Another Yamaha Rhino WarningAug 6, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding owners of the Yamaha Rhino to be safe this summer. Figures from the agency indicate that accidents involving the Yamaha Rhino continue to be reported.
We have long been reporting about the dangers associated with the Yamaha Rhino. Last year, the CPSC decided to investigate the Yamaha Rhino because of the high number of accident and death reports involving the vehicle, as wells as the high number of product liability suits filed by people who claim they were injured by the Rhino.
While off-road vehicles are involved in hundreds of accidents every year, critics allege the Yamaha Rhino is even more likely to be involved in deadly rollover accidents. They charge that the Yamaha Rhino is top heavy, and it has tires that are extremely narrow. Allegedly, these design defects make it far more likely that the Yamaha Rhino will tip and rollover while going through a turn, even when the vehicle is traveling at a slow speed and is on a flat surface. These critics also charge Yamaha Rhino is designed in such a way that passengers’ legs are unprotected in the event of a rollover accident.
In March, Yamaha Motor Corp. USA recalled 145,000 dangerous Rhino model 450, 660 and 700 off-road vehicles. A free vehicle repair and helmet giveaway was offered to all owners of the recalled Rhino models, in order to enhance stability and reduce the potential for rollover.
At the time the CPSC said the Yamaha Rhino vehicles had been linked to 46 deaths. The agency also said it had investigated more than 50 incidents involving 46 driver and passenger deaths in two of Yamaha’s Rhino models. Now the CPSC is reporting that as of June 23, 2009, it has received reports of nearly 60 fatalities involving the 450, 660 and 700 models of the Yamaha Rhino. A number of very serious injuries have also been reported, including injuries to the head and neck, and incidents requiring surgical amputation of victims’ arms, legs, and fingers. Many of these cases appear to have involved rollovers at relatively low speeds and on level terrain, the CPSC said.
The CPSC believes that in order to provide a safer ride, all Rhinos must have half-doors, additional passenger handholds, spacers on the rear wheels, and the rear anti-sway bar removed. Consumers should immediately stop using Rhinos until the repairs are installed by a dealer. While these repairs will improve the safety of these vehicles, the repairs alone are not enough. Owners of vehicles should be sure that riders and passengers:
- wear their seat belt properly every time,
- strap on their helmet every time,
- follow on-product warnings,
- never remove the half-doors,
- never allow a child younger than 16 to drive,
- never allow a child to be a passenger if he/she is unable to place both feet on the floorboard with his/her back against the seat, and
- only operate off-road—the Rhino is not designed for use on public roads or paved surfaces.
Improving the safety system of the vehicle, combined with occupant attention to safe riding practices, will lead to reduced deaths and injuries.
For additional information on the free Rhino repair program, consumers should contact Yamaha at 800-962-7926 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.yamaha-motor.com.