Friday, November 21, 2014

Testimony of Lt. Stephanie Erdman, Takata airbag victim--now turned safety advocate

An exploded Takata airbag canister.

Yesterday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing about the Takata airbag defect. Lt. Erdman testified. The hearing has already been widely covered in the press, but I thought her testimony speaks for itself about what needs to be done with US auto safety.

[warning: this testimony document contains a scary image of her injury]

"I believe in personal responsibility. I believe in admitting that you are wrong when you are wrong. I believe in holding companies accountable for their actions. The safety of the American public was not held paramount by these companies. These companies did not play by the rules when they failed to timely and fully notify NHTSA and customers like me about this defect. Something must be done to stop this deadly trend that we see time and time again in the auto industry. I am hopeful that NHTSA’s recall management division also takes more responsibility for overseeing recall campaigns so that they improve completion rates and make sure that all affected vehicles are included.
I am so honored to be here today and to have the opportunity to tell my story. But please understand
that I am just one of many people, along with their families and friends, who have suffered because of these defective airbags.

"I am hopeful that Congress will look at ways to improve the recall notification process. I hope there will be no more mothers taken from their children or fathers blinded so they can never again truly enjoy playtime with their sons. But I worry that, once all of the attention that is now focused on these deadly products subsides, these companies will not follow through with making sure that the defective airbags in every last one of these affected vehicles are removed. I ask that the Committee do everything in its power to make sure that each and every vehicle affected by this defect is made safe."
Meanwhile, let's return a moment to the issue of my (shockingly) popular post about the Japanese porn star who was enlisted to help with Toyota's marketing in Japan. Basically, this arrangement is clear evidence of what we all know already, that automakers use sex to sell cars. But then...let's also be clear, that when the customers have children and build families, these same cars can destroy the families forever. It is despicable that automakers spend money to entice customers with sexy women and sexy cars, while ignoring the most basic engineering for customer safety. As consumers, let's stop falling into this trap and instead focus our attention on safety when we buy a car.

Question: Will Lt. Erdman move Congress to not only pass legislation now, but to make it stick right up through the NHTSA rulemaking process? Please let her voice cut through the smoke and mirrors you will soon get from automakers.