Questions Raised about Secretive NHTSA Auto Investigations

by Guy L. Watts II on 03/13/2013

The American public only learns about investigations that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts into auto defects, when the agency announces these investigations, and subsequently, announces a recall.  However, there are several cases in which the agency and automakers meet behind closed doors, and review complaints of defects about certain models.  The public is never aware of these closed-door meetings, which are held under a veil of secrecy.

Unfortunately, many of those closed-door meetings involve automobiles that have been involved in serious accidents.  For instance, between April 2002 and 2009, there are more than 375 tire-related accident fatalities involving older model Ford Explorers and Mountaineers.  According to Ford, it has reviewed the safety of its tires with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the agency has confirmed the safety of the tires on the Explorer. 

The scary part about this for Texas product liability lawyers is that neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor Ford is required to inform the American public that such reviews about vehicles like the Explorer are being conducted.  In the lack of such information, motorists continue to drive these vehicles, not aware that their vehicle possible conceals a defect, which is under review.  Car buyers who are also considering purchasing the car may also not be aware of a potentially dangerous problem with the car. 

Auto safety groups have called out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for these secret reviews, and have called for more information to be released to the public when any potential defects are under review.  The federal agency claims that there is transparency in its review processes, but that transparency doesn't always reflect in the limited and selective information that the agency chooses to hand out to the public.

Tags: Automotive Defects, NHTSA

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