VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

NHTSA's continues to 'get-tough' on auto defects

In the aftermath of a scathing report by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation condemning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for systemic failures relating to auto defect investigations, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx vowed that things would be different going forward.

While many automakers likely scoffed at Foxx's pledge, thinking the government would simply revert to its largely laissez-faire approach, this hasn't proven to be the case. Indeed, 2014 set a record with 803 campaigns resulting in 63.95 million vehicles being recalled.

Recently released statistics show that while the NHTSA likely won't match last year's recall record, it is still actively pursuing its new "get-tough" strategy, as there have already been nearly 500 campaigns resulting in over 32.4 million vehicles recalls through the early part of August. Indeed, many of these recalls were demanded by the agency.

To put this in perspective, consider that this is already well ahead of the previous high of 30.8 million vehicles recalled set back in 2004.

According to industry experts, this year's large number of recalls is being fueled by the faulty airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation and an assortment of electronic issues, including an industry-first recall over potential hacking of vehicle computer systems.

A closer look at the numbers reveals the extent to which the individual automakers are affected by recalls this year:

  • Fiat-Chrysler: 10.2 million vehicles in 24 campaigns
  • Honda: 8 million vehicles in 8 campaigns
  • Toyota: 4.5 million vehicles in 15 campaigns
  • Ford: 3.8 million vehicles in 20 campaigns
  • General Motors: 2.2 million vehicles in 26 campaigns
  • Nissan: 1.7 million vehicles in 12 campaigns

All indications are that the NHTSA will not be altering what Foxx described as its "more muscular" approach anytime soon. Indeed, there is a now a growing call on Capitol Hill for the agency's funding, which has fallen precipitously over the last decade, to be fully restored or even increased.

It will be interesting to see exactly how high the recall numbers climb as we inch closer to the end of 2015. For now, always consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you or a loved one suffered serious personal injuries in a car accident you believe was attributable to some sort of auto defect. 

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