NHTSA Safety Recalls: The High Cost of Auto Manufacturing Mistakes

Safety recalls for defective vehicles are on the rise in the U.S., with millions of cars and trucks affected by recalls during the 2014 calendar year. General Motors led the pack with 80 recalls covering more than 26 million vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for issuing and maintaining records of these recalls on behalf of the public. Investigations by the NHTSA prompt some of these recalls; however, most recalls are initiated by automakers in compliance with regulations designed to protect the safety of drivers on American streets and roadways. Defects in design or function can result in serious accidents. For families struggling with the aftermath of defect-related crashes, working with a Galveston car accident attorney can provide guidance and help in obtaining fair compensation for medical expenses and other costs related to these incidents.

Reasons for Safety Recall Campaigns The NHTSA categorizes recalls in two ways:

  • Recalls resulting from failure to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards in the manufacture of motor vehicle equipment
  • Recalls necessitated by safety-related defects in manufacturing

Both types of vehicle recalls focus on safety issues. Common areas of concern that could prompt a NHTSA recall include the following:

  • Steering issues that could potentially reduce the ability of the driver to control the vehicle
  • Faulty accelerator systems
  • Air bag malfunctions
  • Wiring and fuel system defects that could cause fires
  • Safety belts and child safety seats that do not function as intended
  • Wheels and tires that fail to operate correctly or that can experience catastrophic failure on the road

Auto dealers and manufacturers are generally required to provide a fix for these problems free of charge. Generally, the remedy offered represents the smallest expense possible to the manufacturer while effectively resolving the problem. In some cases, however, the issues identified with a particular set of vehicles may lead to a buyback offer by the manufacturer.

The Cost of Faulty Vehicles

An alarming number of deaths have been linked to defects in manufacturing in the automotive industry:

  • At least 124 deaths have been attributed to an ignition switch problem affecting certain General Motors (GM) vehicles. The switch could unexpectedly shut off, cutting power to the vehicle and disabling air bags and other safety features. The recall was issued in February 2014 and covered 2.6 million small cars. GM has also been fined $35 million for failure to initiate the recall sooner. Investigators found evidence that GM knew of the issue as early as November 2009 but did nothing to alert the public regarding this potential danger.
  • Initial findings by the NHTSA indicate that an estimated 51 deaths may have resulted from post-collision fires in incidents related to a 2013 recall by Chrysler of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty vehicles. The investigation is ongoing.
  • Defective Firestone tires on Ford Motor Company vehicles resulted in at least 250 deaths and more than 3,000 serious injuries prior to the joint recall announced by both companies on August 9, 2000. The tire treads could separate and cause loss of control for drivers, often resulting in rollover accidents.

In many cases, the failure of automakers to report issues and to act quickly in the interest of public safety has taken a tragic toll in human lives and injuries. For drivers, passengers and families who have been injured or who have sustained losses in an accident related to a defective vehicle, retaining the services of a knowledgeable Galveston personal injury attorney can provide the expert representation and legal support needed to take on the automakers and to win. Your Galveston auto accident lawyer can provide the expertise necessary to ensure that you and your family receive the highest possible settlement and that your voice is heard by these negligent corporations. By pursuing your case vigorously, you can make a positive difference for other drivers while holding auto manufacturers accountable for their actions.