Over 390 million vehicle related recalls have taken place between 1996
and present. This amounts to nearly 200 automobile related recalls annually.
These automobile related recalls included more than 60 million pieces
of equipment, 45 million tires, and 40 million child safety seats.
In 2009, Toyota was responsible for one of the largest automobile recalls
in history. The recall resulted from a defect that caused floor mats to
interfere with the gas pedal in some vehicles. The defect contributed
to over 2,000
motor vehicle accidents and resulted in 243 injuries and 16 fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is charged with ordering
automobile and equipment recalls for safety defects.
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in 1966 to allow
the federal government to set safety standards for motor vehicles and
road traffic. The Act resulted in the establishment of what is now the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Administration’s
authority includes requiring manufacturers to recall their automobiles
and equipment including, brakes, tires, air bags, and child restraints
when they are found to have a safety defect or when they do not meet minimum
NHTSA investigates automobiles and equipment when consumer complaints and
other data suggest a possible safety defect.
NHTSA utilizes consumer complaints to help determine whether an automobile
or equipment has a safety defect that warrants initiating a recall. The
Administration encourages individuals who believe that their vehicle or
equipment has a safety defect to file a report. This may be done through
NHTSA’s telephone hotline, via website, or by mailing a letter.
The Administration reviews consumer complaints to determine whether an
investigation regarding a potential safety defect is warranted.
NHTSA can order automobile recalls, requiring manufacturers to notify consumers
and to repair, replace, or refund the defective product.
If NHTSA believes that an automobile or equipment has a
safety defect, they may order the manufacturer to recall the product. The manufacturer
can challenge the Administration’s findings in federal court. In
addition, if the manufacturer fails to comply with the Administration’s
order, the Administration can request that the court compel them to do
so. In some cases, the manufacturer will voluntarily recall the vehicle
Once a vehicle or equipment is deemed to have a safety defect by the NHTSA,
the manufacturer is required to repair, replace, or refund the product.
In addition, they are required to notify consumers within a reasonable
period of time and to provide information which includes: the nature of
the safety defect, the associated risks and hazards as well as, when,
where, and how to repair, replace, or obtain a refund for the product.
Consumers of automobiles and equipment that have been deemed to have a
safety defect may also pursue legal remedies for injuries they sustained
as a result of the defect. If you have been injured as a result of a safety
defect in an automobile or equipment, you should contact an attorney immediately.