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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.