The Center for Auto Safety, DOT, and Senators Markey and Blumenthal on NHTSA’s Recall Program
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Please see the latest releases.
Statement on NHTSA’s Path Forward for Defect InvestigationsClarence M. Ditlow, Executive Director
June 5, 2015
NHTSA’s critical self-assessment of its defect investigation and recall process is a crucial first step toward restoring the integrity of the agency’s enforcement process and the ability to hold the auto industry accountable for defects that kill and injure. The assessment calls for a new paradigm in funding and resources to match the dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on the road and the increasing sophisticated technology in vehicles. The assessment also sets into motion new internal processes to correct deficiencies in agency procedures that missed defects like GM ignition switch, Jeep fuel tank and Takata airbag inflators.
Whether the Path Forward succeeds depends on two crucial factors. First, Congress must approve the funding and resources required for NHTSA’s New Paradigm. NHTSA can go only so far on ideals alone. Second, NHTSA must become transparent for the public to see the new reforms in action. NHTSA in the 1970’s with a more adequate budget and aggressive enforcement was much like the New Paradigm in the Path Forward. But as funding decreased and secrecy increased in the 1980’s and beyond, the agency became a weak enforcer and mass vehicle defects became common behind closed doors.
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Center for Auto Safety
1825 Connecticut Ave NW #330
Washington DC 20009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742
Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) 202-224-6452
Markey, Blumenthal Statement on NHTSA’s “Path Forward”
In wake of GM recall, Senators introduced legislation to increase transparency and earlier reporting of auto defects
Washington (June 5, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released the following joint statement after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today made public reports and initiatives that address failings in its GM ignition switch investigation and other safety efforts. Senators Markey and Blumenthal have been leading the Senate investigation into the GM ignition switch recall that has been linked to at least 100 deaths. GM has admitted to knowing for at least a decade about the ignition switch defect in Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions that led to the massive recall, and NHTSA failed to connect the dots using accident reports and other information it had to more quickly and aggressively investigate the defect.
“We are pleased that NHTSA has acknowledged neglecting critical information that should have moved it to take action much earlier on faulty GM ignition switches that were killing drivers and passengers for years. Unfortunately, for more than a decade, NHTSA failed to address the information and evidence it had in its own database linking defective ignition switch to fatal accidents. It is incumbent upon Administrator Rosekind to put in place permanent measures necessary to prevent another tragedy like this from ever happening again. Those measures must include a requirement that the types of secret documents that NHTSA had access to are made public, and the enactment of our legislation that requires more information to be reported to NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting database when auto manufacturers first become aware of incidents involving fatalities.”
In one of the reports released today, NHTSA acknowledged that it had requested a Death Inquiry (DI) document from GM related to the death of two Wisconsin teenagers. That document, which was received by NHTSA in 2007 but kept secret by both GM and NHTSA, was first made public by Senator Markey on May 7, 2014. It included a report by the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy that highlighted the ignition switch defect as preventing the airbags from deploying. The report also references other reports of similar problems that the Wisconsin investigators uncovered and noted that these investigators had obtained the 2005 GM Technical Service Bulletin that described the ignition switch problem to GM dealers.
Last year, GM CEO Mary T. Barra expressed her support for components of legislation introduced by Senators Markey and Blumenthal that would ensure more transparency and earlier reporting of safety issues to prevent auto injuries and fatalities. The legislation, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, would require NHTSA make the information it receives from auto manufacturers publicly available in a searchable, user-friendly format so that consumers and independent safety experts can evaluate potential safety defects themselves.