Posts Tagged ‘Transportation’

The New York Times Wheels blog ran a piece about three small, highly fuel efficient cars that were named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For going on three decades, there has been a perception that small cars are less safe. This perception is based on a vastly oversimplified view of crash physics, and the attitude that nothing can be done to improve small car safety has frustrated calls for increasing fuel economy. (more…)


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Now that’s what I call having an impact! Just weeks after the New York Times ran the story about Public Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety making public the government documents showing the risks of driving while talking on a cell phone (regardless if the phone is hands-free), Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced he’s convening a panel of experts to deal with the distracted driving problem.

 From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday he will convene a summit of experts to figure out what to do about driver cell phone use and texting, practices that studies — and a growing number of accidents — show can be deadly. (more…)

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The release of this World Health Organization analysis of motor vehicle related fatalities draws important attention to the problem of motor vehicle crashes and the need for a global attitude that these deaths are preventable. However, the study misses the key consideration of vehicle-based approaches — like airbags and increased roof strength — to addressing motor vehicle deaths.

The Times piece cites Dr. Kelly Henning of Bloomberg Philanthropies, who emphasizes laws that require seat belts and helmets and drunk driving laws. But this is only half of the highway safety picture: improved vehicle safety systems are necessary to protect occupants in crashes that inevitably happen. (more…)

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Will there be no legal recourse for victims injured by Chrysler or GM vehicles? Chris Jensen at the New York Times’ Wheels Blog provides us with some stunning figures that reveal GM’s incentive for wriggling away from accountability:

In its recent bankruptcy filing, G.M. asked that the assets of the new company that emerges from bankruptcy be “free and clear of all successor liability claims.” It is an attempt to prevent the new G.M. from being financially responsible for injuries caused by vehicles already sold, said Adina Rosenbaum, a lawyer for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. (more…)

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Sixteen years after Congress first told the federal government to create a national, publicly-accessible database enabling used car buyers to check if a vehicle has been stolen or salvaged, we are getting action.

The Department of Justice is finally making the database available to consumers Friday, something that happened only after Public Citizen, joined by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and Consumer Action, sued the DOJ last year. The database will contain information on vehicles reported by insurance companies, salvagers and junk yards.

READ more about the lawsuit.

While this is a huge step in the public’s favor, the problem is nowhere near over.  New York and California are refusing to make the vehicle data available to the public, though they do sell it to private companies, such as Carfax.

In response, Public Citizen held a telephone news conference today to discuss the need for this data to be readily available to the public.

Bill Ellsworth of Jamul, Calif., whose son was killed five years ago in a crash involving a salvaged vehicle that had no airbags. Instead, the compartment for the airbags was stuffed with papers.  He said he was outraged that the state of California was more interested in making money than saving lives.  If this database had been created in a timely manner, the vehicle that his son was riding in might never have been on the road.

SEE if your state is participating in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).

READ the press release.

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You’d think that because more than a third of all highway fatalities happen in rollover crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would be doing everything they could to prevent these tragic deaths. But while the last three decades have witnessed state-of-the-art upgrades in nearly every aspect of vehicle design, from ergonomic seats to fuel efficiency, the federal roof strength standard remains virtually unchanged since the early 1970s.

Watch our press conference that will demonstrate the inadequacy of NHTSA’s static test compared to footage of a test that reproduces real-world conditions via live Webcast at 12 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the Center for Auto Safety home page.


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Jim Hoffa, president of the Teamsters General Union, joined the ranks of consumer and auto safety advocates who oppose allowing bigger trucks on America’s highways Wednesday when he testified in front of a House subcommittee.

TheTrucker.com reports Hoffa spoke out against a proposed pilot program from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would allow larger trucks to operate in certain states.

“Bigger trucks are more dangerous trucks. Lifting weight and size limits would turn big rigs into time bombs,” he said.

Hoffa also accused the Bush administration of consistently trying to undermine highway safety. (more…)

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It looks like we’ll have to wait until October for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new vehicle roof crush standard, after rumors of a delay have proven true.

Consumer Affairs reports this afternoon that the Department of Transportation informed Congress of the delay with hours to spare before the deadline.

Of course, a delay doesn’t signify a victory for consumer and safety advocates. But Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’ letter to the heads of several Congressional committees suggests the agency is starting to get the message about the problems with its current standard:

“Because of the number of new comments we received and the additional analyses that are required, additional time is now needed to complete the final rule. We will issue a final rule by October, 2008.”

Let’s hope the next three months are productive ones for NHTSA.

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Photo by Frank RogersRemember earlier this month when Public Citizen and other consumer advocates trekked to the Hill to tell a Senate committee that the National Highway Safety Administration’s proposed roof crush standard is woefully inadequate?

Now, reports have emerged stating NHTSA might not even make its July 1 deadline for submitting the proposal. The Detroit News, Automotive World and Consumer Affairs have reported that the agency plans to ask Congress for an extension in order complete its research and address concerns and questions among automakers and senators. (more…)

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This week, lobbyists from the trucking and shipping industries are making the rounds at the Capitol, pushing their agenda to put longer and heavier trucks on the road. Fortunately, some of the more enlightened members of Congress such as Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Claire McCaskill and Rep. James McGovern are having none of it. There’s plenty of evidence that shows these mammoth rigs are responsible for disproportionate number of traffic fatalities each year. The fact is, the larger the trucks get, the harder they are to control and the longer they take to stop. Today, safety groups, including Public Citizen, along with the above-mentioned members of Congress held a news conference to counter the trucking and shipping industries’ call for larger trucks. If you live in Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina or Maine, you should be especially worried. (more…)

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