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Avoid the Hassle with Air Bag Recall Repair in Your Parking Lot

How many companies regularly check vehicle identification numbers for recalls? I have not had one tell me they do that on a routine basis, and it seems like something to consider with all fleet operations.

When we were notified my daughter’s car was under recall for defective air bags, my husband and I experienced first-hand some of the challenges that stand in the way of ensuring our roads are safer because our vehicles are safer.

  • First, repair parts were not yet available
  • Second, our local dealer asked us to schedule a “consultation” visit so technicians could take a look at her car (so, not just one visit, but two)
  • Third, during a follow-up two weeks later, her air bags were replaced
  • Finally, I won’t share how long they had the car before they started working on a 20-minute repair … I will let you use your imagination

So, I get it, there often is a time investment and some inconvenience when it comes to dealing with vehicle recalls. My questions:

  1. Is the risk of injury or death worth ignoring a recall notice?
  2. What’s an acceptable risk?

The answer to that second question should be zero. In the case of the Takata air bag recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 15 people in the U.S. have died in incidents related to faulty deployment of these air bags. Hundreds more have suffered injuries, ranging from minor to severe.

The National Safety Council has devised a plan to eliminate barriers posed by time and inconvenience and make air bag recall repairs easy. NSC can coordinate a mobile air bag repair unit’s visit to your workplace provided your facility is located in Florida, Texas or southern California.

Vehicles in these areas are most at risk because of the hot, humid weather. Technicians will fix air bags on site with permission. This service is free of charge to the employer and the employee, and may be expanding to other areas soon.

So, to reiterate: They come to you. How great is that? How can you say no? This is a great value to the employee and employer. What a great way to address open recalls on fleet vehicles. I would encourage you to talk to your employees and have them check their own vehicles for recalls, too. This exercise can be tied to your company’s health and safety management program.

The Takata air bag recall is the largest in U.S. automotive history and currently affects more than 50 million air bag inflators. More than 20 million have not been repaired nationwide. In January, there will be an additional 10 million air bag inflators added to that count.

What is this recall for? Instead of deploying properly and cushioning the vehicle occupant, sharp metal fragments can be propelled through the air bag toward the driver’s face, neck and chest area. Needless to say, that can be dangerous, perhaps even deadly.

NSC also can help you canvass your parking lot for vehicles under recall. For more information, contact my colleague Tom Musick at (630) 775-2381 or tom.musick@nsc.org.

In Texas, 25.9% of vehicles on the road today have open safety recalls. The 10 cities where the problem is most significant:

  • Houston 28%
  • El Paso 27%
  • Arlington 27%
  • Fort Worth 26%
  • Dallas 25%
  • San Antonio 25%
  • Corpus Christi 25%
  • Austin 24%
  • Spring 23%
  • Plano 22%

Visit Check to Protect to find out if your vehicle is under recall. Be sure to check recalls before you buy a used vehicle, too. As a buyer, you would assume this check would happen automatically at a dealership, but that is not always the case. We learned that the hard way.

I like to work with employers on issues such as this because I believe knowledge is power and safety is the result of doing things right.

– Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager at the National Safety Council

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