Eighteen major automakers announced recently that they will join together
with the U.S. government in a voluntary program to improve vehicle safety,
according to a Reuters article. The program will tackle problems like improving cyber security for onboard
computers in vehicles and collecting better early warning data of potential
problems. The program's plan is to use a similar successful program
in the aviation industry as a model for cooperation.
One of the plan's major goals is to prevent safety problems rather
than cracking down on automakers after safety issues occur. If safety
can be improved to reduce the number of hidden defects that cause serious
accidents and injuries, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) believes
that the need for recalls and lawsuits over liability will likewise decrease.
Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, celebrated the negotiation, saying:
“We have finalized a historic agreement on a set of broad-ranging
actions to help make our roads safer and help avoid the sort of safety
crisis that generates the wrong kind of record-setting and headlines.”
Not everyone applauded the initiative, however. Some critics, including
Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), asked
why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made the
talks leading up to the agreement private instead of public, and why the
agreement is voluntary rather than mandatory.
The senators say that this is another example of the "informal dealing"
atmosphere that allows serious auto product defects to flourish in the
first place. Former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook agreed, saying
that the "safety of the American public will not be best protected"
with a voluntary agreement between the NHTSA, which regulates automakers,
and automakers who might prefer not to be regulated.
Many experts say a closer automaker-government partnership is needed, particularly
Latest Air Bag Death Reveals Inefficiencies in U.S. Recall System.
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