Are Regulators Making Sure Unsafe Cars Are Recalled?

Too often, consumers reach out to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to report on car accidents or other problems linked to equipment failure. Unfortunately for consumers, many of these reports are linked to accidents that result in deaths. While the NHTSA often initiates probes into cars that present issues, many reports of accidents go unaddressed.

According to recent news reports, federal regulators may have ignored a decade of warnings concerning certain vehicle flaws coming from an official watchdog. If this report proves to be true, federal regulators may have to review how they go over important reports on car flaws.

Ineffective Procedures Make Regulators Less Aware Of Car Defects

Over time, the government’s failure to keep track of important car and truck defects as well as crashes may have resulted in serious injuries and deaths. To many safety advocates, this failure is an indicator that the agency could have helped to prevent deaths if it had addressed the reports in a timely fashion.

To the Department of Transportation, these failures are nothing new.

On June 22, the Inspector General reported that, for the fourth time since 2002, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation team has a group of staff members that is simply too poorly trained. To the DOT, NHTSA’s data on car accidents and defects along with the fact the staff is simply too poorly trained, may render the agency’s investigation unit useless.

If automakers are negligent and federal agencies are not equipped with individuals who are capable of getting the job done, defects and other equipment faults will continue to go unaddressed, and the lives of countless drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others will be at risk.

As the federal government voices its concerns associated with the NHTSA’s problems, official reports show the NHTSA’s ODI has processes put in place to collect vehicle safety data that may not be sufficient to help regulators ensure the data is accurate.

While the office of investigation within the NHTSA is well-funded by the federal government, the official DOT report shows that more must be done.

In 2013, 35,000 people died in auto crashes. That accounts for 80 people dying per day. During the same year, 2.1 million accidents happened across the country. Out of all the deadly crashes, 52 percent of the victims were drivers.

While a great number of car crashes has been registered in 2013, only 2 percent has been associated with equipment failure. In most cases, equipment failure problems have been linked to tire or brake issues. But because defects can be fatal and their repair can spare lives, the regulatory agency is expected to detect the issues and work to prevent them.

The General Motors’ ignition switch recall campaign has been used as an example of how ignoring reports of accident and equipment failure may lead to deadly accidents. For a decade, the NHTSA was receiving reports of accidents linked to the GM vehicles. The defective ignition switches have been linked to 110 deaths so far. At least 220 injuries were also associated with the vehicles. In spite of the reports, however, the NHTSA never initiated an investigation into the issues. GM admitted knowing about the problems long before the recall was issued in 2014.

According to the NHTSA administration, the agency does not have enough staff to review accident reports coming from consumers.

If you would like to learn more about how the NHTSA is hoping to have this issue addressed, you may follow this link to read the full report.

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