Writer: Ben Kelley

Commentary

In the Drive for Robot Cars, Will Regulators Keep Their Hands on the Wheel?

(iStock) Few cabinet members can claim the distinction of shaping a revolution. But that opportunity will fall to Elaine Chao, President Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Transportation. She assumes her new role at the dawn of the autonomous motor vehicle era, which promises to truly revolutionize [...]

Commentary

Miles to Go on Highway Safety

(Blackstation/Getty Images) 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 [...]

Commentary

How Secrecy Pacts Keep Regulators, Public in the Dark

Getty Images 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 [...]

Commentary

Older Cars Left Behind When Safety Motors Ahead

iStock photo. 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. [...]

Commentary

A Little History and a Reality Check on GM Safety Scandal

The Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, in Detroit (iStock photo). 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 [...]

Commentary

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.