Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, Tuesday asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to broaden the recall of cars with defective airbags after the death of a Floridian.
He also asked regulators to compel manufacturers to cover the cost of rental cars or loaners for consumers needing repairs. Nelson is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees many aspects of transportation.
Nelson wrote to David Friedman, deputy administrator of NHTSA urging owners of 5 million vehicles with defective Takata airbags to “act immediately” to replace them.
"As an initial matter, I appreciate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s action to bring this very serious safety defect to the attention of consumers as soon as possible," Nelson wrote. "As noted on the front page of (Tuesday’s) New York Times, this defect has tragically been linked to the death of a Floridian earlier this month and it is imperative that the impacted cars are removed from the roads and fixed as soon as possible."
The NHTSA announcement has two major flaws Nelson urged be corrected immediately.
The notice does not provide information consumers can use to act immediately. Nelson said he wants a website set up informing dealers and consumers how they can have their cars fixed.
Automakers should offer loaner cars or rental car reimbursement expenses for consumers who cannot get their cars fixed in a timely manner.
"General Motors recently took this step for certain models with faulty ignition switches, and there is no reason why automakers covered by this notice should not be required to take the same steps," Nelson wrote.
NHTSA should also ensure owners of cars not registered in Florida but spend a substantial portion of the year in Florida are covered by the recall, Nelson wrote.