Members of the U.S. Senate are blasting auto parts manufacturer Takata and federal safety regulators for failing to address problems with defective air bags.
The Takata air bags can explode when they inflate and shower passengers with shrapnel.
At least eight people have been killed because of the problem, which has led to the largest auto-safety recall in the nation’s history.
At a Congressional hearing on the issue senators cited a Commerce Committee report that says internal Takata emails show the company stopped auditing the safety of its air bags because the process was too costly.
A series of senators also criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
They accuse the agency of failing to investigate early reports about problems with Takata air bags.
NHTSA officials counter that they have relatively few personnel to analyze complaints, noting that the agency’s budget is about 23 percent less than it was a decade ago, taking inflation into account.
But a federal audit this week noted numerous problems with NHTSA’s training and attempts to hold automakers accountable.
Some Senators say the agency should not receive additional funding until it makes fundamental changes in how it operates.