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Auto Recalls Fall to Lowest Level Since 2013, But Risks Remain

By: Allan M. Siegel

In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released statistics on auto safety recalls in the U.S. As the data shows, roughly 30.7 million light-vehicles were recalled nationwide in 2017. While that may still seem like a significant number of automobiles, it is a far cry from the record 53 million vehicles recalled in 2016, and the lowest number of auto recalls since 2013.

Although the latest figures show a downward trend in safety recalls made by automakers and auto part manufacturers, that decline is due largely to the fact that the past several years have been marred by unprecedented numbers of auto recalls, including recalls for significant safety issues that caused thousands of car accidents, serious injuries, and deaths – all of which could and should have been prevented. Here’s more on the NHTSA’s statistics:

  • From 2014 to 2016, auto safety recalls in the U.S. set annual year-over-year records, with 50 million or more vehicles recalled annually.
  • Compared to the 20 years prior to 2014, annual rates of auto recalls ranged from as little as 10 million to nearly 30.8 million– just slightly more than in 2017.
  • In 2016, the record-setting year for recalls and a time when regulation and safety enforcement were intensified under the Obama administration, auto manufacturers issued over 920 distinct recall campaigns, the most on record and 7% more than the previous record in 2015. In 2017, there were just over 810 recall campaigns.
  • Following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, NHTSA has not imposed any new auto safety fines, and the agency is still without permanent leadership more than a year after the President took office.

Although expanded regulatory enforcement may have contributed to increases in auto recalls during the peak years, one of the most significant factors behind those numbers was the massive recall to replace defective Takata airbag inflators that have been linked to numerous injuries and deaths. More than 65 million of those inflators, which can explode with too much force and shoot metal fragments at vehicle occupants, will eventually affect over 42 million vehicles produced by 19 different automakers in the U.S. alone. That’s the biggest auto safety campaign in U.S. history, which was expanded nationwide in 2015 and is still being expanded by some automakers to cover more vehicles. Takata’s initial cover-up and handling of the problem also earned the company a spot on the American Association for Justice’s list of Worst Corporate in 2017.

The Takata airbag recall and many others issued by auto manufacturers are serious concerns. In many cases, these recalls are issued for defects and faulty vehicle components that have been linked to wrecks, injuries, and fatalities. That’s why it is incredibly important for all vehicle owners, as well as any consumer in the market for a new or used vehicle, to be aware of safety issues that may pose risks to them and their loved ones, and to take steps to protect themselves from auto recalls.

Roadway Risks Still Remain

Even though decreases in vehicle recalls is a positive thing, 30.7 million vehicles is nothing to take lightly. That’s a substantial number of automobiles in the U.S., and nearly as many vehicles recalled as records set during the 20 years prior to 2014. In addition, despite fewer recalls, deaths on U.S. roads have continued to rise, with measurable increases in 2017 from the decade-high of roughly 40,000 roadway deaths in 2016, according to NHTSA. For anyone on public roads and highways, that means risks still remain.

Defective vehicles and auto parts and the failures of manufacturers are only part of the problem when it comes to roadway safety. According to safety experts, those risks are compounded by many other pressing dangers, including:

  • Distracted driving, including increased use of smart phones
  • Drowsy driving
  • Lax trucking regulations and regulatory rollbacks
  • Drunk and drugged driving
  • Driver error and negligence

Protect Yourself & Protect Your Rights

As motorists with legal obligations to safely operate their vehicles, all drivers play an important role in understanding that risks will always be present on our roads. To reduce them as much as possible, you can take steps to not only stay up to date with auto recalls and follow through with repairs, but also commit yourself to avoiding risky driving behaviors that put you and others around you in danger.

As our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has seen time and time again, however, even the most careful drivers can suffer harm when others are not as cautious or committed to upholding their legal duties. This includes not only negligent drivers, but also corporations like trucking operators, commercial vehicle services, and auto manufacturers that put their profits ahead of public safety.

Our Washington, DC car accident attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for victims of car accidents, truck accidents, and many other types of traffic collisions. If you were recently harmed in a wreck anywhere in the District of Columbia, Virginia, or Maryland, our team is available to discuss your case and how we can protect your rights. Contact us today.