How We The People Can Do Better


How We The People Can Do Better

March, 2016

Lou

 

NHTSA Responds to CAS Lawsuit With Plan for Public Disclosure of Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs)


NHTSA Responds to CAS Lawsuit With Plan for Public Disclosure of Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs)

March, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The Center for Auto Safety has issued a Press Release on its law suit against NHTSA seeking public disclosure of TSBs.“According to CAS Executive Director Clarence Ditlow: “DOT’s new measures to implement the law will save consumers money for repairs covered by Service Bulletins and dealer communications.  For Service Bulletins and dealer communications concerning defects that can cause crashes, deaths and injuries, disclosure could save lives. The GM ignition switch provides a good example. In December 2005, GM issued a TSB warning that the ignition switch could shut off while driving that was never posted by DOT. Nine months earlier in February 2005, GM issued a electronic dealer alert warning that the ignition switch could cut off while driving.  This alert was never made public. Disclosure of these dealer communications could have saved lives and led to an earlier discovery of the ignition switch defect.”

See Release below.

March 28, 2016202-328-7700

In Response to CAS Lawsuit, NHTSA Announces Plan to Comply With Law to Post TSBs and Manufacturer Communications to Dealers

Until sued by Center for Auto Safety (CAS), DOT violated the Congressional mandate in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) enacted on July 6, 2012 that “the Secretary shall make available on a publicly accessible Internet website, a true or representative copy of each communication to the manufacturer’s dealers or to owners or purchasers of a motor vehicle or replacement equipment produced by the manufacturer about a defect or noncompliance with a motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter in a vehicle or equipment that is sold or serviced.”

On March 25, DOT finally announced its intent to start obeying the law by issuing a Federal Register noticestating it would post all Technical Service Bulletins and communications to dealers on defects in vehicles, regardless of whether the defects were safety related. DOT also required manufacturers of vehicles and equipment to prepare indexes to TSBs and dealer communications, as a guide to consumers looking for information on potential vehicle problems. “At a minimum, an index must identify the make, model, and model year of the affected vehicles and must include a concise summary of the subject matter of the communication.”

According to CAS Executive Director Clarence Ditlow: “DOT’s new measures to implement the law will save consumers money for repairs covered by Service Bulletins and dealer communications.  For Service Bulletins and dealer communications concerning defects that can cause crashes, deaths and injuries, disclosure could save lives. The GM ignition switch provides a good example. In December 2005, GM issued a TSB warning that the ignition switch could shut off while driving that was never posted by DOT. Nine months earlier in February 2005, GM issued a electronic dealer alert warning that the ignition switch could cut off while driving.  This alert was never made public. Disclosure of these dealer communications could have saved lives and led to an earlier discovery of the ignition switch defect.”

#     #     #

The Center is represented by Adina Rosenbaum of Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington DC (202-588-1000).

 

Clarence Ditlow

Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

1825 Connecticut Ave NW #330

Washington DC 20009

Shocking that it takes a lawsuit to pressure NHTSA into expressing its intent to adhere to the law and to do what it failed to do for decades.   Note:  Former GM Executives still occupy high level NHTSA positions.
Lou

 

Should Crash Victims Support Sen. Bernie Sanders?


Should Crash Victims Support Sen. Bernie Sanders?

March, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Hillary a Hypocrite

Ralph Nader’s work has resulted in saving an estimated 3.5 million American people from crash deaths.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-unsafe.php  

Ralph Nader who I have found to be an accurate citizen in describing the many problems Americans face and possible solutions has noted Hillary Clinton’s hypocrisy.  Seehttp://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/274253-ralph-nader-dubs-clinton-hillary-the-hypocrite 

Secretary Clinton’s charge against Sen. Sanders’ vote on gun violence and not a word against vehicle violence, substantiate her dependency on corporate contributors.   Seehttps://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-hillaryguns.php

Numbers of Crash Victims

The U.S. Crash Death Clock now has recorded 3,686,202 deaths and nearly 1 billion injuries from vehicular violence.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/clock.php

And the U.S. Crash Meters show that currently on every average day 100 Americans die of crash injuries + 400 suffer major crash injuries + losses = $2 billion.   See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/clock.php
The numbers of family members who suffer from crash losses is unknown but clearly is in the billions.
What if they vote for Sen. Sanders?  What if they contributed $1 to his campaign?
Remember:  We are all crash victims – past, present, and future – as people injured physically – and financially as tax payers and insurance premium payers.
Note: Sen. Sanders’ position on Health Care for All as a Human Right would have major benefits for crash victims.  See his Seattle speech last night at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRafrFgsgJA
Crash Victims’ Organizing Efforts 
Consider the attached letter from over 250 Public Health, Safety and Consumer Organizations and Crash Victims’ Families to Congressional Conferees Don’t Sacrifice Safety for Special Industry Interests.
Consider the Marianne Karth family petition on a Vision Zero Policy with more than 20,000 signatures delivered to DOT.   See http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/
Imagine these efforts growing to impact the election this year and ending crash deaths and serious injuries in or by new vehicles in a decade – the next two terms of a President determined to act for the people – not the corporate contributors.  This is a realistic goal if enough of us act in time to overcome the corruption.
As former Clinton White House Counselor Bill Curry has written “It’s the corruption. stupid”.  See http://www.salon.com/2016/02/23/its_the_corruption_stupid_hillarys_too_compromised_to_see_what_donald_trump_understands/
Lou

 

Seat Back Failures: Who Has The Power? & Who Has the Responsibility?


Seat Back Failures: Who Has The Power? & Who Has the Responsibility?

March, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Please watch this excellent video and report by CBS News on Seat Back Failures.

The failures of both government and industry to protect the public from foreseeable tragedies – for decades – are described.  See

The Center for Auto Safety has documented the efforts by citizens that were ignored over decades.  Profits were placed ahead of people decade after decade.  See 

http://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/CASNewsImage.jpg 

 

NHTSA Urged to Warn Parents of Seatback Collapse Dangers to Children in Rear Seats & How to Reduce Risk While Keeping Children in Rear

March 9, 2016(202)328-7700

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) today petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to “take action to protect children riding in the rear seats of vehicles from the risk of being killed or severely injured when struck by a collapsing front seatback in a rear-end crash.” The petition asks NHTSA to warn parents as follows:

If Possible, Children Should Be Placed In Rear Seating Positions Behind Unoccupied Front Seats. In Rear-End Crashes, The Backs Of Occupied Front Seats Are Prone To Collapse Under The Weight Of Their Occupants. If This Occurs, The Seat Backs And Their Occupants Can Strike Children In Rear Seats And Cause Severe Or Fatal Injuries

As the petition states, “The problem underlying the need for the warnings sought by petitioner is, of course, the poor performance of seatbacks in rear-end crashes, and of serious inadequacy of the federal motor vehicle standard, FMVSS 207, which specifies minimum seat and seatback crash performance levels.” Attached to the petition is a timeline, “Collapsing Seatbacks And Injury Causation: A Timeline Of Knowledge,” which summarizes “the history of manufacturer and NHTSA inaction to ensure that in rear-end crashes, front seats provide adequate protection not only for their occupants but for people in the rear seats behind them.”

Separately, the Center filed a detailed analysis of lawsuits, police reports and litigated cases that shows the dangers of seat back collapse are far greater than what the agency recognizes because seat back collapse is not captured by the FARS database on which the agency has relied for all too long to deny there is a seatback collapse danger.  FARS does not provide any information on seat back collapse.  Out of 64 seat back collapse death and injury crashes, the Center only found 2 where the police report referenced seat back collapse.

For many years NHTSA has urged parents to place children in the rear seats of cars because of the risk that in the front seat, they might be injured by inflating airbags in frontal crashes. But the “unintended consequences” of this policy, the petition notes, has been to “expose them to another kind of hazard – that of being struck or crushed when the back of a front seat occupied by an adult collapses rearward… Until cars on the American highway are equipped with adequately strong front seats and seatbacks, children in rear seats behind occupied front seats will continue to be in danger of death or severe injury from front seatback failures in rear-end impacts.”

The petition reports on the results of an analysis of NHTSA data by Friedman Research Corp. Done at the Center’s request, the analysis shows that over the twenty-four year period 1990-2014, nearly 900 children seated behind a front-seat occupant or in a center rear seat died in rear impacts of 1990 and later model-year cars.

http://www.autosafety.org/sites/default/files/imce_staff_uploads/Child%20Seat%20Back_0.jpg 

As the Timeline shows, NHTSA has frequently been alerted to the hazards of weak designs and inadequate federal performance standards for seats and seatbacks. “Papers published by the Society of Automotive Engineers as early as 1967 described the need for adequate of front-seat crashworthiness in graphic and alarming terms. A poorly designed car seat ‘becomes an injury-producing agency during collision,’ said one. Another stated, ‘…a weak seatback is not recognized as an acceptable solution for motorist protection from rear end collisions.’” 

In 1974, the petition notes, NHTSA announced its intention to develop a new standard “covering the total seating system” and requiring dynamic rear-impact crash testing. But thirty years later, in 2004, it abandoned the plan, saying it needed “additional research and data analysis” and leaving in place the woefully weak requirements of FMVSS 207, a standard which has not been upgraded since its adoption in 1967. In a research study of 30-mph rear crashes done one year earlier which is not cited in the rulemaking termination, NHTSA researchers warned of the danger to children placed in rear seats at NHTSA’s recommendation. “Further, fatalities and injuries to rear child occupants due to seat back collapse of the front seat in rear impacts have also been reported. This is especially of concern since NHTSA recommends to the public that children of age 12 and under should be placed in the rear seat.”

In its conclusion, the petition states that warning parents of the hazards of front seatback collapse to children in rear seat is an essential measure “made necessary by the continued absence of a federal motor vehicle safety standard requiring that cars be equipped with adequately protective front seats.”  The agency “can take most of the requested steps on its own, without time-consuming rulemaking, and should do so promptly,” the petition notes. 

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CAS Petitions NHTSA to Warn Parents of Seat Back Failure Dangers to Children in Rear Seats

CAS Letter to NHTSA Administrator Rosekind

Collapsing Seat Backs and Injury Causation: A Timeline of Knowledge

Friedman Study: Child Fatalities in Rear Impacts

NHTSA Seat Back Rulemaking History

 

Clarence Ditlow

Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

1825 Connecticut Ave NW #330

Washington DC 20009

We need all engineers and federal officials concerned with public health to take the professional Hippocratic Oath “Do No Harm”.
Lou

 

Time To Seal Off The Revolving Door


Time To Seal Off The Revolving Door

March, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Please see the following Press Release by 18 organizations.

I suspect that members of our community might not be surprised.  But we should be disappointed that this focus is only on financial regulatory agencies.  

Crash victims might be forgiven for thinking that other Revolving Doors such as DOT and CDC also result in many deaths and injuries in addition to financial losses every day in the U.S.A. today.

Please see the example in the Press Release letter that states:

“At the same time, there are new public servants coming straight from Wall Street with seven-and eight-figure government service golden parachute bonuses, money given only
because they accepted decision-making roles in government. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, for instance, received over $1 million from Citigroup for accepting his position as the Secretary of the Treasury. The money was explicitly contingent on his securing a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.”
At best, these “government service golden parachutes”, create the appearance of corruption and conflict of interest. At worst, they result in undue and inappropriate corporate influence over the same governmental agencies that regulate those corporations – in essence, a backdoor form of influence known as “regulatory capture.””

Press Release: “The Revolving Door Leads to Regulatory CaptureForum Spotlights Industry Influence Over the Rulemaking ProcessMarch 3, 2016 Contact: David Rosen, drosen@citizen.org(202) 588-7742 Amit Narang, anarang@citizen.org(202) 454-5116 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen applauds the Administrative Conference of the United States for hosting a forum today on Capitol Hill that shined a spotlight on the problem of regulatory capture due to a revolving door between industry and government. U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke at the event. Panels at the forum discussed how to measure regulatory capture in the rulemaking context, whether weak regulatory enforcement is evidence of capture, and possible solutions to special-interest influence. Earlier this week, Public Citizen spearheaded a letter (PDF) from 18 organizations that was sent to the 2016 presidential candidates in both parties, asking them to commit not to appoint any recipient of a “government service golden parachute” bonus to a financial agency. The letter also asked the candidates to require future financial service regulators to recuse themselves from official actions that could benefit or favor previous employers or clients from the previous two years. “The revolving door is a pernicious influence-peddling scheme that, if left unchecked, can undermine the very integrity of government,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Today’s event shined a spotlight on the need to close the rapidly spinning revolving door between government and industry,” she added. “Closing the revolving door between big business and government agencies is the right way to reform our regulatory system and will ensure our government is serving the interests of American consumers, working families and small businesses instead of big corporations,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Unfortunately, this Congress is focused on rigging the system by giving big business and special-interest lobbyists many more opportunities to block or weaken new safeguards that protect the public and hold corporate wrongdoers accountable. Among the reforms that will improve and strengthen our regulatory system, solutions to regulatory capture are at the very top of the list,” he added.” ###View this release on our press page.

Please read “It’s the Corruption, Stupid” at http://www.salon.com/2016/02/23/its_the_corruption_stupid_hillarys_too_compromised_to_see_what_donald_trump_understands/

Nader and Ditlow pointed to the captivity of NHTSA at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/opinion/weak-oversight-deadly-cars.html

Wake up America!  Our Safety and Happiness are being bought.

Lou

 

Safety Victory – After 11 Year Struggle


Safety Victory – After 11 Year Struggle

March, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
On “October 7, 2004, two Houck sisters were killed in “a Chrysler PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that had been recalled for a safety defect that could cause an engine fire, but the corporation had failed to repair it.”
On December 4, 2015, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act was signed into law.
This is an important story.  More important to Americans than the coverage of most of what is seen on TV and in the papers.  The NY Times covered some of the battles, but not the victory yet as far as my search could find.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/business/recalled-used-cars-roam-the-roads-as-federal-legislation-stalls.html?_r=0
Reasons Why This Is An Important Book
*  The inequality of power of people vs. corporate and governmental power and money has never been greater. *  Safety victories are too rare in the U.S.A. today.
*  The American people need to know that safety advances can be made with persistence plus political and community support.

See the press release below by one of my safety heroes Ben Kelley, about the struggles, on our behalf, of Carol Houck and her family.

Immediate Release – See Bottom For Contact, Author Information
Inline image
   

New Book Gives Gripping Account
Of Eleven-Year Legal Saga Triggered
By Sisters’ Defective Rental Car Deaths 

 
Monterey, CA –When the Houck sisters were killed in a fiery head-on collision late one afternoon in October 2004, California state police blamed it on Raechel Houck, 24, the driver. She had made an “unsafe turning maneuver,” they said. “It’s a very rural stretch and people can fall asleep or lose control easily or not pay attention.” 
But in reality, a defective Chrysler PT Cruiser and a huge rental car company’s callous indifference to customer safety caused the tragedy. Even though Enterprise Rent-A-Car had been notified more than a month earlier that the PT Cruiser was under recall, it rented the vehicle to the young women without fixing its lethal defect – a flaw in the power steering hose that allowed flammable power brake fluid to leak onto hot engine surfaces and burst into flames.  

The Houck sisters’ violent deaths were the start of an incredible eleven-year saga that culminated in the congressional passage last December of a landmark law, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015, banning rental car companies from keeping recalled vehicles in service without fixing their defects. A new book, “Death by Rental Car: How The Houck Case Changed The Law,” by Ben Kelley, documents that saga in spellbinding detail. A “real-life courtroom thriller” that “reads like a suspense novel,” reviewers wrote.
In a foreword to “Death By Rental Car,” Ralph Nader calls it a “compelling story of corporate eva­sion and duplicity” and the “dedicated, persistent personal injury attorneys” who fought for the Houcks in their lawsuit against the giant rental car corporation – and ultimately won. The Houcks “saw beyond their own personal tragedy” when they pursued their lawsuit, Nader writes; it was a way to “advance the public’s right to know what both Chrysler and Enterprise Rental wanted kept secret. Drivers and passengers on the roads were in danger.”
“Death by Rental Car” gives a blow-by-blow account of Houck v. Enterprise, the parents’ hard-fought lawsuit against Enterprise. Drawing from the testimony of experts and witnesses in the lawsuit, the book takes the reader inside the litigation, in which the rental car corporation, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, aggressively attempted to blame Raechel Houck for causing the crash.  But what caused the crash was the defect, which triggered an engine compartment fire. Smoke penetrated the passenger compartment, frightening Raechel and causing her to veer off the road and into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer.
Challenging Enterprise’s campaign to shirk blame for the crash were two lawyers, Larry Grassini and Roland Wrinkle, who represented the Houck parents. They resolutely fought back against Enterprise’s “blame the victim” legal tactics and secrecy strategy and brought the case to a successful conclusion. When Enterprise tried to settle the case by paying the parents a few million dollars in return for their agreement to hide the facts of the crash and Enterprise’s role in causing it, they joined the Houcks in rejecting the offer. Grassini said he was “inspired by the bravery” of the Houck parents, who “refused to take any amount of money in exchange for muzzling them from exposing Enterprise’s business practice of renting recalled cars.”
After the trial in Houck v. Enterprise, the sisters’ mother, Carol “Cally” Houck, embarked on a crusade to win passage of new laws to forbid rental car companies from keeping recalled vehicles in service without first repairing them. Her criterion for an effective law was simple: “If it would have saved my daughters, it’s a good law. If it wouldn’t have, it’s no use.” Her effort, supported by leading safety advocacy groups in California and Washington, led to passage in December of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act
“Death By Rental Car” is available from Amazon.com in print and Kindle formats at this link. The book’s Table of Contents is below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ben Kelley is a nationally renowned expert on auto safety issues. The Los Angeles Times called him a“pioneer in vehicle safety research.” His commentaries have appeared in newspapers throughout the country and are featured on the www.Fairwarning.org consumer information website. His biography and bibliography are atwww.producthazardconsulting.com.
CONTACTS: For information about the book or to obtain review copies, please contactben.kelley@yahoo.com, or phone him at (831) 920 2460. To contact or arrange interviews with Carol Houck or Larry Grassini, please use the following email addresses and phone numbers: Carol Houck,spendard@juno.com(805) 479 2545; Larry Grassini, lpgrassini@gmail.com.      (818) 348 1717

I recommend our community buy this excellent and important book, read it, and be both educated and inspired by it.

Lou