Will the Congress and DOT and NHTSA Protect Americans?

Will the Congress and DOT and NHTSA Protect Americans?

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Senate Hearings on Takata airbag defects and DOT OIG report on NHTSA is scheduled for Tuesday June 23, 2015.  The Chair of the Committee is Senator John Thune of South Dakota.  See his bio at http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Chairman The Hearing will be webcast to the public.  Witnesses scheduled are at http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=a3504ffe-d343-4cff-a73a-2de3f877101c&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=b06c39af-e033-4cba-9221-de668ca1978a

Resources for Hearing 
Free interactive resources to the public and media on crash deaths in each Senator’s State for the years 2002 – 2011 are available at:http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=71c3bb8008ae4682ab0a36f090a2b443&extent=-161.4739,21.4327,-63.388,54.2524
For example, in Senator Thune’s State of South Dakota readers will find that on average over the years about 2 to 3 people die of crash injuries each week in South Dakota.
In South Dakota, year after year, more than 60% of people who die of crash injuries are not taken to any facility for emergency medical care. For South Dakota and NHTSA data on all other States see https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/2012-00872-FATALITIES.PDF
For 2013 data on crash fatalities and fatality rates for each State see data and rankings attached.  South Dakota is among the 10 worst States.  SC, AR, OK, AL, WV, ND, MS, and MT (in that order) had worse fatality rates in 2013.
Issues – Money, People, Vision and Policies

Money – The Detroit News recently reported:“NHTSA is bracing for what are expected to be scathing reports into the General Motors recall from the inspector general and Government Accountability Office. The Inpector General’s report into NHTSA’s failure to detect GM’s delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles linked to 114 deaths and more than 200 injuries is expected by the end of this month.

The Department of Transportation’s probe “raises more questions” for Senate investigators about NHTSA’s effectiveness in addressing safety defects — including the probe of defective airbags, the aide said.

The hearing is the second from Congress in the last month following a House hearing last month. It is the first major Senate hearing on auto safety since Republicans took control of the upper body in January.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said in a Detroit News interview last week he is considering legislative proposals to reform NHTSA, but said he is still not convinced the auto safety agency needs more funding.

Thune said “the White House has not been very visible” on the NHTSA request for more funding.

In an interview Tuesday, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he hasn’t made any decisions about whether he will propose auto safety legislation. He backed an amendment to the House Transportation budget last week that would add $4 million to NHTSA’s budget.

“We want to make sure that (NHTSA) is able to deliver,” Upton said.”

Reuters this weekend addressed the forthcoming DOT OIG :“The report, due to be released next week, follows an uproar over faulty General Motors Co ignition switches tied to more than 110 deaths and defective Takata Corp air bag inflators linked to at least eight deaths.

It also comes at a time when Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind are pressing Congress to increase NHTSA’s funding and enforcement powers, including another $20 million for defect investigations budget that has been stuck at $10 million for nearly a decade.”  See 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/20/usa-autos-nhtsa-idUSL1N0Z60GQ20150620

Regarding money issues, a yardstick resource for the media and public is the official DOT Policy Guidance value of a statistical life of $9.1 million per life.  See attached VSL Guidance from DOT.
People – Who will be protected?  Past, present, and future crash victims?  Or others?  Crash victims attorneys recently sought to depose former NHTSA Administrator and former Senate Commerce Committee staffer David L. Strickland who has gone through the DOT Revolving Door. See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/2015-03-05JamesButlertoSarahSorgatNHTSAOfficeofCounselredepoofStrickland.pdf
Let’s keep in mind that currently each day, nearly 100 Americans die of crash injuries, and about 400 more suffer serious crash injuries, and the value of losses are estimated to be about $2 Billion per day in the U.S.A.  Day after day after day without end in sight.  See U.S.A. Crash Death Clock and Crash Death Meters.  They are available free at  https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/clock.php
Vision – Let us also keep in mind that never before in the history of mankind have we had more technology available to end deaths and serious injuries – forever.  We the people need to demand that our federal government officials adopt a Vision Zero policy.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/MonthlyReportforFebruary2015.pdf “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
Policies – On this Father’s Day, President Obama and Members of Congress should read the Op Ed in the NY Times on Weak Oversight, Deadly Cars.  Seehttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/opinion/weak-oversight-deadly-cars.html Then adopt “Free NHTSA” policies that: * Shut the Revolving Door * Reassign NHTSA executives who are from the auto industry and still in charge of programs vital to saving American lives.
* Create a National Commission on Auto Safety to End Crash Deaths and Serious Injuries In or By New Vehicles manufactured after the year 2020 (The Volvo Vision Zero Goal).
Those steps would be commensurate with a national crash death problem that has already cost 3 times more American lives lost than in all wars since 1776.  And a crash injury problem that has resulted in 500 times more Americans injured in crashes than have been wounded in all wars since 1776.
End the Car Safety War tragedies now, please.  We can do it.  Yes we can.
Lou

 

Crash Victims Get Hope From NHTSA Administrator Rosekind


Crash Victims Get Hope From NHTSA Administrator Rosekind

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The most hopeful NHTSA news for crash victims that I have seen since retiring in 2007 was reported by Automotive News.

“WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will soon have some fresh faces in key recall positions as part of an agency reorganization intended to streamline its management structure.

According to sources here and job openings posted on the U.S Department of Transportation’s website, the agency is preparing the reorganization to follow the retirement or departure of three key officials who have overseen recalls at the agency.

n Kevin Vincent, NHTSA’s chief counsel, has been transferred to the DOT’s office of general counsel.

n Daniel Smith, senior associate administrator for vehicle safety, plans to retire in June.

n Nancy Lewis, associate administrator for enforcement, retired this spring.

Selecting their replacements gives NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind an opportunity to continue to put his stamp on the agency in a way that could outlast his tenure as administrator. The three departing officials have played major roles in recent high-profile enforcement cases, including the defective General Motors ignition switch and defective Takata airbag recalls.”  See

http://www.autonews.com/article/20150601/OEM11/306019965/nhtsa-prepares-to-reorganize-its-senior-ranks

It’s more than about time.  It is about tragedies without end for too many Americans, for too long.  It is about freeing NHTSA from decades of corporate captivity that gives hope for a Safer America.  See

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/opinion/weak-oversight-deadly-cars.htmlInline image 1

____________________

Hopefully we now will see policies for a reduction in the nearly 100 crash deaths per day, plus 400 serious crash injuries, and $2 Billion in losses every day in America.
Lou

 

USA Today Editorial Calls on Congress To Do More on Auto Safety


USA Today Editorial Calls on Congress To Do More on Auto Safety

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

USA Today properly focuses on Congress to protect people in America.

See http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/06/15/nhtsa-auto-safety-defect-airbag-gm-editorials-debates/71206984/

Please read it and comment.

Lou

 

Failures at NHTSA, Tragedies Continue


Failures at NHTSA, Tragedies Continue

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The NY Times has an excellent article on the forthcoming DOT IG Report on NHTSA failures.    

“Even as evidence poured into the nation’s top auto safety agency pointing to dangerous defects in millions of vehicles, regulators repeatedly failed for years to root out problems and hold carmakers accountable, according to a long-awaited internal audit by the Transportation Department.

The bluntly worded report, ordered last year after General Motors began recalling 2.6 million cars with a defective ignition switch, paints a bleak portrait of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency charged with overseeing safety in the auto industry.

The agency had weak management, undertrained staff and insufficient processes in place to properly review safety data submitted by automakers and complaints submitted by drivers, the report by the Transportation Department’s inspector general found. Repeatedly, investigators missed opportunities to identify that the ignition switch was prone to turn off, shutting down the engine and disabling systems like power steering and the airbags. At least 114 deaths have been linked to the defect. And the agency’s shortcomings extended to other problems as well.

Ultimately, the report said, the agency’s systemic failings “deter N.H.T.S.A. from successfully meeting the mandate to help prevent crashes and their attendant costs, both human and financial.””

See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/20/business/federal-auditor-finds-broad-failures-at-nhtsa.html?ref=business

The public evidence of NHTSA captivity grows as tragedies mount.

 

See also:

Lou

 

Takata Airbag Recall Deaths – How many? And How many more?


Takata Airbag Recall Deaths – How many? And How many more?

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Important questionsraised:  How many deaths have occurred and how many more will occur before all defective airbags are replaced?

A lawsuit has been filed on a recent tragedy.

“The mother of a Lafayette woman killed in an April accident on Johnston Street has filed suit against Honda Motor Company and the maker of an air bag installed in Kylan Rae Langlinais’ 2005 Civic, claiming the companies knew years ago the air bag was defective and prone to spraying deadly shrapnel during a crash.

Langlinais died April 9 in a Lafayette hospital, four days after she drove her Honda into a utility pole in the 2000 block of Johnston Street.

Langlinais, who was one month shy of turning 23, was the only person involved in the 4 a.m. accident.

Kenneth St. Pé, one of two attorneys for the Langlinais family, saidTuesday the death was made doubly tragic when the recall notice for the Takata Corporation air bag system arrived in Langlinais’ mailbox two days after the crash, while she was lying in a hospital bed. She died two days after getting the notice.

St. Pé said the only serious injury that doctors who examined Langlinais could find was a severed carotid artery. That injury was consistent with other victims whose Takata air bags exploded and sent bits of metal flying, he said.

Related Documents

“As a result, (Langlinais) sustained a penetrating injury to the right side of her neck, causing an immediate and profuse loss of blood,” the lawsuit states….

St. Pé said the number of deaths caused by the air bags might be more than the numbers cited in studies.

“It makes you wonder how many people have died at the scene of the accident from injuries like this that don’t get to the hospital. The doctors don’t look at them, and nobody does an autopsy.” St. Pé said. “They just figured they died in a car wreck.”  See

http://theadvocate.com/news/12603876-123/lafayette-mother-files-lawsuit-against

Lou

 

Senate Commerce Committee’s New Report on Takata


Senate Commerce Committee’s New Report on Takata

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – Employee emails sounded dire warnings about safety and quality lapses years before Takata Corp. would fully acknowledge the threat posed by its defective airbags. 

The emails in question are among some 13,000 documents gathered by the Senate Commerce Committee as part of its ongoing investigation into defective airbags that so far have been linked to at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide. 

They are cited by minority staff of the commerce panel who have produced a new report in the probe, as the full panel prepares to hear from Takata and federal regulators at a hearing tomorrow morning””

““The more evidence we see, the more it paints a troubling picture of a manufacturer that lacked concern,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee.

Among the minority report’s other key findings: 

  • ·     An unknown number of replacement parts might be defective as well.
  • ·     Despite being in the midst of what would become the largest auto recall in U.S. history, an April 2011 email from a Takata senior vice president noted that “Global safety audits had stopped for financial reasons for last 2 years.” 
  • ·     Federal regulators failed to “promptly investigate” early reports of the defective airbags.

“Had Takata maintained a more robust culture of safety, it is likely that many of these defects could have been discovered much sooner,” the report concluded.  “Similarly, had NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) promptly undertaken more aggressive steps to investigate the Takata airbag ruptures, it is possible that this defect could have been addressed years earlier.””  Source:

http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=1e0f311a-2ebb-4069-8332-f6b6f1e8a9cc

 

Congress on Auto Safety & Money


Congress on Auto Safety & Money

June, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The Detroit News reports:“In a notice sent to Senate offices late Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee said it will hold a June 23hearing titled, “Update on the Recalls of Defective Takata Air Bags and NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Efforts.”….

The committee’s chairman, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said in a Detroit News interview last week he is considering legislative proposals to reform NHTSA, but said he is still not convinced the auto safety agency needs more funding.

Thune said “the White House has not been very visible” on the NHTSA request for more funding.

In an interview Tuesday, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he hasn’t made any decisions about whether he will propose auto safety legislation. He backed an amendment to the House Transportation budget last week that would add $4 million to NHTSA’s budget.

“We want to make sure that (NHTSA) is able to deliver,” Upton said.”  See

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2015/06/16/senate-panel-set-hold-hearing-defective-airbags/28846129/

How does $4 million compare with the DOT Policy Guidance value of a statistical life?  That value is $9.1 million.  See attached DOT policy.

How does $4 million compare with 32,675 Americans dying of crash injuries in 2014?  That value would be nearly $300 Billion in 2014.  And that includes zero dollars for an estimated 2 million Americans injured each year.  See http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812139.pdf

Hopefully, the American people will make sure that Congress delivers safety — not just a few more dollars.  Here in America, please!

Lou