With more than 254 million registered vehicles navigating roads and highways each year in the U.S., auto safety remains an important issue in preventing accidents and breakdowns. Though accidents often occur at the fault of the driver, many times, automotive companies and manufacturers are found to be at fault for injuries and accidents due to defective vehicles or parts.
Vehicle Safety Issues
Each year, the U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) tests new or redesigned cars, trucks, vans, and sports utility vehicles according to a five-star safety rating system to ensure that all vehicles are held to the same safety standards. All vehicles are measured for crashworthiness, or the ability to withstand collisions and protect passengers during front- and side-impact crashes and rollovers.
Certain safety precautions can help greatly reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents, such as the use of seatbelts and new technology for airbags and stability control. The NHTSA often recommends new safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) and side airbag technology to greater reduce the chance of serious injury in a crash.
Safety issues often addressed by the NHSTA include:
- Roof crush
- SUV rollover potential
- Sudden unintended acceleration (SUA), such as in the 2009-2010 Toyota recalls
Vehicle Defects and Recalls
Auto safety recalls are frequently issued by vehicle manufacturers and the NHTSA to address reported safety concerns with certain vehicle makes and models. Recalls can range in magnitude and scope from affecting only a few hundred units with a small defective part, to affecting millions of a certain model year that may have a serious mechanical defect, such as the millions of vehicles that were recalled in the massive Toyota floor mat recall or due to the Toyota sudden unintended acceleration issue.
Some vehicle safety features are found to be defective, which poses a risk to consumers when they trust that safety devices will protect them in the event of a crash or other emergency situations.
Dangerous automotive defects that are often reported or recalled include:
- Faulty airbags (such as in the 2009-2010 Honda airbag recall)
- Unsafe child car seats
- Defective door latches
- Floor mat issues (such as in the massive Toyota floor mat recall)
- Power window defects
- Tires and tire tread separation
- Steering failure
- Seat belt failure
- Seat back collapses