Vehicle manufacturing company Polaris recently made national news after recalling its eighth vehicle over just a five-month period. Shockingly, Polaris is now recalling its ninth vehicle in six months due to consumer hazards. In the past two years alone, Polaris has complied with over ten product recalls because of dangerous defects, many of which resulted in consumer injuries. Over 330,000 vehicles have been recalled and too many consumers have been hurt.
The two most recently recalled products are both recreational off-highway vehicles, also known as ROVs. The defective models, the RZR 170 and Polaris GENERAL, are both being removed from the market for different reasons. A defective tire pressure gage in the GENERAL can lead to over-inflated or deflated tires and consequently, crash hazards for people riding them. The RZR 170 has been recalled for fuel leak and fire hazards, both the result of a defective fuel tank prone to cracking, short-circuiting and/or overheating.
ROVs are motorized vehicles that can be used for recreational or professional purposes. They typically have four or more tires and as all-terrain vehicles, boast the ability to maneuver over many different types of surfaces from driveways to mountainsides. Because of how dangerous they can be, in recent years the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been steadily increasing its efforts to improve ROV product safety. The most dangerous and deadly injuries occur when ROVs roll over, though other common causes of injury include design defects, tire blowouts, inadequate manufacturer safety instructions and/or brake failures. Since the CPSC first began to document consumer accidents in 1982 there have been over 13,000 reports of ATV or ROV-related fatalities.
Although no consumers have yet sustained injuries from Polaris’ two latest recalled products, there have still been 102 reports of cracked fuel tanks, 28 reports of smoking, burning, melting and/or shorted wires and 4 reports of fires from the defective RZR 170. And while it is lucky that no one has been hurt this time around, many consumers in the past have been seriously injured – and according to allegations, some even fatally – due to Polaris’ defective products.
Polaris has claimed that it will work rigorously to improve product designs and overall safety, but the recurring product recalls seem to tell a different story. Perhaps with dwindling profits, the company will begin to value the safety of its consumers over the sales of its unsafe vehicles.
Although ROVs are inherently dangerous, vehicle manufacturers are legally responsible for designing products that are safe and do not pose unreasonable dangers to consumers.
In the case of the RZR 900 model recalled in April of 2016, at least one fatality confirmed by the CPSC to be caused by defective fuel lines. These lines could get pinched shut causing fuel leaks and eventually cause violent explosions giving their riders first, second and third degree burns. For one 15-year-old passenger, the burns were fatal.
Because of the overall dangers, both the CPSC and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) urge users to be vigilant about safety when operating any type of off-road vehicles. Some of the guidelines include:
Please read the ROHVA’s full list of safety rules and guidelines as well as other resources on ROVs.
For both the RZR 170 and the GENERAL, Polaris is offering to give free repairs to consumers.
If you believe you may own a RZR 170, please click here to read the CPSC’s recall notice.
To read about the recalled GENERAL vehicle, please click here.
If you own either of the vehicles, discontinue using them right away. You can contact the manufacturer directly to receive repairs free of charge. If you have any questions about these models, other Polaris vehicles or any other dangerous all-terrain and off-road vehicles, please contact our firm directly.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a dangerous or defective product, please contact our Philadelphia product liability lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation with Galfand Berger, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.