Since 1966, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recalled more than 390 million mopeds, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, buses, trucks and cars; 42 million child safety seats; 66 million pieces of motor vehicle parts; and, 46 million tires.
These recalls were prompted due to manufacturers’ non-compliance with safety standards mandated under Title 49, Chapter 301, of the United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety. Motor Vehicle Safety means a motor vehicle’s or motor vehicle part’s performance which, in a way, will protect the public against unreasonable risk of accident, injury or death. This law makes it the legal responsibility of motor vehicle and motor vehicle part manufacturers to ensure that all their vehicle and vehicle parts are free from defects which can affect a vehicle’s performance and compromise the safety of drivers, passengers and other road users.
According to the NHTSA, though drivers are usually the ones at fault during accidents, there is still a certain percentage in the total number of car crashes that is due to defective cars or car parts. What’s scary about a defective car or car part is that car owners usually never get to know about the defect until the car or the faulty part malfunctions and causes an accident.
Some safety-related defects and failure to meet Federal safety standards which that have been reported to the NHTSA (since 1966) include the following:
- Steering wheel suddenly locking while turning or driving along a curve;
- Steering wheel components that suddenly breaking, resulting to loss of vehicle control;
- Brake pads remaining partially engaged with the rotors due to the electronic parking brake piston actuation arm’s failure to fully retract;
- Driver-side airbag suddenly exploding, a defect that has already resulted to more than 100 injuries and seven deaths;
- Wheels cracking or breaking, resulting to loss of vehicle control;
- Wiring system that causes problems, resulting to fire or loss of lighting;
- Essential parts breaking, falling apart, or separating from the vehicle, causing loss of vehicle control; and,
- Child safety seats found to be with defective buckles, safety belts, or components that can cause injury.
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), which is written and enforced by the NHTSA, sets the minimum performance requirements for vehicle parts (such as its lighting, tires and brakes) that most affect a vehicle’s safe operation, as well as for parts (such as child restraints, safety belts, air bags and motorcycle helmets) that ought to provide drivers and passengers adequate protection from serious injuries or death in case of an accident.
With the details on vehicle and vehicle part safety standards provided by the FMVSS plus manufacturer’s quality control and vehicle performance tests, it is a surprising that manufacturing defects still escape watchful eyes.