Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) levied one of the largest fines against an automaker that had ever been handed down in the agency’s history. The $130 million fine was cited against Volvo. The infractions at issue concerned the company’s unacceptably slow responses to a number of recall-worthy safety concerns.
Given the kinds of profits that automakers earn on a regular basis, hearing that a particular automaker has been fined $130 million is unlikely to raise many eyebrows among members of the general public. However, to those who pay close attention to recall enforcement news, this particularly significant action on the part of the NHTSA signals a commitment to consumer safety concerns that is arguably long overdue.
Sending an important message
Codifying corporate responsibilities and consumer rights by passing laws and enacting regulations is all well and good. However, these legal obligations and protections mean very little if they aren’t enforced. By choosing to levy one of the largest fines in its history, the NHTSA is sending a message not only to Volvo but also to all auto manufacturers that it isn’t afraid to hold them accountable for endangering travelers.
By consistently holding auto manufacturers accountable for safety infractions and slow responses to safety concerns, the NHTSA could start moving the needle on product safety risks in truly significant ways. Yet, motorists cannot leave it up to the NHTSA alone to mitigate crash risks. Drivers also need to ensure that they remain informed about recall efforts and respond to them properly and promptly.
Without proactive effort on the part of drivers, the NHTSA’s laudable actions will only go so far in promoting the safety of all travelers in the U.S.