Sen. Rubio pushes for urgency in airbag recall affecting Floridians

Rubio wants oversight of industry until changes are made

A deployed airbag is seen in a 2001 Honda Accord. The largest automotive recall in history centers around the defective Takata Corp. air bags that are found in millions of vehicles that are manufactured by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida ranks third in unrepaired vehicles impacted by the massive Takata airbag recall, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, wants to see more urgency from the federal government until the deadly issues are fixed.

Nearly 50 million Takata airbags have been recalled -- with roughly 20 million more still to come -- that were installed in cars, trucks and SUVs, from 19 different automakers. 

The Takata airbags have defective inflators, which can turn the very device designed to protect people into a miniature shrapnel bomb -- prompting a recall that actually began back in 2008. 

More than 1.4 million vehicles still need repairs in Florida. 

Rubio sent a letter Friday to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, urging the agency to take a more active role in coordinating efforts with the auto industry to make sure automakers are improving rates of changing out the faulty airbags.

He also wants affected Floridians provided with adequate vehicular options in the meantime.

Rubio’s request comes a day after NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King visited with community leaders and automakers in Pembroke Pines to provide a comprehensive update on the urgency of the airbag recall issue in South Florida. 

"NHTSA has called this the 'largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history,' and it is critical that the agency redoubles its efforts to ensure consumers are aware and protected from the significant safety concerns presented by these airbags," Rubio wrote.

Rubio said that when a safety issue of this magnitude is identified, government agencies must take the lead in providing direction and oversight to ensure the industry is achieving compliance.

QUICK LINK: Is my vehicle on the airbag recall list?

Faulty inflators in Takata airbags have led to 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries in the U.S. alone. And more than 26 million potentially deadly airbags still need to be replaced.

According to the NHSTA, additional airbags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected airbags to around 65-70 million.

FULL LIST: Current Takata Airbag recalls

Ford and Mazda have both now issued warnings to stop driving their 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda–B series pick-up trucks and have the vehicles towed to the dealership to replace the airbags for free. 

Also, be aware that airbags in certain Honda and Acura models, from 2001, 2002 and 2003 also show a far higher risk of exploding in a crash. 

NHTSA said that if a dealer refuses to repair your vehicle, you should notify the manufacturer immediately. You can also file a complaint with NHTSA here. You will need to provide as many details as possible, including the name of the dealership and any personnel involved.