Millions of riders rely on For-Hire Vehicles (FHVs) for daily transportation in New York City, but according to a Consumer Reports(CR) review of data, a notable number of vehicles registered with the New York City Taxi & Limousine (TLC) may carry unaddressed safety recall defects.
CR reviewed safety records for about 94,000 vehicles, between NYC and King County, Wash. (home to Seattle), two major hubs for app-based vehicles operating where local governments require drivers to register vehicles and obtain an additional license to work through regulators. CR found vehicles with glaring issues that pose serious risks, such as deadly Takata airbags that could hurt or kill the driver or front-seat passengers. There were unfixed defects involving the potential for vehicles to catch fire or for engines to lose power entirely. One of the models – a 2011 Sonata – had open recall notices that said: “Engine failure would result in a vehicle stall, increasing the risk of a crash.”
It’s unclear whether anyone has been directly injured as a result of an issue related to an open safety recall, and the rate of open recalls CR found for registered FHVs during its investigation was about the same rate estimated for all vehicles on the road. However, when consumers rely on a service for their daily transportation, one might rightly argue that they should be held to a higher standard. CR’s findings led the media outlet to state that safety recall laws also need to be expanded and improved.
Companies that provide work for independent-contractor drivers in NYC should take heed of the vehicles servicing their clients, particularly the most dangerous open recalls – ones with “DO NOT DRIVE” warnings from the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those warnings, however, make up only a sliver of all vehicles on the road with unaddressed recalls.
As independent contractors, drivers must also take special care to ensure their vehicles do not pose a preventable safety threat.You can check whether your car has an open recall here: https://www.carfax.com/recall/.
CR’s review also found that:
- About one in six of the 93,958 vehicle identification numbers (VINs) associated with FHVs in New York City and King County, Wash., that CR examined, 15,175, or 16.2%, had one or more open safety recall.
- A number of vehicles have outstanding recalls associated with numerous deaths, such as faulty airbags made by Japanese car-parts manufacturer Takata. Those airbags have been linked to 24 deaths around the world, including 16 in the U.S., and remain in 1,274 of the vehicles cited in CR’s review, about 1.4% of the total.
- Some vehicles had a significant number of open safety recalls: 25 vehicles in the Seattle area and NYC had at least five or more unfixed recalls.
- To get a snapshot of the industry’s open recall rate, CR obtained VINs for FHVs operating in NYC and King County, Wash., as of January this year. VIN data for drivers in the industry are scarce, but NYC and King County produced them in an online database and in response to a public records request, respectively. With the numbers, CR was able to track down which vehicles had unaddressed recalls, in the same way any consumer can check on their own vehicle or a used car they might want to buy.
- NYC FHVs and Cabs are required to pass three inspections each year, but that doesn’t include a check for safety recalls.
- CR processed the VINs through a tool that checks to see whether a car has an open recall, developed by Carfax.
In addition to being able to check whether your car has an open recall at https://www.carfax.com/recall/, CR notes that you can the myCarfax app at https://www.mycarfax.com/, where you can type in the license plate number of the vehicle and immediately see whether or not it has an open safety recall.
Source: Consumer Reports