District Court Rules “Regional Recalls” are Legal

In response to a lawsuit filed by Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen alleging NHTSA was illegally allowing regional recalls, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, published an opinion finding that controversial practice is not in violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act or the Administrative Procedure Act (http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/04-392a.pdf). The opinion also affirmed that the agency had the ability to exercise its discretion to determine whether regional recalls are appropriate. Regional recalls may include an entire state, counties within a state, or a cluster of states within a geographical region. The plaintiffs were seeking a declaration that the government's role in regional recalls is unlawful. They were also seeking an order prohibiting the NHTSA from allowing automakers to conduct these types of recalls in the future. [Center for Auto Safety, Public Citizen v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 04-392 (ESH)].

Electronic Stability Control Update

Industry watchers and safety advocates have monitored ESC since its introduction in 1995 as a solution to loss of control crashes and subsequent rollovers.  At its inception the technology, which brings together ABS, traction control, and a host of vehicle sensors, was thought to have been one of the most significant safety advances since airbags.  A decade later, most consumers still haven't heard of or don't know what ESC does, yet real-world data and testing continue to show ESC has enormous benefits in crash prevention.

Early Warning data Prompts Another Bridgestone/Firestone Recall

For the second time this year BFS has recalled tires allegedly based on unfavorable early warning data-the data that manufacturers are required to provide NHTSA following the Ford/Firestone recalls and the subsequent TREAD Act. This time BFS is recalling 250,000 Bridgestone Dueler A/T 693 replacement tires, size LT285/75R16, Load Range D, made in Tosu, Japan (plant code "EJ"), beginning in July 1, 1998 through July 31, 2002. The company estimates 27,000 are left in service.

Auto safety discrepancies: Kudos to Hyundai’s campaign

NOTE: The following article was published in Auto Monitor, an automotive trade journal that covers India's rapidly growing automotive industry. The article was written in response to controversy that arose when Hyundai advertised that it's Indian market vehicles contained the same safety features as its U.S. models, while competitors models did not. The U.S. market has experienced similar safety discrepancies which are discussed in the article

Hyundai's recent media campaign highlighting the different safety specifications its competitors offer for the Indian market compared to international versions brings to the surface a well-known issue to those who monitor vehicle safety and its regulation in the US.

NHTSA Roof Crush Study: Greater Intrusion = Greater Injury

The recently released NHTSA study, "Roof Crush Analysis Using 1997-2001 NASS Case Review," which has been in the works for nearly four years, reviewed NASS rollover crashes in an effort to determine whether roof deformation patterns identified in an earlier agency study were still valid for current vehicle designs (see "Upgraded Rollover Roof Crush Protection: Rollover Test and NASS Case Analysis" NHTSA, June 1992). The new study, which examined 273 rollovers from 1997-2000 NASS, also examined the frequency of roof deformation patterns to determine if differences existed among various vehicle classes. Patterns were compared to results of 216 tests, tests with extended crush limits, SAE J996 drop tests, and the extent that windshields provided roof support.

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