From an editorial in Monday’s Washington Post:
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is widening its crackdown on air bags at risk of exploding – potentially killing or maiming the people they are supposed to protect.
Takata is one of a few firms worldwide that manufacture air bags. The problem has been linked to four U.S. deaths and many injuries – including those of Stephanie Erdman, who testified before a Senate panel on Thursday that she was blinded in one eye after her Honda air bag deployed.
Recalls first focused on 8 million cars in humid climates. Last week the NHTSA began to push for a nationwide recall affecting perhaps 30 million cars.
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That’s the right call, and it should have happened sooner. The bigger question is whether carmakers and the NHTSA are effectively monitoring and responding to aftermarket problems.
Congress should pass a bill that would reduce the routine secrecy surrounding court settlements in lawsuits concerning public safety or public health. There were air-bag-related proceedings as early as 2003. With more information on the public record, those in and outside of government would have a better chance of connecting the dots sooner.