When consumers buy a car, they expect it will operate safely and that all promised features will work as intended. This includes major parts such as the brakes or engine, as well as important safety features like air bags and seat belts. While seat belts may seem like a simple component of a vehicle, they are one of the most crucial. The use of a seat belt can significantly reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of a motor-vehicle collision.
Recently, several Toyota models were recalled as a result of problems with the seat belts. The recall, which affected around 342,000 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks manufactured between 2004 and 2011, was announced in early August. The recall was prompted by a problem with the screws used to fasten the seat belt’s pre-tensioners.
The pre-tensioners are mounted on the rear doors of the truck and are attached to both the driver’s seat belt mechanism and to the passenger’s seat belt mechanism. The job of the pre-tensioners is to pull or cinch the seat belt tightly against the motorist’s body when an impact is sensed in the vehicle. This prevents motorists from being thrown as far forward upon impact and can help to prevent motorists from being ejected in the event of a crash.
In the recalled Toyota vehicles, when the rear doors are opened and closed repeatedly and/or opened and closed too forcefully, the screws can start to loosen. As a result, the seat belt will no longer pull tight across the driver or passenger in an impact. Even worse, the seat belt could come loose entirely, putting motorists at great risk in an accident.
This recent Toyota recall follows an earlier recall that occurred in March, also prompted by seat belt issues. In the March recall, 209,000 FJ Cruiser SUVs had to be taken off the roads because of a possibility that the seatbelt would detach if the rear door panel cracked.
The recalls of two separate Toyota vehicles for seat belt problems in such a short period of time mean that many consumers were put at risk by Toyota’s potentially dangerous designs. Auto manufacturers that make unsafe products may be held legally responsible for any harm that occurs as a direct result of releasing those dangerous products to the public.
We can only hope that the Toyota recalls will prevent people from getting seriously hurt or killed as the result of dangerous design or mechanical defect.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact the Pennsylvania defective vehicle lawyers at Metzger Wickersham. Call 1-800-WIN-WIN-1 (946-9461) or visit us online for a free case evaluation.