A majority of the recalls were due to ongoing issues with airbag inflators manufactured by Takata, a Japanese auto part supplier. At least 16 deaths have been attributed to the malfunctioning inflators, which led to a recall of over 42 million U.S. vehicles since 2013. Takata recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge as part of a $1 billion agreement with the Justice Department that also includes financial compensation for automakers and victims of the malfunctions.
The high number of recalls in recent years has been accompanied by an increase in highway fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities rose by 7.2 percent in 2015, the latest year for which data is available. Although the NHTSA has yet to release its full set of data for 2016, preliminary reports from the NSC indicate that the number of fatalities continued to rise.