NHTSA: Defective Vehicles Affect Millions Annually

February 7, 2013

offroad.jpgToyota, the top-selling vehicle manufacturer in the United States, issued yet another recall late last month - somewhat unsurprising given the fact that the company recalled more vehicles than any other last year, according to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).

Defective vehicle attorneys recognize that while recalls are sometimes issued in an abundance of caution, they often only occur after someone has already been seriously hurt or killed as a result of some defective aspect of a car or truck. Even when a manufacturer issues a recall, it does not make the firm immune from civil action if an injury or death occurs as a result of that defect after the fact.

Vehicle makers must have a solid commitment to safety, especially considering that motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in this country. In 2009, some 2.3 million adult passengers and drivers were treated in emergency rooms, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

And yet, the NHTSA reports that last year, manufacturers issued more than 650 safety recalls that affected nearly 18 million vehicles. Of those, about half were at the prodding of the NHTSA. These included everything from the vehicles themselves to tires and child safety seats.

Toyota was by far the top offender in terms of affected vehicles. The company issued 12 recalls throughout 2012 that involved more than 5.3 million vehicles. Honda, by comparison, issued 16 recalls that affected 3.6 million vehicles. General Motors issued 17 recalls that affected about 1.5 million vehicles, and Ford issued 24 recalls that affected about 1.4 million vehicles. Chrysler Group rounded out the top five, with 13 recalls affecting more than 1.3 million vehicles.

Toyota's most recent recall involves more than 1 million U.S. vehicles - namely, Corolla, Corolla Matrix and Lexus IS sedans. The Corollas, produced between 2001 and 2004, reportedly have a design flaw that causes the air bags to suddenly inflate improperly. The Lexus IS sedans, meanwhile, have a loose nut that could render the front windshield wipers ineffective in heavy snow (when one would expect to truly need them).

Toyota has said that at least two crashes in the U.S. have been attributed to the air bag issue, and its believed there have been at least 46 "reports of problems." The actual number is likely much higher as many people may not have known about the manufacturer's flaw and didn't report it, assuming the incident was a result of operator error.

This recall comes just one month after the firm agreed to a $1 billion U.S. settlement after owners said their cars' value dropped significantly amid sudden acceleration issues, which had prompted another recall. Nearly 90 people were killed as a result of this problem, according to the NHTSA.

Other recalls last year include some 60,000 Honda Civics for faulty driveshafts, 800,000 Honda minivans and sport utility vehicles for faulty ignitions, 41,000 cars and crossovers for fuel leaks and 90,000 Ford vehicles that were at risk for catching fire.

The Ferraro Law Firm handles injury and wrongful death claims resulting from defective vehicles. Call 1-800-275-3332 for a free and confidential consultation. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Additional Resources:
Toyota recalls 1 million Corollas, Lexus sedans, Jan. 30, 2013, By Chris Woodyard, USA Today

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