The growing number of reports of vehicles that have not been involved in an auto accident yet catching fire while being driven has garnered the attention of federal safety officials.

Discover How to Stay Safe If Your Car Bursts Into Flame

It was a terrifying few moments for one Georgia school teacher as she left her school one day this past August. The teacher was in route to pick up her children when she noticed smoke coming from under the hood of her 2013 KIA Optima. As the driver explained in a news story, she quickly pulled into a parking lot, and within minutes, her entire car was engulfed in flames. Thankfully, she was not hurt. More amazing though, this scenario is not just an isolated incident to KIA-made cars; Hyundai, BMW, and Nissan are also finding that some of their vehicles are catching fire, drawing the attention of safety officials across the country.

Vehicle Fires More Common Than You Think

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), fire departments across this country responded to more than 152,000 car fires each year from 2006-2010. Those fires resulted in more than 200 deaths and caused hundreds of injuries. NFPA delved deeply into the issue of vehicle fires, and their research showed that, by far, passenger cars were more likely to catch fire than motorhomes, trucks, buses, or any other mode of transportation. The growing number of reports of vehicles that have not been involved in an auto accident yet catching fire while being driven has garnered the attention of federal safety officials. The federal response is not the only warning being given, The Center for Auto Safety, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, loudly voiced their concern over non-collision related vehicle fires and receiving numerous complaints.

According to the watchdog group, it is getting reports every day from car owners across the country about sudden fires, and that information worries the organization, which warns that the events are putting everyone on the road in danger. An expansive probe on this issue is underway by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the investigation may take some time to complete. Drivers of certain cars need to be aware of this latest safety problem as soon as possible in order to take proper action.

The impacted models are not extremely popular in Colorado, as Toyota and Subaru are among the most popular automakers in the state, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of such vehicles on Colorado roads. You can always check on any recalls that have been issued regarding engine fires or any safety concern by going to the NHTSA Safety Issues and Recalls database. All you need to do is put in your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and you can see if the vehicle you are driving has any safety recalls.

What should I do if my car catches fire while I’m driving?

Regardless of what vehicle you drive, if you suddenly smell smoke or see smoke coming from under the hood, NFPA says you need to take action, and quickly. There are specific tips on what you should do if you find yourself in this dangerous situation:

  • If you smell smoke or see smoke, pull over in an area where you can get out of the car safely as quickly as possible.
  • Once stopped, turn the car off and get all passengers out of the vehicle.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately and refrain from going back to the car to retrieve items.
  • Try and stay as far back as 100 feet from the car.

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with this dangerous situation. But just in case, here are some final tips to guide you. Regularly check for vehicle recalls and get them repaired as soon as you are made aware. It’s also critical that you have your vehicle serviced by a professional on a regular basis. Mechanics and dealerships may catch issues before they affect your safety.

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