Predictable Deaths, Injuries, Lo$$es, Moral Bankruptcy and Election Consequences


Predictable Deaths, Injuries, Lo$$es, Moral Bankruptcy and Election Consequences

August, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Joan Claybrook wrote a letter to the Editor of the Washington Post that was published on August 7, 2015.  In it she wrote pointing to a failure of a Washington Post Editorial. “The July 25 editorial “A bill that ignores the obvious,” about the Senate’s proposed six-year highway funding bill, failed to mention that the bill would roll back numerous truck safety rules and programs, which could result in more deaths and injuries on highways.”

Already, 4,000 people die and 100,000 are injured each year in truck crashes. Such a toll would never be tolerated for airline travel, yet Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) gave the trucking industry what the Transportation Department has rejected: the ability to keep secret the DOT safety ratings of truck companies and removal from the DOT database of crashes that a trucking company claims were not its fault. The bill would permit five-year exemptions from hours-of-service rulesallow drivers ages 18 to 20 to operate in interstate commerce even though the rate of crashes is higher than for older driversand halt the freeze on dangerous double- and triple-trailer vehicles that the public rightfully hates. It also fails to enhance safety measures that senators requested after discovering safety defect cover-ups.

This bill must be rewritten to enhance safety, not degrade it.”  See

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-dangerous-highway-bill/2015/08/07/45159930-37a4-11e5-ab7b-6416d97c73c2_story.html

Why did Senator John Thune (R-SD) Ignore Safety?
Every year the number of people who die of crash injuries in South Dakota amounts to more than 2 people in every average week – year after year.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/CrashDeathMappingTools.php
Senator Thune is currently Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.  As such he currently holds great power to shape safety legislation.  Along with such power comes great responsibility to all Americans.
Senator Thune is up for re-election in 2016 in the Red State of SD.
SD had a worse fatality rate than 41 other States in the U.S.A. in 2013. See attached Excel Spreadsheet “2013NT Crash Fatalities By State Rank” 
Note: the 2013 Crash Fatalities by State show the vast majority of worst States are Red States and the vast majority of safest States were Blue States.  In 2013, the number who died in Red States amounted to 14,013 Americans.   Red State lives matter. The Great Republican Democrat Divide has a long and deadly history in auto safety.
The Moral Bankruptcy of Political Policies of Un-Safety
 
Perhaps the most egregious episode occurred when Ronald Reagan took office as President in 1981.  He replaced Joan Claybrook as Administrator of NHTSA with a coal industry lobbyist named Raymond A. Peck, Jr.  Under Reagan, the safety standard requiring automatic crash protection (airbags) was rescinded.  And NHTSA personnel were reduced by 33% — 300 safety workers gone by the end of 1982.  To this day, NHTSA is still at the reduced staffing level of 1982.
Since President Reagan took office in 1981, the number of Americans who died of crash injuries (on public roads and within 30 days of the crash) now amounts to more than 1,142,500 people.  About 4 million additional Americans have suffered serious crash injuries such as brain, spinal cord, burns, and amputations.  
Think of the effects on families such as bankruptcy, and children orphaned.  Imagine how many lives would have been saved if Reagan had not become President in 1981. Clearly elections have consequences.
Crash death data by State and Congressional District over the past decade are available to the public at https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/CrashDeathMappingTools.php
If only people knew how much of their safety and happiness was dependent upon their actions or in-actions….
For a Safer America,
Lou

 

Before Deadly Labor Day, The National Safety Council Warns on Rising Crash Deaths


Before Deadly Labor Day, The National Safety Council Warns on Rising Crash Deaths

August, 2015

U.S. on pace for deadliest driving year since 2007, says National Safety Council

Traffic deaths and serious injuries substantially higher in first six months of 2015

​Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council estimates traffic deaths are 14 percent higher through the first six months of 2015 than they were during the same period in 2014, and serious injuries are 30 percent higher[i]. From January to June, nearly 19,000 people died in traffic crashes across the U.S., and more than 2.2 million were seriously injured[ii], putting the country on pace for its deadliest driving year since 2007.  See

http://www.nsc.org/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=64

 

NHTSA Protects Takata Profits Over Safety


NHTSA Protects Takata Profits Over Safety

August, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members: Reuters reports:

“Takata Corp (7312.T), which is recalling 34 million defective air bag inflators, has proposed a plan to address concerns about the safety of the replacement parts it is providing to consumers – but the details are not available to the public.

A proposed Takata testing plan, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted to its website on Tuesday, totals 37 pages. But the auto safety watchdog agency agreed to make 35 pages blank, after the Japanese manufacturer requested confidentiality over contents that include proprietary information.

“It is not public information because it is confidential business information,” said NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge.

Takata’s testing plans attempt to deal with two central questions for regulators, lawmakers and safety advocates: whether the air bag inflators now being used to replace defective parts are safe — and for how long.

The recall, which U.S. officials have described as the largest in U.S. history, involves millions of vehicles made by 11 automakers and equipped with Takata air bag inflators that can explode with too much force, spraying shrapnel into passenger compartments. The devices have been linked to at least eight deaths and more than 100 injuries. See:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/11/us-autos-takata-airbags-idUSKCN0QG2C720150811

Hmnnn 35 out of 37 pages blanked out by NHTSA.  

Same old NHTSA policies of protecting profits rather than people.   How would publication of the information in those 35 pages not advance safety?  

Who will watch NHTSA?
Lou

 


Nader on Trade And Our Safety

August, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Nader’s recent column tells us how our safety progress can be stymied by corporate trade lawyers: “Whole industries are taken from the U.S. and lost to dictatorial countries with poorly paid workers that daily violate human rights. Still, the “free-traders” don’t budge.

Of course the ultimate, latter stage dependency created by corporate globalization is when our own health, safety, labor and legal/democratic standards are pulled down by the combination of fleeing U.S. corporate giants in cahoots with fascist regimes overseas.

“To be first or best with labor rights, environmental or safety standards for our people is to be accused of imposing “non-tariff trade barriers” against imports from countries that treat badly their consumers, workers and environment. So, for example, our being first with an auto safety standard, a food labeling requirement or a ban on a toxic chemical here lets exporting countries sue the U.S. in secret tribunals in Geneva, Switzerland whose decisions by corporate lawyers (temporarily sitting as trade judges) are final.”

See https://blog.nader.org/2015/08/21/globalization-formula-for-a-weakening-u-s-economy/

What we don’t know can kill us.

Lou

 

GM/Feinberg Minimization Plan Saved GM Money At The Expense of Public Safety


GM/Feinberg Minimization Plan Saved GM Money At The Expense of Public Safety

August, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The Detroit News reports:

“Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said the “burden of proof on the individual consumer was always too high,” and that some may not have pursued claims because they didn’t have supporting documents.

“The entire program was designed to get help get Congress and the Justice Department off GM’s back,” Ditlow said. “The one thing is clear that we will never know how many people were killed or injured because it goes back so far.”

The ignition defect caused the engines in some vehicles to stop running, disabling power steering and air bags. Because accident investigators, for a decade, didn’t know of the flaw and may have attributed wrecks to other factors, it’s impossible to say how many accidents, deaths and injuries were truly the result of the bad part.

Texas lawyer Robert Hilliard, one of the lead lawyers suing GM over ignition defects, said Monday he has a mixed review of the compensation program, noting that the amount of some compensation awards was tied to hospitalization — a provision he called “clunky and unfair.”

He said some injuries were back- and neck-related “as you are slammed into the steering wheel and no air bag deploys.”

“Many of my clients were fortunate enough not to suffer severe bleeding or other open-wound type injuries, but ended up having surgery months later because of neck/back injuries. As they were sent home from the emergency room and not admitted — Feinberg does not allow for consideration of the surgeries. This led to a gross unfairness for many and a very small offer,” Hilliard said.”  See

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/general-motors/2015/08/03/gm-ignition-fund-ends-review-approving-death-claims/31051683/

As I warned, past and future GM crash victims will suffer with less safety and less compensation than justice would require.  

“Efforts to minimize monetary costs continue to deny and delay safety and justice to people.”  See 

https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/MonthlyReportforDecember2014.pdf

Lou

 

GM Feinberg Ignition Switch Compensation Program Denies 91% of Claims


GM Feinberg Ignition Switch Compensation Program Denies 91% of Claims

August, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
As of August 21, 2015, the Feinberg GM Ignition Compensation Claims Resolution Facility reported that it denied 91% of the 4,343 claims received. 
For 473 fatality claims, Feinberg deemed 124 “eligible” and 349 (74%) “ineligible”.
For 279 Category One (Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Double Amputations, Permanent Brain Damage, or Pervasive Burns) claims, Feinberg deemed 17 “eligible” and 262 (94%) “ineligible”.
For 3,591 Category Two (Physical injuries requiring hospitalization , or outpatient medical treatment, within 48 hours of the accident) claims, Feinberg deemed 258 “eligible” and 3,333 (93%) “ineligible”.
For the Total Claims 4,343 counted by Feinberg, 399 were deemed “eligible” and 3,944 (91%) “ineligible”.  
As I wrote in my December 2014 Report delays, denials, obfuscations, and minimization by corporations and governmental agencies endanger us all – past, present, and future crash victims.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/MonthlyReportforDecember2014.pdf
As I also wrote in June 2014, the amount of the compensation for victims planned was less than the $9.1 million value called for in the U.S. DOT Policy Guidance for each statistical life.  Seehttps://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-feinberg-comp.php
If the GM Feinberg plan paid out $9 million to each of the 124 fatalities that Feinberg deemed eligible the total would exceed $1 Billion.
A series of recent reports noted the final statistics of the GM Feinberg program.  See:
In July of this year Bloomberg reported on cases were not included under the GM Feinberg plan.  See 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-01/gm-fund-excludes-scores-hurt-or-killed-in-cars-with-switch-flaw

And today we learn of a judicial ruling overturning a conviction of involuntary manslaughter for a driver involved in a fatal GM ignition switch crash in September 2010 that killed 16 year old Robert Chambers.  See attached press announcement.
There are many stories of tragedies past, present, and future that need to be discovered and told so that fewer tragedies occur in the future.
Lou