Victims Voices Bringing Us Closer To Achieving Vision Zero Crash Deaths in a Decade

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

An excellent article by crash victims was published in the NY Times.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/nyregion/how-being-hit-by-a-vehicle-changed-times-colleagues-lives.html

Voices of crash victims desperately need to be heard and heeded if we are to accelerate progress toward achieving Vision Zero Crash Deaths and Serious Injuries in a decade.

When I started at NHTSA under Joan Claybrook, I had the privilege of beginning study of effects of crash injuries on families. See http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/effects-on-families.php

Reagan stopped that line of inquiry at NHTSA in 1982 along with reducing the agency by 33% (300 people). NHTSA today, after more than 1.5 million more crash deaths, is still operating at that reduced level and under greater industry influence.

These voices are eloquently joining other citizen efforts to achieve Vision Zero. See http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-lessons.php and for growing political interest and possibilities see http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-progressive.php and for even some positive action by NHTSA on pedestrian protection see http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-praise.php

Greater voices = greater choices for building a safer America.

Imagine the mapping that appears in the NY Times article extended across the nation by State and Congressional district. This can be done. See http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/CrashDeathMappingTools.php

As for detailed information on consequences of leg and foot injuries see http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/CIREN3.pdf

Thanks to the NY Times, crash victim authors, citizen activists, and Mayor de Blasio for his leadership in setting a Vision Zero goal for NYC. Now we need such leadership for a national Vision Zero goal.

DOT NHTSA & GM Recall & Senator Markey Sees Need for More

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

DOT Secretary Foxx and NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman appear to be trying to bury this problem without acknowledging DOT NHTSA failures:

“We know no one is perfect. But we cannot tolerate, what we will not accept, is that a person or a company who knows danger exists and says nothing. Literally, silence can kill,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx during a press conference today.

“The fact remains that GM did not act, and did not alert us in a timely manner. What GM did was break the law. They failed to meet their public safety obligations….”

“David Friedman, NHTSA’s acting administrator, noted that if information GM provided the agency in February had been made available earlier some owners of the vehicles may have avoided injury or death.

“Friedman said there wasn’t one particular reason why GM didn’t act sooner even though there were plenty of employees as well as suppliers that knew there was a problem with the ignition in the vehicles. He said there was no indication that Barra had been briefed about the problem before the January meeting she referenced in testimony in two congressional hearings in early April.”

Source:

http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2014/05/nhtsa-forcing-gm-to-change-safety-culture/

DOT NHTSA admits failure but points the finger at GM:

“Both in 2007 and again in 2010, NHTSA reviewed data related to the non-deployment of airbags in certain Chevy Cobalt models but each time, determined that it lacked the data necessary to open a formal investigation. However, on February 7, 2014, GM announced it would recall certain model vehicles for a defect where the vehicle’s ignition switch may unintentionally move out of the “run” position that could result in the air bag not deploying in the event of a crash. GM had failed to advise NHTSA of this defect at the time of the agency’s earlier reviews”.

See

http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transportation-announces-record-fines-unprecedented-oversight

Senator Markey recognizes more is needed. See Release and documents below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

Markey Statement on GM Settlement with Department of Transportation

In wake of GM recall, Senators Markey and Blumenthal introduced legislation to increase transparency and earlier reporting of auto defects

Washington (May 16, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement after the federal government announced it had reached a settlement with GM after a defect in the ignition switch of its Chevy Cobalt vehicles led to the deaths of at least 13 people.

“This settlement takes some important steps, including ensuring GM is quicker to call for recalls and shares information with the federal government about its internal investigations into possible defects. But we also need to require all automakers report more information about possible defects earlier and for the Transportation Department to publish the materials it receives so that public receives true ‘early warnings’ about possible deadly defects. I will continue to work with Senator Blumenthal and all of my Congressional colleagues to get legislation passed that can help ensure tragedies like this never happen again.

“A penalty of $35 million is a parking ticket in comparison the toll this defect has taken on the lives of America’s families. We need to increase the statutory caps for civil liability settlements to ensure that auto manufacturers know they will be held fully and fiscally accountable if they do not report safety issues in their vehicles in a timely and responsible manner.”

Last month, Senators Markey and Blumenthal introduced S. 2151, The Early Warning Reporting Act, legislation that would require more information to be reported to the public Early Warning Reporting database when auto manufacturers first become aware of incidents involving fatalities.

More information about Senator Markey’s leadership on the GM recall can be found HERE.

Canadian Video of Nader – Nearly 50 Years and Two Million Crash Deaths Ago

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Nader told about safety problems that persist to this day. See

http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/science-technology/transportation/the-drive-to-survive-reducing-road-deaths-in-canada/unsafe-at-any-speed.html

“Untold Heartache” of Crash Victims & GM Recall

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The NY Times published an excellent story and video of the heartaches suffered by crash victims in GM crashes.

“Mr. Erickson, 25, was one of the 13 victims whose deaths General Motors has linked to an ignition switch defect that can cause a loss of power in cars, according to an email that Mr. Erickson’s mother, Rhonda, received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ms. Erickson asked the federal agency whether her son was among the 13 victims at the request of The New York Times, which has compiled the identities and circumstances of 12 of the deaths, as well as information about the vehicle involved in the 13th, based on interviews, accident databases and communications from federal regulators.

The email to Ms. Erickson last week was the first time the family had been told that anything other than negligence by Ms. Anderson contributed to the accident.”

See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/business/13-deaths-untold-heartache-from-gm-defect.html?hp

The NY Times Timeline reveals that two lawsuits were settled by GM under CEO Dan Akerson while NHTSA was headed by David Strickland. Neither Akerson nor Strickland have been called to testify yet.

September 2010

G.M. Daniel Akerson becomes CEO.

February 2011

Accidents and lawsuits

The Chansuthus family settles its lawsuit against G.M. Even though Ms. Chansuthus’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, the company pays the family an undisclosed amount….”

“September 2013

Accidents and lawsuits G.M. settles the case involving Ms. Melton, paying the family an undisclosed amount.”

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/05/18/business/gms-ignition-problem-who-knew-what-when.html

The powerful voices of victims can help GM and NHTSA realize that: What is not good for the people is not good for GM, NHTSA, or anyone working in the auto industry.

Hopefully, stories of crash victims will bring us all closer to the day when the century of auto industry war against safety ends. As can be seen from the U.S.A. Crash death clock, accessed this morning, about 3,633,788 people have died of crash injuries. That indicates a lot of “Untold Heartache.” See http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/clock.php

GM Cost U.S. Taxpayers Another $826 Million

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

“U.S. taxpayers are taking a bigger loss on the General Motors bailout package than $10.3 billion originally reported. Due to an accounting error, the loss is actually $11.2 billion, according to a report released today.

The Treasury Department reported an $826-million administrative claim had been written off on March 20. However, the claim, which has not been revealed, cannot be written off….”

“Others suggest that GM should repay the losses, but that notion was dismissed by then-CEO Dan Akerson, who told an audience at the National Press Club last December that the government took a risk like any other investor – including those wiped out when GM filed for Chapter 11 protection.”

Source: http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2014/04/taxpayers-taking-bigger-hit-on-gm-bailout/ and http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/30/us-autos-gm-treasury-idUSBREA3T0MR20140430

Oh well, former GM CEO Dan Akerson says the taxpayers took a risk just like any other investor. And $826 million compares with about 90 lives lost when valued at $9.2 million per statistical life in accordance with DOT policy. See attached DOT policy.

$9 million happens also to be the amount GM paid Dan Akerson in 2013. One DOT life’s worth = 1 year of GM CEO income. See http://www.kansascity.com/2014/04/25/4981903/gm-awarded-former-ceo-akerson.html

NHTSA has data on how many lives are lost each year in GM crashes but does not publish such figures.

We can do better than this, but it may take additional tragedies before we do.

Associated Documents:

VSL-Guidance-2013

Number of Crash Deaths Counted by NHTSA are Much Higher Than Reported in FARS

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

In the year 2012, NHTSA counted 33,561 crash deaths in FARS.

But that number should higher by about 1,600 more crash deaths that occurred – just not in traffic – according to NHTSA’s ironically named Not-in-Traffic Surveillance (NiTS) data system. About 260 of these 1,600 people killed each year, but not reported in FARS, are children.

See Latest NHTSA NiTS Reports attached.

NHTSA was finally forced to report such data as a result of demands spurred by tragedies, crash victims, lawyers, advocates, and an Act of Congress.

See Center for Auto Safety’s years long campaign “Missing in FARS” at http://www.autosafety.org/campaigns/24

Crash victims and safety advocates can and do make a difference when officials in all three branches of government – and people in the media – act responsibly.

See just one tragic story at http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/east/2013/12/09/241085.htm

Why does it take so many tragedies before government does the right thing? Even just counting tragedies?

Associated Documents:

Traffic Safety Facts – DOT HS 811 812

Traffic Safety Facts – DOT HS 811 813

More Evidence of NHTSA and GM’s Failures to Protect Americans

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Please see latest Center for Auto Safety letter and attachments at

CAS Letter to NHTSA Administrator Friedman: Proper Enforcement of Stalling Recalls Could Have Prevented GM Ignition Deaths

And see excellent CNBC Documentary with voices of victims at

http://www.cnbc.com/live-tv/cnbc-originals/full-episode/failure-to-recall-investigating-gm/260083779531

Hopefully these will help improve safety.

Associated Documents:

Friedman Stalling Recalls Letter with Attachments

Stalling Recalls Detailed