The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been put on notice by Congress to investigate and propose a solution to prevent deadly seat back collapses. A coalition of Congress members worked together to craft a letter to 19 automakers, and they have encouraged NHTSA to launch an investigation into the matter. As the federal regulatory body for the automobile industry, NHTSA is responsible for monitoring compliance.
Lawmakers are concerned that the faulty seats are just another example in a long list of automaker reluctance to provide passenger safety unless mandated. In previous years, legislators have been leading the charge to alert the public and they have successfully lobbied to include seat, airbag, and rear seat warnings in cars. But, warnings alone will not prevent injury. Front seat collapses pose an immediate threat to the safety of passengers, especially young riders likely to be sitting in the rear of the automobile.
Currently, front facing infants are the most at-risk car passengers for injury or death due to malfunctioning seat collapses. In rear-end crashes, faulty front car seats can fall backward and crush rear passengers. Videos of rear-end crashes expose the serious risks from front seats and occupants being propelled into the back of the automobiles crushing rear passengers. The issue with collapsing seats is not wholly new, but an investigative report conducted by CBS News has exposed the needless injury and death of over 100 passengers from a simple fix that would only cost manufacturers a few dollars.
The Industry is Slow to Change
Lawmakers are not confident that the regulatory agency will be of much assistance. According to current federal automobile standards, the car seats are not faulty and they exceed current federal regulatory standards. It will be challenging to encourage a wide-scale change of vehicle seats that currently meet or exceed current standards in their present construction. The CBS investigation report has highlighted the complication parents will face when placing their children in vehicles.
Safety guidelines from NHTSA strongly discourage putting children in the front seat of cars, yet the collapsing seats pose a danger to children in back seats. The CBS news team was told that NHTSA would release a statement with guidance on the safest riding position and seat for children in every category. But, the industry is slow to change, and NHTSA will need to conduct the necessary research to collect data about the malfunctioning seats. The agency has stated that they do not currently have the needed data to enforce manufacturer overhauls.
Collapsing Seats and Product Liability
Until NHTSA and automobile manufacturers are put into a position to act on this new information, unnecessary accidental death and injury will be the result. After the CBS News report, Fox News conducted a related study and discovered as many as 100 ongoing liability cases involving rear seat collapses that led to the death of a child. Until NHTSA can enforce changes to automobiles to avoid these needless injuries and deaths, families will need to be informed. Reviewing consumer reports and customer reviews can increase the likelihood that your family will be protected in the event of an unfortunate accident.
Injury and accidental death from a faulty product could constitute product liability litigation. Needless injury and death from dangerous products are tragic for families. If you or a family member has experienced an injury or incurred damages caused by a defective product, then contact the attorneys at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP in Long Island, New York, to discuss the legal support and solutions we can provide in your personal injury suit.