Stolen Hyundai and KIA Models Result in 14 Crashes, 8 Fatalities, Says NHTSA
While we’ve done extensive reporting on the social media trend that saw thousands of Hyundai and Kia models stolen with just a flash drive, one newly uncovered statistic stands out as quite alarming. According to a recent report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, those stolen vehicles have resulted in 14 crashes and eight deaths over the past two years.
Four teenagers killed while joyriding a stolen Kia in Buffalo
On October 24, 2022, four teens in Buffalo, NY account for half of the reported deaths resulting from a stolen Kia vehicle. The Kia was stolen by the teens and had been reported by other motorists for dangerous driving throughout the night. In the end, the teens lost control of the stolen car and crashed it into a wall.
According to Rochester First News, five of the six occupants were ejected from the vehicle on impact. Three were pronounced dead at the scene, while the fourth died in the hospital later that morning.
The two surviving occupants were a 14-year-old female and the driver, a 16-year-old male.
The family of one of the teenagers killed has since filed both wrongful death and class action lawsuits against Kia. The class action suit alleges that Kia hasn’t done enough to make their cars harder to steal.
A 71-year-old man killed when hit by teenagers in a stolen Kia
A second story from Robbins, Illinois saw a 71-year-old man killed by teenagers in a stolen Kia. The teens struck his vehicle while at a red light, and the man later died in the hospital as a result of his injuries. In this case, the three car thieves were just 13 years old – all survived the crash.
Philadelphia man riding in a stolen Kia killed after rollover
A third story, occurring in mid-December 2022, involved two men in a stolen Kia in Philadelphia. In this incident, the stolen vehicle was speeding down Roosevelt Avenue before striking two vehicles at a red light. The stolen Kia then rolled over three times, ejecting the passenger. That passenger was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver fled the incident on foot. Fortunately, nobody in the stopped vehicles were killed as a result of the crash.
The response from Hyundai and Kia is too little, too late
As recently as September of 2022, both Kia and Hyundai denied responsibility for their oft-stolen vehicles. Citing a lack of federal mandate to include immobilizer devices that would prevent such thefts, the automakers insisted that they were under no obligation to fit the devices to affected vehicles.
Instead, both Hyundai and Kia chose to charge customers to install glass break sensors to help reduce thefts. Their other solution? Donate a few thousand steering wheel locks to local police stations. This is despite selling over 8.3 million vehicles that could be stolen using a USB drive and a screwdriver.
Now though, it seems that mounting public pressure and a flurry of both consumer and municipal lawsuits have forced both brands to act. A new software update is coming over the next few months. It will be distributed for free beginning in March, with a full rollout expected by June of this year. For those who have had their vehicles stolen, been denied insurance coverage, and worse yet, lost loved ones, the fix may be too little, too late.