Japanese manufacturer Takata Corp. is likely to declare nearly 34 million vehicles equipped with its air bags defective. The recall resulting from this move will be one of the largest ever, topping even the Tylenol poison scare in 1982 that led to the recall of 31 million bottles of medicine. Six people have died in accidents linked to the airbags, and more than 100 people have been injured. Authorities haven’t said exactly what causes the defect, which sends pieces of metal flying after the airbags are inflated, although humidity may be to blame. Cars in high-humidity areas are expected to be targeted for repairs first, which could take years to complete given the scale of the problem. Before Takata officially labeled the cars defective, ten automakers recalled about half of the cars listed in the company’s upcoming reports, around 17 million. Honda has been the most affected auto manufacturer.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been pushing Takata to finally admit the airbags were defective for months, and is expected to fine the company. The Justice Department is also investigating the matter, and many other lawsuits have been filed against the air-bag manufacturer. “Folks shouldn’t have to drive around wondering if their air bag is going to explode in their face or if their car is going to be on another recall list,” Senator Bill Nelson said today, according to the Detroit News. “… This needs to get fixed, pronto.”