There are approximately six million car crashes reported in the United States each year. While being very alert for potentially dangerous situations forming ahead of you on a freeway will reduce your risk of being involved in a crash, it is going to happen when you least expect it.
The average American will be in four to six traffic collisions over the course of a lifetime. Two usually occur during the first seven years of driving for the 18 to 25 year-olds.
That’s why selecting a car with a high safety rating is a smart choice. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines crashworthiness as a comprehensive standard measuring how safe a particular vehicle is in a variety of common collision sequences.
Here are five of the most common defects that make even the safest cars dangerous.
1. Faulty Airbags
When properly designed and installed, an airbag will inflate with the force of approximately half the power of a 12-gauge shotgun shell in a tenth of a second and then immediately deflate. Bags are triggered by a 15-mph impact to the front of your car. They don’t go off in rear-end collisions. Combined with seatbelt restraints, the bag prevents a forward impact with dash and the A pillar and side bags prevent injuries from doors and the B pillar that supports the roof and contains the door latch. Recent years have seen multiple airbag recalls, with perhaps the most notable being the Takata airbag recall. Defective Takata airbags were linked to over 100 serious injuries and several deaths. Routine maintenance by a trusted mechanic will make sure the deceleration sensors are working smoothly.
2. Seat Belt Webbing, Latches and Retractor Failures
Federal regulators believe that seat belts save as many as 15,000 lives nationwide every year. Of course, seat belts are only as good as the design and installation. A dangerous or defective seat belt may provide no protection. Belts actually stretch in high speed decelerations and a twisted or a belt previously pinched by a door has dramatically less elasticity. It will fail well below test strength. More commonly we find that latching hardware accounts for failed belt system injuries and emergency locking retractors have failed to prevent a rapid unspooling of belt webbing in a deceleration. The Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) is more comfortable and many prefer it over an automatic locking retractor that snugs down once secured. Both retractors require routine inspection and maintenance by a trained mechanic.
3. Defective Tires
Tread or belt separation, bead failures, and sidewall failures occur largely as a result of manufacturing lines that pay workers based on the number of tires manufactured in a day. That is what we have found in lawsuits against manufacturers where a tire failure has caused a roadway catastrophe.
4. Poor Roof Design
Although it may not be obvious at first glance, your vehicle’s roof is an important crashworthiness feature. Rollovers are among the most dangerous types of car accidents. Most cars today utilize an arc supported roof that has superior strength in a rollover compared to the previous styles using vertical roof pillars. In cases against Ford for the first generation of Explorers, which were actually trucks sold as family quasi-station wagons, when suspended and dropped from a height of 18 inches the A, B and C roof pillars collapsed to the doors. That defect combined with a design that resulted in the vehicle tripping over a leading wheel on a flat and level road, when a sudden correction was made to avoid a lane change collision, made the Ford Bronco II that evolved into the Explorer a dangerous and defective vehicle, as many juries concluded. Stay with newer vehicles with arced roof supports.
5. Controlled Crush and Softened Surfaces
Daimler-Benz, Saab and Volvo led the way in controlled crush technology with crumple zones located in the front and rear of cars to absorb energy in a collision before the crash forces reach the occupants and replacing penetrating interior knobs and levers with soft designs. European manufacturers were aided in their research by government provided medical care that mandated uniform hospital emergency department data reporting. That served as a basis for epidemiologists to analyze the type of injuries and potential remedies in vehicle design. European safety research put to rest the American engineering concept of hardening the structure to protect occupants. Car racing also played an important role in promoting crashworthiness by introducing aluminum, honeycomb, and energy foam attenuators that absorb crash forces.
Call Our Bay Area Crashworthiness Lawsuit Attorneys for Help
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.