REPLACEMENT OF TAKATA SAFETY BELTS PROGRESSING TOO SLOWLY, NHTSA

WASHINGTON, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said today that it is disappointed with the low rate at which vehicle owners are responding to a recall of Takata Corp. safety belt buckles.  "Vehicle owners who have not yet responded to notices that repairs of their safety belt assemblies are available at their dealerships, should have the work performed," said NHTSA Administrator Ricardo Martinez, M.D.  "The replacement is free and it will ensure that the belt buckle will work as intended.  Safety belts are the first line of defense against motor vehicle death and injury."  Only 1.6 million, or 18 percent, of the nearly 8.9 million 1986-91 cars and trucks involved in the largest-ever vehicle recall have been repaired in  the first year of the campaign, NHTSA said.  The recall was announced in May 1995 and automakers began notifying owners in September 1995.  Vehicles involved in the recall were sold by Honda, Nissan, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Subaru, General Motors, Suzuki, Isuzu, Daihatsu and Ford.  The majority of the vehicles involved were made by Honda and Nissan.  Only 22 percent of the 4.2 million Hondas and only 14 percent of the 2 million Nissans affected have had the work performed.  Automakers are required to notify NHTSA quarterly of the recall completion rates.  NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation is concerned about the low completion rates and would like to see a meaningful increase in the completion rates during subsequent reporting quarters.  Release buttons on the affected safety belt buckles can break and become inoperable.  The recall applies only to the vehicles' front safety belts. NHTSA is not aware of any evidence that rear safety belts have broken or failed to work property.  Owners who have any questions about this or any other safety recalls should call the toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at 800-424-9393.  In the Washington, D.C., area, the number to call is 202-366-0123.  An electronic version of this document can be obtained via the World Wide Web at: http://www.dot.gov/affairs/index.htm.    SOURCE  U.S. Department of Transportation /CONTACT:  Phil Frame of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 202-366-9550/  CO:  U.S. Department of Transportation; National Highway Traffic Safety   Administration; Takata Corp. ST:  District of Columbia IN:  AUT TRN SU: 
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