Thursday, May 29, 2014

RAV4 crash into busy library

Driver not charged (yet) with RAV4 crash into library.
Click here for video

The blue object under the car is the leg of the pinned girl. Thankfully, she was in the hospital only one day, and has been released.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Michael Barr, embedded systems expert testimony excerpt

Here is what Michael Barr, who examined Toyota Camry source code for 18 months, had to say about Toyota's electronic throttle control software modules.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some words of advice for Toyota

When the next Toyota customer visits the dealer or calls in after an SUA incident, what should Toyota say?

How can I help?

I believe you.

I will find out.

Here's what happened.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

NHTSA's revolving door with auto industry-- a key factor in "see no evil" policy - example: Erika Jones went to Toyota

NHTSA has a long history of disgorging its top people directly into the auto industry or the industry's lobbyists, law firms, PR firms, or other helping hand companies. Here is a list of revolvers that appears in Sudden Acceleration: The Myth of Driver Error. Erika Jones appears on this list. She was one of the NHTSA attorneys who went to work for Toyota,  and she advised the automaker during the recalls crisis. Her name appears as a recipient of many of Toyota's internal documents. More later about Erika.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sudden Acceleration: The Myth of Driver Error

Center for Auto Safety online bookstore

A thorough examination of how automakers have covered up SUA with a myth: that when a car takes off on its own, the driver always stepped on the wrong pedal and could always stop the car simply by applying the brakes. The authors show exactly how untrue this myth really is.
Here's a quote:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Toyota employee: A friend of mine in Rep. Blackburn's office gave me a heads up about a letter sent urging a safety investigation

It must be so nice to have friends in such high places; they tip you off when they are going to investigate you.

As U.S. Agencies Put More Value on a Life, Businesses Fret; DOT says "$6 million"

NYT article on the money value of a life

If $6 million is the value of a human life according to the DOT, why was Barbara Schwarz's life compensated at ony $1.5 million?

There must be some answer, but I don't know what it is.

After GM Disaster, Nader & Groups Call for Criminal Liability for Hiding Product Dangers

After GM Disaster, Nader & Groups Call for Criminal Liability for Hiding Product Dangers

News Release
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 387-8030
After GM Disaster, Nader & Groups Call for Criminal Liability for Hiding Product Dangers
In an effort to prevent deadly product safety disasters – such as the GM ignition switch failure — Ralph Nader, the Center for Progressive Reform and the Center for Corporate Policy called for enacting long-overdue criminal liability for product supervisors who know their products are dangerous or deadly, yet fail to tell federal regulators of these dangers.
Nader and the groups sent the letters today to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, asking them to support legislation to require product supervisors to warn regulators and the public within fifteen days after a product danger is discovered, or immediately if there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death.
The text of the letters follows.
Dear Senators Leahy and Grassley, and Representatives Goodlatte and Conyers:
This letter is a request that you introduce legislation to address fatal failures such as those by General Motors to warn the public and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in timely fashion about ignition switch failures in its Cobalts and other GM models.  Such legislation is badly needed to ensure that such failures – and the deaths that come with them — do not happen again.
On February 13, 2014, General Motors announced a recall of about 778,000 of its cars due to an ignition switch failure.  That recall has now been expanded to nearly 2.5 million cars.[1]  At this time, the failure of the General Motors ignition systems is implicated in 303 deaths.[2]
Revealingly, nearly ten years before this recall, in November 2004, General Motors initiated an engineering inquiry to examine whether a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt “can be keyed off with knee while driving.” In March, 2005 the Cobalt Project Engineering Manager closed this inquiry “with no action” because the “lead-time for all solutions is too long,” and the “tooling cost and piece price are too high” and that “[n]one of the solutions seems to fully countermeasure the possibility of the key being turned (ignition turned off) during driving.”  The Project Engineering Manager’s “directive” concludes that “none of the solutions represent an acceptable business case.”[3]
It is clear that this tragedy was mostly preventable if General Motors had properly warned NHTSA and the public at the outset of its documented suspicion of an engineering defect in its cars.
Several Members of Congress propose remedies for General Motors’ failure to warn NHTSA in timely fashion.  For example, Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal have introduced legislation requiring auto companies to provide NHTSA with key safety-related documents related to fatal auto crashes, including certain internal safety documents, insurance claims made against them, and information pertaining to lawsuits against them related to the crashes.[4]  The legislation would also require NHTSA to make this available to the public via the Internet.  Representative Henry Waxman has introduced legislation to require auto manufacturers to disclose additional information about fatal crashes, NHTSA to provide public notice of inspection and investigation activities, and auto manufacturers to have a U.S.-based senior executive certify the accuracy and completeness of responses to NHTSA’s requests pursuant to safety investigations.[5]
These approaches have merit within the context of auto safety, but they are inadequate because they address merely a narrow segment of the broader scope of the problem.  Thus far, Members of Congress and the media have largely viewed this General Motors ignition switch defect as a matter of auto safety.  Of course, it is that.  But it is so much more.
The General Motors ignition switch defect is the latest example of a grievous tradition in the history of multinational corporations: the failure to warn U.S. regulators of deadly product defects. This tradition includes, among many other tragedies, the Dalkon Shield, Ford Firestone tires, cigarettes, asbestos, Guidant heart defibrillators, Bayer’s Trasylol, Ford Pintos and Playtex Super-absorbent tampons, to name a few.  In March, an FBI investigation revealed that Toyota misled the public about one cause of unintended acceleration in some of its cars, and tried to hide a second cause from NHTSA.
This is the correct context in which to place the current General Motors ignition switch defect.
The failure to warn is a problem that potentially afflicts most manufacturers, not merely the auto industry.  Only a systematic solution will fix this systematic problem.  A good solution must be broad in scope.  The best solution lies in establishing incentives to strongly predispose corporate officials to promptly disclose product dangers to regulators and the public.
In the 111th Congress, Rep. John Conyers introduced the Dangerous Products Warning Act,[6] which would require companies to warn employees, consumers and the appropriate federal regulators of any product or service that poses a serious danger to the public. The legislation would create criminal liability for product supervisors who knew of serious dangers but failed to warn federal regulators or affected parties.  Under this legislation, such warnings must be made within fifteen days after such discovery is made, or immediately if there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death.
Such legislation would have saved countless American lives and prevented many injuries during the last fifty years, probably including those who died or were injured from the General Motors ignition switch defect.
We strongly urge you to introduce the Dangerous Products Warning Act in the 113th Congress, and to work diligently for its passage.
Ralph Nader
Rena Steinzor, President, Center for Progressive Reform
Gary Ruskin, Director, Center for Corporate Policy
Nader and the groups sent the letters to Senator Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Representative Bob Goodlatte
The full text of the letters is available at:

[1] Christopher Jensen, “G.M. Recall Total in 2014 Reaches 4.8 Million.”  New York Times, March 29, 2014.
[2] Danielle Ivory and Hilary Stout, “303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags.”  New York Times, March 13, 2014.
[3] Majority staff, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, “Hearing on ‘The GM Ignition Switch Recall: Why Did It Take So Long?’” March 30, 2014.
[4] S. 2151, the Early Warning Reporting System Improvements Act of 2014.
[5] H.R. 4364, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2014.
[6] H.R. 6544.  It was re-introduced in the 112th Congress as H.R. 322.  See also Matthew L. Wald, “Spurred by G.M. Recall, Senators Push for Better Auto Safety Reporting.”  New York Times, March 25, 2014.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Israel's Channel 2 Ulpan Shishi TV news magazine

Here's a re-posting of this news piece that was done a couple months ago.
It covers the Toyota UA story, my efforts, and an update with various interviews. Almost 20 minutes altogether.

I had the link up on FB but now that my FB is disabled because of pressure from Toyota, claims made by one of their lawyers Christine, I am reposting it here.
It is around 2/3 in Hebrew, but I suggest it is worth the watch because it includes interviews in English with Dr. Henning Leidecker and attorney Cole Portis, one mind behind the Bookout trial win.

Link to Channel 2 news magazine on Toyota UA and me

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Camry crashes into house

The Last Samurai: It's not over

Preparing to write a book of narrative nonfiction, a suspenseful page-turning thriller about a story with an unknown outcome.. I am reading books and watching a lot of movies, mostly about heroes slaying corporate/government monsters or heroes caught up in tidal waves of history.

Today's film is The Last Samurai. 

Some days I feel like this character Algren, cut down and just barely spared from death.

But this Algren gets up and gets stronger, learning from Japanese how to fight Japanese.

That was early in the movie.

Much later, Algren says:

Indeed, Captain Algren, it's not over.
The story is not over.
The fight is not over.