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Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 at 3:46 pm    

In 2014, the auto industry recalled almost 64 million vehicles for safety problems. This set a record for a single year. In fact, according to a report by the New York Times, the number of vehicles recalled in 2014 exceeded the combined total for the three previous years.

There were a total of 803 vehicle recalls in 2014. And, 123 of these resulted from NHTSA investigations or contacts with the automakers. The rest were initiated by the automakers when they detected a problem.

The two most prominent recalls were the General Motors recall for faulty ignition switches and the recalls related to the flaws in the Takata airbags.

According to the Times, General Motors led the way in the number of vehicles recalled with 27 million, followed by Honda with 8.9 million vehicles, with Fiat Chrysler being third with 8.8 million vehicles recalled in 2014.

The Times also noted that NHTSA reported that almost 7.7 million child restraint seats were recalled in 2014, which was the second highest number since it began recording such recalls in 1972.

Source: An article by Christopher Jensen appearing in the New York Times on February 15, 2015 entitled A Record Year of Recalls: Nearly 64 Million Vehicles.


Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 8:02 pm    

According to the United States Department of Transportation, wet roads and rain contribute to approximately 700,000 automobile crashes each year. As roads get wet, oil and other substances rise to the surface of the pavement which can make it slippery and compromise the traction provided by your tires.

Here are a few tips which can help you avoid an accident when traveling on wet roads:

• SLOW DOWN. It can take up to three times longer to stop on a wet road than on a dry one.
• LEAVE ROOM. Leave extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you to allow for the extra stopping distance needed on wet roads.
• DON’T USE THE CRUISE CONTROL. If you start to hydroplane on cruise control, the car may actually speed up.
• USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS. Not only do your headlights help light up the road in front of you, but they also make you more visible to others on the roadway.
• AVOID JERKY OR SUDDEN MOVEMENT. Jerking the wheel or accelerating and braking in an erratic fashion can cause the vehicle to spin out or skid on wet roads.
• CHECK YOUR TIRES. Make sure your tires are in good condition with good tread. Poorly performing tires are a significant safety risk.

Source: An article appearing in The Ephrata Review on Wednesday March 11, 2015 entitled How to safely navigate on wet roadways.


Posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 at 5:49 pm    

According to a recent article appearing in LNP, the death toll from crashes involving GM cars with defective ignition switches has climbed to 57. This number was provided in an internet site set up by compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. Kenneth Feinberg is the attorney hired by GM to process claims made by victims who suffered injuries due to the defective ignition switches.

GM was aware of the faulty ignition switches for more than a decade, but did not initiate a recall until 2014. The defective ignition switches can slip out of the on position causing the vehicle to stall, turning off the power steering and turning off the airbags.

The Law Office Of Bill Pelhan has been representing victims of unsafe or defective products for over 25 years. If you or a loved one has been injured by an unsafe product call 717-392-6362 to learn more about your legal rights and options. Get the personal attention you deserve.

Source: An article appearing in LNP on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 entitled GM Death Toll


Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2015 at 9:31 pm    

A recent New York Times article reported that NHTSA recently announced that they would begin to fine Takata $14,000 a day for failure to fully cooperate in an investigation into Takata’s defective airbags. The Times article reported that in a letter addressed to Takata, NHTSA stated “Takata is neither being forthcoming with the information that it is legally obligated to supply, nor is it being cooperative in aiding N.H.T.S.A.’s ongoing investigation of a potentially serious safety defect.” As an example, NHSTA stated that while TAKATA had turned over 2.4 million documents to regulators, it had not assisted regulators in fully understanding the documents.

This is just the latest in what is becoming an increasingly tense showdown between Takata and NHTSA. In December, Takata refused to follow an order by NHTSA requiring it to expand its recalls of driver’s side airbags beyond certain geographical regions in the U.S. associated with high humidity. Most major automakers have broadened the recall.

NHTSA also stated that if this matter does not quickly resolve, they would refer the matter to the Justice Department to compel Takata to respond to its orders and to pay civil penalties. So far more than 18 million vehicles with defective airbags have been recalled in the United States and 86 deaths worldwide have been linked to the defect.

At the same time that the Secretary of Transportation announced the penalties being imposed on Takata, Secretary Foxx also urged Congress to pass legislation requiring rental car companies and used car dealers to fix safety defects before renting or selling vehicles that have been recalled. While current law requires new cars under a recall to be repaired before selling them, federal law does not require the repair of used vehicles, including rental cars. Furthermore, used car dealers and rental car companies are not required to disclose that a vehicle is the subject of a recall.

Source: U.S. Agency Sets Fines for Maker of Airbags by Hiroko Tabuchi and Danielle Ivory appearing in the New York Times on February 21, 2015.


Posted on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 at 3:04 pm    

In a recent AP article, Joan Lowy reported that recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah have found that many of the voice activated dashboard infotainment systems and Smart Phones may be making the distracted driving problem worse instead of better.

Systems that were rated the most distracting were those systems that made errors, even though their drivers’ voice commands were clear and distinct. David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, explained that when these voice activated systems made such errors, drivers were forced to concentrate on exactly what words they wanted to use and in what order to get the system to follow their command. This created a great deal of frustration for the drivers, thereby leading to a high level of distraction.

Apple’s Siri received a 4.14 rating which placed it as the most distracting among the systems tested by the University. For comparison, doing a complex mathematical problem was rated at a 5 and listening to the radio was rated at a 1.21.

Among the automotive manufacturer infotainment systems tested, Toyota’s Entune received the lowest rating at 1.7 – making it the least distracting. Mercedes’ Command received the highest rating at 3.1. .

Joan Lowy notes that although NHTSA has issued guidelines for automakers dashboard systems, they are merely voluntary.

Mr. Strayer stated that “The good news is that really well-designed systems offer us the possibility to interact in ways that aren’t so distracting”.

Bill Pelhan has been representing accident victims in Lancaster County and the surrounding areas for over 25 years. If you would like to talk to Bill about your rights related to an auto, motorcycle or truck accident call 717-392-6362 to schedule your free consultation.

Source: There is Danger in Talking to Your Car by Joan Lowy published in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.


Posted on Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 1:51 pm    

Hyundai is recalling approximately 263,000 of its cars in the U.S. and Canada because the power steering could suddenly stop working making the vehicle harder to steer. The recall covers Hyundai 2008-10 Elantras and the 2009-10 Elantra Touring vehicles. According to an article appearing the The New York Times, Hyundai said that if the power steering fails, the driver would still be able to steer the car, but that it would require a greater effort, particularly at lower speeds.

Hyundai said that it would notify owners and that the dealers would fix the control unit of the electronic power steering at no cost. Owners can contact Hyundai’s customer service at 1-855-671-3059 for additional information.

Source: Article appearing in The New York Times entitled Hyundai Recalls Vehicles Over Power Steering Loss on March 1, 2015 by Christopher Jensen.


Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 at 5:18 pm    

Federal regulators are investigating the death of a Texas man who could be another victim of a defective air bag manufactured by Takata Corporation according to a recent LNP article.

Apparently a Houston area man died in January, 2015 following a low speed crash when his air bag inflated and sent shrapnel into his neck. This incident was reported on the Senate floor by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. The man was apparently operating a 2002 Honda Accord at the time of the collision. Honda said in a statement that the Accord was part of a 2011 national recall to fix the drivers’ side air bag inflators, but records indicated that the repairs had not been made.

Source: Article appearing in LNP on Friday, January 30, 2015 entitled Exploding air bag suspected in death.


Posted on Friday, March 6th, 2015 at 8:57 pm    

According to a recent New York Times report, General Motors is recalling more than 81,000 cars because their power steering could suddenly fail, thereby making the vehicles harder to steer. This action expands a recall from March 2014 covering approximately 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S.

The newly recalled models are the 2006-7 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx and the 2006-7 Pontiac G6. Per the Times article, GM stated that it was recalling the additional vehicles after an inquiry last April by Transport Canada, which is Canada’s counterpart to NHTSA. A spokesman for GM stated that GM was aware of one crash, but no injuries related to the power steering defect.

According to the Times article, GM finally initiated a recall for this problem in March of 2014 after years of trying to handle the problem quietly through technical service bulletins sent to its dealers.

Source: Article appearing in the New York Times by Christopher Jensen entitled G.M. Expands 2014 Recall for Power Steering Failure on February 14, 2015.


Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 6:29 pm    


In a recent article appearing in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, staff writer Karen Shuey reported of a 13-year-old Texas girl who woke up to the smell of smoldering metal.  The smell, it turned out, was her cell phone which had ignited right under her head while she was sleeping, burning a hole through her pillow and mattress.

Apparently, cell phone batteries overheating and catching fire or exploding are enough of a problem that the Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted safety standards in 2007.

According to the article by Karen Shuey, the CPSC says that in most instances, cell phones exploding or catching fire are generally the result of users having purchased incompatible or counterfeit batteries.

CPSC offers these safety tips for cell phone users:

  1. Do not use incompatible cell phone batteries and chargers or those not associated with reputable manufacturers.
  1. Do not place phone in areas that may get very hot.
  1. Do not put a high degree of pressure on the battery since this can lead to overheating.
  1. Do not allow the battery to come in contact with metal objects.
  1. Do not use the battery if it becomes dented or cracked.
  1. Do not get your phone or battery wet as this can cause the circuitry to slowly corrode.


The Law Office Of Bill Pelhan has been representing victims of unsafe or defective products for over 25 years. If you or a loved one has been injured by an unsafe product call 717-392-6362 to learn more about your legal rights and options. Get the personal attention you deserve.

Source:  Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era – Feeling the Heat by Karen Shuey, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.