Federal Government Increasingly Uses Pre-Emption to Bypass State Laws

Consumer and state government groups are becoming alarmed at a surge of regulations and bills designed to protect industry, while usurping stronger state regulations and consumers' rights in state courts through pre-emption clauses and laws.

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Newly Released Documents and Data Highlight Explorer Rollover Problems

Six years ago, Ford Motor Company laid the blame for Explorer rollovers on defective Firestone tires, but newly available data shows that even with replacement tires, tire-related rollover crashes in Explorers are growing and internal documents unearthed during recent litigation show that the popular SUV's stability problems are also rooted in vehicle design.

Two Tire Makers Add Tire Aging Replacement Guidelines for U.S. Market

Continental and Michelin recently issued Technical Bulletins on tire aging, joining a growing chorus of tire manufacturers and automakers issuing tire age replacement guidelines for the U.S. market. These bulletins are nearly identical to the Bridgestone-Firestone October 2005 recommendation that specified all tires should be removed after 10 years regardless of the remaining tread depth. They also follow guidelines published in overseas markets that have been in circulation for several years (Safety Record V3, Issue 1).

States Rights Advocates Attack NHTSA Roof Crush Preemption Proposal

A provision in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's proposed roof crush standard that would preempt state tort law would transfer the societal costs of caring for rollover crash victims to the states, discourage manufacturers from improving vehicles' crashworthiness and usurp Congressional authority, a diverse group of influential commenters has argued.

For the first time in 32 years, the NHTSA is proposing to strengthen vehicle roofs and extend the standard to cover vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 10,000 pounds, as part of an alleged "comprehensive plan for reducing the risk of death and serious injury from rollover crashes." The proposed regulation would increase the force that vehicles are required to withstand from 1.5 to 2.5 times their unloaded vehicle weight and replace the 22,240 Newton maximum force limit for passenger cars. It would also change the certifying test from the current plate movement limit of 5 inches with a new direct limit on headroom reduction. (See The Safety Record, V2, I4).

Court Will Hear Public Citizen's Motion To Unseal Volvo Documents

A Florida judge has granted the advocacy group Public Citizen a hearing next month to determine if the court should again make public "critically important auto safety documents" on roof strength that helped the plaintiffs win a $10.2 million verdict in Duncan v. Ford.

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