Recalls Increase as Safety Awareness Does Too


In the past few years, the number of items that have been recalled has increased tremendously. Since 2002, the amount of food recalls has doubled; with about 1 new recall a day (on average). The number of vehicles that have been recalled has increased as well; with 51 million recalls in total just last year for vehicles.

Two trends are driving the increase, consumer advocates and regulators say. First, the high number of recalls is in some ways a sign of improvements in attention to public safety. Some manufacturers will always cut corners or make mistakes, but better detection tools and stricter safety rules mean that problems that once went undetected are now more often spotted and traced back to their source.

The biggest recall in recent history is the whole saga involving the Takata airbags. 13 people have died because of issues with these airbags and there continues to be a list of vehicles that have been recalled and/or may be affected by these airbag issues. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has decades of experience in handling deadly product flaws, calls the continuing Takata airbag recall the most complex it has ever overseen. The scope is huge: 14 automakers and as many as one in every four of the 250 million vehicles on America’s roads are affected, the fix is tricky and the stakes are high. After prolonged exposure to heat and humidity, the defective airbags can explode, hurtling chunks of metal into the vehicle’s cabin. At least 13 deaths worldwide have been linked to the flaw. Nearly 29 million Takata airbag inflaters have been recalled in the United States, and at least 35 million more are scheduled for recall, but manufacturers don’t have the parts to replace all of them yet. The help offered by manufacturers varies widely from company to company.

As time progresses; the awareness grows. Thus making it easier for the word of the recalls to spread and for things to be taken care of more quickly. “Over all, products of all kinds have been getting safer, consumer protection experts said. Vehicle deaths are down to a record-low rate of roughly one death per 100 million car miles traveled. Last year, the fewest children’s products were recalled in at least 15 years, according to Kids in Danger, an advocacy group that cited “sustained, faithful implementation” of a 2008 law tightening product safety rules as the main reason for the long-term decline. Still, with new recall notices rolling out daily, regulators are pressing companies to do a better job of identifying problems and alerting customers.

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Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/30/business/product-recalls-rise-with-better-detection-and-fewer-suppliers.html?_r=0

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