Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Crash Deaths: Goal & Plan

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Everyone who cares for crash victims – past, present, and future, have cause to be pleased with the moral leadership shown the world by NYC Mayor de Blasio setting a worthy goal and a specific plan.

Now the NYC Vision Zero Plan has been released and is at my Blog and in the NY Times Editorial of support.

NY Times Editorial with excellent links:

In addition, civic activist Keegan Stephan of provided this link on the development of political support that preceded this historic moment.

Recent News reports:


NY Times Room for Debate forum at:

The Care for Crash Victims January 2014 Report

We also provided both National context and suggestions how Vision Zero could be expanded to other cities as well.


Let’s salute the citizens of NYC, the new Mayor, the NY Times and the media for covering this worthy goal and plan for saving lives.

True Hope and Change for the Better!

Associated Document:

NYC Vision Zero Plan (PDF – 19 MB)

Ralph Nader Addresses Rep. John Dingell’s Record on Motor Vehicle Safety

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Today, Ralph Nader, on his birthday, publishes an article on retiring Congressman John Dingell.

Nader wrote: “Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), the longest serving member of Congress in history (59 years), did much good and much bad. Reports of his retirement stressed his work in championing Medicare, civil rights legislation, and several environmental laws. Less noticed was his vigorous oversight and investigations of federal departments and agencies that were lax, riven with conflicts of interest, or mistreated whistle-blowers.

But Dingell had another, darker side to his otherwise liberal image. He was totally and cruelly indentured to the auto industry even though he was from an overwhelmingly safe Democratic district. More than any other lawmaker, Democratic or Republican, he fought to make sure that the auto Goliaths got their way in Congress and at the EPA and the Department of Transportation.

I observed his tenacity in delaying the issuance of the life-saving airbag standard, in opposing noxious emission controls on motor vehicles and, most irrationally, in freezing fuel-efficiency rules for many years. He did this with sheer stubborn willpower and by forging a mutually destructive alliance between the Big Three auto companies – GM, Ford, and Chrysler –and the United Auto Workers (UAW).

In the greatest ironies of his lengthy career, he helped mightily in sheltering the technological stagnation of Detroit’s auto barons from innovation-advancing regulation that eventually cost them massive market share to more fuel efficient and higher quality foreign imports from Germany and Japan. This also cost the UAW tens of thousands of jobs.

When, in recent years, the domestic auto industry’s demise was finally clear to him, he began to relent on fuel efficiency but it was too late to save the industry from its own mismanagement and illusions.

The resultant impact on the health and safety of the American people was his most lasting devastating legacy. Year after year people breathed more vehicle emissions and lost their lives or were injured in less safe vehicles because of Mr. Dingell’s huge presence on Capitol Hill.”


I have a personal story about my work that was influenced by both Nader — inspiring — and Rep. Dingell — disappointing.

During the period 1972 – 1978 I was inspired to do public interest work. One issue was gasoline octane posting. It was a lonely effort but educational.

“Results: Advocacy resulted in enactment of Title II – Octane Disclosure – of the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act (P.L. 95-297) requiring the posting of gasoline octane quality ratings on all gasoline pumps to reduce consumer octane overbuying. Octane overbuying in the 1970s was resulting, each day, in an economic waste of three million consumer dollars, energy waste of one million gallons of gasoline, and air pollution of 400,000 pounds of lead.”


Rep. Dingell was the legislative leader on that legislation. The oil industry launched a lobbying campaign to change the formula that would be used on the labels from Research Octane (R) to the average of the Research and Motor Octane ratings = (R+M)/2.

I pointed out that this would compromise the effectiveness of posting because millions of motorists had become used to the Research octane ratings recommended in their owner’s manuals. The Average Octane ratings were about 4 points lower than the Research Octane ratings. So I advocated that the formula be amended to [(R+M)/2] + 4 to prevent the confusion. The Congress adopted the oil industry formula.

About a decade later I analyzed the data to see if the posting had any statistical effect in reducing octane overbuying. I could find no detectable effect in saving money, energy, or air pollution due to posting of octane ratings. Disappointing.

But today is Ralph Nader’s birthday and we should all thank him and wish that all his inspiring work will long continue to help build a safer America.

Thanks and Happy Birthday Ralph Nader!

Possible GM Fine: Questions About Both NHTSA and GM and What We Can Do

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Sen. Markey is now inquiring into GM and NHTSA failures to protect American motorists.

Joan Claybrook has noted below that a maximum fine by NHTSA may be $17 million.

How does a fine of $17 million compare:

    • with 13 crash deaths?
    • with NHTSA’s Enforcement Budget of about $19 million?
    • with open ended GM payments to an un-named law firm it has hired?
    • with GM CEO pay? GM CEO pay is $14.4 million per year.


DOT policy values a statistical life at $9.2 million. See attached DOT memo

What if there are more than 13 crash deaths?“Thirteen deaths and 31 crashes in which air bags failed to deploy have been linked to the issue.

NHTSA said in a statement it has “opened an investigation into the timeliness of General Motors’ recall of faulty ignition switches to determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls.”

Separately, The Detroit News has learned that GM has hired an outside law firm to conduct a full review of the issue….

The law firm — which GM officials would not name — is conducting an extensive review of the company’s actions.”


“Washington — Former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Joan Claybrook said in a letter to the agency on Thursday that because NHTSA hasn’t finalized regulations required by Congress, it might not be able to impose the full $35 million penalty on General Motors Co. if it found the automaker failed to recall 1.62 million older cars for ignition switch problems vehicles in a timely fashion. In fact, $17 million may be the maximum fine.

“NHTSA’s own gross failures to require a recall over the last decade for these vehicles also raise questions about whether the agency can be the cop on the corporate beat, alert to protecting the public safety, as the Congress intended,” Claybrook said.

Congress in 2012 said the maximum penalty NHTSA could impose for failing to recall vehicles in a timely fashion was raised from about $17 million to $35 million. But it required NHTSA by Oct. 1, 2013, to issue a final rule describing its interpretation of the relevant penalty factors.

“The fact that NHSTA didn’t issue this relatively simple final rule in a timely fashion (and before the GM recall) could put in jeopardy its authority to impose the increased $35 million penalty,” Claybrook said.

NHTSA didn’t immediately comment.

During the debate over transportation legislation during 2010-2012, NHTSA endorsed a proposal to hike fines to up to $200 million if automakers failed to recall vehicles within five days of determining they posed an unreasonable risk to safety. But the auto industry successfully lobbied to see it reduced to $35 million.”


Many questions yet to be answered about the Revolving Door at DOT NHTSA? Industry people now holding high positions of NHTSA Vehicle Safety programs. A long list of high NHTSA officials who have now gone on to lucrative auto industry jobs in law firms, lobbying firms, etc.

So many unanswered questions for crash victims, past, present, and future.

Can we hope for change for the better? In my comments (attached) before NHTSA earlier this week I pointed out the following:

“in the 5 years under President Obama, Americans suffered many thousands more deaths due to crash injuries – more than 160,000 people – than the number of Americans who died in the Afghanistan, Iraq, Viet Nam, and Korean wars combined. Naturally citizens might think that the White House would have auto safety on its list of important issues. But if citizens go to issues they will be disappointed to find 33 issues listed – but not auto safety. Why?”

I also pointed out ways to do better included greater citizen involvement such as was done in the 1970 Clean Air Car Race when students from MIT challenged students from CalTech and all other universities to come up with a Clean Air Car that could meet the Clean Air Act goals of a 90% reduction in emissions proposed by Nixon for 1980 and by Muskie for 1975. The students demonstrated in 1970 that it could be done that very summer of 1970.

It was my privilege to present the results to the NAS committee of judges. I did not know the final emission test results yet as we were still testing the student built vehicles in a Cal Tech parking lot. We were experiencing near record smog levels. I was told the Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District trailer in the adjacent parking lot was measuring high levels of Ozone. At a break, I ran over to the trailer and looked at the charts and remarked these are really high levels. A tall owlish gentleman in a three piece suit standing there glowered at me and said “Smog doesn’t bother me one bit!” I was so surprised and shocked that I could feel the hair on the back of my neck bristle.

The next morning I had to turn over the final results to the Chairman of the panel who was sitting at a picnic table with other judges. As they were discussing the results with great surprise and pleasure, the Chairman called out Harry come here. Look at what these engineering students have demonstrated. Harry was Harry F. Barr, VP of Engineering, GM — the man who had glowered at me the day before.

So let’s get students involved in meeting the Vision Zero crash fatalities goal that NYC Mayor de Blasio has set for the year 2024.

Associated Documents:

Comments on NHTSA Strategic Plan

VSL Guidance 2013

GM Apologizes and Recalls Chevrolet Cobalt After Years of Delay and Deaths

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Crash victim mother speaks of the loss of her daughter. See video at

NY Times reports on GM Recall of 1.4 million vehicles:

NY Times reports on the decade of delay by GM, Deaths, and NHTSA’s failure to protect Americans under Bush and Obama:

LA Times reports on GM apology — just in time for Nader’s birthday tomorrow:,0,1687566.story#axzz2uNskmClj

When will we ever learn to make the changes at NHTSA and GM so that these ethical and perhaps criminal failures to protect are prevented?

Comment on NHTSA Strategic Plan

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

NHTSA is holding a Listening Session tomorrow. My comments are attached.

Instructions for comments are at:


8:30: Kick off: Chan Lieu, Director, Office of Government Affairs, Policy, and Strategic Planning

8:40: Acting Administrator David Friedman

9:00: Speakers

Session Organizer:

Melanie L. O’Donnell

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Office of Government Affairs, Policy, and Strategic Planning

1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E. W40-313 Washington, DC 20590

Phone: (202) 366-0689

Blackberry: (202) 507-3525

Associated Document:

Agenda – Comments on NHTSA Strategic Plan