The car industry wants regos to be cancelled if motorists don’t get their cars fixed even though the parts are in stock. Picture: Supplied.
The car industry wants regos to be cancelled if motorists don’t get their cars fixed even though the parts are in stock. Picture: Supplied.

Push to cancel registration on cars with dodgy airbags

STATE governments across Australia are resisting calls to help get potentially deadly airbags off our roads.

The Federal Government wrote to all states and territories in February asking them to consider rejecting registration renewals or transfers for cars with faulty Takata airbags that could spray shrapnel in a crash.

In particular, Federal authorities wanted to use registration restrictions to target vehicles that have not been fixed despite the replacement parts being in stock. Vehicles still waiting for new airbags to arrive ahead of the 31 December 2020 deadline would be exempt from the ban until replacement parts became available.

But none of the state transport authorities contacted by News Corp Australia are yet considering registration restrictions.

The request was made after the Federal Government announced Australia's first compulsory automotive recall for more than 3 million faulty Takata airbags.

The recall followed the death of one man in NSW and a serious injury to a woman in the Northern Territory last year. The owners of both vehicles had received multiple recall notices.

From next month Japanese authorities will take the unprecedented step of "rejecting" the registration renewal of vehicles that have not had their faulty Takata airbags replaced.

Australia is yet to do the same because the Federal Government has no jurisdiction over vehicle registrations. They are governed by the states and territories.

 

Despite the dangers thousands of motorists still refuse to bring their cars in. Picture: Supplied.
Despite the dangers thousands of motorists still refuse to bring their cars in. Picture: Supplied.

A senior car industry executive, who represents one of the brands affected but who asked to remain anonymous, said: "If after every avenue has been exhausted then the state and territories must refuse to renew the registration or the transfer ownership of affected vehicles. It only takes one of these faulty airbags to kill someone."

He said "unless governments take this logical action we will not get a 100 per cent completion rate by the end of December 2020".

The car industry is fixing the oldest and most volatile airbags first, before ones fitted to newer cars.

"Contrary to perception, most members of the car industry are going above and beyond to locate and repair these cars but there comes a point when some customers simply refuse to bring their cars in," the executive said.

At least six airbags retrieved from cars on Australian roads over the past two years have sprayed shrapnel when deployed during tests.

Despite a recall of more than 3 million cars in Australia, about 24,500 airbags still on Australian roads have a 50:50 chance of spraying shrapnel if deployed in a crash, while 1.4 million yet to be replaced have a 1 per cent chance of exploding with deadly force when deployed in a crash.

A statement from Michael Sukkar, the assistant minister to the federal treasurer who announced the compulsory recall, said he has written to state and territory ministers and outlined a "number of strategies (they) may wish to consider in support of the recall".

Among the proposals: "preventing registration or transfer of ownership of vehicles that have not had their faulty airbag replaced by the requisite date".

That means, if the parts are in stock but the car hasn't been fixed, it can't be registered or sold. But if parts are delayed then the car is exempt from the registration or sale ban.

Contrary to perception, car airbags have explosive force. The affected Takata airbags, however, can spray shrapnel if they deploy too aggressively. Picture: Supplied.
Contrary to perception, car airbags have explosive force. The affected Takata airbags, however, can spray shrapnel if they deploy too aggressively. Picture: Supplied.

The chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said: "It becomes an issue of public safety. If people refuse to respond to a free airbag replacement it is encumbent on the car industry and governments at all levels to get this issue addressed".

One car industry proposal includes updating "wanted car" lists with the details of affected vehicles, so they could be detected by police vehicles equipped with automatic numberplate recognition technology.

"Governments are not afraid to use their enforcement machinery on motorists for traffic offences under the guise of road safety, and yet here is a road safety issue with potentially deadly airbags, and they have technology that could help us locate these cars." a car industry executive said.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling


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