Wednesday

Federal Safety Investigators Hide Recall Again?

So what did federal safety investigators learn from the public spotlight's glare on their cozy relationship with Toyota? Apparently not much.

On Jan. 22, 2010, CF MOTO, the US company that imports Chinese made motorcycles, reported to federal safety investigators that the rear brakes system on its CF250T motorcycles failed to comply with federal motorcycle safety requirements because they were designed for "scooters" instead of motorcycles. CF MOTO's lawyers sent to letter to Stuart Seigel in NHTSA's Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance in Washington. We have a copy of that letter.

NHTSA received all the proper documents to commence a recall to protect the safety of several thousand motorcycle owners nationwide. They even posted the recall in their online "NHTSA Recall Database" where the public could find it.

Buried in the recall's smaller print was the statement by CF MOTO that it was not going to tell current owners of the recalled motorcycles of the defect for another few months and that it also had no intention of even telling the company's own dealers about the safety recall for another couple of months too. What? You admit to the need of a safety recall and then want to keep it secret? You don't want even your own dealers to be told about it?

Of course, not telling CF MOTO dealers would allow dealers to keep selling the recalled motorcycles without the dealers or the public knowing that the rear brake systems on the motorcycless are the wrong kind.

Then a funny thing happened at NHTSA. The recall disappeared. Gone. Taken off the web site. Poof. Why?

Is NHTSA falling prey to more overseas undue influence? Did CF MOTO decide to get cozy with federal regulators, like Toyota did in order to save itself millions of dollars? Did they pick profits over safety? Did the federal safety investigators at NHTSA decide they had their hands full with Toyota troubles right now, so they would let this one slide? Were they "encouraged" to drop it by the motorcycle's builder, CF MOTO?

At first, no one was explaining it. Then, in response to our repeated inquiries, NHTSA said that it might have been removed because basically they wanted to check it out first and be sure it was a motor vehicle recall. One can guess that maybe NHTSA investigators are still "investigating" but if the manufacturer admits the motorcycles were built wrong, what is there to investigate? Why the stall and delay? Why remove it from the online recall database, which is the one place the public would expect to find it?

And in the meantime, how many owners are riding around thinking they have the right kind of brakes when they don't? There's a reason for federal safety standards about brakes on motorcycles. Ignoring any safety standard is just plain stupid. And it could be plenty dangerous. Whose side is NHTSA on here? The taxpayers whose safety it is entrusted with? Or the industry queens who sell millions of unsafe and dangerous motor vehicles to US consumers and whose mantra lately seems to be "trust me" and "buy me" and little else?

Maybe the recall is a big deal. We're sure CF MOTO would say it is not. That raises the question though. Since when did a recall become a "not-recall"? Since when did federal safety standards become "maybe" standards?

There's a reason the recall agency's name is the National Highway Traffic SAFETY Administration. Apparently someone in Washington has forgotten that.

If you own a CF MOTO, you might want to be very careful out there on the street. Oh. And you might want to email NHTSA and ask them why they are keeping the CF MOTO recall a secret. You can do that by clicking here. Or going to the safety agency's website here: http://www.nhtsa.gov/.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to ride a bad motorcycle, no matter who makes it.