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Expert: Flood of auto recalls a sign of 'new normal' re: safety

Would it surprise you to learn that the rate of auto recalls this year is not a record? Presuming an analysis by Detroit news of available data sources is valid, that seems to be the case. But there's a question about whether it will stay that way.

As we have noted in previous posts and in one in particular last month, recalls by car manufacturers seem to be coming fast and furious this year. A lot of them center around air bag problems. Either they don't go off when they're supposed to, or they open with such force that they send potentially deadly metal shards whipping through vehicle passenger compartments.

Either way, if you happen to have one of the vehicles with the faulty bags, serious or fatal injury could result if you end up in an accident.

The recalls of 2015 haven't hit the record of nearly 64 million recorded in 2014, yet. But there are experts who suggest there's still time to pass that mark. The reason, they say, is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is showing itself to be a lot more aggressive in demanding recalls. And in reaction, carmakers are moving faster when issues surface.

Sean Kane, head the safety advocacy group Safety Research and Strategies, says the environment that's been created is "a new normal." He says NHTSA is making clear that it won't accept corner-cutting methods that carmakers may have used in the past.

Another reason for the higher signs of anxiety is that the average age of vehicles on the road is now more than 11 years. That's a new record. Kane notes that older cars feature older computer technology and older code, which suggests that we can expect to see more issues.

The bottom line, it seems, is that NHTSA is raising turning up the heat and carmakers are feeling it.

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