Case Study Ford Pinto Case – Essay Example

Case Study Ford Pinto Case First Last Dr. TeacherFirst TeacherLast Number 30 June Case Study Ford Pinto Case
According to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road accidents are the number one cause of death for Americans under the age of 34 and approximately 42,000 Americans die in road accidents every year ("Motor vehicle safety," 2006). ODI further states that annual costs related to these accidents amount to over $ 150 billion. Clearly, such a staggering loss in life and monetary terms would necessitate a corresponding effort by vehicle manufacturers and regulators to ensure higher safety levels but, as will be seen in this paper, it is not quite as straightforward. While framing of traffic regulations and driver education are both important to avoid this loss, a large number of these casualties have occurred owing to ignorance of safety issues in car construction by manufacturers. This is also evident by the recall of over 390 million vehicles since 1966 for safety defects ("Motor vehicle safety," 2006).
For car manufacturers, the decision to implement appropriate safety measures in vehicles has been a choice between taking an ethical or a financial decision. There are numerous examples where a manufacturer gave priority to financial gain over ethics and quality, the most recent being that of Toyota which had to recall 2.3 million vehicles and was fined over 16 million dollars for failing to comply with US auto safety laws and (Piscitelli, 2010). The significance of Toyota’s recall and fine was that the entire episode from reporting, recall and fine took place within a relatively short span of two years. In the past, when laws were not fully developed, it took much longer for any retribution to take place. The famous case of Ford Pinto was such an example where it took over 8 years for Ford to respond to reports of deaths caused by faulty placement of fuel tank in its car (Dowie, 1977).
Dowie, M. (1977, September). “Pinto Madness”. Mother Jones Magazine. Retrieved June 29, 2010 from
Motor vehicle safety defects and recalls. (2006, March). Retrieved from
Piscitelli, J. (2010, April 19). “Statement from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Toyotas Agreement to Pay Maximum Civil Penalty”. NHTSA. Retrieved June 30, 2010 from