Cars and tires are regulated in the United States by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). There have been several notable recalls this year involving various vehicle components.
In October, 2009, Ford recalled 4.5 million vehicles to fix a defective cruise control switch, which, if left unchecked, could possible result in a fire. It was reported that over 500 fires were caused by the switch, resulting in numerous injuries and several deaths.
Over 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles were also recalled to fix gas pedals that could possibly get stuck in the accelerate position while driving, resulting in unintended acceleration. There were 2000 document incidents of such unintended acceleration, resulting in as many as 19 deaths. Widespread media attention was focused on Toyota after the highly publicized deaths of a California Highway Patrol Officer and his family. The gas pedal on the vehicle he was driving, a Lexus ES350, had gotten stuck in the accelerate position because of floor mats that were incorrectly fitted and installed, resulting in the driver losing control of the vehicle and crashing.
Additionally, over 125,000 tires manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone were recalled in July, 2009 because they were manufactured without sufficient tread base gauge. Continued use of the recalled tires could result in vibration, and groove cracking, and long-term use could result in loss of vehicle control. Kumho Tires also issued a recall of over 35,000 tires due to the tires causing difficulties with the vehicle’s handling which could result in possible crashes.