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NHTSA's Jeep inquiry could lead to a recall

In a number of our posts this year, we noted that 2015 could be a greater year for recalls than 2014, which was unfortunately a record year for automotive recalls. Indeed, many people remember the ignition switch recall that plagued General Motors as it was revealed that scores of injuries and deaths were attributed to the defect. 2014 ended with more recalls due to defects found in many automakers’ cars from Japanese airbag maker Takata. 

The latest recall involves Fiat-Chrysler automaker Jeep. Essentially, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into complaints involving a defect that could compromise the adaptive cruise control function on many Jeep Grand Cherokee models. Adaptive cruise control is one of the features that will eventually be seen on autonomous cars in the future. The feature works by using small cameras and sensors to survey the area around the car to seek out hazards (and other cars from slow traffic ahead). If one is detected, the system will slow the car down in order to avoid a crash.

However, the NHTSA has received complaints that Jeeps have been slowing down on their own, even though no hazards have been present. According to an ABC report, nine complaints have been registered, but no injuries or accidents have been reported. It is unknown at this point whether the inquiry will lead to a recall.

If it does, a recall will be an example of the ongoing duty that automakers have to keep consumers informed of dangerous defects that could put them at risk of harm, and to take reasonable steps to abate the problem. 

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