| Added On February 13, 2010
By: Toyota & Honda Recall Law Firm – Ledger & Associates
With Toyota announcing its third recall in less than six months, bringing the total number of vehicles involved to close to 8 million, many people may be asking “Who is responsible for investigating safety complaints made against automobiles in the United States?”. The short answer to that question is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA wears many hats, but all are related to automobile safety. The NHTSA sets safety standards for motor vehicles and associated equipment, investigates possible safety defects, assures that products meet safety standards and are not defective (through recalls if necessary), and tracks safety-related recalls. The agency also enforces regulations on fuel economy, odometer fraud, and vehicle theft.
NHTSA is responsible for setting new Federal motor vehicle safety standards and reviewing existing ones to determine if they can be improved. The agency also regulates modifications made to vehicles used by people with disabilities. In adopting or amending a safety standard, NHTSA proceeds through a multi-step process including research, countermeasures and testing to ensure compliance with the standard.
NHTSA is also responsible for investigating possible safety defects. The NHTSA learns of possible defects in many ways, but primarily through consumer complaints filed online or via telephone. In addition to consumer complaints, the 2000 Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act empowered NHTSA to expand sources of information on potential defects. In response, the agency developed the Early Warning Reporting system, which requires vehicle and equipment manufacturers to notify NHTSA of fatalities, injuries, property damage claims, consumer complaints, and safety campaigns that have come to their attention. If all available information indicates that the issue needs to be investigated, then NHTSA opens an official investigation. A petition can also be filed requesting that the NHTSA open an investigation. If the petition is granted then an investigation is opened. If it is denied, then the reasons for the denial are made public.
As you can see, the NHTSA is ultimately responsible for investigating safety complaints for the vehicles we drive, but they are dependant on the consumer or the manufacturer to register enough complaints to warrant an investigation. It is that very issue that has many Toyota owners in an uproar. It appears as though the NHTSA received hundreds of complaints concerning unintended accelerations on the vehicles that ultimately became the subject of the recalls. The question remains then…why did it take so long to recall these vehicles if the agency in charge of automobile safety was aware of a problem?
If you have been involved in an accident with a recalled vehicle, then you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries you have suffered as a result of that negligence. Consult with an experienced California personal injury and product liability attorney immediately. Only an experienced attorney can evaluate your particular circumstances and advise you what your options may be to obtain compensation for your suffering.
If you have suffered injuries in an accident involving a recalled vehicle and would like an experienced attorney to evaluate your case, contact the law offices of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit us at www.ledgerlaw.com.