October 25, 2009

Nissan Recalling 143,000 Vehicles Vulnerable to Road Salt

Christopher Jensen reports, “Nissan and Infiniti have issued a geographic recall of about 143,000 vehicles in cold-weather states because road salt could cause corrosion that could cause the tire-pressure monitors to malfunction” (New York Times Auto Blog “Wheels”, 10/16).

The vehicles included in the recall are: 2008–10 Infiniti M35 and M45.; 2009 Nissan Cube; 2009 Nissan Murano; 2008 Nissan Rogue. The states included in the recall are: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

In a limited geographic recall, “automakers are allowed to repair vehicles only from states where the problem is likely to be caused by the weather or regional factors such as salt use.” However, many consumer advocates have long protested the practice, arguing that vehicle consumers travel from state to state and geographic recalls do not adequately protect consumers. As an attorney who has witnessed consequences of automobile manufacturing negligence, I agree that the practice of geographic recalls subjects consumers who move their vehicles between states to additional risks. As always, it is important to stay on top of vehicle recalls and act quickly in addressing the problem.

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October 18, 2009

Highway Deaths at Record Low in first half of 2009

Ken Thomas reported, “the government says deaths on U.S. highways have dropped to a record low during the first six months of 2009,” which is a continuation of a recent trend (AP for FindLaw, 10/9). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data supporting a 7 percent decrease in highway deaths from the same period last year.

Last year, more than 37,000 highway fatalities occurred, which was the lowest since 1961. Officials predict the figures for this year will be even lower. Highways deaths have been steadily declining since 2005.

Safety experts have “attributed the declines in highway deaths to the economic recession, record-high seat belt use, vehicle safety advances, and fewer people driving.” As a personal injury attorney who seeks compensation for victims of wrongful deaths, I am pleased to see this decline in highway fatalities.

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October 11, 2009

Toyota issues huge recall over accelerator risk

Ken Thomas reports on the California traffic accident that ended fatally for passengers of a Lexus ES350 in August, which led “Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday [September 29] to issue its largest-ever U.S. recall, involving 3.8 million vehicles” (AP for FindLaw, 9/30). Previously, it was only speculation that a floor mat caused the accelerator to get stuck leading to the crash, but recently Toyota and the government have warned owners to remove the mats from their vehicles until the automaker finds a remedy.

The actual recall, which may be as early as this coming week, will involve extremely popular models like the Toyota Camry, Prius, Avalon, Tacoma, Tundra as well as several Lexus models – most recalls span 2005 to 2010 models. Toyota spokesman, Irv Miller, warned “a stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop a vehicle...until the company finds a fix, owners should simply take out the removable floor mat on the driver’s side and not replace it.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working closely with Toyota as it had received reports “of 102 incidents in which the accelerator may have become stuck.” The NHTSA is alerting owners to this “urgent matter” to the best of their ability, but it is important to spread the word. Toyota’s largest recalls prior to this one only involved 900,000 vehicles, which makes the 3.8 million vehicle recall seem even more ominous. As a Chicago automobile accident and products liability attorney, I want to emphasize how important it is to be aware of vehicle recalls. Toyota and Lexus owners should remove floor mats from the drivers side immediately and visit the NTHSA website or call the hotline at (888) 327-4236 for more information.

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