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Automakers increasingly tout the safety of their closely regulated and high-tech vehicles, often targeting families with younger, more vulnerable passengers. Advertisements show adoring parents buckling in small children, yet fail to acknowledge the fact that many backseat passengers face continual risk as a result of front seats too weak to avoid collapsing backwards, significantly harming the passenger directly behind them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims the car’s safest place for children is in the backseat but frequently, this is not the case. Dangerously low seat standards, which have not been substantially updated since 1967,do not adequately protect automobile passengers.

Fixing seats to meet higher safety standards “would cost on the order of a dollar or so,” for automakers to accomplish per vehicle, claims one auto company engineer. 

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Takata airbag injury, Chicago auto defect lawyersDefective Takata airbags, which caused one of the biggest automotive recalls in history, were linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Exploding on impact, the defective airbags sent metal shrapnel flying throughout the car and at its occupants. But, until now, no one really understood why. Scientists say they now have the answer.

A Multi-Faceted Problem

According to NPR, ten automobile manufacturing companies banded together and hired a team of rocket scientists so they could better understand what exactly had caused the airbag problems. What they found was not just one contributing factor, but several. Exposure to humidity, problems with both the manufacturing and design, and the use of a volatile chemical known as ammonium nitrate are all to blame, the scientists say.

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Volkswagen injury, under-reporting, Chicago personal injury attorneysStill in the midst of handling its diesel emission scandal, Volkswagen is coming under question for another, unrelated problem: the possible under-reporting of U.S. deaths and injuries. Though they would be far from the only auto manufacturers to have done so, a recent study reveals they may be one of the worst offenders, having nine times fewer injuries and deaths than the average manufacturer and half the injuries and deaths as those that have already been cited for failure to comply with reporting regulations. If found to be true, this could mean serious trouble for Volkswagen.

Volkswagen and Reporting Statistics

Fifteen years ago, Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires were blowing out and failing at an unusually high rate, causing numerous rollover accidents. It was not until more than 200 people had died before anyone realized that a defective car parts were causing the accidents. This was when and why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started requiring that auto manufacturers report deaths and injuries that occurred in their vehicles.

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child injuries, Chicago car accident attorneyAn alarming number of children are injured or killed because of automobiles. In fact, a total of 638 children under the age of 12 died in a motor vehicle accident in 2013, and another 127,250 were injured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). KidsAndCars.org reported that another 184 children were killed in 2013 due to non-traffic incidents, including back-overs, front-overs, heat stroke, a vehicle accidently being set into motion, underage driving, power window accidents, and falls from vehicles.

Keeping Kids Safe While Driving

There are a number of contributing factors in the deaths and injuries of children in car crashes—intoxication of the driver, lack of proper vehicle restraint, and even the car itself. Keep your kids safe while on the road with these tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

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Takata airbag recall list, Illinois product liability lawyerEight deaths and over 100 injuries have been linked to defective Takata airbags. As a result, more than 30 million vehicles from 10 different manufacturers have been recalled. Consumer Report recently released an exhaustive list of those vehicles, as well as some tips for those affected.

Which Vehicles are Being Recalled and Why?

Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Honda, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW all have models on the Takata airbag recall list. Most of them were manufactured between 2002 and 2008, but some models have been expanded to 2014. (A comprehensive list of the specific models and years of vehicles being recalled are listed at Consumer Report.)

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Mazda airbag recall, Chicago auto defect lawyersThe Takata recall is not a new subject, but Mazda’s new recall is. In addition to recalling the Takata airbags, Mazda announced they are recalling inflators made by Takata. Mazda is taking steps to replace the defective car parts to ensure consumers who bought their vehicles are safe on the road.

Mazda is recalling almost 445,000 vehicles with dual driver side front airbag. They said the front driver side airbag is more susceptible to moisture and other influences that may cause the inflator to rupture over time. If the inflator ruptures, in the event of a crash and the airbag deploying, the inflator will send metal shards into the inside of the vehicle. Mazda vehicles affected include 2003-2008 Mazda 6 models, 2004-2008 Mazda R-8 models, and 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed 6 models.

Consumers who believe their vehicle has been impacted by the recall can enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the SaferCar.gov website. The website was created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They note that with the large number of vehicles being recalled it can take several days to get all the VINs of affected vehicles into the system and to check back to make sure your vehicle is not on the recall list.

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Takata apology, Chicago product liability lawyersThe Takata airbag recall has not gotten better in the months since it started. More vehicles have been added to the recall list and more deaths have been linked to defective Takata airbags. A national recall started in November 2014, but Takata is just now apologizing for the deaths and injuries their defective airbags have caused. Is their apology too late for some consumers and automotive companies though?

An apology and deep bow from Takata’s chief executive, Shigehisa Takada, cannot bring back those who have died to their family members or heal the injuries the defective car part has caused many consumers. With the timeline for fixing all the recalled airbags growing with the increase in cars added to the recall, Fiat Chrysler informed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation it will no longer use Takata inflators in replacement of driver’s side airbags in its cars. It is looking at other alternatives to fix the defective part.

The Senate Committee has been going through all the documents Takata gave them and has released a report stating Takata has stopped performing safety audits. In the report, citing internal emails, the committee wrote that Takata may have been able to prevent this recall if it had proper safety and auditing committees in place to check that the correct protocols were being followed. This neglect on Takata’s part that there was no safety committee in place is troubling.

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car recalled, Illinois product liability lawyerIn recent years, the number of cars recalled has increased. The recalls range from small issues, such as a mislabeled sticker or when a durability test found that a spring wears out prematurely, to large recalls, like Takata airbags that can possibly explode and spray shrapnel in the driver’s or passenger’s face, causing serious injury or death. When there is a defect with a vehicle, product, or one part of a vehicle, it is a product liability. The manufacturer is responsible for fixing the defect and compensating the affected parties.

A recall can start one of two ways: the manufacturer initiates the recall voluntarily or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) orders the manufacturer to recall a vehicle. Recalls are initiated when there is a safety related defect in the vehicle or a piece of equipment in the vehicle or when the vehicle or a piece of equipment does not meet federal standards.

Safety defects are defined in the United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety as any problem that exists or arises in a vehicle or in equipment in the vehicle that creates a safety problem, exists or arises in a group of vehicles from the same design or manufacturer, or in a piece of equipment in a group of vehicles. The BMW motorcycles and Honda recalls are examples of safety-related recalls. BMW recalled over 40,000 motorcycles due to a defect in the rear wheel flange that can cause the back tire to come off. Honda knew about the Takata airbag defect but did not notify consumers in a timely manner, which resulted in several deaths.

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