GM Recalls Vehicles Equipped With Driver-Side DVD Player
General Motors announced today the safety recall of all model Chevy automobiles with a driver-side DVD player, an option which was installed in approximately 5,000 Chevy Blazers, Tahoes and Suburbans, 4,610 of which were reported to have been involved in accidents.
A spokesperson for the company recently issued a release stating, "It has been determined that vehicles having a DVD player for driver-only viewing have been cited in a disproportionate number of roadway incidents. Though it has not been proven that operating a vehicle and simultaneously watching a movie makes driving conditions any more dangerous than what today's drivers often face, GM is nonetheless instituting a voluntary recall to investigate this odd disparity."
The recall was initiated in response to a lawsuit filed by Janet Tudow of Cleveland, Ohio after she became involved in a four-car accident while using the video screen as her car traveled down Interstate 90.
"My husband had just bought a new Suburban, complete with CD player, heated seats, keyless entry and the driver-side DVD player," said Tudow in a written statement. "Nowhere in the manual was I told that use of the video screen could impair my ability to operate the vehicle at the same time, so not wanting to get too bored and fall asleep on my long drive to Mother's house, I put in the DVD of my favorite movie, 'Finding Nemo'."
But although the hilariously wacky children's film may have appealed to Tudow's sense of entertainment, it would eventually lead her instead to her sense of terror.
"The video screen being in my line of view, along with the attention-grabbing and highly distracting animation, caused me to lose control of the vehicle, instigating a serious accident, from which resulted numerous personal injuries to myself and death to many nearby motorists and riders," she said. "I now have no choice but to sue GM."
Tudow is also considering filing a lawsuit against Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.
Never anticipated by GM to be cited as a source of accidents, the video option was made available in some 2003 SUV models from the Detroit-based auto manufacturer, and was marketed with slogans such as, "Why should the kids have all the fun?" and "Drive Chevy - Never a Boring Moment".
High definition video screens and DVD consoles for back-seat viewing have long been popular in family-oriented vehicles, but the replacement of the standard sun-visor with a personal video screen in the front-left seat has been declared "unsafe" by various consumer advocacy groups and government transportation organizations.
"Driver DVD screens should never have been implemented in any vehicles," said Martha Janison, consumer advocacy spokesperson. "It's not like we're talking about cell phones, here."
Though its justification remains debatable, the screen recall is expected to be extended to vehicles with other additional options that were recently discovered to be in violation of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations and have been declared to be "impediments to a driver's ability to concentrate on the road". Options in question include rear-seat high-powered paintball mini-gun, passenger-seat mounted police-quality spotlight and laser-pointer combo and driver-side erotic auto-grip fellator.