Trust Your Government To Do The Right Thing?


Trust Your Government To Do The Right Thing?

October, 2016

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:
The Problem Nader has said:  “This country has far more problems than it deserves and far more solutions than it applies.”
The U.S.A. continues to face vehicle violence problems resulting in:
*  100 deaths per day – and rising
*  400 serious injuries per day
*  Losses valued by DOT at about $2 Billion per day
The U.S. has more safety technology available than ever before in history.
And yet the Obama Administration has failed for nearly 8 years – and nearly 250,000 deaths due to vehicle violence – to set a national Vision Zero Goal.  For example, Volvo has set such a goal for zero deaths in or by a new Volvo by the year 2020.   Why? 
Where is the hope and change for the better, that President Obama promised us?
Happy People

My recent article on the DOT NHTSA Revolving Door brought me the attached photo of DOT NHTSA and Auto Company Executives.  Lots of smiles as the Obama Administration comes to a close.

Some in the media have noted the Revolving Door and coziness of regulators and the “regulated”.  Seehttp://www.fairwarning.org/2016/06/self-driving-cars/

But not enough people know about the specific problems of vehicle violence and how government has failed to protect them.

Unhappy People

What percentage of the American people think that they can trust their government to do the right thing?
The Pew Poll reports: The public’s trust in the federal government continues to be at historically low levels. Only 19% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (16%).  See  http://www.people-press.org/2015/11/23/1-trust-in-government-1958-2015/
Reminds me of the lyrics “The country’s in the very best of hands”  See http://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/lilabner/thecountrysintheverybestofhands.htm
Lou Lombardo

 

Tribute to Clarence Ditlow From Senator Markey


Tribute to Clarence Ditlow From Senator Markey

October, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

I have known Clarence Ditlow for 44 years.  His life of hard work for the safety of all Americans has earned him the following tribute from Senator Markey.  His engineering and legal research and safety advocacy based on long hour days – year after year – has earned him the appreciation of all Americans.  His work has protected us all from harm.   

“Congressional Record Thursday, September 29, 2016 TRIBUTE TO CLARENCE M. DITLOW III Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, today I wish to recognize and thank Mr. Clarence M. Ditlow III for his commitment to protecting the American people. Through a lifetime of work improving automotive and safety laws, Mr. Ditlow has helped save thousands of lives and prevented many more injuries than would otherwise have occurred. A tireless champion for consumers, his work has resulted in better government oversight of automakers, the installation of key safety features, and the exposure of safety defects in millions of cars, SUVs, and other trucks. A 1965 chemical engineering graduate of Lehigh University, Mr. Ditlow pivoted to the legal profession following the completion of a JD from Georgetown University in 1970 and an LLM from Harvard Law School in 1971. Since then, he has been instrumental in improving auto safety, reliability, and efficiency as executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. Mr. Ditlow’s discovery of numerous automotive defects, combined with his persistent pressure on safety agencies and automakers alike, led to the removal of many unsafe vehicles from the road. His direct efforts led to the automotive recalls of 6.7 million Chevrolets with defective engine mounts, 15 million Firestone 500 tires, 1.5 million Ford Pintos and 2 million Jeeps with exploding gas tanks, 3 million Evenflo child seats with defective latches, 7 million Toyotas because of sudden acceleration defects, 2 million GM vehicles with defective ignition switches, and over 30 million Takata airbag inflators. He also led consumer efforts to get ‘‘lemon laws’’ passed in all 50 States. I offer my sincere appreciation to Mr. Clarence M. Ditlow III and the Center for Automotive Safety for indefatigable dedication to auto safety and vigilance in uncovering automotive safety threats. Clarence demonstrates the impact a devoted industry watchdog can have on informing the public and saving lives. I am grateful for his years of collaboration with and assistance to Members of Congress, Federal and State safety agencies, and a myriad of other stakeholders, to improve automotive and public safety.”
See Nader ‘s Introduction of Clarence and Clarence’s presentation at a recent Conference to learn how we all have been protected.Watch it athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiYi2zjEp5c  Time starts at5:04:45 to 5:23:10
Lou Lombardo

 

Injury + Inequality + Injustice = Tragedies Past, Present, and Future


Injury + Inequality + Injustice = Tragedies Past, Present, and Future

October, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

An article published by the Washington Post, on the front page Oct. 26, 2016, provides insights into the legal “system” as it currently values awards for injured people’s lives differently based on race, gender, and age.  And then secrecy in settlements is used to minimize compensation, costs, deterrence, and accountability.“In one case, when a 6-year-old girl and a male fetus were killed in the same car crash, the settlement for the fetus was calculated to be up to 84 percent higher than the girl’s, according to court records.”…

The debate over this use of demographic averages pits two tenets of the American justice system – fairness and accuracy – against each other.

Martha Chamallas, a law professor at Ohio State, called the practice reminiscent of “something Ruth Bader Ginsburg and civil rights advocates [fought] in the 1960s.” Jennifer Wriggins, a law professor at the University of Maine, said it “reinforces past discrimination and pushes it out into the future and endorses it.”

Defenders say it is the most accurate way to make calculations about the losses people incur when they are injured. “If there’s a difference in society, it is what it is. It’s a difference, and the economist’s job is to figure out what would have happened,” said James Woods, a forensic economist in Houston…

Law professors who study the practice in the United States say it deserves a fresh look, given America’s increasing awareness of the role race plays in the justice system – as well as the progress women have made in closing other economic disparities….Although G.M.M.’s case took place in open court, 95 percent of personal injury cases are settled behind closed doors, according to Lawrence Spizman, the president of the National Association of Forensic Economics. These settlements – which largely make up the $35 billion personal-injury industry, according to IBIS World – are almost always attached to confidentiality agreements preventing the victims from discussing the terms reached…. In a 2009 survey by the National Association of Forensic Economics, 44 percent said they considered race and 92 percent said they considered gender when projecting the annual wage for an injured child. Race and gender also come into play in many other calculations as well.”  See https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/wonk/settlements/

Thanks to the Post and author Kim Soffen for this revealing examination of how our legal “system” fails victims.

As for why lawyers do not use the DOT value of a statistical life of $9 million, I leave it to readers to judge.  

Feinberg did not use $9 million in the GM ignition scandal.  As I wrote: “First, the Feinberg team, in devising their compensation plan,  did not consider the DOT guidance on the higher value of a statistical life of $9.1 million.  Although Mr. Feinberg did ask for that information to be submitted for their consideration.  So yesterday I submitted the attached DOT Policy Guidance document.” See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-feinberg-comp.php

Lou Lombardo

 

The Obama DOT Holds “Road To Zero” Conference as Vehicle Violence Deaths Jump


The Obama DOT Holds “Road To Zero” Conference as Vehicle Violence Deaths Jump

October, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Words and numbers that hopefully will work to achieve Vision Zero were heard yesterday at the DOT “Road to Zero” Conference.

Particularly inspiring were the remarks of Deborah Hersman, head of the National Safety Council and formerly Chair of the NTSB.  See attached.

You can see the conference at http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/symposiums/october2016/index.html

What was noteworthy – but not inspiring – is that consumer advocates and crash victims were not visible at this Conference unlike the Nader Conference on Breaking Through Power that included crash victims.  See https://www.breakingthroughpower.org/

Consumer Affairs article by Jim Hood’s article summed it up:“Traffic fatalities continue to grow at an unusual clip, but safety regulators say they have a “zero fatalities” plan that they think will eliminate traffic fatalities completely. The catch? It won’t happen until 2046.”   Seehttps://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/traffic-deaths-surging-but-officials-have-a-zero-fatalities-plan-for-2046-100616.html

If the Obama Administration were serious, why did they not include people, such as Ralph Nader?   The work of Nader, Joan Claybrook, Clarence Ditlow and many others contributed more to saving lives than many of the panelists at this Conference.  
Automotive News also produced an excellent article on the Conference.  See it at http://www.autonews.com/article/20161005/OEM11/161009944/new-u-s-coalition-seeks-to-eliminate-traffic-fatalities
David Shepardson of Reuters asked about the interim goals were and was told that was to be determined.  See his article at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-traffic-idUSKCN1251GZ
One measure of the safety seriousness of the Obama Administration is the money it is setting aside for this project – $1 million per year over the next 3 years.  Compare that with the current DOT policy value of saving just one life of $9.6 million.  Seehttps://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/VSL%20Guidance%202016.pdf
Another measure of the safety seriousness of the Obama Administration is the DOT Budget for 2016 amounts to $94.7 billion. See https://www.transportation.gov/mission/budget/fiscal-year-2016-budget-highlights
At NHTSA we heard every DOT Secretary repeatedly say “Safety is our Number 1 priority.”  It became a hallway joke about the hypocrisy of Department Officials.  Many DOT Secretaries have gone through the DOT Revolving Door to the auto industry.  So keep that in mind when you hear DOT Officials talk about the 94% of the problem being due to human error.  And keep your eye on the Revolving Door.
Lou

 

NHTSA Revolving Door Cited by Campaign for Accountability


NHTSA Revolving Door Cited by Campaign for Accountability

October, 2016

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:

The Campaign for Accountability (CfA) has called for strengthening NHTSA’s ethics regime.“WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the non-partisan watchdog group Campaign for Accountability (CfA) called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve its ethics enforcement program. Documents published by the Google Transparency Project reveal that top NHTSA officials were in frequent contact with Google executives while working on federal guidelines for self-driving cars.

Read the letter here.

Ron Medford, the former deputy director at NHTSA, left the agency in January 2013 to become Google’s Director of Safety for Self-Driving Cars. Prior to joining Google, Mr. Medford – along with a host of other top officials at the Transportation Department — communicated regularly by email with high-level Google officials. The hiring of Mr. Medford was viewed as giving Google “a bureaucrat intimately familiar with the inner-workings of the transportation administration.” Eight months after Mr. Medford joined Google, he arranged a meeting at Google’s headquarters with his successor at NHTSA, David Friedman.

CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann stated, “The close interaction between Google and federal transportation officials raises questions as to whether NHTSA has become too cozy with a company it is charged with regulating.”

In addition to Mr. Medford, at least three other senior NHTSA officials including Administrator David Strickland, Senior Associate Administrator Danny Smith, and Government Affairs Director Chan Lieu left the agency between 2012 and 2015 to aid Google’s work on self-driving cars. Mr. Strickland and Mr. Lieu joined Venable LLP, a law firm that counts Google as a client, and Mr. Smith apparently serves as a Google consultant.

CfA has asked NHTSA to determine whether Mr. Medford followed the relevant ethics rules and regulations when negotiating his employment and move to Google. CfA also has asked NHTSA to develop a more robust ethics enforcement process to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

See http://campaignforaccountability.org/cfa-calls-on-highway-safety-agency-to-strengthen-ethics-regime-after-close-ties-to-google-revealed/

As I and many others have long been advocating, closing the Revolving Door will save many lives and prevent much suffering.    See http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-closerevdoor.php

Lou Lombardo

 

Senators Markey and Blumenthal Call For NHTSA Standards


Senators Markey and Blumenthal Call For NHTSA Standards

October, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Senators Markey and Blumenthal. “If modern day cars are computers on wheels, we need mandatory standards, not voluntary guidance, to ensure that our vehicles cannot be hacked and lives and information put in danger.

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

Maria McElwain (Blumenthal) 202-224-6452

Markey, Blumenthal on New Transportation Dept. Auto Cybersecurity Guidance:  It’s A Take-Home Exam for Failing Students

Senators have introduced legislation to protect drivers from auto security, privacy risks

Washington (October 24, 2016) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following statement today after the Department of Transportation unveiled proposed guidance for improving motor vehicle cybersecurity. In 2015, Senator Markey released the report Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk, which detailed major gaps in how auto companies are securing connected features in cars against hackers. For example, only two of the 16 car companies had developed any capability to detect and respond to a hacking attack in real time.

“This new cybersecurity guidance from the Department of Transportation is like giving a take-home exam on the honor code to failing students,” said Senators Markey and Blumenthal. “If modern day cars are computers on wheels, we need mandatory standards, not voluntary guidance, to ensure that our vehicles cannot be hacked and lives and information put in danger. In this new Internet of Things era, we cannot let safety, cybersecurity, and privacy be an afterthought. We must pass our legislation, the SPY Car Act, that puts the protections in place to ensure auto safety and security in the 21st century.”

In July, the Senators introduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act, legislation that would direct the National Highway Traffic and Safety administration and the Federal Trade Commission to establish federal standards to secure our cars and protect drivers’ privacy. The SPY Car Act also establishes a rating system — or “cyber dashboard”— that informs consumers about how well the vehicle protects drivers’ security and privacy beyond those minimum standards.

In August, Senators Markey and Blumenthal called on the Federal Communications Commission to consider taking a number of steps to protect consumers’ safety and privacy as car manufacturers deploy vehicle-2-vehicle and vehicle-2-infrastructure technologies in their automobiles.

###

The NHTSA “guidelines” document (attached) as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2016, October). Cybersecurity best practices for modern vehicles. (Report No. DOT HS 812 333). Washington, DC: Author.

When government fails to do its job setting legal standards – it is creating a lawless society – people suffer and die.

That is the tragic history of “voluntary” standards.  Just one example is the “voluntary” agreement of the 1920s allowing lead in gasoline poisoning people for decades.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/gettheleadout.pdf

Lou Lombardo

 

Legal Reader Interview on Whistle Blowing


Legal Reader Interview on Whistle Blowing

October, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Legal Reader’s Jay W. Belle Isle interviewed me via email on the subject of Whistle Blowing for Legal Reader. See http://www.legalreader.com/

This is to thank Jay and Legal Reader and to make the interview available to our community.

The link to the interview is at  http://www.legalreader.com/interview-louis-lombardo-on-whistleblowing-and-vehicle-emissions/

I also wish to thank Claire Nader and the Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest for information on the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage given to two recent recipients of the Whistle Blower Awards. 

Sincere appreciation, 

Lou Lombardo