Ford Continues Fight to Seal Volvo Roof Strength Documents

Since Ford Motor Company purchased Volvo in 1999 and made the company a division of its Premier Auto Group, Ford has reaped significant profits from the Swedish automaker whose hallmark is safety. But, Ford is also inheriting a headache as Volvo's position on important safety issues conflicts with those of it corporate parent-and these conflicts keep surfacing in the public despite Ford's efforts to keep them secret. This conflict is playing out in litigation and in has seeped into the public in one of the most controversial areas of motor vehicle safety-occupant protection in rollover crashes.

Frontal Offset Crash Test Regulation Scrapped

To the dismay of some highway safety groups, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has decided to withdraw a proposal to add a high speed frontal offset crash test to its occupant crash protection standard.

UL Self-Certification Program Raises Safety Questions

A fire resulting in the death of a 9-year-old boy allegedly caused by a window air-conditioner led plaintiff's lawyers to uncover a little-known Underwriters Laboratory (UL) program that allows companies to certify they meet UL standards without UL testing.

The Goldstar brand air conditioner at issue in the case was certified by LG under UL's self-certification program known as "Total Certification Program" or TCP. LG claimed the air conditioner complied with UL 484, the standard for room air conditions. But plaintiff's testing found plastic components were excessively flammable and did not meet the standard and that UL did no testing to confirm compliance.

European Pedestrian Crash Standards Will Make Global Changes in Car Design Inevitable

Imagine a Jag without the company's signature image leaping off the front hood or an SUV outfitted with exterior airbags. In Europe, that metal cat is already extinct and those airbags are on their way in, under new European Union pedestrian impact regulations that will take effect in October. Although American automakers are not embracing these changes, manufacturers and suppliers say that the global drive to increase pedestrian safety coupled with the global nature of the auto industry will eventually affect cars sold in the U.S., possibly forcing changes to auto design, price, styles and fuel efficiency.

"Aged" Tire Case Numbers Grow: Spares and Used tires Top the List

Following Firestone, SRS began tracking cases involving "aged" tires-tires older than 6-years-that have failed catastrophically causing crashes. With more than 65 documented cases, several patterns are emerging. Nearly one-third of these cases involved spare tires, approximately one-third were tires purchased used. The remaining cases involve tires that were mounted on little-used sports cars, old stock sold as new, or their histories are unknown. What links all of these cases together is the fact that the tires have ample tread and appear safe when they are put into service.

SRS Petitions NHTSA on Tire Aging

Click here to see a PDF of the petition.

Click here for more information on tire aging.

Inspector General Finds NHTSA Over Budget and Under Performing in Early Warning System

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a second audit report related to NHTSA performance and cited the agency's poor implementation and cost overruns associated with the Advanced Retrieval Tire, Equipment, Motor Vehicle Information System (ARTEMIS). ARTEMIS is the NHTSA system developed to analyze and identify trends in the early warning reporting data required from manufacturers (following the TREAD Act) that includes reports on deaths and injuries, property damage and warranty data.

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 ( 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.