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Safety program IDs 159 vehicles with recalls during review

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The results are in from a vehicle safety program, and the data is amazing and shocking.

The 82nd Training Wing Safety Office hosted a team from the National Safety Council’s “Check To Protect” Campaign in November, a first in the Air Force. “Check To Protect” is a campaign designed to drive customers to check for open vehicle safety recalls and into local dealerships to get them repaired.

Despite the ongoing news alerts and direct communications to customers, many vehicle owners still are unaware that they may be driving a vehicle with a dangerous recall. Many are also unaware that recall repairs are free at dealerships.

An example are “Alpha” air bags made by Takata, which pose a 50 percent risk of a type of failure that has caused serious injuries and deaths. Nine of the 15 confirmed U.S. fatalities due to Takata ruptures were Alpha air bags. While the majority of these air bags have been replaced, thousands are still on the road. The Alpha air bags are the most dangerous and their replacement is the highest priority. 

Exposure to high heat and humidity over time can cause metal parts inside the air bag to explode and shoot shrapnel out of the air bag at the driver or passengers. Testing shows that older air bags in places with hot and humid weather are more likely to have an air bag that could explode.

Even as recently as Dec. 4, an additional 1.4 million dangerous side inflators are being recalled in the U.S. because they could explode and hurl shrapnel. This recall covers certain BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles made from 1995 to 2000. In fact, BMW is telling owners of some older 3-Series cars not to drive them because of the potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators.

Tom Musick, senior program manager of Transportation Safety at the NSC, and his team of scanned about 700 vehicles during their at six 82nd TRW organizations during their visit.

“Sheppard AFB is the first Air Force base to work with Check To Protect, and it shows your leadership and commitment to safety on behalf of all of the men and women on your site,” he said. “I know I speak for the National Safety Council when I say thank you for going above and beyond when it comes to safety.” 

Of the 700 vehicles scanned, 159 total safety recalls were discovered. Of those, 30 were specific to the dangerous Takata air bag recalls – 4% of the total vehicles and 19% of the open recalls.

The remaining 129 safety recalls were for a wide variety of other issues.  Recalls by manufacturer were led by FCA (Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram) with 39 (11 air bag), General Motors with 37 (sevem air bag) and Ford with 34 (four air bag).  A total of 21 different manufacturers were identified amongst these vehicles with open safety recalls.

In addition, the C2P team was able to distribute recall awareness information to over 1,200 personnel through this effort combined with the opening session with the Street Smart team at the base theater. 

“I’m confident at least some of them will visit www.CheckToProtect.org and make sure that their vehicle is as safe as it can be when they get behind the wheel,” Musick said.

Vehicle owners are highly encouraged to visit www.CheckToProtect.org and enter their Vehicle Identification Number to see what potential recalls their car, truck or van might have. Especially with used vehicles, manufacturers cannot always locate the registered owner trail and recalls may not reach the current owners by mail.  When you buy a car, always check for open recalls that haven’t been repaired.

Other military safety offices wanting to participate in the Check To Protect program can call the 82nd TRW Safety Office at 940-676-7308 or DSN 736-7308.