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Seattle "Duck" crash due to mechanical failure

People often complain about regulations. They stifle business. They choke innovation. They create red tape. But people often forget they do something else. They often save lives. Here is the irony of effective regulations: they become invisible when the work well. When the regulations do not exist or are not followed, the consequences can be catastrophic

In 2015, the crash of a "duck boat" in Seattle that killed five people and injured another 69 is an example of what happens when regulations are ignored. The axle broke on the vehicle and the driver lost control, crashing into a bus and killing four passengers on that vehicle. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that the probable cause of the crash was a mechanical failure and improper maintenance.

The crash was the ultimate result of what happens when companies fail to follow proper rules and was clear negligence. The company was aware of the potential for mechanical failure of the axle housing in 2004, and they made a "fix" in 2005 that was inadequate and "poorly executed." The Seattle operator had copies of the memo from their headquarters that instructed them to repair the axle housing, but the work was never done, according to the NTSB.

The company was subject to lax oversight because it had never identified itself a being a manufacturer and needed to follow the enhanced rules that govern when manufacturers have to repair or recall defective products. The"duck boats" had escaped formal regulation because the manufacturer was not registered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NTSB made 11 recommendations as part of the investigation. It has recommended that these vehicles be equipped with seatbelts to prevent the passengers from being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash, as 11 passengers were in the Seattle crash.

With highway fatalities on the rise nationwide, it is essential that existing safety regulations of all vehicle manufacturers and operators be followed, to prevent these tragic and unnecessary crashes from causing injuries and deaths that shatter families.

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