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Car Defects: The Silent Killer on US Roads and Highways

In September of 2014, more than 850,000  vehicles were recalled by one giant automotive manufacturing firm due to defective airbags and seat belts; in October of that same year, another large firm discovered that the same defects existed in 184,215 of its SUVs that have been distributed around the world, thus, prompting that company to make the necessary recalls. In May of 2015, a manufacturing defect that can cause excessive brake heat and thus cause fires was discovered by yet another car manufacturer. This defect, which compromises the safety of car occupants, is a clear failure to comply with the “Light Vehicle Brake Systems” requirement, which is imposed under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Systems (FMVSS) No. 135. The biggest recall in the history of the car industry, however, involves exploding driver-side airbags, which has already caused seven deaths and more than 100 injuries. More 53 million vehicles worldwide have already been recalled by various car manufacturers; it is estimated that 34 million of these vehicles are in the US.

Hundreds of millions of vehicles have been recalled in the past, either voluntarily by manufacturers or by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through a court order. Vehicle recalls are made after complaints sent by vehicle owners to the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) have been investigated and proven. These recalls are based on:

The risk posed by the defective vehicle or vehicle part to the safety of the vehicle occupants or anyone else on the road (other motorists, motorcycle or bicycle riders and pedestrians).

Failure to comply with the minimum performance requirement set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). This minimum performance requirement is aimed at helping ensure the safe operation of a vehicle and the safety of all vehicle occupants from injury or death. The FMVSS has set standards for all vehicle parts, including brakes, tires, lighting, steering wheels, safety belts, air bags, child restraints.

The problem with a defective car or a defective car part is that a car owner usually finds out about the defect only after the part has actually malfunctioned and causes an accident. And though today’s cars are the safest ever, thanks to advanced safety technologies (as affirmed by the NHTSA), still, accidents reach almost five million every year, claiming more than 30,000 lives and injuring about two million others.

Defects in cars can be due to a faulty design, when a worker accidentally skips a manufacturing procedure, or when a worker does an extra thing that is not part of the manufacturing process. According to the Sampson Law Firm, every car manufacturer is legally obliged to make sure that very car unit that leaves the manufacturing plant will never put any life at risk of injury or death.

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