Tag Archives: auto safety recalls

Examining Ways to Improve Vehicle and Roadway Safety

Examining Ways to Improve Vehicle and Roadway Safety – See more at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/examining-ways-improve-vehicle-and-roadway-safety#sthash.F4YzqjVb.dpuf

Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), spoke today to the COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE, SUBCOMITTEE ON COMMERCE, MANUFACTURING AND TRADE:

“It is essential that NHTSA, the agency charged with ensuring the safety of our vehicles and our drivers, be equipped with both the appropriate resources and personnel to confront the myriad of emerging issues presented by new technologies. It is almost incomprehensible that the entire vehicle safety program for the U.S. has a miniscule budget of only $130 million, and it has barely increased over the last six years. It is both unfortunate and unnecessary that this agency is chronically underfunded by Congress even while its critical importance to public health and safety continues to expand. Congress has a moral obligation in the safety title of the six year reauthorization bill to give NHTSA the ability to do its job and to do it effectively. Our lives and those of our families as well as yours literally depend on it.”


Victims testify:

Car Safety Wars book cover

Let’s Move From: “A Failure of Compassion, & Tactics of Conceal-­‐Delay-­‐Deny While Fiery Crashes Occur” to a “Vision of Zero Fatalities”

Chrysler and the Defective Design of Jeeps with Unsafe Fuel Tanks …..
A Failure of Compassion, and Tactics of Conceal-­‐Delay-­‐Deny While Fiery Crashes Occur
by Byron Bloch, Auto Safety Expert, Potomac, Maryland
www.AutoSafetyExpert.com   Byron@AutoSafetyExpert.com
Presentation at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA Public Hearing on July 2nd, 2015 -­‐-­‐-­‐Washington, D.C.

“From my perspective of about 50 years in the auto safety trenches, I’ve seen that NHTSA has too often been a slowly reactive agency, rather than being pro-active in analyzing vehicle design and performance in real-world accidents.

I’ve seen where automaker documents produced in product-liability court cases reveal that the company has known of the dangers and safety defects for many years, but preferred to conceal that knowledge, then delay its release, and then deny that it ever knew what the documents revealed.

The Chrysler secretly-negotiated deal with NHTSA, without any public hearing, to provide trailer hitches as a so-called recall fix to improve fuel tank protection, but only in low-speed accidents, makes a mockery of what should be done.

Look instead to what NASCAR and helicopters and military aircraft utilize for fuel tank safety, and you’ll see safety technology that could and should be utilized. But that would require compassion… and that’s not yet a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.

Let’s together join forces to fight for safer vehicles for us all, with the vision of zero fatalities… by preventing vehicle accidents, and by more crashworthy vehicles to protect occupants when accidents occur, and by the elimination of needlessly unsafe and defective designs.

Thank you.” Byron Bloch

Preach it, brother! (Fine Print: And that includes truck underride guards! http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/truck-underride-prevention-research-too-long-neglected-how-long-will-this-highway-carnage-continue/ )

Chrysler and Defective Design of Jeeps with Unsafe Fuel Tanks

Safety is not a priority 002

Different Version of Highway Safety Bill by Republicans and Democrats Reflect Different Vision of Public Safety Needs in Response to the Largest Vehicle Safety Recalls in History and Mounting Truck Crash Deaths and Injuries:  Safety Advocates JOINT STATEMENT 7-10-2015

Care for Crash Victims Monthly Report July 2015

Crash Fatalities by State 2013

Tonight my son’s Toyota Camry had unintended acceleration: safe but frazzled

My son was on his way to Durham tonight– a 1 1/2 hr. drive–for a professional meet-up with other programmers. His wife got a call to come and help him. Before he made it out of town, his accelerator went out of control. Fortunately his brakes functioned well and he was able to stop–in the middle of the street in busy rush hour traffic.

We are thankful it happened before he got on the expressway and that there was no crash involved, no injuries.  But, despite many other 1996 Toyota Camrys which have experienced similar problems, there are apparently no recalls listed prior to 1999 for that model with that problem.

As soon as I heard what had happened, I started searching for his model online:

That reminded me of the book which I recently finished, Car Safety Wars by Michael Lemov:

“Car Safety Wars is a gripping history of the hundred-year struggle to improve the safety of American automobiles and save lives on the highways. Described as the “equivalent of war” by the Supreme Court, the battle involved the automobile industry, unsung and long-forgotten safety heroes, at least six US Presidents, a reluctant Congress, new auto technologies, and, most of all, the mindset of the American public: would they demand and be willing to pay for safer cars? The “Car Safety Wars” were at first won by consumers and safety advocates. The major victory was the enactment in 1966 of a ground breaking federal safety law. The safety act was pushed through Congress over the bitter objections of car manufacturers by a major scandal involving General Motors, its private detectives, Ralph Nader, and a gutty cigar-chomping old politician. The act is a success story for government safety regulation. It has cut highway death and injury rates by over seventy percent in the years since its enactment, saving more than two million lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.

But the car safety wars have never ended. GM has recently been charged with covering up deadly defects resulting in multiple ignition switch shut offs. Toyota has been fined for not reporting fatal unintended acceleration in many models. Honda and other companies have—for years—sold cars incorporating defective air bags. These current events, suggesting a failure of safety regulation, may serve to warn us that safety laws and agencies created with good intentions can be corrupted and strangled over time.

This book suggests ways to avoid this result, but shows that safer cars and highways are a hard road to travel. We are only part of the way home.”


Having read Michael Lemov’s book, Car Safety Wars, I am not the least bit surprised–just all the more motivated to share what I have learned from this book and to do my part in speaking out for decisions and actions reflective of a safety-minded perspective.

In fact, you have not heard the last from me about this book.

Car Safety Wars book cover

Note: I temporarily made this post private until I could verify with my son what his mechanic told him. Apparently, something (possibly an oil leak or some damage due to a blown tire a month or so ago) caused the sensor for the accelerator to go awry and thus the Sudden Unintended Acceleration that he experienced. The mechanic was able to repair the throttle. (I don’t fully understand this.)

We were thinking that it sounded like it was maybe a different issue than what we have been reading about. But is it? My son was on a city street and not going very fast so that he was able to brake safely (though the accelerator was still trying to keep going). Perhaps if he had been on the expressway and going faster, he might not have been able to stop safely. ?????

My son said that maybe there was a design flaw in that the accelerator flaw was perhaps too easily impacted by oil leaking, etc. Is that a manufacturing defect? I don’t know. What if he had died as a result or killed someone else?

Marianne Karth, June 17, 2015

Update: I continue to see news reports of cases of SUA, e.g., http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/10/01/cab-driver-who-ran-over-kids-on-bronx-sidewalk-blames-car/ What if things had turned out differently with my son? What is the truth of the matter?

October 1, 2015

Update (May 19, 2016): This article just posted:

“We can and must do better than this at protecting people before profits.” Louis V. Lombardo, Care for Crash Victims


“As for the root cause of failures to protect the public in corporations and government regulatory agencies, consider money.

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  1 Timothy 6:10

Whether it be relentless cost cutting demands by OEMs or the corruption of government regulatory policy the root cause is money.

Whether it be airbags exploding dangerously, or airbags not deploying when needed examination will find money at the root of corporate and governmental failures to protect.  See report of June 2014 at


We can and must do better than this at protecting people before profits.”

Louis V. Lombardo, Care for Crash Victims

Rebekah photo of crash

A Low Tolerance For Crash Fatalities

I was up late last night reading a lengthy article about the engineering perspective on automotive safety issues. It was worth the read to find out how “they” think.

From The New Yorker‘s May 4, 2015 edition:

The Engineer’s Lament

Two ways of thinking about automotive safety.



I could quote lots of things from that article, but I will start with this one from David Friedman, Deputy Administrator of NHTSA:

I would argue that our nation has a low tolerance for fatalities associated with airplanes, the N.H.T.S.A.’s David Friedman told me, when we spoke late last year. In part because of that, fatalities are very, very low from aircraft. Also in part because of that, the F.A.A. has close to fifty thousand employees—an order of magnitude more employees than we do. We have six hundred. To deal with ten thousand people who are dying from drunk driving or ten thousand dying because they didn’t wear a seat belt, or the three thousand dying from distracted driving, or the four thousand dying because they are pedestrians or bicyclists and they are hit by a car. That’s why the Administration has been asking Congress for more resources for us. With more resources, we could save more lives. And each time the answer from Congress has been no. Zero.

(Don’t forget the four thousand dying per year from truck crashes.)

That’s what I would like to become prevalent in our nation: A Low Tolerance For Crash Fatalities. An Outcry at the Rampant* Carnage on our Roads.

* Flourishing or spreading UNCHECKED

gertie 132

Safety Advocates Call for Reform in Auto Safety Recalls


Thirty-eight years ago, my first job out of college was a position as a local chapter director of a statewide patient advocacy organization for nursing home patients–Citizens for Better Care–in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Little did I know that someday I would be advocating for improved safety for travelers on the roads of our country–at a high price, of course, because I had become enlightened, enraged, and empowered due to the loss of my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), as a result of a potentially-preventable truck crash.

I have primarily been learning about and advocating for change in truck safety issues. But through my research, I have become aware of many other safety issues and numerous other safety advocates who are working hard to bring about change for us all. Just recently, I found the website called Care for Crash Victims–focused for the most part on victims of car crashes .


“This web site named ‘Care for Crash Victims’ is a project of a small business public benefit enterprise, Louis V. Lombardo, LLC.  The mission is to improve care for crash victims before, during, and after a crash.  We are all crash victims — past, present, and future — as individuals, families, friends and society.  All of us are impacted by crashes as consumers, insurance premium payers, and tax payers.”

I think that I might have contacted them through their site; in any case, I am now on their email list for receiving updates. This morning, I received an email with a link to an article about a push by consumer advocates who are calling for reform in auto safety recalls. I found out that,

Auto safety advocates will begin testifying in Annapolis Tuesday for a package of innovative reforms that promise to speed up the recall of unsafe cars, help get better safety information to MD carbuyers, and make sure every car purchaser has a fair chance at a good deal on a new car. 

Key supporters of the legislation include Jack Fitzgerald, Laura Christian, and ConsumerAuto.org. Jack Fitzgerald is the chairman of Fitzgerald Auto Malls and one of MD’s leading car dealers for almost 50 years. Laura Christian is the mother of Amber Marie Rose, a 16-year MD girl who in 2005 became one of the first people to lose her life as a result of the deadly ignition switch flaw that has now caused the recall of more than 16 million GM cars.”


Consumer Auto.org recently released this video in which Laura Christian tells her story and calls for change:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNgimJ4DSQk


I hope that you will join with many others to stand up for needed changes in such a way that safety problems can no longer be swept under a rug. Otherwise, we will all continue to be at the mercy of poor decisions which cause unnecessary tragedy on the roads of our country.