Thousands of Yamaha Rhino Vehicles Recalled Following 46 DeathsMar 31, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Yamaha Motor Corp. USA is recalling 120,000 dangerous Rhino off-road vehicles. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the defective Yamaha Rhino vehicles have been linked to 46 deaths.
Yamaha has announced a free repair program to address safety issues with all Rhino 450, 660 and 700 model. Owners of the deadly Yamaha Rhino are being warned not to use them until the repairs are made.
According to the CPSC, it has investigated more than 50 incidents involving 46 driver and passenger deaths in these two Rhino models. More than two-thirds of the cases involved rollovers and many involved unbelted occupants. Of the rollover-related deaths and hundreds of reported injuries, some of which were serious, many appear to involve turns at relatively low speeds and on level terrain, the CPSC said.
The 450, 660 and 700 model Yamaha Rhinos have been distributed nationwide since Fall 2003. Some units have been equipped by Yamaha with half doors and additional passenger handholds, either before or after sale.
According to the CPSC, Yamaha’s repair includes the installation of a spacer on the rear wheels as well as the removal of the rear anti-sway bar to help reduce the chance of rollover and improve vehicle handling, and continued installation of half doors and additional passenger handholds where these features have not been previously installed to help keep occupants’ arms and legs inside the vehicle during a rollover and reduce injuries. The company is also extending a free helmet offer to owners of the affected Yamaha Rhinos.
Once these repairs have been made to their vehicles, the CPSC is urging Rhino users to always wear their helmet and seatbelt and follow the safety instructions and warnings in the on-product labels, owner’s manuals and other safety materials. The Rhino is only recommended for operators 16 and older with a valid driver’s license. All passengers must be tall enough to place both feet on the floorboard with their back against the seat back.
For additional information, contact Yamaha at 800-962-7926 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.yamaha-motor.com
We have long been reporting about the dangers associated with the Yamaha Rhino. The CPSC decided to investigate the Yamaha Rhino last November because of the high number of accident and death reports involving the vehicle, as wells as the high number of product liability suits - at least 200 - filed by people who claim they were injured by the Rhino.
While off-road vehicles are involved in hundreds of accidents every year, critics say 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. 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. Furthermore, the Yamaha Rhino is designed in such a way that passengers’ legs are unprotected in the event of a rollover accident.
Victims of Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents usually experience broken or crushed legs, ankles or feet. In some cases, victims have been permanently disabled, and have had limbs amputated following a Yamaha Rhino rollover accident. When Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents involve children, the results are often fatal.
Unfortunately, the CPSC has not set safety standards for vehicles like the Rhino, which it classifies as a utility terrain vehicle, or UTV. Another class of off-roaders, all terrain vehicles (ATVs), are subject to safety standards. Vehicles like the Rhino aren’t classified as ATV because of design differences such as having a steering wheel, in contrast to the ATVs’ handlebars. But neither are vehicles such as the Rhino subject to the much-tougher standards for cars.