By on July 15, 2013

strickland-2012

In an interview with Automotive News (registration required), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration director David Strickland said that if automakers want to keep their cars and trucks from getting recalled, those cars must not just meet standards in effect at the time vehicles are produced, but that the car companies must also make sure they stay as safe, statistically, as competitors’ products that use different designs.

 

Though he didn’t explicitly say so, his remarks could be read as saying that the agency will aggressively pursue recalls even though the involved vehicles met all standards in effect when they were built. Companies apparently will not be able to avoid recalls by saying that their cars and trucks met all applicable standards when sold new. Strickland’s comments were made against the backdrop of the voluntary inspection and retrofitting of trailer hitches on some Jeep models to reduce the risk of punctures to the rear mounted gas tanks in the event of rear collisions

“It really is based on the notion of unreasonable risk. And that is an evolving notion,” Strickland told the AN. He said that NHTSA is obligated to reassess risks “if state of the art moves all the peers in one direction, and it appears that there is another part of the fleet that has not made those same moves or improvements.” If car makers want to avoid recalls, they’ll have to remain “within the zone of reasonable risk”.

When Chrysler was first ordered to recall 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs, the company claimed that the agency was changing the rules. The dispute raised the issue as to what exactly is a “standard” if that standard is fluid and subject to retroactive change. ”NHTSA seems to be holding Chrysler Group to a new standard for fuel tank integrity that does not exist now and did not exist when the Jeep vehicles were manufactured,” the company at first said after the recall was announced, though as mentioned the company and NHTSA came to an agreement about Chrysler doing the inspections and retrofits voluntarily.

Though Strickland said that the use of fluid standards isn’t the result of any new interpretation of the laws the agency enforces, he also said that using the “reasonable risk” standard was a tactical solution to “upgrading” standards when the slow pace of  changing the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards legislatively doesn’t move fast enough in the agency’s opinion.

“It’s very hard to change or upgrade a federal motor vehicle safety standard,” he said. “Sometimes it can be decades. Sometimes it can be 20 or 30 years.” Using a standard that changes retroactively based on the concept of reasonable risk, the NHTSA director added, allows the agency to “to backstop the inability to reach back and upgrade standards – because of cost and time and all sorts of other factors.”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

97 Comments on “NHTSA Administrator Says Compliance With Standards At Time of Production Not Enough...”


  • avatar
    Ion

    Someones head got gassed after Chrysler-fiat backed down.

    • 0 avatar

      It truly bothers me that Black faces have been put on the new Liberal Agenda just to gain the compliance and acceptance of the ignorant “Rachel Jeantel”-education level public.

      They may take my guns, but they’ll have to take my supercharged, gas guzzling, 10 mpg HEMI from my cold dead hands.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Oh, please — the various government bureaucracies have been strongly to overwhelmingly black for decades now. And on balance that’s been a positive thing, as government employment has helped get a lot of those employees into the middle class.

        But this kind of nonsense goes well beyond the “soft bigotry of low expectations” into blatant racism. And so my response should be familiar to you, if you’re familiar with Rachel Jeantel at all: “that’s real retarded, sir.”

        • 0 avatar

          Rachel Jenteal is a true retard and a product of the failure of “public schools” which are no more than drab day care centers in the inner cities and highly stimulating country clubs in the high-taxed, segregated suburbs.

          Putting non-white, gay and non-christian faces on liberal ideology is a FRONT to get these minority groups to actually believe they are part of the system.

          The system called: RACE TO THE BOTTOM.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            Repetition != explanation. But you managed to reply without bragging about your car, so kudos.

          • 0 avatar
            Caboose

            I’m proud of myself right now that I had no clue at all who Rachel Jeantel was. When I read this thread, I had to Google it. I like me tonight.

            Also, my ’99 E320 4MAtic is the bomb-diggity. Better than any other car made since, mostly because of its giant…headlights.

  • avatar
    ToxicSludge

    I think this is pure BS.If they meet the safety standards in place at the time of production they’re good to go.But 20 years later they can be recalled?? Just more bureaucratic bull$h!t imho.

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      You are right and it makes me wonder why anyone would want to manufacture anything, much less cars, in the U.S. It is a clear-cut example of this administration’s excessive intrusiveness. Under this approach, there would never be any limits to liability as the rules of the game could change capriciously and whenever.

      In reality, I doubt that this stance would hold up to a legal challenge but what a massive waste of time and money to protect one’s business interests.

      • 0 avatar
        Cubista

        No different than this administration’s war on coal…costs will “by necessity skyrocket”.

        In other words, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The idea of new cars easily affordable for the masses becomes obsolete as government regulation requires added costs for manufacturing (costs which are of course passed on to consumers).

        If this idea is realized, ultimately the roads of the US would resemble those of Cuba…nothing but antiques rolling, held together with chewing gum and bailing wire (I kid in that regard; the auto mechanics in Cuba are craftier than than the crew of the Firefly-class ship “Serenity” when it comes to keeping old cars running without benefit of any degree of factory support), as even the most reasonably priced Kia would run well past the $25k barrier once you start spec’ing them to preference.

        “Hope and change”, indeed.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree with you and quite honestly I see it as another step in the direction of the current trend re-feudalization… where 99.99% are serfs without direct access to automobiles, property, firearms, and even food or water.

          Think my tinfoil hats a bit tight today? Check out some propaganda making the rounds, draw your own conclusions:

          http://www.youtube DOT com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IRFsoRQYpFM

          http://www.youtube DOT com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-rclheF8PRI

          http://www.forumforthefuture DOT org/

          http://www.youtube DOT com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rKDvXaGxhVA

        • 0 avatar
          Phillin_Phresh

          If I had a daughter, I think I would rather she take the bus than die or be seriously injured because of Chrysler’s careless engineering.

          There is a perfectly good market-driven solution to your affordability problem. They are called used cars.

          As for coal, I suggest you speak to the people of Appalachia (or China, for that matter) who actually have to breathe that crap.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The better response is protect your children in a safe and heavy vehicle, you really can’t expect every other thing on the road to be 100% safe when it plows into you, its just out of your control as a driver.

            With regard to coal fumes the simple solution is don’t be near them and if you are, know you need to move. Humanity keeps growing and from a power perspective its fossil fuels or nuclear, both of which have drawbacks. I’m not an anti-nuclear person but I watch what’s going on in Fukushima with great interest and I’m no longer enthralled with the technology.

          • 0 avatar
            Phillin_Phresh

            @ 28-Cars-Later

            Safety isn’t always about vehicle mass, and it wasn’t the case with the Jeep recall. See J. Emerson’s post further down, mentioning side-saddle fuel tanks on GM trucks. All I want is some common-sense engineering, especially when it comes to protecting something like a fuel tank.

            As for your response on coal, well, common law (specifically the quiet enjoyment clause) says I shouldn’t have to move if my neighbor starts polluting. That applies to nuclear as well.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m no lawyer so I’ll take you on your word, friend. Funny though, how often lately has a little thing like -the law of the land- actually applied to mega corps and national security type issues?

          • 0 avatar
            Phillin_Phresh

            @ 28-Cars-Later

            You hit the nail on the head! There are so many laws on how things “should” be, but anyone with the right connections in Washington gets a free pass. Even more so if you are the government (see NSA)

          • 0 avatar
            rpol35

            Well I have a daughter and she has a 2003 Dodge Durango and I fear not for her safety. She drove it from Florida to California in May and will drive it back soon. I have seen how it handles getting t-boned as it has happened once already and it took a lickin’ and is obviously still tickin’. I would be reluctant to lump all Chryslers into one category.

            Speaking of lumps, coal may not be ideal but we all love our soapboxes and our soap boxes are powered by electricity which is generated from coal. Sooooooo until we find a viable replacement (and it ain’t solar or wind with our consumption tendencies) we’ll need to deal with it.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Is there anybody that can’t name three reasons why this is a horrible idea?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’m not sure this is as unreasonable as it sounds at first glance. It appears the NHTSA is taking the position: “Regardless of whether or not the X part has Y deflection when subjected to force Z, we believe that a particular model of car should not kill people greatly out of proportion to other similar vehicles produced at the same time.”

    In this sense, it’s similar to the Basic Speed Law we all learn in Driver’s Ed, which states that it doesn’t matter what the numbers on the sign say, if you drive so fast so as to be dangerous, you can get a ticket.

    In the Jeep case, they are saying no matter if there is no specific standard for the integrity of fuel tanks in an accident, don’t go using the lack of a formal standard as an excuse when your cars explode a lot more often than the competition, as the competition obviously figured out the not-exploding trick.

    • 0 avatar
      PlentyofCars

      So I guess the Jeep Jeep should be as safe and the Hyundai Jeep, the Mazda Jeep, the Honda Jeep and the Chevy Jeep.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Comparing the Jeep to other Body on Frame SUV’s of the era would seem to be pretty reasonable.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        And even statistically, they were comparably as safe asn many of their peer vehicles. They were cherry picked by a lobby group, and now NHSTA is stating that they’re blurring the rules so they can continue arbitrarily choosing their sacrificial goats.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Agree, 100%. Likewise, in many jurisdictions, if you are below the legal alcohol limit but obviously impaired, you can be charged with driving under the influence.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      But then what is the point of a standard? All all of the rules in the NHTSA handbook for building a car going to change to “Do it like everyone else”?

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        This is not a difficult dilemma. What the standard says is: Any products that do not meet this spec will be judged inherently defective and subject to recall. But if you’ve managed to find some new way to make your product way more dangerous than the competition, don’t expect to hide behind the standard (or lack thereof) as a shield from the law.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      That’s my feeling, too. It doesn’t seem to be a case of retroactively enforcing new standards. Standards are a kind of ‘lab-world’ criteria, and while the goal is for them to translate to ‘real-world’ performance, it doesn’t always work that way. If one carmaker’s products significantly underperform everyone else’s, that implies they did something wrong, even if it passed the lab-world checks. As sirwired put it, car makers shouldn’t hide behind the lack of a standard (or the deficiency of a standard) to excuse their products being more hazardous than everyone else’s.

      That being said, I feel that if such a practice is made official, there need to be definitive qualifications for when to use it. I am uncomfortable giving govt carte blanche power. While it may be used for good the first few times, it is inevitable that such power will be used for personal gain.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        That’s the real, and mostly unaddressed, question here — can we trust federal regulators to use a relatively ill-defined power like this in a reasonable and responsible manner?

        • 0 avatar
          Rick Astley

          Of course you can! Just ask Toyota about their fines related to braking……

          Oh, guess that was a bad example.

          While one “could” look at the glass as half full and see how this would be a solid guideline towards overall governance of vehicles across makes/models/brands to encourage solid design and engineering, in a special place I call “reality” this smacks more of a very loose and case by case behavior with the NHTSA creating a very, very large loophole in which to put random cases when they feel like making a point or need a few bucks to make payroll next quarter.

  • avatar
    Onus

    Did NTHSA just admit they suck at their job? They said vehicle regulation can take many years to change. That is their job to change and well within their power to change.

    Go on their website most initiatives are on hold due to low amounts of staff. Things like amber turn signals from way back in 2009 is on that list.

    How about we take are limited staff and have them work with global regulators to develop global standards. Seems like a better use of their time.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Well… That’s the nature of duplicating efforts in the name of technical barriers. Just latch on to the current ECE regs that the rest of the world uses and reduce the development costs for everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      No, they said Congress sucks at its job, which is just factual, and therefore they, NHTSA, are going to go ahead and make rules on their own outside the democratic process, which is the definition of tyranny and lawlessness. And yes, it seems reasonable when you explain it as “make your products at least as good as everyone else’s”, but the effect is that NHTSA can force any company to recall any vehicle for any reason. Things like that are why there’s no economic recovery — nobody knows what the rules will be tomorrow, or the day after that, because they can and do change on a whim.

      I personally think that’s by design on the government’s part, but that’s a different issue. The effect is what it is, regardless of the intentions behind it.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Regulatory insanity at its worst. “Here are the standards which you must meet, but we’ll change the height actual bar arbitrarily as we see fit, case by case, and depending who lobbies us.”

    All manufacturers should immediately get together and demand clear, concise regulation regarding the enforcement of recalls and standards, or demand NHTSAs authority be repealed.

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    He has just opened the product liability
    door. The lawyers will now do to the automotive industry what they did to general aviation. I can see the lawsuits on 10 year old or older cars coming.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    So today the government officially mandated clairvoyance in order to build an automobile. Based on this statement one needs to know how the vehicle he builds today will compare statistically with other brands at some unspecified point in the future. Without stating a cutoff for how far back a manufacturer is liable. Model T recalls coming?

    Even if all manufacturers tested their vehicles at the same time and place and got equivalent results, if you wait long enough you’ll get variations among models. This could be due to any number of factors including demographics, but now they will be grounds for a recall?

  • avatar
    Mr. Wonderful

    Everyone knows Model T’s are not as safe as Hupmobiles.
    Sue ‘em into the Stone Age!

    So, why stop at cars??

    Everything that was ever made should have to be as safe as every other similar thing that was made at the same time.

    Can of worms doesn’t even begin to describe it…

  • avatar
    fiasco

    Why do I have the feeling this is going to make Cash for Clunkers look minuscule? I see an “unsafe car” grab coming.

    Cue Red Barchetta…

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, this should kill the market for used Corvairs!

    Off the top of my head, there’s a pretty high bar for an agency to be able to retroactively create and apply regulations governing the manufacture of a product.

    And the second statement is definitely a catch-22. It is not open to car manufacturers to avoid meeting a particular DOT or other standard by saying that what they do performs better than the standard (recall the issues relating to sealed beam vs. halogen bulb headlights some years ago). Apparently, however, if your product does meet standard when manufactured but, it turns out, one of your competitors products of the same period performs better . . . well, then, you have to redesign and retrofit.

    Having been around at the time of the “flaming Pintos” I’ve never been particularly fond of any design that hangs the gas tank on the back of the vehicle between the bumper and the rear axle, and the Jeep folks have been slow to relocate it under the second seat . . . where most car manufactures have been putting it since the late 1980s.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    So with this precedent, any car without an airbag can be recalled, or better still, barred from use because it doesn’t meet “current safety standards?”

    You thought Cash for Clunkers was carnage…

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      I don’t think you read completely or carefully. Lack of an airbag doesn’t necessitate a recall (nor would any reasonable person expect an airbag system to be retrofitted to cars). However, if your seatbelts fail in an accident statistically more than similar cars, you may expect a recall investigation that would result in a recall.

      This isn’t materially different than how things have been done in the past since most recall investigations are triggered by consumer complaints (especially on older vehicles). However, NHTSA is calling out the scapegoat that auto makers like to trot out when they don’t want to spend the money recalling. Seems like US auto makers are particularly sensitive since their cost cutters seem to find ways to make cars more dangerous while still following the letter of the law.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    This is a fine How Do You Do?

    A manufacturer adheres to the standards and requirements set at the time of manufacture but the government reserves the right to change the rules of the game and goal posts as time progresses.

    Automakers cannot be clairvoyant about how drivers will use their vehicles. We all assume some risk when we venture out onto the highways and byways of our environment.

    I would be happy if I could just get 100,000 problem-free miles out of my vehicles. What happens to the vehicles after that I don’t care about. I may even put non-fitting floormats in my vehicles that cause the new owners to suddenly, uncontrollably and unintentionally accelerate due to insufficient user IQ.

    What a crock!

  • avatar
    mikey

    My first grandchild was born ten years ago. At the time we bought the top of the line,all the bells and whistles car seat. Big bucks!

    A couple of years ago, I tried to donate it to the local thrift shops/charities. It was spotless {I’m an O.C. clean freak and proud of it}.

    “No we can’t take it,its too old, and out of date”. Was the answer I received. We are not allowed to sell used child seats. One year old,or ten years old. It is illegal to sell used child car seats in Ontario. So what about the people that can’t come up with 200 bucks? What do those kids use?

    So I ended up putting out at the curb. I can only hope, some needy child got some use out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendon from Canada

      Mikey – you can sell car seats without any problem in Ontario; they just can’t be past the expiration date on the car seat. The argument is that the plastic in the seats breaks down over time (more so if the car seat is going through extreme temp changes inside the car), and seems to make sense, though I’ve never bothered with the research.

      Oddly, I have steal framed child seats which only get 2 extra years beyond a regular plastic ones… sounds a little strange…

      Here’s a link (if it comes through) :
      http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/cons/garage-eng.php

      What’s really wacky is the rule about baby gates ; those with 1.5 inch or greater “V” openings can’t be sold as a babies “head” might get stuck in it. I seem to recall my kids being small, but that’s a little crazy…. ;-)

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Rogue, overreaching government. Pure and simple. Chrysler was amazingly stupid for caving into the rogue government and their asinine demand.

    That sets a precedent.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    The real problem is the 20-30 years it takes to change a regulation, something NHTSA should resolve. Strickland is applying a band-aid and pushing the responsibility to others.
    I’m always frustrated by the safety advancements that we can’t execute in the US because NHTSA regulations prohibit them as a result of being outdated (i.e. dual-view LCDs). It’s not enough for NHTSA to hold back OEMs from advancing their technologies, now they will hold them accountable to a sliding scale. That’s unfortunate.

  • avatar
    George Herbert

    This isn’t going to be super popular, based on ongoing comments here, but…

    Aircraft and the FAA and NTSB already have this sort of regulatory regime. They don’t put the cost burden on manufacturers (other than sales warranties that may be sold with aircraft) but they do require repairs, inspections, or rework for failures that show up that were fine in initial manufacture and test but turn out worse than normal aging.

    Who pays is I think a key question. In aviation the owner does. In cars for recalls the manufacturer does. Not sure what the right answer is if you stretch the car rules more towards the aviation like conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      jetcal1

      GH,
      The regulatory environment you describe works well in part 121 ops and with well heeled Part 91 owners. But this will kill the mfr’s. Although the car meets regs, after so many years and so many indifferent owners,with indifferent maintenance…too many variables not found in aviation maintenance.
      you can’t hold the mfr accountable.
      BTW, I am an A&P with a good income even doing my own maintenance,I cannot afford to own an airplane. Why? The liability costs have made the parts expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      Perhaps the difference here is the nature of the product (planes, car seats, and cars). If the car or car seat fails you and yours are largely at risk, and perhaps a few other “victims” (to use a loaded word). But if the plane drops out of the sky….

      Either way though (planes or cars), it seems like a very LAZY way to regulate. This proposed logic outsources the responsibility of determining safety to the industry. In the long run, the gentleman’s agreement minimum safety standard becomes the maximum.

      Also, if there is a difference in safety between cars how do you quantify/qualify it? How dangerous/safe was the next closest fuel tank? Why not prosecute 2nd worst for “not up to industry norms”? Where is the line drawn?

      Also, what kind of speed does the fuel tank / seat belt / air bag / whatever have to stand up to in order to keep occupants from harm? And how much harm: death / sore neck?

      I think government should take the responsibility for ensuring safety up-front.

      Come to think of it, what happens if the manufacturer goes out of business in the meantime? Who picks up the tab for the unsafe vehicle then?

      • 0 avatar
        fiasco

        Well, I’m amazed that Old Chrysler and Old GM don’t just say “HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!” at this and tell them to talk to Bob Nardelli or Motors Liquidation about issues on older cars.

        In terms of airplanes, that Z axis is a pain, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Isn’t this why a Cessna 172 cost as much as a Cadillac when it was introduced 57 years ago, but the same plane now costs as much as a suburban home in most states? It’s also the reason new civilian aviation planes of the type ceased to be introduced.

      • 0 avatar
        George Herbert

        In 1955, the Cessna 172 cost $8,700, and homes cost $15,000 to $22,000 on the average.

        In comparison, in 2013 it’s $289,000 for a 172 and $263,000.

        1955:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna_172
        http://www.slideshare.net/RussellJWhite/then-and-now-1955-to-2010-10821744
        http://www.fiftiesweb.com/pop/prices-1955.htm

        2013:
        http://www.cessna.com/single-engine/skyhawk
        http://www.census.gov/construction/nrs/pdf/newressales.pdf

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          So from half the price of a home to more than the price of a home in a time of elevated housing costs. To put this in real perspective, $8,700 in 1955 has the same purchasing power as $75,620 today. Meanwhile, the price of the Cessna 172 has gone up to 3.8 times its inflation adjusted price. Do you think anyone at its introduction would have anticipated the 172 even being in production today? They’d have thought we’d have infinitely more advanced and efficient planes filling the same role by now, but we don’t because of clumsy regulators and their vision-bereft supporters.

          • 0 avatar
            J.Emerson

            We already have infinitely more advanced and efficient planes; they’re called jet airliners. And they’re a far more cost-effective proposition now for the average consumer than they were in the 1950′s. For 99% of the population, private aviation makes no sense from an economic utility standpoint, and it never has; that explains better than any other reason why it costs as much as it does. As a commenter who has frequently taken EV proponents to task using the exact same reasoning, I would expect you to understand this. You blame “clumsy regulators” for pushing up the price of civil aviation, but I don’t really see what’s “clumsy” about tightly regulating something with potentially hundreds of times greater destructive force than an improperly operated automobile. Besides, regulators aren’t at the core of the price increase. Civil aviation went from being a rich man’s hobby to a very rich man’s hobby as the surplus of WWII-trained pilots (and to a lesser extent, Vietnam-trained) with disposable income has steadily dried up over the years. A private airplane is a toy that requires extensive technical training to operate, access to very specific maintenance and storage facilities, and strict compliance with safety procedures to prevent a catastrophe. It is not like a car.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            Bleh, just more class warfare nonsense. (“Hundreds of times?” Bro, do you even physics?)

          • 0 avatar
            J.Emerson

            What “class warfare nonsense,” exactly? This is not a moral issue. CJ attempted to argue that federal regulation is what has driven up the price of civil aviation; I contend that’s false. And yes, civil aviation crash can be hundreds of times more devastating than your average automobile accident. I don’t really see what’s controversial about that.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You really don’t limit yourself to topics you have any experience or knowledge of whatsoever. The military continues to crank out pilots. Twenty years ago civil aviation was such a rich man’s hobby that my friend and I rented Cessnas with money I made from my college summer job. It was cheaper than renting a JetSki at the time. There are far more pilots right now than there are paying jobs for them or affordable planes for them to own. Jet airliners replaced single engined four seaters? That’s like saying the Bugatti Veyron replaced the BSA Bantam D3. When I was a kid, quite a few fathers were members of partnerships that owned planes like the Cessna 172 or Beechcraft Bonanza. These weren’t rich men. They drove Beetles and Torinos. The danger they presented wasn’t great. They were trained pilots, adults, competent, licensed via a system that made no allowances for social justice, and had their own lives at stake. I do know of one field in Williamstown, Mass that produced an anecdotal level of carnage. It was dominated by glider operations. I’m guessing they weren’t and probably aren’t held to the same standards. I don’t think you would be championing civil aviation for the 1% if you weren’t completely ignorant of this subject. The idea that civil aviation never made sense is laughable. I have one very wealthy friend that has two planes. One is for shorter hops and smaller airports than the other. He uses them constantly, and neither one was made by Boeing or Airbus. All the regulators did was deny the middle class a luxury and freedom of the rich through imposed barriers. It is a recurring theme of big government, which exists to eliminate the middle class’s intrusion on the elite.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            Well, let’s do a little math: to have 100x the kinetic energy as my 4000 lb sedan traveling at 55 mph, a 1700 lb Cessna 172 would have to be traveling at roughly 843 mph. So your claim is laughable at best. And given the content of your comment, I can’t help but think a large part of your ire comes from not being able to afford what those fat cats supposedly have. (Which actually isn’t all that expensive.)

            By the way, the American light aviation industry was nearly killed off in the 70s by product liability law.

          • 0 avatar
            J.Emerson

            @CJinSD
            Sorry, but pretty much everything you said reinforces my point, is without factual basis, or is simply political slipsliding. When you and your friend rented Cessnas, you didn’t bear any of the actual costs of ownership that make individual plane ownership extremely burdensome for the average person. You simply forked over money (the exact amount of which is unknown) to a previously established facility that did all of the hard work for you. I’d like to see some substantial evidence that there are large number of trained, willing pilots just waiting in the wings for a relatively cheap airplane, because all of my experience points in the exact opposite direction. My local university, a major state school with access to an airfield and extensive maintenance infrastructure, is cutting it’s civil aviation program due to lack of demand. A quick Google search confirms similar situations across the country. Even if the military continues to “crank out pilots” (still in far lower quantities than the WWII vets of your childhood) it seems very few of them are interested in civil aviation. The fact that they could only afford to fly by engaging in partnerships is just more proof of what I already contended. The people have voted with their dollars, and they chose commercial airlines in overwhelming numbers and buried civil aviation, just like they buried passenger rail. You just can’t seem to accept the fact that civil aviation is expensive because not that many people are interested in it, and that number is getting continuously smaller. You’d rather warp the edges of reality trying to put together some vast elite conspiracy than look at simple market dynamics.

            @darkwing:
            You choose to take my assertion and apply it purely in terms of kinetic energy and not ability to damage property and take lives, which seems like kind of an odd choice. There’s no danger of a 4000lb sedan dropping out of the sky and onto a school. I have exactly zero interest in learning how to fly, so I think that makes me a more objective observer of why civil aviation isn’t more popular or less expensive. Again, as to product liability law, let’s see some sources.

            You both seem to think I have some kind of political or moral stake in this issue. I don’t. It’s just pretty clear to me that regulation is the least of civil aviation’s woes. Nothing posted so far makes me think that this argument is anything but yet another sandcastle in a much wider game.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I’ve followed this thread with interest because way back when, in High School, I took courses in civil aviation, completed ground-school, took my lessons, and soloed before I graduated. I still have my original ticket.

            I had hoped that achievement and the FAA ticket I had earned would at least endear me as a serious candidate when joining the US Air Force.

            Whatever came of it? Nothing! Regulation and insurance costs put even a well used AeroCobra out of my reach.

            Yes, I did join the Aero club at the bases where I was stationed, and CAP, but even that wore off after the first four years.

            As for the argument about airplanes falling out of the sky, they still do. Regulation did nothing to stop that happening.

            So I see this incessant and never-ending liability placed on car manufacturers as a burden and a hindrance; an obstruction to reasonable profit making.

            We all assume some risk when we get into our cars, trucks, our airplanes, so regulating an industry to death isn’t helpful.

            Most of our cars use gasoline, a highly flammable liquid, to fuel our cars. The fuel for our cars and airplanes present a much greater danger to us than the occasional mishap with an old car that met specs when it was made.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I seriously doubt my father’s peers were WWII vets, considering I’m 43 instead of 65 years old. Renting planes in 1993 at Charlottesville Flight Center ranged upwards from $50/hr including everything for a Cessna 150. I know we paid $55/hr one time, although I don’t recall if that was for a 152 or a 172. I know we rented the 172 the first time I went and that it was in that range.

            The idea that today’s military pilots aren’t interested in civil aviation is complete bunk. My best friend was the licensed pilot that rented the planes, and he recently returned to flying duties at HMX. The Marines paid for his civil aviation lessons before he entered active duty when he graduated college. Because of him, I have met many, many other military pilots over the past two decades. I never heard one of them object to opportunities to take family and friends up in private aircraft. Any reduction in civil aviation comes down to the impact of increased costs. The people I know that can afford to fly private aircraft are as likely to as the college professors I knew when it was accessible to them. Planes don’t even have to make sense as transportation. Flying around sight seeing and practicing touch and gos at remote airfields is fun. Too bad it isn’t as accessible as it once was, because it is exhilarating.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            Um, kinetic energy *is* the ability to destroy property and take lives. (Again, physics.) Unless you’re asserting that things you’re afraid of are somehow intrinsically more dangerous?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @George Herbert
      I don’t know if what you are stating is truly accurate that the owners’ of aircraft pay when a recall is made.

      I do work with aircraft and the OEM foots the bill in some cases. But there is a cost burden to the operators of aircraft. But there is a cost burden to owners of vehicles as well.

      What this discussion is about is more to do with the consequence of a failure. I do know in aviation, particularly heavy aircraft the consequence of failure can be what is termed catastrophic. So ensuring compliance of procedures and configuration is paramount.

      The same is also said with the trucking industry. A failure of a large and heavy vehicle can be catastrophic. Motor racing is the same, hence the adherence to regulations are enforced more vigilantly.

      In a small motor vehicle the risk of a catastrophic failure is smaller. The mathematicians etc work this out with the use of probability.

      We do this at work, we trend data and information to give us an indication of what to expect. We also have to work in a margin of safety.

      In aviation items are lifed, ie the component must be removed and serviced/replaced which is is given a currency. This currency is formulated by the use of trending like I explained above.

      In motor vehicle or where any type of engineering is involved this is how lifecyles are determined.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Double secret probation lives!

    Belushi is grinning in his grave!

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    The idea is to get us out of private cars and onto bikes and into trolleys and on our feet. The idea is also to get people to move back into city centers so the trolleys and bikes and walking can work. You do this by making private automobile ownership exorbitantly expensive and frustratingly difficult.

    I’m not making this up.

  • avatar
    raded

    This won’t ever come close to reality. Lobbyists fight tooth and nail to stop good ideas, this is a bad idea that’s DOA.

    Unrelated: why the hell does my avatar keep changing? I haven’t touched it in almost a year but it’s changed at least 3 times since then.

    • 0 avatar
      George Herbert

      Re your avatar, if you have a Gravatar set up it uses that, if not I think it randomly cycles through car pictures. Go to en.gravatar.com and set your preferred photo, it just links your email and real name to the photo for a bunch of websites.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    As other commenters have already indicated, this has in reality been the policy of the NHTSA for many years. There are in reality very few instances of it being applied, however. More often than not, auto companies tend to win these kinds of fights. GM got away with not recalling the side-saddle fuel tanks on its trucks which met the applicable standard but were demonstrably more dangerous in real world use. The same was true with Ford and the Panther gas tanks, although in that case they were helped with a favorable finding by the NHTSA, one which actually helped them fight off product liability lawsuits. The idea is to keep manufacturers from scrimping on design and testing in the first place, not punish them.

    Inevitably, there will always be a certain element that interprets things like this as an attack on the very notion of car ownership itself. That same element tends not to have a very good grasp of regulatory history, in my experience. Or they were never really sincere in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Those side-saddle gas tanks, were the the same ones that Dateline did a big expose’ on once upon a time, shouting and shrieking to all who would listen about how ridiculously un-safe these things were.. right up until they got caught planting pyrotechnics on the vehicles they crash-tested?

      • 0 avatar
        J.Emerson

        The validity of Dateline’s expose’ is irrelevant to the argument. GM itself admitted that the tanks were vulnerable and should have been redesigned, and there were hundreds of documented deaths and injuries from explosions in crashes.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/22/weekinreview/nov-15-21-sidesaddle-gas-tanks-gm-kept-making-pickups-it-could-have-made-safer.html

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Do as we say today, not as we agreed before.

    Because we’re still your parents.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    This is positively stupid. I don’t want to sound like a whacko conspiracy theorist but I think this could be used to force people to give up their older classic vehicles.Will they try to ban old cars because they don’t meet todays fuel economy or emission standards? My Mustang met all the safety requirements when it was built. Im not losing sleep over the fact that it only has two airbags and no stability control (or that the DRL’s, ABS, and Traction Control no longer work (don’t miss the last two at all!)). If I insist on having one that meets today’s standards I can buy a new one. It is a gross misuse of power to force a recall over something which was safety compliant when it was built.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    What a GD Obama socialist! This is absolutely ridiculous. Are we now going to require air-bag installation in a 1957 Chevy?????

    ———————–

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      No, because nobody was using airbags. I am not defending this decision but at least stay within the bounds of reality. The design has to be statistically less safe than other equivalent designs from that same time. Airbags were not used until the 1980′s.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Airbag patents go back to 1951. Ford was testing a fleet of airbag equipped vehicles in 1971. In 1973, Chevrolet supplied airbag equipped cars to the government for general use and Oldsmobile offered them as an option in the Toronado. Buick, Cadillac and Oldsmobile’s full sized cars offered them as an option in ’75-76. Could this early use be lawyered as evidence that manufacturers were denying buyers a known safety feature? Seems ridiculous now, but everything that is happening in our regulatory agencies now would have seemed ridiculous five years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Mike – - -

        Thanks for the response comment. As you can see from CJinSD’s view, I am within the bounds of reality. In fact, I remember discussing “air inflating cushions for cars” in high school in the mid/late 1950′s.

        But the really (REALLY) irksome issue for me is this: individual responsibility and freedoms. How dare the nanny government tell me and my car maker how to be safe retroactively! If I choose to be “unsafe”, that is my right and my freedom to do so. Nobody ever said life was destined to be safe. Ask the military returning form Afghanistan if that was the safest thing they ever did!

        If I choose not to wear a motorcycle helmet when riding my bike and kill myself in a collision because my brain case was not protected, THAT IS MY CHOICE! If we later discover that we can put a shield around a bike to stop the carnage, that’s, fine. But for now, I ride on that which is available, and don’t expect Harley-Davidson or anyone else to retrofit anything. It’s up to me to search out the level of safety I want, and buy as appropriate, and the market will chose who survives: caveat emptor.

        If most people are too lazy or incompetent to know or find out about gas-tank placement options in SUV’s, then that is their problem, not the US Government’s, and hence not mine through the taxes I pay….

        —————–

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    In other words, you manufacturers better keep your lobbyists well funded, who will in turn keep us swimming in booze, hookers and campaign cash; then you might have some hope of emerging from our next safety “negotiation” with your sphincter in tact.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think many of the B&B are missing a major point here. It is NOT that a particular car is not safe compared to what is expected NOW, it is that it has proven significantly statistically less safe than its contemporaries. The Jeep gas tank design has proven to be less safe than other BOF SUVs.

    Now, I don’t necessarily think that the Manufacturer should be entirely on the hook to pay for it if the car met the standard of the day. Perhaps they should be required to engineer the fix but the owner pays for installation, or can get the updated parts for free and DIY?

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      How much less safe is ‘significantly’? Didn’t we already have that discussion and come out with, “The risk is greater, but not unreasonably so”?

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      1. The Jeep is uni-body, not BOF.

      2. Why not the Jeep Cherokee then, or the Wrangler? The fuel tanks were in the rear as well.

      3. 37 Jeeps out of 2.7 million have caught fire during a violent rear end collisions. There are roughly 35,000 traffic deaths a year in the United States.

      4. The NHTSA could not find a specific defect or design flaws after looking into this for 3 years.

      5. The recall/investigation was prompted after a Jeep was rear ended by a semi-truck doing 65 MPH and the Jeep caught fire. Where’s the tougher laws regarding tractor trailer inspections, and driver training?

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        SC5door – - –

        +10! You hit it right on the head.

        This whole edict from Strickland is phony, and one more excuse for Big Gubmint to intrude on the free enterprise system and roll back those irresponsible, evil industrialists.

        Chrysler should have stood its ground. As it is now, the “cat that got let out of the bag” can grow into a tiger that allows Washington to force retro-design and re-manufacture of any older products it deems unsafe, as long as ostensibly “safer” ideas were even mentioned; manufactured by any small obscure company; or patented anywhere in the world. Slippery slope stuff, folks….

        Gee, didn’t the “Tucker” have a movable headlight to point where you turn, in 1948?
        (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Tucker_Sedan)
        Maybe we should force all manufacturers of cars made since then to install moving headlights because it is obviously safer to see where you are turning into….

        Ironically, 40-year old US regulations prohibit use of Audi’s new lighting system that self-regulates to allow seeing better under a variety of conditions.

        ——————–

  • avatar
    SteelyMoose

    So this guy seems to be a worthy successor to Joan Claybrook, who gave us the backwards motorcycle.

    If what’s inferred is true, bureaucrats could arbitrarily take any model of vehicle off the road for non-compliance with the stroke of a pen. Good thing these people aren’t making decisions about our medical care.

    Oh wait…

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    It’s clear to me that NHTSA is failing. Cars have become too safe. They can’t find new areas of meaningful safety features to force the companies to engineer. The handwriting is on the wall. Except for recalls, NHTSA has become redundant. Wait! If they can apply today’s standards to yesterday’s vehicles… well there’s a ton of work! Hell, they might have to grow just to service all this stuff. Hurray and pass the scotch!

    • 0 avatar
      J.Emerson

      “Cars have become too safe.”

      The IIHS and tens of thousands of roadway fatalities and injuries every year beg to differ.

      You don’t need to “create work” when manufacturers hand it to you on a silver platter.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Because it’s not Newtons laws of motion and the tensile strength of available materials that kills motorists, it’s that the NHTSA just hasn’t made enough rules yet.

        • 0 avatar
          George Herbert

          Les writes:
          Because it’s not Newtons laws of motion and the tensile strength of available materials that kills motorists,

          Not this.

          Autos that are shaped reasonably like road cars hit solid concrete walls at 100+ mph with the occupants routinely walking away uninjured. No airbags, even.

          It is illegal to sell some of those features on road cars now as they require 5-6 point manual belts, helmets and HANS, and have hard interior surfaces that will bang you if you fail to belt in and bump a SUV at 25. And their side impact protection makes access tricky.

          But any decent mechanical engineer can do a door-equipped tube frame in 4130 that will be far more survivable than current production cars. Or carbon fiber; Ferraris have hit telephone poles sideways around 200 mph with the occupants walking away.

          It’s all about cost and producability. Saving those extra lives prices cars out of mere mortals budgets. A car that you can afford now and use is better for about 9,999 people out of 10,000 compared to the unaffordable crash resistant model. For the one dead guy in 10k it’s not clear they would agree. But society has…

  • avatar
    Power6

    “Though he didn’t explicitly say so, his remarks could be read as saying”…Is that code for “now I am about to straight make some s**t up”

    A little disappointed that the commenters are taking what was written by “TTAC Staff” here and running with it like the conjecture was quoted right from the NHTSA. If any of it were true I would agree with all of you it would be heavy handed. But take step back and only look at what he did actually say…

    It can’t be possible for standards to cover every scenario when a car is built. There are going to be failures. When those failures become unreasonable and dangerous and kill a number of people, no matter whether the automaker claims they were “unforseen” or not, the NHTSA will step in, using statistics of similar products to prove their point. Sounds good to me, I’d rather this then an unreasonable number of my fellow Americans perishing in fiery deaths in cars that “met the standards”

  • avatar
    Les

    Wait.. so basically this is about.. “Okay, if at the time you designed something in a certain way that met all the pertinent regulatory specs of the day and your competitors designed a similar thing in a different way that also made the specs, and if at a much later time the statistics for really bad crashes show that vehicles with your design suffered slightly more than the vehicles with the other design, then you can be held liable for not copying that design.. nevermind if it was or was not proprietary at the time and thus legally uncopyable.”

    And the NHTSA wants to do this because legislating new regulations takes too long for them…

    …uh, tough?

    Isn’t the whole point of our three branches of government that the Legislature does all the legislating, and agencies like the NHTSA simply Enforce what the Legislature puts out rather than effectively making new legislation themselves? Don’t we have checks-and-balances that cover that?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I would think disbanding this government body would be the best. Then implement the UNECE guidline and Euro pollution measure.

    The good thing about the UNECE is a system of similar regulations are enforced. There is much less need for duplication.

    Before anyone whines, the UNECE is a global system of compliance.

    It will free up billions of dollars to be passed onto the consumer.

    How good is the NHTSA? I have posted statistics showing the US isn’t near many countries regarding combination of overall road safety.

    The UNECE is used by almost all nations outside of NAFTA.

    This would also save billions in wasted tax dollars to manage this and the EPA. Why duplicate?

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    But, there is the possibility of saving a lot of money – the people driving the cars that come into question here are probably on Welfare anyhow – so their loss is our gain???

  • avatar
    bjchase55

    Did I just read that right? It can take 20-30 years on some items to change/modify? I can understand some items maybe taking up to 5 years, but 20-30?! By the time a decision is made on the item that item will likely be obsolete! Perhaps they should just outsource that function to the SAE.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    So, when does the banning of gasoline begin? After all, it’s a very unstable substance and most people who struggle to rub two synapses together will likely blow themselves up at the local 76 station.

    • 0 avatar
      George Herbert

      Flammability is not Gasoline’s problem.

      It’s BY FAR the most carcinogenic consumer product.

      I shudder remembering using it for cleaning things when I was a kid. Incidental fumes exposure is bad enough now, it’s worth considering Diesel just to avoid the toxicity.

      It’s the material that proves that the safety nazis are not winning. If they were, it would be gone.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        You should tell somebody! The American Cancer Society doesn’t even list gasoline as a probable carcinogen! This is a revelation!

        http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/generalinformationaboutcarcinogens/known-and-probable-human-carcinogens

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        The Safety Nazis will never win on Gasoline because the Enviro-Nazis hate Diesel just That Much.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Not even the EPA is willing to classify gasoline as a carcinogen. Where on earth do you get this stuff?

        http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=36176

        • 0 avatar
          George Herbert

          Darkwing:
          “Not even the EPA is willing to classify gasoline as a carcinogen. Where on earth do you get this stuff?”

          That would be the Power of Science, Darkwing.

          The EPA does not test materials for carcinogenicity, they make regulatory determinations based on other testing and political, economic, and other factors as to whether they will regulate materials as carcinogenic.

          Gasoline is not regulated as carcinogenic because doing so would be an immediate disaster for the whole motor vehicle industry and petroleum industry and would cause financial chaos and a collapse of our transport grid. I.e., it’s not a carcinogen (says the EPA) because they cannot survive the consequences of declaring it one at this time.

          The actual science is summed up in things like Materials Safety Data Sheets, which tell you what’s in it and what its health effects are. The underlying science is found in many thousands of published peer-reviewed articles by doctors and various scientists, but going that deep here would not help anything.

          This is just a quick googleable surface scan. A couple of years ago I did a similar deeper comparison for some rocketry purposes, and groups considering using it for rocket fuel walked away.

          MSDS for Gasoline:
          http://www.haskellcorp.com/uploads/msds/Gases/chevron%20regular%20unleaded%20gasoline.pdf

          Note major ingredient Benzene. MSDS for Benzene:
          http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927339

          Note the “confirmed human carcinogen” and suspected human mutagen, along with a host of other toxic effects including bone and blood and liver and urinary.

          Note major ingredient Toluene. MSDS for Toluene:
          http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927301

          Not carcinogen or mutagen that we know, but toxic to liver, blood, kidneys, central nervous system, …

          Note major ingredient Ethyl Benzene. MSDS for Ethyl Benzene:
          http://www.mathesongas.com/pdfs/msds/MAT08780.pdf

          Note confirmed animal carcinogen, suspected but not proven human, known CNS, some mutagenic studies but not proven.

          Note major ingredient Napathalene. MSDS for Napathalene:
          http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927671

          Note toxicity to blood, kidneys, nervous system, reproductive system, CNS, …

          For older gasoline, note MTBE MSDS:
          http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927229

          Acutely toxic to lungs, nervous system, mucous membranes.

          Note ingredient tert-Amyl methyl ether. TAME MSDS:
          http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/MSDS/MSDS/DisplayMSDSPage.do?country=US&language=en&productNumber=283096&brand=ALDRICH&PageToGoToURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sigmaaldrich.com%2Fcatalog%2Fproduct%2Faldrich%2F283096%3Flang%3Den

          Note pulmonary emboli and fetal toxicity and death.

          ETBE is about the only non-toxic ingredient. Oh, and ethanol.

          Benzene just by itself should be treated highly cautiously. A mixture of water and 5% benzene is a hazardous toxic carcinogenic material. All the other stuff in gasoline does not help in the slightest.

          Don’t breathe the fumes. Don’t get any on you. If you’re planning on getting pregnant consider buying or leasing a diesel car for the duration of pregnancy and early childhood.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India