The responsibility of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to both set safety standards and to issue recalls of any vehicles believed to pose of a risk of injury to the consumer. These responsibilities were first signed into law as part of the National Traffic and Motor Safety Act of 1966.
According to the NHTSA, since that law was implemented more than 50 years ago, nearly 400 million buses, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and other types of motor vehicles have been subject to recalls. Of those different recalls, 46 million of them have been related to poor manufacturing of tires. In 66 million cases, cars have been recalled for other mechanical or equipment defects.
In cases in which a manufacturer either discovers or is made aware of a defect with their product, they are required to both let NHTSA know about it and to recall and fix it at no cost to the consumer. The NHTSA provides oversight over recalls to ensure that car dealers, distributors and owners are made aware of known defects and that they make repairs as well.
From the perspective of the NHTSA, they consider a vehicle defect to be any flaw or failure of equipment that causes it to present a safety risk or otherwise fail to live up to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
Parts of a vehicle that are most likely to put a driver at risk for serious injury or death include brake system, air bag, seat belt, lighting, steering column, fuel system and tire defects. Design defects including poorly constructed roof supports have been known to cause crush injuries during SUV rollovers.
The NHTSA relies heavily upon reports made by consumers, vendors and manufacturers to know what motor vehicles to recall for posing a potential safety risk. That being said, many cases don't come under investigation until some time after victims may have already suffered injuries or died because of the defect.
If someone you know has been hurt or lost their life in a crash involving a recalled vehicle, whether it be due to a product or design defect, then a San Bernardino SUV accident attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.
Source: SaferCar, "Motor vehicle defects and safety recalls: What every vehicle owner should know," accessed Jan. 25, 2018