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NHTSA to Take More Aggressive Action When It Comes to Recalls

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On: Wed, Jul 17, 2013 at 11:38AM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

NHTSA to Take More Aggressive Action When It Comes to Recalls

While the dust settles after the battle between the Chrysler Group and National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), David Strickland, head of the NHTSA, has made statements which signal a more aggressive approach when reviewing the qualifications for furture recalls.

Last month, the Chrysler Group went head to head with the NHTSA over the recall of 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee models as well as 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty models. Overall, 2.7 million Chrysler vehicles were included in the recall.

The basis for the recall was a design flaw instead of the usual defective part. The vehicles were recalled because their fuel tanks are mounted behind the back axle—which was in compliance with federal standards at the time the vehicles were made. This design has since been proven to increase the risk of fire in a collision where they are struck from behind.

Chrysler was not initially compliant to the demand of the NHTSA—stating the agency had no reason to initiate the recall. Their complaint is that the agency is holding them to a higher standard, since the regulation on fuel tank placement was not in place when the vehicles were made. Chrysler did, however, agree to comply for the sake of their customers.

David Strickland has been the administrator of the NHTSA since 2010 and has been one of the more aggressive officials since. His message is that the agency will continue to analyze vehicle data in great detail that might reveal risks and safety concerns that might prompt recalls.

Auto manufacturers must remain within a zone of reasonable risk to avoid a recall. They must abide by federal safety standards and keep up with changes in design and technologies in the industry. A recall occurs when the level of risk in a model is thought to compromise the safety of the motorists.

Throughout the auto industry, the safety standards continue to be raised as technology continues to evolve. This evolution of safety features may explain why there have been so many recalls over the last few years. In 2012, there were 664 vehicle safety recalls—out of those a surprising 507 were done voluntarily and without order from the NHTSA. During the entire year of 1992, only 207 vehicles were recalled.


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