To the Editor:
Airbags should save lives, not shoot shrapnel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no teeth because it has no leadership. This will cost people their lives and must change. An ongoing issue with millions of airbags highlights the peril caused by the agency’s lack of leadership.
NHTSA has not had a Senate-confirmed administrator (director) for more than six years. That official left the agency after only three months and there was a four-year vacancy at the position before his appointment. NHTSA needs a Senate-confirmed administrator to fulfill its duty, which is paramount to every American’s safety.
In addition, a recent audit by the Auditor General found that NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation did not meet its timeliness goals.
As former legislators who focused on enacting traffic safety legislation, we understand how critical a change at the agency is. Dori Slosberg (Irv’s daughter and Emily’s twin sister) was killed in a car crash that claimed the lives of five teenagers and left another teenager a quadriplegic.
After an eight-year investigation, NHTSA recently urged ARC Automotive to recall 67 million airbags due to an “unreasonable risk of death and injury.” That agency found that some of the airbags “project sharp metal fragments” when deploying and can severely injure the driver and front passenger. ARC Automotive’s products are used by several top car makers. Shockingly, no complete list has been published.
ARC Automotive rejected the recall. This is dangerous and unacceptable.
ARC Automotive’s vice-president of product integrity Steve Gold, said the manufacturer’s investigators did not find any “systemic or prevalent defect” in the airbags, instead reducing this alarming issue to “random ‘one-off’ manufacturing anomalies.”
If NHTSA urges ARC Automotive to recall airbags, the airbags should be recalled. At the very least, affected drivers should be notified.
State Rep. Irv Slosberg (2000-2006, 2010-2016) and State Rep. Emily Slosberg- King (2016-2022)