Jeep Fatality

Actor’s Death is Latest Example of Inadequate Recall Response; CAS Lays Out Action Plan for Chrysler to Prevent Further Deaths and Injuries due to Transmission Defect

Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed June 18 when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against his mailbox in a rollaway incident.  Yelchin’s death is unfortunately the latest example of industry and government incompetence in the face of vehicle safety defects.

On April 22, 2016, Chrysler issued a recall of 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees, as well as 2012-14 Chrysler 300s and Dodge Chargers, in order to add an additional part to enhance the Jeeps’ monostable gear selector.  The design of the monostable gear selector has been the source of much confusion for Chrysler owners, resulting in hundreds of rollaway incidents reported to both Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Chrysler notes in its chronology that as of April 12, 2016 “FCA US has identified approximately 700 field reports potentially related to this issue which includes 212 crashes, 308 claims of property damage and 41 injuries.”

The vehicles involved had been under investigation by NHTSA since August 20, 2015, when the agency opened PE15-030.  When NHTSA upgraded the investigation to EA16-002 on February 3, 2016, the agency noted 121 crashes and 30 injury incidents in its opening memo.

Despite a clear defect affecting hundreds of owners with injury and potential death, Chrysler issued a Part 577 interim notification letter to owners promising to develop a fix by the 4th quarter of 2016. Just how quickly this fix would be available to owners is unknown, and given Chrysler’s recent recall efforts in fire-prone Jeeps, owners would be potentially subject to lengthy delays when seeking a remedy.

In a letter to Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, CAS Executive Director wrote: The Center for Auto Safety calls on Chrysler to: · Notify owners not to drive these vehicles until repaired under the safety recall. · Provide free loaner or rental cars of comparable value to all owners until the vehicles are repaired under the safety recall. · For owners who cannot wait until a recall repair is available, buy the recalled vehicles by at original purchase or lease cost with deduction for use as is done under state lemon laws where the defect exists on the day the vehicle was bought. · Provide a detailed public timeline within 10 days of what is being done to make a recall remedy available, when parts will be available for all vehicles and who is doing the engineering for the recall. · Sergio Marchionne should publicly go and apologize to the family of Anton Yelchin.

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CAS Letter to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne

CAS Letter to NHTSA Administrator Rosekind

16V-240 Part 573

16V-240 Amended Part 573

16V-240 Amended Part 573 Chronology

16V-240 Part 577

PE15-030 Closing Resume

Redacted Chrysler PowerPoint Presentation to NHTSA

EA16-002 Opening Resume

Chrysler Consent Agreement with NHTSA on Recall Performance

Anton Yelchin Death: Jeep Grand Cherokees Were Recalled for Rollaway Risk– 6/19/16

CAS FOIA: Missing Chrysler PE15-030 Documents

CAS FOIA: Missing Chrysler EA16-002 Documents

List of Chrysler Transmission Rollaway Recalls

Clarence Ditlow

Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

1825 Connecticut Ave NW #330

Washington DC 20009

Will Safety And Justice Result From Celebrity Death By Jeep?

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Center For Auto Safety

A Legal case is being built to provide the American people safety and justice.

Documents are being produced for the public by the Center for Auto Safety.  Note the latest Court filing: Chrysler ZF Gear Selector Class Action ComplaintFor many more documents see

NHTSA is a different story.  As Clarence Ditlow,the Center’s Director, wrote:

“Yelchin’s death is unfortunately the latest example of industry and government incompetence in the face of vehicle safety defects.”
Sadly, Ditlow is right again.
Would you believe that the Yelchin death by Jeep will not be counted by NHTSA in the annual fatalities this year?
Why?  NHTSA has definitional rules it has created that fatalities that do not occur on public roads (such as driveways) are not included in FARS.  Fatalities not counted by NHTSA each year amount to nearly 3 thousand per year – or about 10 deaths per day – or about a 10% under count.  See
Lou Lombardo


Unsafe At Any Speed The Designed in Dangers of The American Automobile – 50 Years Later

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Nader’s work has resulted in the saving of an estimated 3.5 million lives over the past 50 years.

But there is still a lot to do.

Automotive News reports on Gear Shifter dangerous designs today.  See

Consumer Reports shows us the problems today.  See

One citizen crash survivor asks a simple question of President Obama who can pick up his pen (our pen) and order NHTSA to create a Safety Ombudsman.  See

But don’t hold your breath that President Obama will hear Marianne Karth’s cry.  President Obama has his eye on the money.  See
And President Obama has long had a “Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage”.  See


The Polluted Air We Are Forced To Breathe Vehicular Violence Decade After Decade

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:

The NY Times reports:

“BERLIN — One diesel car tested by the German government emitted more than 12 times as much poisonous nitrogen oxide as allowed. Another was five times over the limit, and yet another six times over.

The cars were not produced by Volkswagen, the company at the center of a widespread emissions scandal. They were a Jeep, a General Motors sedan and a Mercedes-Benz.

A growing stack of recent government and private studies has made increasingly clear that Volkswagen was hardly the only company to flout pollution limits. While Volkswagen illegally manipulated test results, the other carmakers in Europe just took advantage of a loophole that allows them to throttle down emissions controls whenever there is risk of engine damage — which in some cases is nearly all the time.”  See

In a USA Today Op Ed, Advocates offer solutions:

“Government agencies must crack down on an industry with a history of cheating.


(Photo: Kevin Hagen, AP)

Volkswagen’s cheating on diesel emissions tests isn’t the first pollution scandal to rock the auto industry. Here’s how the Obama administration can make it the last.

VW should be ordered to fix the diesels, or buy them back and scrap them, begin large-scale production of electric vehicles and face civil and criminal penalties, including a fine large enough that no automaker will even think about cheating on air pollution standards again.”  See

Since 1970

When will Enough be Enough?

In the 1970’s I blew the whistle on auto industry cheating on emissions testing under the Nixon Administration.  I had to sue the National Academy of Sciences who denied me access to EPA documents and deliberations that would have revealed the problem.  Judges all the way to the Supreme Court ruled against us.  It took the Nixon tapes, later released, to show I was right. The EPA and the auto companies were wrongfully polluting us all.   See

And see



Safety Advocates Worried About Driverless Cars

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Fair Warning, in an excellent article, reports on numerous concerns voiced by safety advocates about the regulatory rush to self driving vehicles.

“On Valentine’s Day in Silicon Valley, one of Google’s experimental, self-driving cars sideswiped a city bus at 2 miles an hour. The incident marked the first time an autonomous car contributed to an accident on a public road, but did nothing to diminish the Obama administration’s enthusiasm for driverless vehicles.

A month after the crash, at an autonomous car conference in Dearborn, Mich., Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, said his agency and the federal Department of Transportation “are using all the tools we have available to advance what see as a revolution in technology,” according to his prepared remarks. “Our goal is to hasten this revolution.”

Enthusiasts say autonomous cars will grant mobility to the elderly and the disabled, transform congested freeways and eliminate the human errors responsible for most traffic accidents, which kill about 33,000 people per year. “Automated vehicles open up possibilities for saving lives, saving time and saving fuel,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in January at the North American International Auto Show, where he announced the administration wants to spend $3.9 billion, over ten years, to foster the development of driverless cars. “We are bullish on automated vehicles,” he said.

But some automotive safety advocates fear government is embracing the technology too quickly without carefully assessing its actual capabilities and practical implications. With billions of dollars at stake and aggressive lobbying by the tech and automotive industries, safety advocates worry that government regulators will allow themselves – and the public – to be steamrolled in the name of progress and innovation.

Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, is concerned that autonomous cars are not ready for the road. (Photo courtesy of Rosemary Shahan)

Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, is concerned that autonomous cars are not ready for the road.

“These cars are not ready for prime time,” said Rosemary Shahan, the founder and president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a Sacramento, Calif.-based advocacy organization best known for spearheading passage of the state’s automobile lemon law.

Autonomous cars, which have been in development since at least 2009, are known to struggle in inclement weather; rain, fog and snow disrupt their sensors. “We should be requiring them to prove that they’re really ready” before rushing self-driving cars to consumers, Shahan said.

She’s also worried about draft regulations in California that would make occupants responsible for all traffic violations that occur while a driverless car is operating in autonomous mode. Shahan said manufacturers “should be willing to assume the liability.”

– See more at:

Note the Revolving Door at DOT NHTSA as the Obama Administration comes to an end.


Revolving Door: “No Jail, No Shame” Article on Holder

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

“Big banks came up earlier in the conversation when Martin asked Holder about the criticism he has gotten for not indicting Wall Street executives for the role they played in the economic crisis that began nearly a decade ago.

“This is one that pisses me off,” Holder said. “It’s nonsense.” Holder said his office and that of the U.S. attorney in New York were willing to bring criminal cases against banks if the evidence had met the standard of proof needed.

“The reality is that if those cases could have been brought, they would have, Holder said, stating that instead, the department sought and won “record-breaking civil settlements” that helped those who were harmed by the meltdown.”

Hmnnnn.  GM and Toyota settlements with Zero jail time.  Not even one day.

Fines tax deductible?

I wonder if there are Americans still living that are “pissed off”.


Rental Car Safety Law Becomes Law of the Land

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Great news from Cally Houck:WE WON!!! Thank you, everyone!

cally houck

Ojai, CA

Jun 1, 2016 — The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, named for my beautiful and talented daughters, is now the law of the land!! Thank you to everyone who pitched in to make this happen. We still have work to do, to close the car dealers’ loaner-car loophole. But meanwhile, this is a huge victory. To their credit, the rental car companies themselves worked with me and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, and Dr. Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, our champions in Congress, and other consumer groups to get the law enacted. Good to know that we the people can change the law to protect precious lives, when enough of us speak up.Cally Houck

The Detroit News reports:

Washington — Rental car companies are prohibited from distributing vehicles that have been recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under a new federal law that took effect Wednesday.

The new law requires rental companies with fleets of more than 35 vehicles to pull recalled cars from their rotations until they are repaired.

The prohibition was included in a $305 billion highway bill that was approved by Congress last year. It was originally introduced as a bill that was named after Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, sisters who were killed in a 2004 crash in California that involved a rental car that had been recalled. Their mother, Cally Houck, lobbied Congress for years to approve the change.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he is happy to enforce the ban now that has Congress has codified the prohibition in federal law.

“When a family picks up a rental car on vacation, they should be able to expect it is free of any known safety defect,” Foxx said in a statement. “I thank Congress and the safety advocates who helped turn this common-sense idea into law.”

The ban on recalled cars does not apply to used car dealerships, despite a push from safety advocates to also apply the prohibition to them.

Backers of the ban on rental companies distributing recalled cars said it is a major victory that the ban is taking effect today, even as they vowed to continue pushing for a wider prohibitions including the sale of recalled used cars by dealers.

“I’m thrilled that the Safe Rental Car Act named for my beautiful, treasured daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, is now the law of the land. But I’m worried about the loaner-car loophole for car dealers and remain committed to closing that dangerous safety gap,” Cally Houck said in a statement distributed on Wednesday by the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety group.

“If this law was in existence when my cherished, beautiful daughter Jewel rented a car, she would still be alive today,” added Alexander Brangman, whose 26-year-old daughter Jewel died in a 2014 crash while she was driving a rented 2001 Honda Civic.

Lawmakers in Washington who pushed for the inclusion of the recalled rental ban in the massive highway funding law that was approved last year also touted the implementation of the prohibition on Wednesday.

“I am so proud that the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act takes effect today so that the public can be assured that when they rent a car, it cannot be under recall,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who introduced multiple bills contain the ban before it was added to the 2015 highway bill.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., added: “This law is going to save lives, period. Families heading out for vacation or businesspeople on travel should never have to wonder if their rental car is under recall when they drive it off the lot. Thanks to this bill, the millions of people who rent cars every year will have peace of mind that rental companies can’t rent or sell cars that they know are unsafe.”

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind agreed, saying the recalled rental ban gives his agency “one more tool to protect the safety of U.S. motorists,” although he lamented the fact that there are currently more than 900 active auto recalls.


For more on the history of this safety victory see the book Death by Rental Car available at*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Great safety advance!