Reports, announcements, statistics from NHTSA, NTSB, FHWA, IIHS, and others related to Highway Safety
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Feb 24, 2013: NyTimes Federal Safety Investigations Sometimes Drag on for Years
- NHTSA has been investigating safety issues and issuing recalls on vehicles for safety related problems since the 1960's. In 2012, there were 132 vehicle recalls, the second highest number since the government began counting recalls in 1966. However, the number of recalls is an imperfect measure of NHTSA productivity because one inquiry can generate dozens of recalls. The article cites Webasco aftermarket sunroofs (resulted in 61 recalls), brake actuators on trailers (resulted in 34 recalls).
In this day and age of budget tightening the investigation unit of NHTSA is seriously underfunded.
Originally recalls were to be completed by NHTSA in under 12 months. That goal is not always met. The article cites some investigations that have dragged on for 42 months!
Investigations are generally started by either a vehicle manufacturer reporting a problem (required by law they must inform the agency of plans for a recall) or other times started when owners (or their lawyers) complain to the agency, prompting an investigation.
It appears that NHTSA investigations are somewhat like the adage, 'the squeaky wheel gets the oil' ; the more the number of complaints about a problem the more attention the problem gets.
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