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A promising new global initiative “intended to finance programs that would help reduce worldwide crash casualties was announced on Tuesday in London.” (T. Mohn, NY Times Wheels, 4/12).

The Commission for Global Road Safety has created the Driving Safety Initiative, which is “calling on the automobile industry to play a leading role in improving safety on the world’s roads through voluntary contributions added to the sale price of each new car.” Although consumers may opt out of the voluntary contributions, the vast majority of consumers are expected to be willing to contribute the equivalent of about two dollars. Bela Dinh-Zarr, the North American director of Make Roads safe, urges consumers to participate in this important cause because “it’s just $2, less than a cup of coffee, but could help buy a helmet for a child in some countries.”

According to the Commission’s chairman, Lord George Robertson, “car manufacturers and dealers can play an important, visible and positive role in saving lives and preventing disability, and we encourage them to support our proposal for a safety levy.” As a Chicago car and truck accident attorney, I join him in urging car manufacturers to take on this important task to make the roads all around the world safer.

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As a Chicago area car and truck accident attorney, I am thrilled by the recent reports showing that “highway deaths have fallen to their lowest levels in more than 60 years.” (K.Thomas, Washington AP, 3/31).

The U.S. Department of Transportation cited a 3% decrease in highway fatalities from 2009. Moreover, the total estimated number of fatalities at 32,788 people is the lowest number since 1949. Certainly, nearly 33,000 deaths is still far too many, but the government attributed decreases in fatalities to numerous factors including higher rate of seat belt usage in consumers, technological increases making vehicles safer, and effective and widespread efforts to prevent drunk driving.

Even more promising is the fact that the decline in fatalities came during a year when Americans, on average, drove more miles. Although there is still much room for improvement, I am pleased with this report and am hopeful that seat belt usage and other preventative measures will safe more lives in the years to come.

Honda Motor Co. is “recalling new models of the Honda Civic to prevent fuel from leaking from the car's fuel tank.” (Washington AP, 3/17). The recall targets approximately 18,000 2011 Model year.

Honda says the issue surrounds “a plastic case that covers a valve in the fuel pump module could break or crack.” This can potentially lead to a fuel leak in a roll-over crash, which could cause a fire.

As a Chicago personal injury lawyer, I encourage all consumers to stay up to date on recalls and to act quickly when their vehicles are affected. This recall is expected to begin in April. Affected consumers should take their vehicles to Honda dealers who will inspect the fuel pump module and replace it if necessary at no cost.

Volkswagen is “recalling 12,600 minivans because the ignition key could move while driving and cause the engine to shut off.” (Detroit AP, 3/10).

The recalls, which are scheduled to begin in April, follow a similar Chrysler recall, the company that makes the vans for Volkswagen. The Chrysler recall was in response to 32 customer complaints and at least two accidents.

VW says “the ignition key in Routan minivans from the 2010 model year can move from the run to accessory position on its own, turning off the engine. VW estimates that 378 of the vans have defective ignition switches.”

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Chrysler is recalling “about 250,000 vehicles to fix potential engine stalling.” (Washington, AP, 3/3). The auto manufacturer says the recall affects 2010 Dodge Grand Caravans, Chrysler Town & Country Minivans, and 2010 Dodge Journey Crossovers.

The recall is in response to reports that “the ignition key could move while driving and cause the engine to shut off.” Chrysler says this defect increases the risk of a crash.

To date, the government has received 32 complaints, two of which resulted in crashed.

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