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  • Tales of the Red Tape #42: Peeling Back Nonsense in Vehicle Regulation

    Gene Blevins/Polaris/Newscom

    Gene Blevins/Polaris/Newscom

    General Motors Corp. (GM) is recalling 18,941 Chevy Camaros (model years 2013 and 2014) for violating Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208—Occupant Crash Protection.

    Defective seat belts? Air bag malfunction? Brake failure?

    Nope.

    GM is recalling 18,941 Chevy Camaros because the air bag warning label on the sun visor may peel.

    Seriously.

    The recall decision was made by the Executive Field Action Decision Committee, following a review by the Field Performance Evaluation Review Committee. So, pursuant to 49 CFR §573.6, the automaker submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) its determination of noncompliance for the requirement that the visor label be “permanently affixed.”

    GM also issued a stop delivery order to dealers, and instructed them to inspect the label on each sun visor (“using a finger nail, plastic card, or similar” to determine proper adhesion). In the event a label is prone to peel, the entire sun visor must be scrapped and replaced.

    This is no small matter, evidently. If the air bag warning label detaches from the visor, the driver and front seat passenger may not be warned of the risks of air bag deployment. Or so goes the reasoning for the adhesion edict. But even when warned via visor label, a driver and front seat passenger have little choice about air bag deployment, since the potentially dangerous equipment is required by the NHTSA itself.

    In other words, General Motors is required under NHTSA rules to initiate a recall of 18,941 vehicles because of a danger created by other NHTSA rules. Perhaps it is regulators who should come with a warning label.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

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