Ben Kelley

Miles to Go on Highway Safety

Miles to Go on Highway Safety

The 50th anniversary of federal auto safety regulation approaches, but there’s not much to celebrate. Signing the regulatory laws on Sept. 9, 1966, President Johnson predicted they would “cure the highway disease.”  They haven’t. The “disease” was a deadly pandemic, and still is. The year the laws were passed, some 50,000 people were killed in…

How Secrecy Pacts Keep Regulators, Public in the Dark

How Secrecy Pacts Keep Regulators, Public in the Dark

For businesses that make and sell dangerous products, secrecy is a cherished ally. They work hard to prevent safety regulators and litigants from learning about their products’ hazards. One way they accomplish this is by concealing information revealed in lawsuits for those killed or injured by such products. Automobiles are often targeted in lawsuits, so…

Older Cars Left Behind When Safety Motors Ahead

Older Cars Left Behind When Safety Motors Ahead

Federal auto safety regulations cover new cars, of course. But what about older cars? Of the more than 250 million vehicles on the roads, three-quarters are more than five years old, according to the data firm IHS Automotive, and more than 50 million are pre-1999 models. They met the government’s safety rules when they were…

A Little History and a Reality Check on GM Safety Scandal

A Little History and a Reality Check on GM Safety Scandal

When General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared before Congress in early April to apologize for the company’s 10-year cover-up of a lethal safety defect, it was a headline-grabbing moment. But it was not unprecedented. Hovering over  Barra was the ghost of another momentous GM mea culpa, delivered to Congress nearly half a century ago. On…

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

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.

Gun, Road Safety Veer in Different Directions

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.

School Bus Safety is Stuck in Idle

School Bus Safety is Stuck in Idle

Federal transportation officials are sending a mixed message to kids by urging them to buckle up when they ride in cars, but refusing to require safety belts in school buses.

Campaign Aimed at Hazardous Rental Cars Shifts into High Gear

Campaign Aimed at Hazardous Rental Cars Shifts into High Gear

A sweeping federal legislative proposal aims to ensure the safety of millions of rental car customers by getting recalled but unrepaired vehicles off the road.

Rental Car Firms Taking a Wrong Turn on Recall Bill

Rental Car Firms Taking a Wrong Turn on Recall Bill

What began as a simple bill to assure that car rental companies in California provide defect-free cars to their customers has become ensnarled in a full-out campaign by those companies to kill the bill as it moves through the state’s legislature.

Auto Safety in the Breakdown Lane

Auto Safety in the Breakdown Lane

America’s once-vigorous commitment to stopping death and injury on our roads — one of the nation’s most severe public health problems — has become dangerously weak. With the failure of auto safety legislation in the last Congress, it appears that the public and its policymakers may no longer be interested in supporting tough measures to substantially reduce bloodshed on the highways.