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NHTSA oversees auto recalls for safety issues

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the removal of unsafe vehicles from New Jersey roadways is key to keeping all drivers safe. Part of the purpose of the NHTSA is to ensure that carmakers issue recalls for vehicles that fail to meet federal safety standards or have safety defects. More than 390 million motor vehicles have been recalled since 1966, according to data kept by the NHTSA.

More than 46 million tires, 42 million safety seats for children and 66 million pieces of vehicle equipment have also been recalled during that period. A safety defect may necessitate a recall if it poses a risk to the safety of the driver or others on the road. Technically, a defect applies to a group of vehicles designed or produced by the same manufacturer. Common safety defects that require recalls include problems with fuel system components, malfunctions with brakes or accelerator controls, issues with engine fan blades, seats or seat backs that unexpectedly fail, problems with wiring systems and defects that cause air bags to work improperly.

In some cases, the NHTSA will identify a safety issue with a particular model of automobile and require the manufacturer to issue a recall and notify registered owners. By mail, the carmaker must set forth the safety issue along with how and when repairs will be available. Generally, defects are repaired at no cost to the vehicle owners.

Drivers who think their vehicles may have recall-worthy safety issues can contact the NHTSA to make a report. Individuals who have been injured in car accidents due to a manufacturing or design defect may be entitled to recover for damages. An attorney with experience handling products liability cases might be able to help by negotiating with insurers for lost wages, pain and suffering or medical expenses. An attorney may be able to identify defendants or draft and file a complaint in civil court.

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