On March 31, 2009, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC"), in cooperation with Yamaha Motor Corporation announced a repair program for all Yamaha Rhino 450, 660 and 700 models to address safety defects that have killed at least 46 and injured hundreds of others in the United States. Most importantly, the CPSC advises consumers to "immediately stop using these popular recreational vehicles until the repair is installed by a dealer."
The Yamaha Rhino is a four wheel, side by side Utility Terrain Vehicle ("UTV") sold in the United States and Canada. The CPSC staff investigated more than 50 incidents involving 45 driver and passenger deaths in the Yamaha Rhino, more than 2/3rds of which involved rollovers and unbelted occupants. Many of the rollovers occurred at relatively low speeds and on level terrain. Yamaha also agreed to voluntarily suspend the sale of these models until repairs are completed.
It has been believed for several years that the design of the Yamaha Rhino was defective, in that multiple design flaws rendered the vehicle unstable and prone to tipping and rolling over. These defects are alleged to include a "top heavy" design and high center of gravity, contributing to the numerous roll overs.
The repairs, which will be provided free of charge, include the installation of a "spacer" on the rear wheels, and the removal of an anti-sway bar, thereby reducing the change of rollover. Additional repairs will include the installation of half doors and additional passenger handholds in order to keep occupants arms and legs inside the vehicle.
The firm of Shipman & Wright, LLP, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, represents persons across the United States who have suffered serious injuries, including those who have been injured or killed in an accident involving a Yamaha Rhino.