Automakers recalled a record 51.26 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2015. According to a Wall Street Journal report, that makes the second year in a row automakers have recalled a record number of vehicles for a slew of safety issues.
Recalls began to surge in 2014 as General Motors faced questions over defective ignition switches now linked to 124 deaths, and as nearly all car makers were affected by defective Takata airbags, which have been linked to nine deaths.
In 2015, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Takata declared that an estimated 34 million vehicles contained defective airbag inflators that have been found to shoot shrapnel at driver and passengers upon deployment. That figure was eventually revised down to about 19 million vehicles.
The head of NHTSA also linked the increase in recalls to regulators' increased scrutiny of vehicle manufacturers. While one or two automakers have faced fines for safety lapses, NHTSA continues to rely on voluntary measures and education efforts, instead of enforcement, to improve car safety.
For example, NHTSA is about to launch a yearlong online-advertising campaign focused on encouraging consumers to fix their recalled vehicles. Under the campaign, consumers are urged to use the government's vehicle-identification-number database to spot open recalls and spur them to quickly get repairs. About 25 per-cent of U.S. owners of recalled vehicles never get free repairs, according to car manufacturers.
The lawyers of Marsh, Rickard & Bryan believe that automakers must also be held to account for defective vehicles through the civil justice system. Click here for examples of cases we have handled for consumers hurt or killed by unsafe cars.