The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires automakers to pass along claims of car defects from consumers. By gathering this information, the NHTSA can spot trends and determine when a mandatory recall should be initiated. While the laws requiring defect reporting are more than a decade old, the system still falls short of expectations.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is tasked with reducing motor vehicle accidents and losses that result. Among the responsibilities taken on by the NHTSA is the duty to investigate motor vehicle defects and determine whether a recall should be ordered for a vehicle with a safety concern. The actions surrounding the ignition switch defects in a number of General Motors vehicles have drawn attention to just how effective the NHTSA has been in that role.
Toyota recently announced a second worldwide recall of vehicles with defective airbags. The problem is that the passenger-side airbag has a defective inflator that, if cracked, could allow metal fragments to get into the compartment, potentially causing injuries when the airbag inflates. The defect could also leave the instrument panel with "thermal damage." Toyota said that the company had not been notified of any injuries or deaths linked to the defective airbags.
As consumers and patients, we rely on product manufacturers and distributors to ensure that products are reasonably safe and properly labeled. Unfortunately, when companies fail in this regard, defective products can have devastating consequences. People who have been affected by a dangerous product need to be aware of their right to hold the responsible party accountable.