2014 may have been the year of the automotive recall after the Takata airbag recall and GM ignition defect saw a record number of vehicles recalled. In fact, the record was smashed as early as October of last year. By year’s end, nearly 64 million defective vehicles had been recalled across 803 recall campaigns. This total more than doubled the previous record set in 2004. However, unfortunately, 2014 may only have only offered a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry.
A new defect announced by Ford affects the software systems in a number of popular 2015 vehicle models. While no injuries have been reported to date, the defect is dangerous and can result in catastrophic injury or death. In fact, it may even increase the risk of death or injury due to carbon monoxide poisoning according to our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers.
What Problems Are Caused by the Engine Software Bug?
While bugs and glitches used to be something we only worried about while at the computer, today’s cars have significantly more in common with the electronic devices that we love to hate. Gone are old-fashioned carburetors and analog systems; they have long been replaced by the supposedly latest and greatest digital methods. However, while most vehicular systems are now controlled by computers and software platforms, these platforms are deployed widely throughout one or more manufacturer’s product offerings. When there is a problem with the underlying software, nearly all of a manufacturer’s vehicles can be affected.
The software glitch at issue in this recall is one that will prevent the car or truck’s engine from shutting off. That is, even if a driver removes the key to disengage the ignition or, in the case of an electronic ignition, presses the off button the engine will continue to run and will not turn off. This defect can lead to serious injury or even death.
What Vehicles Are Affected by the Glitch?
A broad array of vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States are impacted by this software glitch. More than 432,000 vehicles in the United States are affected by this glitch. 2015 ford Escape SUVs that were built at Ford’s Louisville, Kentucky plant during the time period from April 1, 2014 to June 12, 2015 are affected by the problem. Likewise, affected vehicles also include the Ford Focus and C-Max vehicles that were manufactured at Ford’s Michigan plant from June 17, 2014 to June 12, 2015, and April 22, 2014 to June 12, 2015, respectively.
Industry followers like Director of Pen Test Partners, Ken Munro, appear to believe that this software glitch is but a harbinger of major future problems regarding the software systems used by automakers. Munro’s point is simple and anyone who lived through the earlier days of personal computers is likely to nod in agreement. That is, as manufacturers introduce new software systems into cars, the potential for security and safety risks increases. However, the damage from a personal computer was typically limited to lost data or stolen financial information. The potential for damage in today’s cars – or rolling computers with wheels – is much greater. Software glitches in cars can not only expose confidential consumer information, but also it can lead to loss of control, unexpected operation and a bevy of other safety risks. The increased need to bring the vehicle in for routine software updates may even cause drivers to “tune-out” recall information and miss particularly dangerous issues.
Vehicles that Do Not Turn Off Can Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
While no injuries have been reported as a result of this defect, an engine that will not turn-off presents a serious risk of death by carbon monoxide poisoning. This risk is especially pronounced when the vehicle is parked in a confined space like a garage. If the garage is attached to a home, the fumes from the running engine may even be able to enter into the home and sicken or kill the occupants.
In an incident unrelated to the current vehicle recall but illustrative of the dangers a running vehicle left in the garage can present, four elderly individuals from Queens, New York were killed after a vehicle was left running in the couple’s garage. Only one of the deceased elderly individuals was found in the garage near to the vehicle. The other victims were in the home and were found in the basement, on the main level, and on the second floor of the home. This incident shows that carbon monoxide from a running vehicle can, indeed, leak from the garage and fill a home. Vehicles that do not turn off despite a driver’s command, increase this potential risk.
Injured by a Defective Vehicle?
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed by a defective vehicle, the personal injury attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for compensation for you. We have more than three decades of advocating strategically and aggressively for accident victims for Ford vehicle defects and other Philadelphia car accidents. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (215) 709-6940 or contact us online.