News / USA

Drivers of US Vehicles at Risk, Says Auto Safety Group

Auto Safety Group Says US Recall System Failedi
X
Mil Arcega
April 05, 2014 12:17 AM
Why did it take U.S. automaker General Motors more than ten years to replace a part that has been blamed for the deaths of 13 people? Lawmakers who are demanding answers from GM say it’s unacceptable. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, however, an auto safety group says the delay exposes a major flaw in the recall system that puts Americans and anyone who drives an American car - at risk.

Auto Safety Group Says US Recall System Failed

— As U.S. lawmakers demand to know why it took U.S. automaker General Motors more than 10 years to replace a safety defect, an auto safety group says the delay exposes a major flaw in the recall system that puts anyone who drives an American car at risk.

A defective ignition switch, easily fixed with a 60-cent part, is blamed for the deaths of at least 13 people, including Randall Rademaker’s 15-year-old daughter Amy.

“Her and two other friends were in a [Chevrolet] Cobalt," he said. "They are coming back from shopping and the ignition switch shut off, and they left the roadway and hit a tree. Two of the girls were killed."

Families of the victims who gathered in Washington during congressional hearings say it didn’t have to happen.  

“They have known [about] this defect all along for a decade," said David Chansuthus, whose sister Sadie was killed in a similar accident in 2010. "So they deliberately concealed the truth simply for a business decision.”

Testifying before Congress, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said those were the actions of the old GM.

“That’s not the way we do business in today’s GM,” Barra said. “Today, if there is a safety issue, we take action. If we know there is a defect on our vehicles, we do not look at cost associated with it. We look at the speed at which we can fix the issue.”

But Clarence Ditlow at the Center for Auto Safety says the problem is a systemic one involving a cozy relationship between automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“They had meetings over this defect," Ditlow said. "They share complaints over this defect, yet there was no investigation by the government and no recall by General Motors until 10 years later. That’s a tragedy.”

Among the government’s failings, says Ditlow, are inadequate agency funding and not enough investigators.

But an expert on corporate culture says industry-wide problems prior to the government bailout may be partly to blame. 

“When a company’s very existence is at risk, you probably develop a bit of a siege mentality," said Brian Fielkow, author of Driving to Perfection. "Let’s just cut every dime, cut every corner in order to survive.”

In a global marketplace, Ditlow says that's bad business.  

"We have a global auto industry today, and, if you have a death in a vehicle in the U.S., there’s likely to be a death in a similar model in another country, and we need global regulations and global recalls instead of global cover-ups," he said.

Ditlow would like to see the entire recall system become more transparent. And if that fails, he suggests making the government agency accountable and allowing the public to sue when it fails to do its job.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid