CAS Letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland re: Chrysler White Paper

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

June 18, 2013
Honorable David Strickland, Administrator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Administrator Strickland:
Chrysler’s “White Paper on NHTSA’s [Jeep Rear Impact Fire] Request” is replete with errors and misleading statements, a desperate attempt to avoid a recall that could prevent more children from burning to death in child restraints in the back seats of Jeeps hit from behind. Below is a point by point rebuttal of the misleading Chrysler White Paper.
The Jeeps Are Not Safe: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is over 20 times more likely than its biggest competitor, the Ford Explorer, to be involved in a fatal rear impact fire crash where fire is the cause of death. This is shown by Chrysler’s own submission to NHTSA in April 2011. (See Attachment A.) Chrysler says one impact fire death per Million Years of Vehicle Operation is safe. With five million Jeeps sold, that’s five fire deaths per year, fifty fire deaths every ten years, or sixty deaths over the 12 year average vehicle useful life. The actual Jeep death rate is far higher than Chrysler claims, as their analysis omits known rear impact fire deaths such as 4-year old Cassidy Jarmon of Texas. The average safety recall has no deaths, let alone five per year.
Vehicles are recalled all the time that meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The classic example is the 1971-76 Ford Pinto which met the applicable Safety Standard for Fuel System Integrity at the time that it was made but did not meet the new standard for 1977 models. Safety defects must be remedied by a recall even where the vehicle meets a safety standard.

Read the full CAS Letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland re: Chrysler White Paper.