It seems not much time passes these days before we see yet another automotive recall in the news. Some of these involve obviously serious defects that can easily be identified as potentially life-threatening problems. Other issues, such as the one mentioned here, appear on their face to be merely minor, almost cosmetic in nature, but which could actually lead to a serious roadway accident.
As Maryland injury attorneys, I and my colleagues have the skills and training to represent victims of auto, truck and motorcycle wrecks caused by another negligent driver or by another party, such as an automotive parts distributor or original equipment (OE) manufacturer like Ford, General Motors or Toyota. Whatever the source of the problem or product defect, the potential for injury or death can often be real and immediate; certainly these recalls are nothing to be taken lightly by owners of the affected car or truck models.
Automobile safety recalls usually involve a part of a car or a vehicle system that has failed on one or more vehicles, and which the manufacturer or the government regulators feel could be a danger to owners of the particular vehicle model. Quite often the result of a manufacturing defect, incorrect material selection or poor engineering design, a recalled part or component, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, can cause injuries or deaths.
When a tire, steering component or brake system part fails, the safety of the driver, occupants and other near the vehicle could be in jeopardy. If someone is hurt as a result, there may be cause for a products liability lawsuit to be filed against one or more parties, depending on who or what company is responsible for the item that failed.
Consider the investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that has recently ramped up involving the floor mats in almost a half million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. According to news reports, the floors of these vehicles are designed in such a way that if the floor mat on the driver’s side is improperly secured it could creep forward and bind the accelerator pedal in such a way as to prevent the vehicle from slowing down once the driver removes his or her foot.
At the time of the news article, the NHTSA reportedly was aware of more than 50 complaints from motorists who claimed that the floor mat prevented interfered with the accelerator pedal, preventing the engine to return to idle. Fortunately, no traffic accidents had been reported to date in regard to this particular problem; however, the issue was apparently significant enough to prompt the agency to continue its investigation.
Affecting ’08 to ‘10 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans and Lincoln MKZ models. this problem is akin to the various “unintended acceleration” complaints that have peppered the headlines over the past decade. Some drivers of these Ford Motor vehicles reported that after pushing hard on the accelerator, such as during a lane passing maneuver or when merging into expressway traffic, that the engine power didn’t decrease after the driver eased off the gas. In most instances the driver involved solved the problem by shifting the transmission into neutral or by switching off the ignition.
According to news reports, mechanics who checked the affected models following an owner complaint found the driver’s side floor mat to be improperly secured to the floor. Ford has stated, according to news articles, that the issue is not a serious one because the motorist can solve the problem by tapping the accelerator pedal or moving the floor mat with his or her foot.
Nevertheless, anyone who has one of the affected vehicle models should double-check the security of the driver-side floor mat to be certain it cannot move forward and interfere with the accelerator pedal. Short of that, one should contact his or her local dealership to have the vehicle looked at by a certified mechanic.
Safety Agency Widens Inquiry on Ford Floor Mats, NYTimes.com, December 17, 2012