General Motors recently issued a recall for 3.5 million U.S. pickup trucks and SUVs to address a vacuum pump issue that makes braking more difficult and has been linked to 113 accidents and 13 injuries. GM previously issued a recall in Canada for 300,000 vehicles.
In August of 2018, a Dallas County jury awarded more than $242 million to a family after finding manufacturing defects in the family's Lexus vehicle had caused their children to suffer skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries after an otherwise minor collision.
Women wearing seat belts are significantly more likely to suffer injury than their male counterparts. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia's Center for Applied Biomechanics shows that belted female auto occupants have 73 % greater odds of being seriously injured in frontal car crashes compared to belted males. The difference in risk is greatest for injury to the lower extremities, but also occurs with several other types of injury.
Ford Motor Company knowingly launched sales of the Focus and Fiesta models with defective transmissions and continued to sell them despite thousands of complaints, according to a recent investigation by the Detroit Free Press. The cars were put on sale in 2010-11 and at least 1.5 million remain on the road. The defective transmissions can result in random loss of power on the freeway or unexpected bolting into intersections.
A jury in Dallas recently determined that the seatbelt system in the 2011 Honda Odyssey is defective. The lawsuit claimed that the design of the seatbelt for the third-row middle seat was defective. The seatbelt design was a two-part system that required the rider to anchor the detachable shoulder strap from the ceiling of the van to the seat and then pull the belt across the users hips before it can buckle. Independent testing performed by an expert found that less than 10% of participants successfully operated the Honda Odyssey's two-part seatbelt system.
A jury in Dallas returned a $37.6 million verdict against Honda in February 2019 after a nine-day trial. The trial surrounded 27-year-old Sarah Millburn, who was left quadriplegic with only minimal use of her arms and hands after an accident in 2015. The crash occurred when Sarah was riding as an Uber passenger in a 2011 Honda Odyssey minivan that was T-boned by a pickup truck.
Last month, the family of a deceased California man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla when the vehicle's self-driving systems failed to detect a concrete median, causing the vehicle to accelerate into the barrier. This incident is just one of many cases involving victims injured due to self-driving or "autonomous vehicles."
On July 30th 2018, owners of 2013-2016 Fusion sedans and 2013-2014 Escape SUVs were notified by Ford about a transmission system defect that posed a rollaway risk. The defect resulted in 550,000 vehicles across North America to be recalled. Now almost a year later, Ford recalls another 270,000 vehicles, specifically the 2013-2016 Ford Fusion cars equipped with a 2.5-liter engine, over the same issue of faulty shifter cable bushings and urges owners to use the parking brake until the defect has been repaired.
Volkswagen is under scrutiny again as they have recently announced another recall of over 56,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. This time, the culprit appears to be the rear coil spring that can break without warning and cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the broken spring poses a threat that can cause damage to the tire or become a road hazard. The NHTSA attributes the defect to the parts maker applying the wrong type of material or manufacturing process in the creation of the springs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents due to faulty tires than in accidents caused by distracted driving. The NHTSA reports that 738 people died in 2017 from accidents caused by tire-related issues. Compare that to deaths caused by cellphone-related accidents, which has never exceeded 500 people for any year the NHTSA has collected such data. The NHTSA recommends having your tires checked annually. Clearly, ensuring that the tires on our vehicles are in good condition is something we should all take the time to do.