Safety defects in GM cars: the role of industry and government

This is verbatim from an article in the New York Times, via Lombardo. When we think about injury prevention we must never lose sight of the major role government has to play, especially when ensuring the safety of dangerous products. One of the most dangerous, in my view, is the automobile.

“What we do know is that for more than a decade G.M. did not act on significant evidence of the flaw, and only last month did it recall 1.6 million affected cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration missed warning signs from accident data and consumer complaints, too.  Federal laws on auto safety weren’t sufficient to prevent and cure this hazard, and they should be toughened….”

Under a 2000 federal law, carmakers must inform the agency about claims of possible defects that led to serious injury or death, and the agency is required to make public a summary of that information. But often, many of the details are kept secret to protect proprietary information. That should change. Disclosing more information, including detailed accident data and the service bulletins automakers send to their dealers, would increase the chance that researchers and consumer advocates would spot problems regulators missed….

“It is unrealistic to expect cars to roll off assembly lines free of all flaws. But it shouldn’t take a decade to identify and fix major defects.”


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