The refusal by Takata and some manufacturers to expand the safety recall of defective, exploding air bags to cover the entire nation is jeopardizing the safety of many of America’s military families.
If you are a member of the Armed Forces, under Federal law, you are allowed to register your car in your official state of residence. Regardless where you are stationed, or the state where you and your family members are actually driving your car.
Auto manufacturers use data from RL Polk to identify owners of recalled vehicles and send them notices. But that data is based on where their vehicles are registered.
So if you are serving in the military, and register your car in New York, but are stationed in a high-humidity state like Florida, you may not receive the safety recall notice for your car. Even though Honda, Toyota, and other manufacturers, as well as the air bag supplier Takata, now acknowledge the air bags should be recalled in high-humidity states like Florida.
That’s because, as far as RL Polk and the manufacturer are concerned, cars that are registered in New York are being driven in New York. They fail to account for the fact that if you’re serving in the military, you may have registered your car in New York, but be stationed for years in a high-humidity state like Florida.
Florida is home to at least 29 Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard bases, with over 50,000 active duty personnel. No doubt many of them have chosen to register their cars in their official state of residence, where the taxes may be lower, or it is simply more convenient.
What are Takata and auto manufacturers who installed the potentially deadly air bags in their cars doing to protect military families? It appears that the answer is nothing.
We hope that Members of Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will pressure the manufacturers to ensure that members of the Armed Forces and their families are alerted to the hazards, and their cars are repaired, regardless where they are stationed, or where their cars are registered.
Better yet, all auto manufacturers and Takata should make the safety recall national, so all owners and their families can have the safety recall repairs performed, without having to pay out of pocket for the mistakes made by Takata and the manufacturers — and without being injured or killed by flying shrapnel from the defective air bags.