To whom may I report an engine failure which resulted in a serious accident?

The engine of our VW Passat 2000 quit suddenly while driving home on freeway. Night. Rain. We put on the flasher lights as we were slowing while trying to move to the right lane. No shoulder as we we were on a bridge. Do not remember being rammed from behind. Had a new battery installed one month earlier after VW mechanics could find no reason for intermittent non-starting of car which we had been experiencing. They had run “fault codes”. I, the passenger, fractured my C-7 vertebrae and have been wearing a neck-to-waist brace for three months to enable healing. We could have been killed.

Sorry to hear about your accident. Your engine failure doesn’t sound like it related to the earlier work. It could have been many things that caused the engine to stop. And this happening to a 14 year old car is not something that safety agencies would be interested in.

Sorry about your accident and injury. The driver who rammed you is at fault as the car still coasts with the engine off and with your flashers on, that driver should have been able to slow or stop to avoid the accident.
You could go to the NTHSA and file a report. If this a a VW problem and enough people report a similar problem, the NTHSA will look into it. However, at 14 years old, many of the VW Passats are no longer on the road. I’m not sure a recall would be issued in any event.

I am not sure that any recalls would be done on vehicles that are now 14 years old, but if you want to file a complaint with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here is a link for filing complaints online:

I think that your problem may be the result of a worn-out ignition switch. GM did issue a recent recall for some of their vehicles with that exact type of problem, but those vehicles were much newer than yours.

I hope that your healing is complete very soon, and that you have no lasting effects from this accident.

I too am sorry to hear about it and the injuries.

I also agree with @texases. It’s an older car and any number of things can cause the problem that don’t have anything to do with any kind of actual safety “defect.” E.g. your fuel pump might have just failed. That’s just a routine part failure that can happen to any car.

That said, there are lots of places that collect car complaints/reports. Safety report central is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). I doubt that there’s anything that stops you from filing a report about an incident.

Two more links:

Well at any rate its time for a new car. That one is totaled. VWs I believe have a history of electrical problems as they age. I don’t know that it will serve any useful purpose to report an engine stall on a 14 year old car.

You can file a complaint with the NHTSA but that report will likely lead to nothing. While it’s regrettable what happened to you, the car is 14 years old and cars of even a younger age can and do stall due to any one of a number of reasons.

If there’s any fingerpointing to be done then it needs to be pointed at the person changing lanes and/or the person who rammed your car from behind.

What does the person who rammed your vehicle from behind have to say about who did what?

I agree with everyone that nothing is likely to come of a report for an engine stalling on a 14 year old car. However, if filing a NHTSA report helps you sleep better, than by all means do so.

This may sound like a weird suggestion, and maybe is, but if you find that you have a fear of driving after you heal you could have flashing strobe emergency lights installed on your next vehicle. Especially if the bridge you mentioned is long and a regular part of your daily drive. It can be done so that high intensity strobes flash in the rear window as well as the taillight assemblies and other areas. Good ones offer extreme visibility.

Sincere best,


Are those strobes you mentioned even legal?

Yup. As long as they’re yellow. Blue and red are only legal for cops and emergency response vehicles.
You can see them in operation in various configurations on the new tow trucks, and some of the new Department of Transportation cars. They’re great.

In Minnesota we’ve had something like 13 Highway Patrol cars hit this year while on the side of the road with strobe lights flashing. One morning I even saw where someone ran into the back of state dump truck with lights flashing the arrows and the crush cushions on the back. I always am just very aware of people in back of me and how they are driving but don’t know if anything would make much difference to aggressive inattentive drivers.

They’ve found that drunk drivers are attracted to flashing lights.

“They’ve found that drunk drivers are attracted to flashing lights.”

I remember reading that factoid.
And, when you consider the percentage of people in this country who are under the influence of drugs (both Rx & illicit), the possibility that druggies are also attracted to flashing lights could be…problematic.

Recently, a drunk driver killed 6 people here

She was traveling over 100mph, going the wrong direction on the freeway

I wouldn’t want strobes to be a beacon for her to crash into . . . she survived, by the way