Will GM Recall Spur Auto Safety Reform?
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
A must read “reality check” has been published in the LA Times by a giant of auto safety.
Ben Kelley concludes:“NHTSA’s acquiescence in such delays support arguments that it is too responsive to the cost-containment agenda of the auto companies. Its inability to effectively police the industry has almost certainly invited such profit-driven misconduct. Recently, a top agency attorney, in comments to an auto industry group, admitted that “the first line of defense against safety defects is not NHTSA.” Rather, it is the auto companies themselves. “Our agency’s job is to make sure your company is doing its job and to catch problems when it does not,” he said, leaving unaddressed the obvious question of why the NHTSA failed for a decade to “catch” GM’s ignition switch defect.
The answer to that question is that NHTSA is abysmally underfunded and understaffed, and lacks a foundation of tough laws to support its regulatory mission. Nothing in today’s political environment suggests that is going to change soon.”
Based on my decades of work at NHTSA and now trying to shine the light on NHTSA’s captivity by corporate interests, I must support his grim conclusion.
When the President of the U.S.A. briefly mentioned auto safety – without noting the problem of more than 150,000 crash deaths on his watch – he used a black Cadillac as a photo prop. He looked like a corporate puppet moving on the strings of GM. How’s that for use of the bully pulpit?
I voted for him twice. I hoped he would cut the GM control of auto safety positions and deadly policies at NHTSA. Tragically for too many Americans that has not happened.
As usual, we must thank Ben Kelley for giving us this reality check.
And we must again thank the LA Times for this article and Michael Hiltzik for the question that continues to haunt and challenge the nation: “Only oversight by a Congress and president truly devoted to the public interest, not commercial interests, can keep regulatory agencies focused on the people’s business.
But when business gets its say on Capitol Hill and the White House too, what’s the ordinary person to do?”