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Can You Be Held Liable For A Crash, Even If You Weren’t In The Car? 10
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Legal, News, texting while driving on 05 10th, 2012

This much is established as fact: Kyle Best, 19 years old at the time of the accident, struck an unnamed couple on a motorcycle behind the wheel of his pickup truck. The impact was severe enough that both rider and passenger lost their left legs, but were lucky enough to survive that accident. The root cause? Distracted driving, as Best was exchanging text messages with Shannon Colonna at the time of the accident.

Best has already pled guilty to multiple violations of New Jersey law, including careless driving, failure to maintain lane position and use of a mobile phone while driving. Now, in what Autoblog claims may be a legal first, the injured couple’s attorney has named both Best and Colonna in a civil lawsuit. The attorney alleges that Colonna knew Best was behind the wheel, and her actions were no different than if she’d been in the car at the time of the crash.

Colonna’s attorney insists his client can’t be held liable for another’s bad decision (to read the texts while driving), and furthermore Colonna did not realize the dangers of texting while driving. We’ll buy into the first part of that statement, but not the second half: does anyone in this country not fully understand the dangers of texting while driving?

A judge will decide whether Colonna can be added to the suit on May 25. If the judge decides in favor of the plaintiffs (the injured couple), the case sets an interesting legal benchmark. Since loosely-enforced laws don’t seem to work, maybe the best way to stop texting while driving is to hold both parties accountable when an accident occurs.

Image credit: flickr user jkbeitz, licensed under CC 2.0

Group Alleges That Chrysler & Ford Engage In False Advertising 11
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Advertising, Automotive, Chrysler, Ford, Kurt, Legal on 10 11th, 2011

The 2012 Chrysler 300. Image: Chrysler Group LLC

The Made in the USA Foundation was created in 1989 to promote American-manufactured products, and Ford was one of the companies that provided initial funding to the group. That hasn’t stopped the Made in the USA Foundation from calling out both Ford and Chrysler, charging both companies with false advertising in complaints filed with the FTC.

Ford claims in radio spots that the mid-size Fusion is an American car, yet it’s built in Mexico with Mexican labor. That will partially change in the near future, as Ford moves some of its Fusion production to Flat Rock, Michigan, where the car will be built alongside the Mustang. The bulk of Ford Fusion product will still come out of Ford’s plant in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, which should preclude Ford from waving the flag behind this particular model.

It gets worse for Chrysler. As both Automotive News (subscription required) and Left Lane News point out, the “Imported From Detroit” Chrysler 300 is built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, and uses an engine built in Mexico. That may be good enough for NAFTA, but it hardly qualifies the car as an American-made product.

Ford hasn’t commented on the complaint and Chrysler says it’s without merit. Per Michael Palese, Chrysler’s manager of legal communications, “Chrysler Group will continue to pursue all avenues to protect our “Imported From Detroit.”

Made in the USA Foundation also charges both automakers with removing the country of origin label from car windows at auto shows. This information can be found on the window sticker, which automakers often remove from vehicles displayed at car shows to prompt dialogue with in-booth personnel.

As Chrysler’s Palese points out, there’s nothing illegal about this. The American Automobile Labeling Act requires country of origin information to be displayed on vehicles distributed for sale, and not on those shown at auto shows.

The bottom line? If you really want to buy an American-made product, do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.

If Dubs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Roll On Dubs 7
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Donk, Dub, Legal, News, Police, Wheels on 04 7th, 2011

A donked Impala, somewhere other than Cincinnati. Image: Phillip Pessar

Like big wheels? Does your taste in automotive styling run to the donk side? If so, I’d suggest you stay away from Cincinnati, Ohio, where police are using a little known section of the municipal code to seize cars rolling on wheels deemed “too large” to be safe. I haven’t seen any clear definition on what size constitutes a “threat to public safety”, but I’d be willing to guess that your risk of an impounded vehicle goes up exponentially with wheel sizes over 20”. If impounded, the vehicles must pass a “safety inspection” before they can be returned to their owners, and guess who pays for that inspection? The owners, who also get saddled with towing and impound fees.

I’m not a donk guy, myself, but this whole thing just stinks of profiling to me. If you really want to improve safety, why not begin ticketing distracted drivers, who pose more of a risk than someone rolling on a set of 24” rims? If window-rattling bass is the real issue, pass a noise ordinance and begin handing out tickets to offending drivers. If the real issue is a crackdown on culture foreign to you, where does it end? It seems to me that municipal leaders in Cincinnati would be well served to re-read their high school history books.

Source: Jalopnik, via AutoGuide