Consumers Union calls for tougher car safety

February 23, 2010 6:39:22 AM PST
A non-profit consumer union is calling for tougher regulations regarding the identification of systemic car problems and differentiating them from random occurrences or issues.Recent Toyota recalls involving sudden, unintended acceleration have focused national attention on safety problems that are infrequent, but potentially fatal. Consumers Union, the group which publishes Consumer Reports, is pushing for quicker identification of widespread technical glitches.

"Car problems reported to dealers, automakers, and government agencies every day create a level of 'noise' that can make it difficult to identify real trends and rare problems," a release from the group said Tuesdya.

Consumers Union says many complaints are about isolated incidents due to driver error, vehicle abuse, lack of maintenance or variability on the assembly line. The group says th National Highway Transportation Safety Administration receives more than 30,000 complaints a year; and only about 2,000 in the last decade were related to acceleration issues with Toyota models.

Consumers Union made several recommendations for strengthening the governement's safety net in catching systemic car issues.

  • Improve public access to safety information
  • Mandate specific safety changes in new cars
  • Remove NHTSA's cap on civil penalties
  • Give NHTSA more resources
  • Make more safety features standard
  • Share more safety-related information
  • Consumers Union also has suggestions for consumers:

  • Share your information about safety issues
  • Act on recall information
  • Consumers Unions says it will expand information on Visit their Web site for more tips on what steps can be taken.