Many taxi, Uber and Lyft cars have unfixed recall problems

Are you hiring a ride in a four-wheeled time bomb?

Millions of cars on American roads are subject to recall for various defects - serious safety issues that the owners have not had fixed.

An independent investigation found that drivers for hire have a much higher rate of unfixed recall notices. As many as 1 in 3 taxi cabs, Uber and Lyft cars are driving around with potentially dangerous defects. Air bags. Steering columns. Engine problems. By comparison, about 1 in 5 private vehicles have outstanding recalls.

Unrepaired defects may increase the chances of a crash or the severity of injuries. It also creates potential legal issues in the event of a car accident. The cab driver and employer could be negligent. Both drivers could be at fault, one for careless operation and one for driving an unfit vehicle. And what is the automaker's liability if the owner failed to have a recalled vehicle serviced?

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Cars-for-hire among millions of recalled vehicles on the road

Cars.com, KING 5 television in Seattle and TEGNA sister stations around the country conducted a joint investigation. They compared VIN numbers of for-hire vehicles against a federal database for recalls.

  • In Seattle, 1 in 2.5 for-hire vehicles were subject to at least one outstanding recall. In Houston, it was 1 in 3. In Tampa and New York City, 1 in 4 taxi, Uber and Lyft cars had unfixed recalls.
  • Some of the unheeded recalls were issued five or more years ago, including defective Takata air bags that have killed and injured more than 100 people.
  • Uber and Lyft, the two largest ride-sharing companies, do not require their drivers to be up-to-date with recalls.
  • Most cities with large taxi fleets (such as New Orleans) do not track or regulate cabs with regard to recalls.

Is it safe to hire a ride in Louisiana?

While the city of New Orleans in 2012 passed strict limits on the age of taxicabs, it did not specifically address recall notices. With approximately 1,500 taxis in New Orleans, about 500 of those cabs may be chauffeuring passengers while under recall notice. Now that Uber and Lyft are operating in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes, there may be thousands of more cars-for-hire available - one-third of which are presumably harboring unrepaired defects.

As of June 2016, the federal government requires rental car companies to fix all recall defects before a car can be rented out. It may be time to extend that same requirement to hired rides, through local ordinance, state-level legislation or federal agency intervention. Contact your elected officials about this important safety issue.

Meanwhile, if you need to take a taxi, Uber or Lyft, sit in the back seat and buckle up. And, please, if your own vehicle is subject to recall, get it fixed before tragedy strikes.

Source: King 5 News of Seattle

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