The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered that Fiat Chrysler pay $105 million in penalties for failing to properly address 23 safety recalls. According to the New York Times, the fine is the largest ever levied by the federal regulator.
Center for Auto Safety Links 185 Deaths to Single Recall
While the fines concern nearly two dozen recalls affecting roughly 11 million vehicles, much of the federal scrutiny has fallen on Fiat Chrysler’s recall of 1.5 million Jeep vehicles carrying a potentially fatal defect.
According to reports, several model-year Jeep Grand Cherokees and Jeep Liberties are equipped with fuel tanks that can cause massive fires when the vehicles are involved in a rear collision.
NHTSA records indicate the fuel tanks are located behind the rear axle with little to shield the plastic tanks when the Jeeps are struck from behind. As such, the tanks are prone to rupture and gas leaks when a rear impact collision occurs.
Fiat Chrysler Defiant in Jeep Recall
While the recall for the defective Jeep vehicles was initially announced in 2013, very few of the vehicles have received any kind of repair. This is mainly due to slow manufacturing of the necessary parts.
The current fix put forth by Fiat Chrysler requires that a new trailer hitch be installed, but at current production rates, it could take up to four more years for all vehicles to be repaired.
Additionally, there has been concern that the trailer hitches are not enough to truly remedy the defects and that Fiat Chrysler is simply pursuing the most cost effective path. Despite pressure from regulators, Fiat Chrysler maintained that their response to the deadly defect was adequate.
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About California Construction Accident
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has fined Maggiora & Ghilotti Inc. of San Rafael $38,350 and issued the company three citations for dangerous work conditions that contributed to the accidental death of construction worker Jared Overfield, 28. The employee was crushed by an 8,000-pound steel pipe on the job at a Petaluma construction site on April 15, reports the Marin Independent Journal.
The director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, Christine Baker, stated “this fatality could have been avoided had the required safety measures been in place for working at a hazardous location.
Cal-OSHA reported that the accident occurred when Overfield was working with a forklift operator to replace and old water pipe along Highway 101. The pipe was moved without securing it to the forklift and there were no barriers to prevent it from rolling. The massive pipe rolled off of the fork and crushed Overfield.
Citations issued to Maggiora & Ghilotti Inc. by Cal-OSHA include failing to recognize and plan for the hazardous transportation of the steel pipe, failing to survey ad plan for the hazards of uneven ground, and not securing the pipe during transport.
Construction Death Statistics
- The Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that of 4,101 workers killed on the job in 2013, 828 or 20.2% worked in construction.
- One in 5 worker deaths in 2013 were in construction.
- The leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites are falls, followed by being struck by an object, electrocution, and finally being caught in or between something. These 4 causes are responsible for 57.7% of construction site deaths in OSHA’s 2013 data.
- Lack of fall protection accounts for the most frequent construction site OSHA standards violations in 2014.
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported Benjamin Scott Brewer, Kentucky-licensed truck driver, as a serious threat on the roadways after he killed six people on I-75 in an accident he caused on June 25 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
About the Fatal Accident
FMCSA announced that Brewer lied on his records-of-duty by reporting he was off duty from June 15th until June 25. However, Brewer was in fact driving on June 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. The trucking accident occurred on June 25.
In his job application, Brewer did not mention a crash in 2013 he was involved in and a speeding ticket 16-20 miles per hour over the speed limit. Brewer also failed a court-ordered drug test in May of 2015.
Driver’s Criminal Background
Times Free Press announced that Brewer was issued a warrant for arrest in Janesville, Wisconsin back in 2013 for trying to illegally fill a prescription at a Florida pain clinic and possessed four epilepsy pills found by police. Brewer never appeared for his court date, which issued the warrant.
The day before the trucking accident Brewer was involved in, he was pulled over for reckless driving in Florida. According to a Times Free Press report Brewer drove at least 400 miles.
Brewer was employed by Cool Runnings Express at the time of the accident and hauled refrigerated products. The Times Free Press report also found that Cool Runnings Express had a notorious background of safety issues concerning faulty brakes where trucks were taken off the roads and inspected.
Cool Runnings Express also misreported driver-logs in May of 2014 and also cited for violating these logs in June of 2014. The fatal accident in which Brewer killed six people on the roadway is not the only issue investigators are looking into.
Cool Runnings Express could be the other spotlight in the upcoming investigation which ultimately let the accident occur by letting an unlicensed trucker get away with driving on the roads.
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