Auto and Highway Safety

The GM Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan. Photo courtesy Carlos Osorio, AP Photo.

GM Ignition Switch Scandal Echoes Infamous Fire-Prone Pickups Case

The recent disclosures about the ignition switch defect in millions of General Motors cars–and the company’s early and secret knowledge of the hazard–are disturbing by themselves. But they are also an eerie echo of the terrible carnage from an even bigger scandal involving millions of fire-prone GM pickup trucks, writes Joe McCray. Thanks to a bailout from American taxpayers, GM emerged from bankruptcy and has rebounded from financial failure while boasting of its new leadership and culture. But taken together, McCray says, the ignition switch and pickup scandals suggest a company that is rotten somewhere near its core.

GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra testifies during a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington April 1, 2014. Congress is trying to establish who is to blame for at least 13 auto-related deaths over the past decade, as public hearings are held over two days on General Motors Co's slow response to defective ignition switches in cars.

Like Them or Hate Them, Injury Lawsuits Sometimes Expose Health and Safety Hazards

The scandal over General Motors’ concealment for more than a decade of dangerously defective ignition switches in some of its cars highlights an often-overlooked fact: Injury lawsuits sometimes reveal health and safety hazards that would otherwise remain secret. As Ben Kelley notes, the deadly ignition defects were not exposed by engineers for GM or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but by an engineer for plaintiffs in a wrongful-death suit.

Consumer Advocates Urge Banning ATVs From Roadways, Citing Crash Hazards FairWarining Reports

Consumer Advocates Urge Banning ATVs From Roadways, Citing Crash Hazards

A leading consumer group is warning that the increasing use of all-terrain vehicles on the nation’s roads poses a “growing public health crisis” and is calling for immediate action by U.S., state and local officials. “ATVs are not designed to be on roads,” said Rachel Weintraub, the Consumer Federation of America’s legislative director and the co-author […]

Despite High Death Toll, Push Is On To Open More Public Roads to ATVs

Despite High Death Toll, Push Is On To Open More Public Roads to ATVs

Last Mother’s Day, Jaret Graham, 14, climbed on the back of an all-terrain vehicle driven by his 12-year-old cousin. As they sped down a paved stretch of country road in west Texas, the 12-year-old lost control, went into a ditch and fell off the vehicle, injuring his leg. Jaret was thrown off and hit his […]

A fatal motorcycle accident in San Diego County on Jan. 30, 2011. (CAL FIRE San Diego)

Booming Sales of Novelty Helmets Boost Toll of Motorcycle Deaths

Every year, hundreds of motorcycle riders die in crashes they would have survived had they been wearing helmets that meet a government safety standard instead of so-called novelty helmets. Yet sales of the substandard helmets are booming, and federal authorities have failed to crack down.

(iStockphoto)

Gun, Road Safety Veer in Different Directions

Vehicle crashes have long been the leading cause of violent death in America. That dubious distinction may soon belong to gunshot deaths.

(Scenic America) FairWarining Reports

Billboard Industry Touts Discredited Research to Support Safety Claims for Electronic Signs

The debate over whether electronic billboards raise the risk of highway crashes has taken an unusual turn with publication of a new Swedish study.

(iStockphoto) FairWarining Reports

Traffic Deaths: A Surprising Dimension of the Red State-Blue State Divide

Numbers don’t lie, as the saying goes, but it’s not always clear what they’re telling us. Consider a surprising dimension of the red state-blue state divide: Death rates from road crashes are strikingly higher in red states than in blue.

(iStockphoto)

A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage

One of America’s worst public health afflictions — the annual loss of tens of thousands of lives on the nation’s highways — is being massively ignored. The inaction is particularly striking because so many political leaders have themselves been touched by highway tragedies. Yet there seems to be wide indifference to the more than 30,000 deaths and over 2.2 million crash injuries a year.

Anti-helmet law demonstrators in recent rally in state capitol in Albany, N.Y. (Skip Dickstein / Albany Times Union)

Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators

While the highway death toll is going down, motorcycle fatalities have increased to 4,500 per year, or about one in seven traffic deaths. Yet motorcycle groups continue fighting to preserve what is essentially a gag order on regulators to keep them from promoting or enforcing safety requirements. “This is… an interesting and dangerous road they are going down,” as one safety advocate put it.