When you live in the city with the most extensive public transportation in North America, you tend to pay more attention to stories like cutbacks on the M104 bus route. But we’re not immune from the risks of highway transportation. Far from it. We do get out! But I’m increasingly thinking, maybe we shouldn’t.
It’s not just the speeding truckers on the New Jersey Turnpike. Or the fact that car rental companies (which lots of us NYC folks rely upon unless you can afford storing your car in a garage that costs more than an apartment) and used car dealers are, by law, still allowed to rent unsafe, recalled cars.
It’s ALL the dangerous cars out there, whether I’m driving one, or the guy in the next lane is. The news just won’t stop! Here are three new stories that really concern us:
Used Cars: CarMax is “the nation’s largest used-car retailer.” But as noted by 11 consumer groups in a petition just filed with the Federal Trade Commission, “CarMax does not fix vehicles that have been recalled before it sells them, even though the retailer’s ads promise that the vehicles have had a rigorous quality inspection.”
Also weighing in is U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), who wrote to the FTC, “It is bad enough that used-car dealers are not required by law to fix a safety recall problem prior to selling the recalled vehicle to a consumer. Compounding the safety risks with misleading and deceptive advertising and sales practices only further endangers the safety of used-car customers and everyone who shares the roads."
Air Bags and More Recalls: Writes the New York Times, “Recalls related to air bags have affected at least 10 million of the more than 30 million cars recalled in the United States so far this year, according to a New York Times review of regulatory records. On Monday, seven additional automakers said that they were recalling more than three million vehicles worldwide because their air bags, made by the Takata Corporation, could rupture and send debris flying inside a car. With this new massive recall, “the auto industry has broken the U.S. annual record for safety recalls in less than half a year.”
NHTSA Still Not Paying Attention. Yesterday, Good Morning America did a fantastic piece with a couple of real heroes in the auto safety movement: Lance Cooper, the attorney whose persistence on behalf of the parents of GM crash victim Brooke Melton broke the GM ignition switch scandal, and auto defect researcher Sean Kane. Here’s what Cooper and Kane found: There are 15 serious auto safety problems, including one involving the nation’s best selling car, the Ford Focus, that have had an unusual number of complaints reported to NHTSA, but which the agency is doing nothing about. The report noted, “there is no certainty” that any of the vehicles on the list had a safety-related defect, but said the unusual number of complaints warranted investigation.
“These are issues that are trending that are outside of the ordinary that need to be examined,” said Sean Kane, whose non-profit the Safety Institute, was hired to prepare the list.
In addition to the accident reports the manufacturers turn over, other complaints filed directly with NHTSA reported complete loss of steering control.
“I almost side-swiped cars in other lanes trying to maintain control,” wrote one Focus owner from Florida.
“I had to hold on for dear life trying to keep it in the lane,” wrote another owner in Oregon.
NHTSA is pooh-poohing the whole thing. Maybe I should stick to the subway, for now.