Rental Car Companies Agree not to Rent or Sell Recalled Vehicles

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The four largest rental car companies in the country have agreed to requests made by two senators who are pushing for legislation to prevent rental companies from renting or selling defective vehicles that have not yet been repaired. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, Senators Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer announced the agreement Thursday with Hertz, Avis, Enterprise and Dollar Thrifty, the four most popular rental companies in the United States.

The companies have said they will support the law, which will for the first time put them under federal oversight on recalls. The push for this new law came from Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20, who were both killed in a fiery crash in 2004 while returning to the Bay Area after visiting their mother in Ojai.

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General Motors Recalls Chevrolet Impala Police Cars for Crash Risk

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General Motors has issued a recall for Chevrolet Impala police cars for a defective auto part that could potentially cause a crash. According to an NBC News report, the recall involves over 38,000 Impala police cars from model years 2008 through 2012. Officials say the police vehicles have a defective part in the front suspension that can crack. GM announced that the lower control arm in the suspension could fracture resulting in sudden changes in handling.

GM only discovered the issue after receiving several reports from police fleets. When the fracture occurs, the handling changes and a squeal or chirp becomes audible at low speeds. So far, there have been no known reports of crashes or injuries as a result of these auto defects. GM says that the civilian Impala has different suspension parts and will not be recalled.

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Anaheim Car Accident Proves Fatal for Woman

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Kimberlee Reimer, 49, was killed in an Anaheim car accident after she lost control of her vehicle and crashed, the evening of July 21, 2012. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal car accident occurred at the on-ramp to the Interstate 5 at Katella Avenue. California Highway Patrol officials say Reimer was driving a Hyundai and had approached the merge point to enter the northbound I-5. Her car then veered right, before falling off the freeway’s east embankment and travelling across all lanes of Katella Avenue. Reimer died at the scene. Officials are looking into what caused the accident.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and many friends of Kimberlee Reimer, who are mourning this tragic loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Car Crash Statistics

According to CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), 23 fatalities and 1,970 injuries occurred in 2009 involving Anaheim car accidents. During the same year, Orange County car crashes claimed 141 lives and injured 13,373 people.

What Caused This Crash?

Based on this news account, it is unclear as to how or why Reimer lost control of the vehicle. There are several unanswered questions here. Was there an auto defect or mechanical malfunction in the vehicle? Was speed a factor? Was there a dangerous condition on the roadway, which may have caused or contributed to the crash? Were other vehicles involved? For example, was Reimer’s vehicle run off the roadway by another vehicle? I trust officials are looking into these and other issues in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why.

Liability Issues

If a vehicle defect or a defective auto part caused the accident, then, the automaker or the manufacturer of the defective product can be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death. In such cases, it is important that the vehicle be preserved in its current condition, unaltered, so that an expert can assess it thoroughly for vehicle defects, malfunctions and other evidence. An experienced Orange County personal injury attorney who has successfully handled auto product liability cases against large automakers will be able to advise victims’ families about their legal rights and options. The best auto product liability law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to car accident victims or their families.

Federal Officials Expand Investigation into Vehicle Fires

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded an investigation into auto defects that could cause vehicle fires in certain Chevy Cruze and Jeep Wrangler models. According to The Detroit News, NHTSA’s fire probe initially covered just 2011 model year and 177,000 vehicles. Now it also covers vehicle models from 2012 and involves about 370,000 vehicles. In April, the federal auto safety agency announced that it was opening an investigation into engine fires in 2011 Chevy Cruzes and 2010 Jeep Wranglers. The investigation was spurred by two consumer complaints where the fires engulfed the vehicles and other field reports related to the alleged defect.

General Motors, which is apparently cooperating with NHTSA and conducting an independent investigation, has said that so far, no injuries or fatalities have been reported due to these alleged defects. There were reports of eight engine fires involving the 2010 Jeep Wranglers. Many of the Jeeps had 10,000 or fewer miles on them. NHTSA typically takes six months or more to decide whether a preliminary investigation should be upgraded to an engineering analysis. This is a necessary step before the government can deem the vehicles unsafe and ask the manufacturer to recall them.

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Federal Officials Launch Investigation into 2012 Hyundai Elantra Side Airbags

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Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are investigating possible auto defects in 2012 Hyundai Elantra sedans after receiving a report from a vehicle owner who was severely cut from a piece of metal from the side airbag deployment during a collision. According to Consumer Reports, the metal along with the side airbag protruded from the left side headliner of the driver’s seat and cut the victim’s ear in half missing his neck by less than an inch. Neither Hyundai nor NHTSA have examined the crashed Elantra.

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Ford Taurus Sticky Accelerator Probe Expanded to 1.9 Million Cars

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Federal safety regulators are investigating auto defects relating to sticky acceleration in nearly 1.9 million Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable vehicles. The defects may prevent motorists from stopping in time to avoid a collision. According to an Associated Press news report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it had launched an investigation involving about 360,000 Ford Taurus sedans from the 2005 and 2006 model years after at least 14 consumers complained about the sudden acceleration issue. Now, it has added the Sable under the scope of the investigation, and has asked the automaker for information about both Taurus and Sable vehicles from the 2001 through 2004 model years.

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Feds Launch Investigation into Side Airbag Problems, More Recalls Likely

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Federal safety regulators have launched a probe into airbag defects involving side curtain airbags in a number of vehicles that may fail to deploy in the event of a car accident. According to an Associated Press news report, this issue has spurred several auto recalls already, involving different brands including Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Nissan. It appears now that the number could grow well beyond the current 2,700 vehicles recalls if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that more automakers used similar defective parts.

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Feds Step Up Jeep Liberty Airbag Investigation

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Federal safety regulators have stepped up their auto defect investigation into Jeep Liberty SUVs. The move comes after 50 people reported being injured after their vehicle’s airbags inflated inadvertently, when the car had not been involved in an accident. According to a news report in Bloomberg Business Week, the investigation into Liberty SUVs from model years 2002 and 2003 began in September. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded the probe to include a complete engineering analysis. The investigation covers nearly 387,000 vehicles.

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National Research Council Makes Recommendations to Improve Auto Safety

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The National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board has officially closed the book on Toyota’s unintended acceleration issues finding that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) acted appropriately in discontinuing its investigation of sudden acceleration claims involving Toyota vehicles. According to Consumer Reports, the council however stated that it is “troubling” NHTSA could not readily address public safety concerns in the Toyota sudden acceleration matter.

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