Still 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.
A recent study evaluated how well manufacturers have been complying with the regulation. On average, all manufacturers had an annual incident rate of 301 per 1 million vehicles. General Motors—who announced more than 70 recalls on more than 30 million vehicles (due, in part, to Takata airbag issues) had the highest incident rate, with an incident rate of 524 per 1 million vehicles per year. BMW and Toyota also had above average rates.
In descending order, Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, and VW fell on the low end of the spectrum. Two of those manufacturers—Chrysler (101 incidents per 1 million vehicles) and Honda (78 per 1 million) recently acknowledged an underreporting on their death and injury records. Volkswagen had only 34 incidents per 1 million vehicles, placing them significantly lower than those that had been cited for non-compliance. This puts the German manufacturer under some serious scrutiny when it comes to their accident and injury reports as is, but it is their recent history of cheating the system that is really working against them.
How and Why Emissions Scandal Increases Suspicion of Volkswagen's Alleged Underreporting
Recently, the German automaker acknowledged the intentional insertion and use of secret code in their engine control systems. Designed to cheat emissions tests, the code could detect when a vehicle was undergoing testing and would significantly reduce the emission of nitrogen to ensure the vehicle passed; in reality, that very same vehicle could produce up to 40 times the federal limit.
It is a truly deceptive practice, and it makes Volkswagen look as though they are willing to cheat on anything. While this may not be true, it does not bode well for them in the long-run, and it could place them under intense scrutiny when it comes to how and why their reported injuries and deaths are so much lower than other manufacturers.
What the Under-Reporting Means for Vehicle Owners
The intentional lack of reporting among vehicle manufacturers is a complex issue with dangerous implications. Not only are automobile manufacturers deceiving the public (and their investors) to line their pockets, there are real lives being affected—lives of the average American. Husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, moms, and dads lose their lives over something that was preventable, something that should have been corrected. It is completely unacceptable.
At Hurley, McKenna & Hertz, P.C., we believe that victims deserve fair compensation when they are wronged by the deceptive actions and practices of multi-million dollar corporations, and we fight hard for our clients to try and make that happen. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an accident because of the negligent actions of automobile manufacturers, call our Chicago defective automobile attorneys at [[phone]] today for your free consultation.