2 comments to “Auto Safety in the Breakdown Lane”

  1. Louis Lombardo

    As readers consider the views of Mr. Ben Kelley and the current NHTSA Administrator David Strickland they would be wise to keep in mind the following:

    First, it is easier for NHTSA to focus on driver errors than on corporate errors and omissions in safety engineering designs. Drivers are human and make an infinite number of errors. Nader and others have taught the world that safety engineering can prevent drivers from paying for their errors with their lives and livelihoods.

    Second, for reelection, President Obama is in the process of having to raise far more than $1 Billion he raised in 2008. Under the recent Supreme Court “Citizens United” decision corporations (foreign and domestic) can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections — and corporations do not have to disclose the amounts or the recipients.

    Third, crash deaths, injuries, and their consequences are enormous. See

  2. Mary Kay Kidwell

    Thank you for publishing this article. I’ve been following NHTSA for several years and have come to the same conclusion mentioned above: NHTSA is being guided by “Regulatory Capture. . . and has forgotten their public-interest mission.”

    For example, a recent NHTSA re-evaluation of vehicle submersion death statistics seems to have been conducted with a specific goal in mind: dismissing the historical data that has shown for years that aproximately 300 people drown in their vehicles each year in the US. Listing several assumptions, NHTSA has now declared that most of these victims might have been impaired and unable to escape anyway. MIGHT HAVE BEEN! The study includes other assumptions and does not include a comparative review of survivals that would give a balanced view.

    The pleas of many people who have studied vehicle submersion issues over many years have fallen on deaf ears. In fact, the recent ruling on ejection mitigation will increase entrapment deaths in order to protect occupants who do not wear seatbelts. This rulings seems to have received immediate attention because it is supported by special-interest groups.

    Public interest. That would include you and me and the hundreds of victims of vehicle entrapment who die trying to escape. These deaths are just as horrible and every bit as important as ejection fatalities. NHTSA needs to put “public interest” above “special interest.” Stay safe.

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