A Crash Victim’s Thank You: Rental Car Safety Victory in Sight!

December, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Cally Houck issued a “Thank You” for all the support that helped the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act pass the House and Senate this week. “When it becomes the law of the land, it will be a violation of federal law for a rental car company, including car dealers, with a loaner / rental car fleet of 35 vehicles or more, to rent, loan, or sell an unrepaired recalled car until the safety defects have been repaired. I’m thrilled! But I am very concerned about the car dealers’ dangerous 35-car loophole. That loophole was all about politics. Not safety. But today, I want to thank each and every one of you for speaking up and sending messages to Rep. Upton, who was the last holdout against closing the car dealers’ loaner car loophole.”   Seehttps://www.change.org/p/rep-fred-upton-repfredupton-support-the-raechel-and-jacqueline-houck-safe-rental-car-act/u/14472382 

Lou

 

Analysis of Lives Saved by Lower Vehicle Death Rates Since Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed


Analysis of Lives Saved by Lower Vehicle Death Rates Since Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed

December, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Please see the excellent news below that we all can be thankful for from Clarence Ditlow.  

Let us all be inspired to do more to save lives!

Lou

 

December 1, 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Caitlin Graf, The Nation, caitlin@thenation.com212-209-5426 Clarence Ditlow, The Center for Auto Safety, 202-328-7700

Exclusive to The Nation

New York, NY – December 1, 2015 – Based on an exclusive new analysis of deaths per mile driven, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) and The Nation, America’s premiere weekly magazine of progressive politics and culture, today announced that auto safety-related measures—the 1966 federal laws, federal agency and general measures they created—have averted 3.5 million auto deaths over the past 50 years.

The data, compiled by CAS executive director Clarence Ditlow and timed to the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ralph Nader’s Unsafe At Any Speed, are exclusively reported in “How Ralph Nader Changed America,” a Nation profile of the crusading consumer advocate by Mark Green. It will be published in the December 21/28, 2015 edition of the magazine and be accompanied by an interviewbetween Nader and national affairs correspondent John Nichols. 

“3.5 million represents the difference between the number of deaths that there would have been if the death rate had stayed at 5.50 per hundred million VMT (vehicle miles traveled) in 1966 versus what it went down to in each subsequent year, falling to 1.07 by 2014,” * said Ditlow. “Deaths have been saved by traffic laws (seat belt use, speed limits, helmet and drunk driving laws), safer roads, vehicle safety standards and vehicle safety improvements spurred by consumer demand for more safety after Unsafe at Any Speed.” *See chart at end, “Analysis of Lives Saved by Lower Vehicle Death Rates.”

Green, who worked for Nader in Washington, DC, from 1970-1980 and later became the first elected Public Advocate of New York City, added: “These 3.5 million American lives saved over five decades by auto regulation reducing auto-related death rates by 80 percent—as many saved per year as were killed in the entire Vietnam War—is a persuasive numerical rebuttal to all who glibly denounce ‘big government.’ Would they maintain their disdain if shown to among the 3.5 million? The issue is not the size of government but how a smart democracy can successfully save millions of lives.”

The Nation published Nader’s first article on auto safety, “The Safe Car You Can’t Buy,” on April 11, 1959, when he was just one year out of Harvard Law School. [Read an excerpt.] This article would provide the basis for Unsafe at Any Speed, which in turn helped launch the consumer-rights movement.

Until the fall of 1966, there was no federal regulatory law or agency protecting them from death and injury on the nation’s highways. In that year, 50,894 people were killed and 1.9 million injured. Prior to 1966, over 1.6 million people had been killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States before the Congress passed two landmark pieces of legislation that year—the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its companion bill, the Highway Safety Act. If the 1966 fatality rate of 5.50 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) had continued, 167,956 people would have been killed in vehicle crashes in 2014. Instead, the death rate was 1.07—a decline of 80 percent over 50 years—with 32,675 killed.

In 1965, the publication of Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed exposed the deplorable safety records of auto companies. The book—and subsequent investigation of the author by General Motors—led to Congressional hearings overseen by Senators Warren Magnuson and Abraham Ribicoff. At the Senate hearing, GM President James Roche apologized to Mr. Nader for his company’s probes. Within a few months, the Senate and House unanimously passed the Vehicle Safety and Highway Safety Acts, which were signed by President Lyndon Johnson on September 16th, who stated: “In this century, more than one and a half million of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and highways; nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all our wars. . . . I’m proud at this moment to sign these bills—which promise, in the years to come, to cure the highway disease: to end the years of horror and give us years of hope.”

For booking requests or further information, please see contact information above.

About the Center for Auto Safety:

Consumers Union and Ralph Nader founded the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) in 1970 to provide consumers a voice for auto safety and quality in Washington and to help lemon owners fight back across the country. CAS has a small budget but a big impact on the auto industry. With less than half what General Motors spends on a single Super Bowl commercial, CAS has taken on the auto giants and won for consumers. Its many accomplishments include lemon laws in every state; recall of the infamous Ford Pinto for exploding gas tanks and the Firestone 500 tire for tread separation; exposure of GM Firebomb pickups with side saddle gas tanks that burned over 1,000 people to death; state laws to force disclosure of secret warranties on cars that can save consumers billions of dollars each year; safety and highway standards that have dropped the death rate on America’s road from 5.2 per 100 million vehicles mile traveled in 1969 to 1.1 in 2010; and numerous legal victories over government agencies that have saved vital consumer, safety and environmental laws under assault by industry.

About The Nation:

Founded in 1865, The Nation is America’s oldest weekly magazine, serving as a critical, independent voice in American journalism and a platform for investigative reporting and spirited debate on issues of import to the progressive community. Through changing times and fashions, The Nation and TheNation.com offer consistently informed and inspired reporting and analysis of breaking news, politics, social issues and the arts—never faltering in our editorial commitment to what Nation Publisher Emeritus Victor Navasky has called “a dissenting, independent, trouble-making, idea-launching journal of critical opinion.” 

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 Center for Auto Safety Analysis of Lives Saved by Lower Vehicle Death Rates Since 1966

Year

# of Deaths

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Millions

Death Rate per 100 Million VMT

# of Deaths if Death Rate = 1966

# of Lives Saved

1966

50,894

925,899

5.50

50,894

-0-

1967

50,724

964,005

5.26

53,020

2,126

1968

52,725

1,015,869

5.19

55,873

5,149

1969

53,543

1,061,791

5.04

58,399

5,674

1970

52,627

1,109,724

4.74

61,035

7,492

1971

52,542

1,178,811

4.46

64,835

12,208

1972

54,589

1,259,786

4.33

69,288

16,746

1973

54,052

1,313,110

4.12

72,221

17,632

1974

45,196

1,280,544

3.53

70,430

16,378

1975

44,525

1,327,664

3.35

73,022

27,826

1976

45,523

1,402,380

3.25

77,131

32,606

1977

47,878

1,467,027

3.26

80,686

35,163

1978

50,331

1,544,704

3.26

84,959

37,081

1979

51,093

1,529,133

3.34

84,102

33,771

1980

51,091

1,527,295

3.35

84,001

32,908

1981

49,301

1,555,308

3.17

85,542

34,451

1982

43,945

1,595,010

2.76

87,726

38,425

1983

42,589

1,652,788

2.58

90,903

46,958

1984

44,257

1,720,269

2.57

94,615

52,026

1985

43,825

1,774,826

2.47

97,615

53,358

1986

46,087

1,834,872

2.51

100,918

57,093

1987

46,390

1,921,204

2.41

105,666

59,579

1988

47,087

2,025,962

2.32

111,428

65,038

1989

45,582

2,096,487

2.17

115,307

68,220

1990

44,599

2,144,362

2.08

117,940

72,358

1991

41,508

2,172,050

1.91

119,463

74,864

1992

39,250

2,247,151

1.75

123,593

82,085

1993

40,150

2,296,378

1.75

126,301

87,051

1994

40,716

2,357,588

1.73

129,667

89,517

1995

41,817

2,422,823

1.73

133,255

92,539

1996

42,065

2,484,080

1.69

136,624

94,807

1997

42,013

2,552,233

1.65

140,373

98,308

1998

41,501

2,628,148

1.58

144,548

102,535

1999

41,717

2,690,241

1.55

147,963

106,462

2000

41,945

2,746,925

1.53

151,081

109,364

2001

42,196

2,795,610

1.51

153,759

111,814

2002

43,005

2,855,508

1.51

157,053

114,857

2003

42,884

2,890,221

1.48

158,962

115,957

2004

42,836

2,964,788

1.44

163,063

120,179

2005

43,510

2,989,430

1.46

164,419

121,583

2006

42,708

3,014,371

1.42

165,790

122,280

2007

41,259

3,031,124

1.36

166,712

124,004

2008

37,423

2,976,528

1.25

163,709

122,450

2009

33,883

2,956,764

1.15

162,622

125,199

2010

32,999

2,967,266

1.11

163,200

129,317

2011

32,479

2,950,402

1.10

162,272

129,273

2012

33,782

2,968,815

1.14

163,285

130,806

2013

32,719

2,965,579

1.10

163,107

129,325

2014

32,675

3,053,738

1.07

167,956

135,237

1966 thru 2014

TOTAL LIVES SAVED

3,500,078

 

Clarence Ditlow

Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

1825 Connecticut Ave NW #330

Washington DC 20009

 

Senators Blumenthal and Markey on NHTSA’s Unaceptable Recall Completion Rates


Senators Blumenthal and Markey on NHTSA’s Unaceptable Recall Completion Rates

December, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) – 202-224-6452

December 23, 2015

Giselle Barry (Markey) – 202-224-2742

BLUMENTHAL, MARKEY ON NHSTA RECALL COMPLETION RATES: “COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE AND A MASSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) issued the following statement on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) current completion rates for replacing recalled Takata airbags:

 

Today’s update from NHTSA reiterates what we already know: the current pace of recall efforts is completely unacceptable and a massive disappointment. While they have increased somewhat in the last few weeks, these completion rates are dismal – NHTSA and automakers deserve a lump of coal this year for failing to get their act together to get every potentially deadly airbag off the road. As the holiday season brings increased travel, Americans on the road to visit family or friends should not be at risk because of NHTSA’s lethargic recall.

 

The coordinated remedy and appointment of an independent monitor are helpful steps, but are largely required because NHTSA has moved too slowly and ineptly for years, allowing a patchwork of recalls too confusing for consumers to follow. Automakers have dragged their feet and failed to quickly and clearly communicate the extent of the risk to NHTSA and the public. While NHTSA’s appointment of John D. Buretta, an experienced litigator with a track record of protecting consumers, as independent monitor of the recall is a positive step, NHTSA must ensure that Mr. Buretta has all resources necessary to effectively oversee this critical task.

 

While we appreciate Honda, Subaru, and Mazda’s recall expansions to ensure an adequate safety margin, there remain many un-recalled vehicles on the road  that still contain potentially defective Takata airbags. The identification of yet another preventable death – this time a young boy and well after when this safety defect was first made known – reiterates the urgent need for swift recall of all cars with these potentially defective airbags, which we have been urging NHTSA to require for months. The longer it takes to require and complete this recall, the more drivers and passengers are at risk of injury or death.”

 

 

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Scrooge OnStar Safety (SOS) Story


Scrooge OnStar Safety (SOS) Story

December, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

GM has deliberately designed a defective SOS System based on the principle of Pay or Die.  More than a decade ago, I recall an OnStar response to a NHTSA question, that shocked some of us as callous, that if the subscription was not up to date OnStar would not help.

Here is the latest example.  Amy Hudak of ABC News affiliate 13WHAM Rochester, NY reports:

“Greece, N.Y. — One week from Christmas, Tom Michaels did not think he would spend the holiday with his father-in-law.

89-year-old Anthony DePinto was declared missing after leaving his home Thursday on Paula Red Lane in Greece nearly 13 hours earlier.

He did not have a cell phone with him, but knew enough to push the OnStar button in his Chevy. DePinto told 13WHAM News that OnStar picked up and told him he did not have a subscription.

“They told him there was nothing they could do because he didn’t have a subscription,” DePinto’s son-in-law Tom Michaels said. “They would not let him call home, they would not let him call in the emergency.”

A massive state-wide search began and Anthony’s picture was displayed nearly everywhere….”

“The family is pushing for OnStar to change their ways and their priorities.

“They could definitely make a 911 call. There is no excuse – it’s unacceptable,” Michaels said.

Anthony and his family are fortunate for a happy ending, having their dad back home and safe with the family, but said the outcome could have been far worse.

“A lot of people who are elderly go missing and it’s not a good ending,” Michaels said.

13WHAM News did reach out to OnStar. They apologized for the experience and said if you’re not a subscriber, their computers cannot locate the car. In that case, they call authorities. OnStar added they were not sure whether or not Anthony DePinto’s emergency call was passed on to police.” See

http://13wham.com/news/local/onstar-ignores-89-year-old-emergency-caller  and

http://consumerist.com/2015/12/21/onstar-ignores-elderly-mans-request-for-emergency-help-because-hes-not-a-subscriber/ GM has sold variations of this “defective by design” system since 1996 to a poorly informed public. What is worse is that since 1997 when the life saving potential of Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) and URGENCY software was developed by NHTSA researchers – before NHTSA became a captive agency, the agency still has not set a safety standard for such systems.  See numerous papers on ACN & URGENCY athttp://www.careforcrashvictims.com/urgency.php  
GM and NHTSA have failed to provide the public the protection available and needed for decades.
Lou

 

Research on Fatal Intersection Crashes and Presidential Political Solutions


Research on Fatal Intersection Crashes and Presidential Political Solutions

December, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Roger Lanctot, a safety analyst, has written:“Automotive safety gadfly, Lou Lombardo, a former NHTSA analyst, notes that the total number of highway fatalities in the U.S. to date is 3,685,564 – three times the number of U.S. fatalities in all wars since 1776. As a result of these staggering figures, the historical and daily death toll, there is a cottage industry around mitigation strategies.”  Seehttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fun-facts-fatalities-big-data-roger-c-lanctot

Having done some work in this area, I am making it available to our community for their potential additional contributions.

First, note Figure 11 in the attached Spatial Analysis paper in which we were surprised to find just 3 intersections in the U.S. that had at least one fatal crash in each of the four years 2001-2004.  We were trying to define “dangerous intersections”.  Defining the problem is important to developing solutions.

Second, deep data research is also important in defining the problems and developing solutions.  In a NHTSA report, published in 2007, we examined intersection fatal crash data from FARS to better understand both problems and potential solutions for fatal intersection crashes.  Seehttp://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810682.pdf

This week the Congress passed legislation that provides some money and some policies for safety.  Hopefully, some of the money  and policies will advance safety in America.  More is needed.
Political Solutions
Surprisingly, this week at the Republican Presidential debate on CNN, an important question resulted in an interesting response by Mr. Trump and the audience on the importance of focusing resources on huge clear and present dangers here in the U.S.A. today.

“Mr. Trump, are Americans safer with dictators running the world in the Middle East?

TRUMP: In my opinion, we’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.

We have done a tremendous disservice, not only to Middle East, we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have wiped away, and for what? It’s not like we had victory.

It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized. A total and complete mess. I wish we had the $4 trillion or $5 trillion. I wish it were spent right here in the United States, on our schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart.

(APPLAUSE)”  See

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/16/us/politics/transcript-main-republican-presidential-debate.html

Now imagine the Democratic presidential candidates raising the major violence issue of crash deaths and serious injuries.  Candidate Clinton was willing to raise the gun violence issue.  Now let the candidates debate the need for national action on crash violence.  Activists are rightly pushing “End Gun Violence”. It is not just guns that kill people.  Vehicles kill people too. Now activists need to push for a Vision Zero Goal for crash deaths and serious injuries in new vehicles in or by new vehicles in a decade.  End the 100 crash deaths, 400 serious crash injuries, and $2 billion in crash losses occurring in the U.S.A. today – every day.  Seehttp://www.careforcrashvictims.com/clock.php

Lou

 

PBS News Hour Interviews Ralph Nader On Elections & Wrongful Injury in America


PBS News Hour Interviews Ralph Nader On Elections & Wrongful Injury in America

December, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

As the public faces a critical election year, the PBS News Hour interviewed Ralph Nader on the important issues of America’s past, present, and future well-being.

“NH: What about campaign reform? Particularly, following Citizens United and the opening of the spigot to even more donations from corporations or, more likely, the leaders of the corporations that actually have the money and write the checks.

RN: If politics and elections are for sale, guess who’s going to be the highest bidder?  The powerful and wealthy, and they will in effect rent our political system and our government– to service them between elections. And I keep saying, one percent or less of this people pushing for change on an issue supported by a majority of the people can defeat the most powerful corporations and their political cohorts any day of the week.”  See Videos and transcript at 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/qa-ralph-nader-on-civil-litigation-tort-reform-and-his-new-museum/

“RALPH NADER: Although the law of wrongful injury affects millions of Americans every year, it’s never discussed in political campaigns, except negatively.”  Seehttp://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/inside-ralph-naders-american-museum-of-tort-law/
Thanks for 50 years of hard work building a Safer America.
Lou