Monday, November 17, 2014

Open letter to Sen. Blumenthal -- ISO 10393, Consumer Product Recall Process

ISO 10393 - a workable way out of the messy recalls problem.

Dear Senator Blumenthal:

I am writing as a citizen advocate for auto safety. 

As you prepare for this next round of Congressional hearings on yet another lethal auto safety defect, I would like to suggest a few solutions to the seemingly endless problem of serious defects that remain concealed and unrecalled for far too long.

First, I respectfully suggest that you introduce legislation requiring NHTSA to formulate new, transparent recall policies and procedures adapted from the new Consumer Product Recall Process Standard, ISO 10393, and the Auto Industry Functional Safety standard, ISO 26262, and that requires automakers to implement these standards as well. I also support your efforts toward the goal of imposing criminal penalties on automaker executives who conceal lethal safety defects, and on discouraging or prohibiting US courts from approving secret settlements in cases of known dangerous products.

Please also note that numerous past auto safety defects have remained incompletely investigated. Automakers know that 'time heals all wounds' and that once they pass the scrutiny of a defect investigation or safety scandal, anything undiscovered can remain that way. They know that NHTSA and also Congress often let issues fall into the history books, not reopening them no matter how much new evidence may emerge. Then the public remains at risk and auto executives are not held accountable. This should change.

Toyota unintended acceleration is one such case, where NASA's investigation, claimed to be "exhaustive" at the time, has since been revealed to have been very "partial," and it is now conclusively proven by expert analysis of Toyota’s ETCS source code that Toyota made material misstatements and omissions to NASA during the course of their technical study, whose conclusions would have differed had NASA known the truth. I believe that it would serve public interest to reconsider Toyota's statements and open a new Congressional investigation on the basis of the new evidence. Does Congress have the will to do that? Please lead the way.

In addition, I respectfully suggest that this and all other suspiciously closed informal and formal NHTSA defect investigations be re-opened, but by the NTSB, not by NHTSA. Given NHTSA’s track record, this makes perfect sense.

Thank you very much for considering these issues. Please kindly address any answers or questions to me at autoelectronicssafety at. gmail dot com. Thank you.

Betsy Benjaminson
(A U.S. citizen living in Sderot, Israel)