Reporting the Slightest Sign of Defect in Your Car can Make a Huge Effect on Road Safety

In 2014, nearly a million vehicles with unreliable front passenger air bags were recalled by Nissan, while 2.4 million sedans with faulty taillights were recalled by General Motors. These two recalls by two giant car manufacturing firms were definitely big news; however, these were overshadowed by two other much bigger issues: the ignition system problem (ignition switch, ignition cylinder and key) that plagued 26.9 million vehicles from General Motors and Takata’s explosive air bag inflators, which is fitted in nearly 53 million vehicles worldwide (about 34 million are in the US). This issue involving Takata Corp. is, to date, the biggest auto-safety recall in the history of the car industry.

There are hundreds of other recalls that have been made by (sometimes, the same) vehicle manufacturers due to parts that are defective or which malfunction, such as transmission shift cables that detach, a seat belt cable that fails to provide proper restrain, fickle tail/brake lights, front seats that do not detect occupants (which would result to air bags not deploying during an accident), power steering that fails, electronics that can disable front and side curtain air bags and seat belt pretentioners, and so many others.

Recalls are made either by vehicle manufacturers (voluntarily) or by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through a court order. This move becomes necessary when vehicles or vehicle equipment turn out to have a safety-related defect or fail to comply with minimum safety standards set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Regulations.

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Regulations – guidelines to which manufacturers of motor vehicles and equipment items must comply with where manufacture of vehicles and vehicle parts is the concern, was issued by the NHTSA in order to protect the public against defective cars and malfunctioning parts which increase risk of injury or death (in the event of car crash). Specifically, these guidelines spell out minimum safety performance requirements for motor vehicles and parts, especially those parts that affect safe operation, such as the brakes, lights and tires, and those that will keep drivers and passengers protected from fatal or serious injuries in case of a crash, like air bags, child restraints, safety belts, energy absorbing steering columns and motorcycle helmets (all types of vehicles and vehicle parts are covered by these federal standards).

Defective cars and malfunctioning parts usually get discovered only after these have already caused injuries or death to unsuspecting vehicle owners. Thus, it is of utmost importance to report any suspected defect to the NHTSA. Similar complaints from different owners about the same car brand and model is signal to the NHTSA to conduct an investigation about the vehicle in question.

Today’s vehicles are equipped with increasingly advanced safety features. An Oklahoma personal injury lawyer would likely acknowledge, however, that these features become useless if there are manufacturing or design flaws. Manufacturing mistakes and flaws in vehicle design, as well as the failure to detect these, are signs of grave negligence and carelessness on the part of manufacturers.

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