Safety agency meets with automakers to discuss future recall agreement
News broke in the late fall of 2013 that General Motors (GM) had covered up an ignition switch defect for more than a decade and was responsible for approximately 10 deaths. The investigation into GM began as Toyota’s record settlement of $1.2 billion with the Justice Department over accelerator issues was announced.
The recalls only continued after Takata revealed a certain airbag inflator was breaking down and exploding, causing severe injuries and even death in minor accidents. As 2015 progressed, consumers learned Volkswagen (VW) lied about its clean diesel vehicles and the supposedly green vehicles were releasing dangerous gases into the air.
During the past five years, automakers have faced the consequences for their mistakes, but it doesn’t eliminate the years where problems went unreported and people were allowed to be injured. Dismissed as inconsequential, these vehicle flaws continued to disrupt lives.
Toyota settled at an unprecedented $1.2 billion. Recently GM announced it would pay almost $600 million from its compensation fund to the victims and families of the ignition switch recall. The numbers rose exponentially from original reports of about a dozen deaths to 124. More than 90 percent accepted the fund offers. Fifteen employees lost their jobs after an investigation proved they knew about the problem for more than a decade.
Takata used an ammonium nitrate propellant to ignite their air bags during a collision. This compound isn’t commonly used because it cycles through five states, making it extremely volatile. Instead of choosing safety, Takata chose the inexpensive option, which resulted in a $70 million fine. A recent press conference revealed the origins of the VW emissions scandal is found in the challenging U.S. limits on nitrogen oxide emissions.
In every case, the automaker is trying to help itself without any concern to the consumer. Whether it’s saving a few cents on a shorter detent plunger or using a cheaper chemical compound, these companies lied to the public. Many paid the ultimate price for this negligence. Others were left disabled. Millions are left with cars with no resale value.
Some of the blame fell on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for not monitoring and investigating complaints better. The NHTSA fought the allegations with claims of underfunding and understaffing, but the issue remained. Somehow millions of vehicles were endangering the lives of drivers on the road and nothing was done.
In an attempt to improve safety recalls, the NHTSA is meeting with 15 automakers, including GM, Toyota, VW, Honda and Ford. The agency’s administrator Mark Rosekind has worked hard to increase regulation and decrease oversight after the recalls plaguing the last few years.
The goal is to have all automakers voluntarily agree to the new cyber security issues and recall procedures to ensure compliance in the future. If reached, this agreement could eliminate some of the dangers on the road because they become a deadly problem.
As we approach 2016, we can only hope these changes help drivers and vehicle owners remain as safe as possible on the road. If you or someone you love was affected by a major vehicle recall recently, let us know. We may be able to help you.
- Beene, “VW discloses origin of diesel deception: Meeting US NOx rules was initially ‘impossible,’” Automotive News (Dec. 10, 2015). [Link]
- Gardner, “GM ignition switch compensation fund offered $595 million,” Detroit Free Press (Dec. 10, 2015). [Link]
- Snavely, “NHTSA to meet with automakers over safety recall lapses,’ Detroit Free Press (Dec. 15, 2015). [Link]