed when a piece of metal from the faulty air bag in her vehicle lodged in her neck.

"We were recently, and you’ve all mentioned this, tragically reminded just how urgent this work is. Two weeks ago today, a 17-year-old lost her life after the Takata air bag inflator ruptured at the crash near Houston," said Rosekind. "The local sheriff says she would have been able to walk away from that crash, the inflator in that vehicle had already been recalled, but the repair had not been completed."

The N.H.T.S.A said more than 85 million U.S. cars and trucks have about Takata air bag inflators in them that haven’t been recalled.

Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel into drivers and passengers. All of the inflators would have to be recalled if Takata can’t prove that they are safe.

The 85 million air bag inflators are in addition to the 28.8 million inflators already slated for replacement in what has become the largest automotive recall in the nation’s history. A recall that massive would take years to complete and cost Takata billions of dollars.

At least 11 people have died worldwide and more than 100 have been hurt by the exploding inflators.

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