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Posts Tagged ‘Center for Auto Safety’

Safety Watchdog Lobbies for New Warnings for Child Seats

Center for Auto Safety thinks safest spot is behind open seat.

by on Mar.10, 2016

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, wants changes in where parents to instructed to put child safety seats in vehicles.

Officials at auto safety advocacy group the Center for Auto Safety are taking federal regulators to task for not providing parents with more detailed information about the safest spot in a vehicle for a child.

The group filed a petition this week imploring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide information about where specifically to put a child in a vehicle.

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Officials “encourage parents to place their children in the rear seats of passenger cars without providing parents any recommendation on where in the rear seat the child should be placed,” Clarence Ditlow, executive director, wrote in his petition. (more…)

Lawmakers May Bar Registration of Vehicles Not Repaired After Recalls

Vehicle owners reticent to get fixes completed.

by on Nov.24, 2014

Despite dominating the headlines, owners of vehicles with Takata airbags are likely to ignore recall notices that could save lives.

Recalls have hit an all-time high this year, so far totaling nearly 54 million vehicles. But even as daily headlines outline the risks of deadly defects like the General Motors ignition switch problem and Takata’s faulty airbags, millions of those vehicles will never get repaired, according to industry analysts.

With the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stymied – even after pressing automakers to increase contact with owners of vehicles impacted by recalls – federal lawmakers may soon step in. One approach under study would bar motorists from registering vehicles that have not undergone repairs.

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Automakers, who have found it difficult to recall compliance rates much beyond 75% to 80% appear to be warming to the idea. (more…)

Honda May Have Underreported Injuries, Deaths to NHTSA

Automaker hires outside firm to review reports.

by on Oct.17, 2014

Honda may have underreported the number of deaths and injuries related to a defective airbag problem.

With outside pressure mounting, Honda announced it hired an outside firm to determine if it has underreported fatality and injury claims to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The audit of the Japanese maker began last month after the Center for Auto Safety, a safety watchdog group, accused the company of failing to file Early Warning Reports (EWR) for one death and one injury with NHTSA and demanded an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. The group suggests that those two incidents are indicative of a broader pattern.

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“Examination of EWR reports filed by Honda versus GM and Toyota suggest that Honda is systematically under reporting Death and Injury claims against the company,” Clarence Ditlow, the group’s executive director, wrote in the letter to the agency earlier this week. (more…)

NHTSA Failing to Meet Its Own Deadlines

Critics say delaying probes means more injuries, deaths.

by on Aug.11, 2014

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, wants changes in how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration handles petitions.

It appears it’s not just U.S. automakers that drag their feet when it comes to investigating potential problems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration often fails to meet its own deadlines for responding to complaints.

Fifteen drivers have filed petitions with the federal agency, also known as NHTSA, since 2010 and it missed the legal deadline to grant or deny the investigation requests 12 times, including a 2012 request, which is not yet to be resolved, according to the Associated Press.

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By law, the agency is required to approve or deny a request for an inquiry in four months. There are no penalties for missing the deadline. (more…)

Feds Push for New Laws to Speed Recalls, Raise Fines

by on Jul.21, 2014

GM's failure to recall a faulty ignition switch sooner is generating a wave of effort to change the rules about automotive safety.

A record-setting year for recalls and high-profile problems with General Motors and Toyota are mixing together to create a cauldron of proposed laws aimed at making automakers be accountable or pay up in a significant way.

In fact, some members of Congress and the Obama administration are pushing for changes that would force automakers to move more quickly to report potential problems and dramatically stiffen the penalties for attempting to skirt those rules.

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When General Motors admitted to wrongdoing in the handling of its faulty ignition switch, it received a record fine of $35 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The previous high was $17.5 million paid by Toyota related to its unintended acceleration problems. That figure was doubled to the current level in 2012. (more…)

Death Toll from GM Defect Expected to Rise

Critics claim fatalities exceed 50, not the 13 claimed.

by on May.30, 2014

GM is expected to face even more claims related to its faulty ignition switch, including a rise in the number of deaths from 13 to more than 50.

Warnings have already been issued to expect the number of recalls from General Motors to rise this summer. Now, critics are claiming the number of fatalities blamed on an ignition-switch defect that forced General Motors to recall 2.6 million small cars will also rise dramatically in the coming weeks.

An attorney for a group claiming to have been injured in a GM vehicle with an ignition switch that turned off suddenly killing the engine and disabling the air bag claims to have evidence that at least the defect has contributed to the deaths of 60 motorists.

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Clarence Ditlow, the head of the Center for Auto Safety and a long-time GM critic, said this week that his review of complaints filed with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that the defect has contributed to at least 50 deaths and he expects the total to rise as investigators uncover more cases where air bags failed to deploy in GM cars because the engine had switched off. (more…)

Critics Demand Barra Come Clean about Ignition Decisions

Open letter calls for full disclosure by GM’s CEO.

by on Apr.17, 2014

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety, penned a letter with Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, demanding GM CEO Mary Barra be transparent about the decision-making process that produced the faulty ignition switches in its small cars.

General Motors executives knew much more about the design flaw in the ignition switch installed in its small cars during the past decade much earlier than GM has officially acknowledged, according to two long-standing critics of the auto industry’s efforts at automotive safety.

In an open letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, and Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said it was time GM came clean about how and when the decisions were made to use the cheaper ignition switch and to replace them half a decade later without changing the part number or notifying federal regulators, which could have triggered a recall by GM.

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GM had no immediate comment on the Claybrook-Ditlow letter. (more…)

Feds’ Chrysler Fire Probe Expands to 5 Million SUVs

Critics content three Jeep models prone to fatal gas tank fires.

by on Jun.14, 2012

This 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee is among the models under investigation.

Federal safety regulators have markedly expanded a probe they began nearly two years ago examining whether millions of Chrysler-made sport-utility vehicles face an unduly high risk of catching fire in rear-end collisions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety investigation, launched in August 2010, initially focused on 3 million Jeep Grand Cherokees produced between 1993 and 2004.  The agency has now added another 2.1 million 1993 to 2001 Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Liberty SUVs.

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The problem appears to center around the rear-mounted placement of the plastic gas tanks used in the three models which may make them more vulnerable to catching fire.  NHTSA has so far received reports of 15 deaths and 41 injuries related to the potential problem.

According to a government analysis, there is “a higher incidence of rear-impact, fatal fire crashes for the Jeep products.”

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Ford Owned Volvo Tows Line on Cell Phone Use

The Swedish company renowned for auto safety ignores a key aspect in the cell phone use while driving debate.

by on Sep.29, 2009

There's good reason the National Safety Councile wants a total ban on driving and cell phone use.

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on driving and any kind of cell phone use.

Volvo Cars of North America, LLC, (VCNA) is placing full-page ads tomorrow in issues of USA Today and The Washington Post that call for distracted driving legislation.

Publicly taking a position on the need for legislation is apparently a first for Volvo, and the company chose to do so as the Department of Transportation’s “Distracted Driving Summit” in Washington, D.C., which opens tomorrow.

It is indicative of the high stakes and high profits that potentially are on the line if the government bans the use of electronic devices in cars, including phones, moving maps, Blackberries and video players, among others.

The advertisements apparently attempt to change the subject from the dangers of any kind of cell phone use while driving to a position that hand-free cell phone use while driving is safe.

Peer reviewed scientific studies say that it is the cognitive engagement while using either a hands-free or a hand-held cell phone that is the dangerous distraction.

The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the mental distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason earlier this year the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous cell phones are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.

Simply put cell phone use is as dangerous as drunken driving.

Volvo and Ford Motor Company, along with virtually all other automakers are attempting to preserve hands-free cell phone use, which they enable with optional or standard equipment telematic devices that allow an increasing array of electronics to be used during driving.

We Concentrate on Driving!

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Such scientific studies are likely to be contested tomorrow at the Distracted Driving Summit as powerful and wealthy vested interests attempt to protect the increasing sale of electronic devices that are leading to an “epidemic of distracted during,” in the words of Republican Ray LaHood, who heads the Department of Transportation. As DOT head, LaHood also has charge of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is supposed to protect people from unsafe vehicles, driving conditions and practices.

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Cell Phone Use Showdown Coming at Distracted Driving Summit Next Week in Washington

Automakers are enabling deadly driving behaviors with an increasing array of profitable electronic options.

by on Sep.23, 2009

The National Safety Councile wants a total ban on driving and cell phone use.

The National Safety Council wants a total ban on driving and any type of cell phone use.

Next week when the Distracted Driving Summit called for by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood opens, the debate will intensify around what to do about a growing public safety problem – the role of electronic devices in an increasing number of auto accidents.

Almost 42,000 lives are lost annually on U.S. Highways. And traffic crashes are the primary cause of incapacitating injuries, as well as the number one killer of Americans under the age of 34. In addition to staggering psychological costs, the annual economic loss to society because of these crashes, defined by lost worker productivity, medical costs, and insurance costs, among others, is estimated at more than $150 billion. No one seriously debates that there is a need for an improvement in motor vehicle safety.

Getting unsafe vehicles off the road is now broadly recognized as common sense more than forty years after the Senate  conducted hearings that led to auto safety legislation in 1967, which automakers fought all the way. Now a new deadly threat is emerging from the practices of automakers and sellers of electronic devices. No surprise given the history, automakers are once again fighting rules that could potentially eliminate a substantial number of accidents.

Driver inattention is a leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for about 80% of all collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Moreover, leading the way in this lack of visual and cognitive attention is cell phone use – either hand-held or hands-free. With more than 100 million people each day practicing dangerous distracted driving behavior, the fatalities and accidents such behavior causes is growing. There is also the growing use of in-vehicle telematics and “infotainment systems” that clearly distract drivers.

Particularly dangerous is the widespread use of cell phones. The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the mental distraction caused by the conversation itself. That’s the reason earlier this year the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using cell phones while driving after conducting further studies that confirmed previous research on just how dangerous cell phones are.

NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion. Simply put cell phone use is as dangerous as drunken driving.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen, contends that hands-free phones are safe – but can supply no studies to support that assertion.

Telephone conversation impairs sustained visual attention

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The problem with such an obviously self-serving position is that recent peer-reviewed research shows that holding telephone conversations disrupts one’s driving ability in a way similar to drunken driving. (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2008, 15 (6), 1135-1140 doi:10.3758/PBR.15.6.1135)

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