The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration joined with Southland community groups Monday to begin an outreach campaign designed to encourage people with vehicles subject to an airbag recall to get them repaired.
The campaign, dubbed Airbag Recall: Operation Find & Fix, is targeting San Fernando Valley owners of vehicles equipped with recalled Takata airbags. Organizers estimated there are more than 2.5 million vehicles in California with recalled airbags that have not yet been repaired, the highest number in the nation.
Campaign organizers said they will hold recall-check events and other outreach efforts to urge vehicle owners to get the bags replaced, with the campaign beginning in Sylmar, Pacoima and Sun Valley.
“Tens of thousands of San Fernando Valley residents are still driving vehicles with defective airbag inflators,” according to a statement from Christian Rubalcava, president of the Sylmar Neighborhood Council. “… I urge all Southern Californians, regardless of what you drive, to check you and your family’s vehicles at www.AirbagRecall.com. You could save a life.”
Heidi King, NHTSA deputy administrator, said the urgency of having the recalled airbags replaced “cannot be overstated.”
“This recall is an important public safety issue for all Americans, but it is especially critical for drivers in Southern California, where prolonged exposure to heat and humidity exacerbates the defect,” King said.
Organizers said at least 15 people — including three from Southern California — have been killed by defective airbag inflators, and more than 220 Americans have suffered injuries such as lacerations to the face or neck, broken or fractured facial bones and broken teeth. Leaders of the campaign said that while the airbag recall affects 19 automakers, select 2001-2003 Hondas and Acuras, as well as 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks, “pose the most urgent threat and are unsafe to drive.”
Motorists can check if their vehicle is under recall at www.AirbagRecall.com. An Airbag Recall app is also available on Google Play and iTunes.