Washington, DC—The American Association for Justice (AAJ) has called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reconsider its decision not to require automobile manufacturers to install roll stability control in motor vehicles in light of the device’s potential to reduce hundreds of highway fatalities annually.
Additionally, AAJ called on NHTSA to excise language from its proposed federal safety standards that could be construed to prohibit individuals from holding car manufacturers accountable for negligence though the civil justice system.
“NHTSA must seriously consider the life-saving merits of roll stability control and not pretend that data collected by the automobile industry doesn’t exist – it does and it should be used to save lives,’’ said Jon Haber, the AAJ CEO. “Additionally, we call on NHTSA to strike the possibly pre-emptive language that would have them siding with powerful corporations over the safety of all Americans.’’
NHTSA issued a final Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards rule on April 6, 2007, declaring it would not be requiring vehicle manufacturers to install RSC – a system that uses sensors to detect an impending rollover, activating the antiskid system to prevent a mishap. NHTSA rationalized its decision by asserting “there is currently an insufficient body of data to judge the efficacy of such systems.’’
AAJ asserts that conclusion is incorrect. In a letter to the NHTSA administrator dated May 21, 2007, seeking a reconsideration of the rule, AAJ President Lewis S. “Mike’’ Eidson said the agency is empowered to subpoena the records of vehicle manufacturers regarding tests conducted to determine the value of the device.
“If these companies garnered sufficient data to voluntarily include RSC in certain models, the agency should review this data to determine whether to include the systems on a wider variety of models,’’ Eidson wrote.
In the alternative, Eidson wrote, NHTSA “at the very least, should open proceedings immediately to begin compiling data to support the efficacy of this technology.’’
Eidson also objected to language contained in the regulation’s preamble attempting to preempt state tort law. The preamble could effectively protect manufacturers from claims filed by accident victims in state courts that hold them accountable for negligence.
“This proposal only serves the interests of the corporate wrongdoers looking to evade accountability for risking people’s lives,’’ Haber said.