NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, knows first-hand the frustration of owning a potentially dangerous car that can’t yet be fixed.
A family car normally driven by his wife has been recalled to fix a faulty Takata air bag, but like millions of others, he’s waiting for parts to make the repair, according to a story by the Associated Press.
To date, 14 automakers have recalled 24 million U.S. vehicles because their airbag inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers. The defect is responsible for at least 10 deaths worldwide and more than 100 injuries.
About 7.1 million inflators have been replaced so far, but for most car owners — including Rosekind’s own family — there’s an agonizing wait for replacement parts. NHTSA, which has taken over management of the recalls, is prioritizing older vehicles in high-humidity areas along the Gulf Coast, where the risk is higher.
Tests have shown that the chemical used in the inflator, ammonium nitrate, can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity.
Rosekind told the AP that his wife discovered their car had been recalled by checking the vehicle identification number in NHTSA’s recall database.
“I now have that personal experience to be able to deal with it and see how we can push,” he told the AP. “It is a source of information that probably typically is not available to an administrator facing something like this.”
Rosekind added that he’s not getting special treatment, though, and the car is going to be fixed at the “appropriate time.” Luckily, she has another car available.