CAS letter to NHTSA on GM Airbag Algorithm Non-Deployment Defect

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.

April 7, 2014
The Honorable David J. Friedman
Acting Administrator
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Administrator Friedman:
On about November 15, 2013, Don Friedman of Xprts LLC filed a defect petition (DP) with NHTSA on a defective algorithm in 2003-10 General Motors that can suppress airbag deployment by erroneously classifying the occupant weight as being too low to deploy the airbag. The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is greatly concerned that there is no listing of a Defect Petition on the Agency’s Website. Under Section 124(d) of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (recodified at 49 USC § 30162(d), hereinafter Safety Act), NHTSA must grant or deny the petition within 120 days. Well over 120 days have passed since NHTSA received the petition so the Agency is in continuing violation of the Safety Act. (Attachment A shows no DP listed on NHTSA’s investigation page.)
Mr. Friedman is not your average petitioner. He designed the guidance system for the Sidewinder missile, the Lunar Rover, and was the chief contractor for NHTSA’s Minicars Safety Research Vehicle which provided 50-mph barrier equivalent crash protection. Mr Friedman has likely directed more dynamic vehicle crash tests than anyone outside the auto industry. In addition, he has been involved in evaluation of many hundreds of real world crashes. Like Mark Hood who uncovered the defective GM ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt and its role in airbag non-deployment before NHTSA did, Mr. Friedman is an independent engineer who appears to have discovered a defective algorithm in GM advanced airbag vehicles before NHTSA did.1

Read the full CAS letter to NHTSA on GM Airbag Algorithm Non-Deployment Defect.