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In a statement issued March 30, 2009, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that Yamaha Motor Co. will begin a “free repair program” on 145,000 Rhino model Recreational Utility Vehicles already in the stream of commerce. While that is good news and all, after considering that Yamaha is the world’s second largest motorcycle manufacturer it seems it is too little too late. There are already nearly 50 deaths linked to the Rhinos’ faulty design that renders the vehicle unduly dangerous even when driven level and at low speeds.

According to the USCPSC release:

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. Owners of the affected Rhinos should stop using them and call their dealer to schedule an appointment to have repairs made once they are available and to take advantage of a free helmet offer.

Many of the victims of the faulty design of Rhinos have been children who have been thrown from the vehicle and crushed when it lands on top of them. While many Rhino rollover victims survived their injuries, many have permanent disfigurement as a result of the vehicle crushing their bodies and limbs – some injuries requiring amputation. And many victims were injured or killed even when driving in a way that would be considered responsible by any measure. Of course the repairs are free! And a free helmet?! That is the least that a huge company like Yamaha can do for the people who trusted the Yamaha name enough to purchase a vehicle that many said were supposed to be safer than all terrain vehicles.

At Hilliard Munoz Guerra LLP, we are devoted to making the lives of everyday people safer by ensuring companies that put products into our stream of commerce like Yamaha are held accountable when defective and unsafe products injure or kill those that buy them. Please discontinue the use of the Rhino vehicles, at least until any necessary modifications are completed, and stay informed of any future developments with respect to Rhinos. Safe riding.

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