In last month’s report, I made you aware of one of the most dangerous ATVs on the market – the Yamaha Rhino. Since the Yamaha Rhino All Terrain Vehicle was introduced to the market in the United States in 2003, it has been involved in a large number of devastating rollover accidents, leaving adults and a number of children seriously injured, permanently maimed, and in some instances dead. The Rhino has been linked with many rollovers because of its narrow and top-heavy design, as well as its small tires. These design features make the Rhino unstable and easily prone to roll over. There have been serious injuries when going around corners at low speeds and on flat terrain. When confronted with the mounting injuries caused by the Rhino design, Yamaha simply blamed the consumers for their own injuries. The following statement was released by Yamaha:
“While the Rhino has been a reliable and versatile vehicle, some operators have engaged in aggressive driving (such as sliding, skidding, fishtailing, or doing donuts) or made abrupt maneuvers (such as turning the steering wheel too far or too fast) that have resulted in side rollovers – even on flat, open areas. Unfortunately, some occupants have been seriously injured during such rollovers when they put their arms or legs outside the vehicle, resulting in crushing or other injuries.”
Yet, without admitting that the Rhino’s design is defective, Yamaha recently developed doors and passenger handholds for the Rhino and is offering them to owners of the 2004-2007 ATV models free of charge. The company claims that these features will help people keep their limbs inside the vehicle during a rollover. While these features may indeed offer extra protection in the case of a rollover, the rollovers should not be happening in the first place. Yamaha is making the offer of these features sound as though they are a “special offer,” rather than the installation of safety features that should have been present from the beginning. Furthermore, Yamaha should admit that the core design of the Rhino is defective. Instead, the company has dealt with the safety problems by doing things such as pasting a sticker to the dashboard of the Rhino encouraging “responsible use” of the vehicle. The sticker contains statements that admit the vehicle’s propensity to roll over, such as:
These warnings put the blame for defective design of the Rhino on the driver and passenger of the vehicle and assume that the occupants have time to prepare for a rollover in advance of such an accident. A sticker cannot overcome the defective vehicle design.
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