Tag Archives: safety defect

Volvo Truck Recall; Decisive Action Taken by Volvo & FMCSA Exhibits Vision Zero Thinking

Here is an encouraging Vision Zero action. Though it is not good that there is a safety defect in some Volvo trucks, at least decisive action is being taken by Volvo to recall the vehicles, as well as action by FMCSA to declare these trucks Out-Of-Service if they are found on the road without the necessary repair.

FMCSA Volvo Truck Safety Recall Notice

On February 16, 2016, Volvo Trucks initiated a safety recall affecting nearly 16,000 Class 8 motor vehicles in the United States. According to Volvo, a condition exists which could lead to separation of the steering shaft from the junction block.

Also, the bolt connecting the upper steering shaft to the lower steering shaft may not have been properly tightened. Volvo’s report to NHTSA states that either condition can lead to separation of the steering shaft and immediate loss of steering ability and control, which could lead to a crash.

Volvo Trucks issued a Safety Recall Alert on March 10, which directed all owners of the affected vehicles to take the vehicles out of operation as soon as possible and cautioned that the separation can occur without warning and amended its safety recall on March 15, alerting NHTSA of the more serious hazard.

Volvo Trucks strongly recommends that these vehicles remain out of service until repairs are made. NHTSA is overseeing Volvo Truck’s recall efforts to ensure prompt notification of the defect to vehicle owners and that vehicles are not operated in a defective condition. . .

Additionally, to assist with notification efforts, on March 18, 2016, FMCSA posted an Inspection Bulletin on its website.

Urgent Inspection Bulletin: Safety Recall Issued By Volvo Trucks – See more at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/urgent-inspection-bulletin-safety-recall-issued-volvo-trucks#sthash.B6yEYAQI.dpuf

Volvo Safety Recall Alert: Steering Shaft

Volvo Safety Recall Alert Steering Shaft.pdf

I applaud all such actions which have the potential to prevent crashes and save lives.

Minolta DSC
Mary 2009

Does a vehicle manufacturer bear responsibility for death and injury caused by a safety defect in their product?

After writing a post yesterday,  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/who-should-bear-the-responsibility-for-deaths-injuries-due-to-known-safety-defects/,  I have been wrestling with this question:

Does a vehicle manufacturer bear responsibility for death and injury caused by a safety defect in their product:

  • ever?
  • and, especially do they do so when it is publicly known (in the engineering realm) that there is a solution to the problem which could — if implemented — prevent death and horrific injury?

Or, are they protected by following the letter of the law — which likewise might have been negligent to require the best possible protection?

Furthermore, if they do bear responsibility, then what price should they pay for negligence to act on that knowledge in a timely fashion?

I have been trying to look at it every which way and not merely as the mother of two daughters, AnnaLeah (forever 17) and Mary (forever 13), who happened to get killed by a truck underride crash in which the underride guard met current federal standards, and possibly even the Canadian standards, but did not make use of safer known technology and did not withstand the crash.

Before & After PhotosI am plagued by so many questions:

  • Did the manufacturer’s act of omission contribute to Mary’s and AnnaLeah’s deaths? (omission: http://tinyurl.com/o2z6meb )
  • If so, why are they not being held responsible for such a heinous action? (heinous: http://tinyurl.com/ncak6o2 )
  • What consequences should they pay for their negligence?
  • Can it be considered criminal negligence? (criminal: http://tinyurl.com/p5syqnl )
  • Can a charge of manslaughter be applied? (manslaughter: http://tinyurl.com/nl6ms8l )
  • Is the manufacturer excused from responsibility for their deaths because it was not technically illegal (they abided by the letter of the law)?
  • If current and future research shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that safer underride prevention systems can, in fact, be put in place on trucks, can truck manufacturers be freed from responsibility to implement such technology due to supposed “unreasonable” costs? (A frequent reason for less-than-adequate rules to be issued — if issued at all.)
  • Do informed regulators who do not write into law the safest possible technology bear any responsibility?
  • Do informed truck purchasers who do not buy trucks with the safest possible technology (even if not required by law) bear responsibility?
  • I even have to ask myself if I am taking the chance of sabotaging our goal of seeking stronger federal standards by raising these controversial, potentially-inflammatory questions.

So you see, I am not struggling with easy questions. But you have to admit, don’t you, that they are questions with life & death implications.



This question of manufacturer criminal liability is addressed in a New York Times editorial today (July 21, 2015):

“The Senate bill also falls well short of addressing important issues raised by recent scandals involving defects in General Motors’ ignition switches and Takata airbags. While it would raise the maximum fine that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can levy against automakers that do not promptly disclose defects to $70 million from $35 million, that increase is a pittance for companies that make billions in profits. And by not proposing criminal liability for executives who knowingly hide the life-threatening dangers of their products, the bill simply sidesteps the issue of individual accountability.”


From my morning reading: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The Law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.” Psalm 37:30-31