The Truth About Auto Safety

Clayton Allen, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney

Most people believe that if a dangerous safety issue is found with an automobile or other motor vehicle, the manufacturer will take immediate action to notify its customers. Unfortunately, this is not always true. 

 

In 2010, Brooke Melton died in a crash caused by the sudden failure of the ignition in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt. Melton was 29 years old. She died when she skidded into another vehicle after the ignition module of her 2005 Cobalt slipped into the accessory position. Documents and evidence developed in the Melton case showed that GM knew about the ignition switch problem as early as 2001 – almost a decade earlier.  

Cases like this are not rare and are the reason that the Safety Institute was founded. Sean Kane, who worked with Ralph Nader in 1991 on his campaign to make automobiles safer, founded and directs the Institute. The goal of the Safety Institute is to make the world safer.

The Safety Institute is a non-profit organization that gives the public access to critical information about product safety. The Institute publishes identified vehicle problems so the public can take action to protect themselves. Using data from (1) consumer complaints made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), (2) manufacturer reported Early Warning Reports on deaths and injuries, and (3) the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the Safety Institute identifies potential motor vehicle safety defects that require attention and engineering review. It also monitors complaints made to NHTSA, as well as that agency’s recommendations for recalls and whether those recalls actually took place.

The Safety Institute provides valuable information to consumers about automobile issues. If you are buying a car, having a problem with a car or have had an accident that may be due to a malfunction of the vehicle, you can go to the Institute’s website (updated quarterly) and access information about issues connected with specific makes and models. 

The Institute believes many unintentional injuries can be prevented through safer practices and products. In addition to publishing its quarterly report on specific auto problems, it also promotes advocacy, education and research solutions to reduce injury risk by:

  • Providing grants to organizations and individuals to examine solutions that reduce and prevent injuries and product hazards;
  • Encouraging policy advancement through publishing and promoting advances in the fields of injury prevention and product safety; and
  • Providing a network to supplyguidance to survivors and their families, support their needs following catastrophic injury, and encourage advocacy initiatives.

The Safety Institute’s Vehicle Safety Watch List Analytics and NHTSA Enforcement Monitoring Program is sponsored by Ken and Beth Melton in memory of their daughter, Brooke.

Check out its most recent report below: 

Rank This Period

Vehicle and Component

Component Definition

Notes

1

2015 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 4×4
Power Train

Power Train

Investigations,
and recall

2

2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE 4×4
Power Train

Power Train

Investigations,
and recall

3

2016 FORD EXPLORER
Other

Other

Investigation for Fuel System,
No recalls

4

2007 CHEVROLET IMPALA
Electrical

Electrical

No Investigations,
but recall

5

2016 TOYOTA TUNDRA
Structure

Structure

No Investigations,
but recall

6

2015 FORD EXPLORER
Fuel System

Fuel System

Investigations,
No recalls

7

2012 CHRYSLER 300
Power Train

Power Train

Investigation,
and recall

8

2014 MAZDA MAZDA6
Structure

Structure

No Investigations,
No recalls

9

2015 MAZDA MAZDA6
Structure

Structure

No Investigations,
No recalls

10

2013 CHRYSLER 300
Power Train

Power Train

 Investigation,
and recalls

11

2008 CHEVROLET IMPALA
Electrical

Electrical

No Investigations,
but recall

12

2016 FORD F-150
Visibility

Visibility

No Investigations,
No recalls

 

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