This case involves a Hawaiian franchise tour company with a variety of amphibious ‘duck boat’ tour vehicles. On the day of the incident, the tour operator was attempting to cross the road when the axial component of the vehicle failed, preventing it from stopping. The vehicle collided with a building causing 4 passenger deaths and many other injuries. The parent company supplied the vehicle in question to the franchise after refurbishing it for use. It was later discovered that the vehicle’s axial component had been insufficiently repaired by the parent company before the vehicle had been acquired by the tour company. The owners of the franchise location were aware of the faulty axial but had not contacted the parent company or taken additional measures to remedy the issue. An expert in automotive manufacturing was sought to opine on how prudent manufacturers comply with government regulations and vehicle testing prior to putting vehicles on the road.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your automotive manufacturing experience.
- 2. What standards and protocols do manufacturers have to follow before putting a vehicle on the road?
Expert Witness Response E-007975
I worked in the automotive industry with trucking company manufacturers for close to 20 years. During this time, I was exposed to and responsible for, product design and manufacturing processes. I have been involved in aftermarket, secondary bodybuilders, and similar retrofit designs, in my past. I was also responsible for testing and government regulations and standards, which includes NHTSA, FMVSS, and FMCSA. I had responsibilities ranging from future product design, current product quality improvements, and final assembly of the vehicle, including testing. Manufacturers have to adhere to FMVSS and FMCSA (commercial trucks) as a primary testing standards guideline. Vehicles need to meet minimum standards for many areas, including crash-worthiness, durability, and other categories.