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The NHTSA's Safety Battle Against Auto Manufacturers

The McClellan Law Firm

There is a battle brewing between the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and auto manufacturers. Okay, so this isn't exactly news. At any point in time, at least one manufacturer is butting heads with the NHTSA. Yet, how important is this particular fight over requirements for recalls? For the victims of unsafe automobiles, it could be very important.

What Is the Safety Battle About?

The newest battle centers on whether or not the NHTSA's rules for recalls are too stringent. In particular, the conflict centers on two major questions:

  1. Should automakers be forced to recall vehicles that met the prevailing safety standards at the time the vehicles were manufactured?
  2. Should the NHTSA require manufacturers to keep up with their competitors' safety features?

There are interesting sides to this question. Car manufacturers may struggle to compete when they are forced to recall vehicles that were safe when they were released. Is it right for manufacturers to be held responsible for changing safety standards or the improvements of their opponents? At the same time, the safety of consumers should always be the first priority.

Consumer Safety Should Be the Top Priority

These questions are interesting to ponder, but our answer always comes down to this: If a vehicle's design or a defect in a vehicle part causes injuries or deaths, there can be no reason why the vehicle should not be recalled, if recalling the vehicle would prevent those injuries and deaths.

Take, for example, what happened with Chrysler’s Jeeps. At first, Chrysler refused to issue a recall that was requested by the NHTSA involving some of its older Jeep models. The NHTSA stated that the position of the fuel tank could cause fires during rear-end collisions and injure or kill the vehicle’s occupants.

Initially, Chrysler defended itself. The company claimed that the position of the fuel tank was considered safe by the safety standards in place at the time when the vehicles were manufactured. Eventually, however, the company agreed to conduct a "voluntary campaign" to upgrade the affected jeeps.

While Chrysler's argument may be strong, there is a stronger reason why the fix was necessary. The vehicle's design had already killed at least 51 people. When it comes down to it, what matters more: Car companies being able to make money and push out newer vehicles at a rapid rate, or the lives of Americans driving down the road every day?

Contact a San Diego Car Accident Attorney

The NHTSA is working to prevent additional deaths. Do auto manufacturers have the same goal in mind? Or does profit win against safety? These are important questions, and certainly ones that will continue to be examined in the months and years ahead. At The McClellan Law Firm, our focus and priority is always justice for our clients. If you were injured by an auto defect, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Visit our page on automotive product liability to learn more about these cases. If you would like to schedule a free case evaluation regarding your personal injury case, contact our San Diego car accident lawyers at The McClellan Law Firm for more information.