Toyota is recalling 90,189 Highlander and Highlander hybrids because apparently the third row passenger seatbelts are defective when it comes to securing a child restraint system. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the flaw in the restraint systems in these sport utility vehicles could result in injuries to children in the case of an auto accident.
So if you own one of these SUVs, please watch the mail for your recall notice. Toyota is promising to fix the problem for free. According to an article in the watchdog Web site Consumeraffairs.com, the seat belt webbing in the third row of the recalled Highlanders is not properly secured by the automatic retractor. This makes the seatbelt webbing prone to spooling out during normal driving.
How does the loose belt affect the stability of a child restraint? It could cause major injuries or even death in a high-speed crash or rollover accident. Such a defective seatbelt will do nothing to protect children from injuries during auto accidents. Toyota dealers will install a newer, better-designed seatbelt free of charge when the recall gets underway. If you own one of these vehicles and would like to know more about the recall, please call Toyota Motor Co. at 800-331-4331 or NHTSA at 800-327-4236.
We’re, of course, pleased that Toyota is recalling these SUVs before an innocent life is lost or destroyed by catastrophic injuries. There are any number of ways a seatbelt system can fail. This is especially true of rollover accidents and we all know that SUVs are prone to flip over, sometimes even at a normal freeway speeds.
As personal injury attorneys who have represented numerous clients in seatbelt failure product liability lawsuits, we’ve seen many cases where seat belt mounts, buckles, webbing and grabbers have failed. We’ve uncovered internal auto manufacturer documents that show that the auto makers had knowledge of these failures. We’ve settled many cases with auto makers where we alleged that their defective seatbelt or restraint system failed and caused injuries to our clients.
It is absolutely vital that auto makers acknowledge the defects in their vehicles and fix them promptly so that consumers don’t suffer the consequences of the auto makers’ mistakes. And we’re glad Toyota has done that at least with this recall.