Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American

When I was 14 years old, I heard Ralph Nader say that box cereal was less nutritious than the box it came in, and you'd get more nutrition out of tearing up the box and pouring sugar and milk over it, and eating that for breakfast. That's the kind of genius that Ralph Nader produces constantly, and why his ideas changed the world for Americans more than perhaps any political thinker of the late 20th century. He remains more relevant than virtually every other political thinker currently on the scene.

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PART 1 OF 2

Chapter 8: The Coming Struggle for Safety

On a September day in 1899, Mr. H. H. Bliss stepped down from a trolley car in New York City and, while graciously assisting a lady passenger to alight, was fatally struck by a horseless carriage -- the first recorded death by automobile. Not until 1,125,000 more fatalities and tens of millions of injuries had occurred did a Congressional Committee open hearings on the conditions that cause this massive casualty count. On July 16, 1956, Congressman Kenneth Roberts, an Alabaman and a firm believer in minimum federal government, opened the first session of the new House subcommittee on traffic safety by proceeding immediately to the subject of automobile design hazards. It was a promising start but one that remained little fulfilled in hearing after hearing through 1963. Congressman Roberts was surrounded by apathy and opposition in Congress and with hostility from the automobile industry and its traffic safety establishment. Even taking a look at the problem was suspect.

In spite of these obstacles and the lack of a full time subcommittee stall', Roberts performed some important services for the cause of traffic safety. One was to provide the first public forum for presentations on the vehicle safety issue by industry representatives and by physicians, engineers, and other specialists in crash injury research. These presentations have a continuing significance. The automobile makers' testimony, for example, reveals how little their present attitude, performance, and excuses have changed from a decade ago. They offered the jaded themes of their supposed concern with safety; their past progress in matters such as sealed beam headlamps and windshield wipers; the necessity of high- horsepower engines; the industry's thorough methods of quality control; the reasons why safety devices must begin on an optional, extra-cost basis; and the usual tributes to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the safety standards of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The subcommittee members were taken on a tour of company proving grounds, were shown some barrier crashes, and were given lectures about National Safety Council figures showing that the vast majority of accidents and fatalities are caused by bad driving. General Motors' director of public relations, Anthony De Lorenzo, gave an extended account of General Motors' support of traffic safety councils throughout the country with funds and printed materials, and the involvement of company executives and personnel in helping to orient local safety activities of clubs, schools, and government agencies. "In this way," declared De Lorenzo, "General Motors has put its shoulder to the safety wheel in virtually every village, town, and metropolis in America."

Roberts also invited independent specialists to testify. The subcommittee heard from numerous physicians, such as Dr. Fletcher Woodward, Dr. Arnold Griswold, and Dr. Horace Campbell, who for so many years have observed at first hand the bloody consequences of interior vehicle design and have tried in vain to galvanize their profession into action for safer cars beyond the easy passage of medical association resolutions. The subcommittee also heard from engineers such as Professor James Ryan, William Stieglitz, Frank Crandell, Henry Wakeland, and Andrew White, a man who left the automobile industry to establish motor vehicle safety research facilities in rural New Hampshire. The subcommittee heard, as well, from representatives of the American Public Health Association, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Medical Association. All of those representatives underlined the ability of the automobile makers to make the inevitable accident safer. These dedicated physicians and engineers were far-sighted not because they perceived some hidden truths but because the society around them and the major decision-making bodies that could discipline the automobile manufacturers were so near-sighted.

What disturbed Roberts most was the response from the executive branch of the federal government. He found it very difficult to get information from federal agencies that dealt with highway safety matters; nor did his committee enjoy any of the other forms of cooperation that nourish good legislative policy-making. Very soon it became clear that the automobile was a taboo subject for most federal officials. What particularly incensed Roberts was the attitude of the Department of Commerce. In a rare flush of anger, he made known his displeasure during testimony on H.R. 2446 -- a bill providing that hydraulic brake fluid meet safety standards prescribed by the Secretary of Commerce. Roberts introduced the bill in 1961 after receiving evidence that many brands of brake fluid came to a boil at a dangerously low temperature. Such fluids are called "phantom killers" by automotive experts because under hard stopping conditions they vaporize, leading to total brake failure. By the time the damaged vehicle is investigated, the brakes have cooled, the vapor has returned to a fluid state, and the brakes are operable.

This had been a serious problem for many years before the first state law was passed by Minnesota in 1953. In 1961 only half the states had passed laws regulating brake fluid, and these mostly required conformity with the tolerant SAE minimum standards. All the laws were chiefly exhortatory in nature with nominal, if any, enforcement provisions.

Roberts thought federal legislation was needed. The official reaction from the Commerce Department was: "This Department is certainly sympathetic with the safety objectives contemplated by H.R. 2446. However, we would also emphasize that the several States have traditionally exercised regulatory authority over motor vehicle safety features; and it would seem that the entry of the Federal Government into the field of brake fluid standards regulation presents the basic question of the proper role of the Federal Government generally in the regulation of motor vehicle equipment." After thus lecturing the subcommittee about the bill's jurisdictional propriety in the light of "tradition," the department made this astonishing recommendation: "We would like to suggest that it might be helpful for the President's Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to give careful study to the basic question of the Federal Government's role in the regulation of motor vehicle equipment, before decision is made with respect to brake fluid standards." It might have been expected that the department would know its position on motor vehicle regulation, since it had finished in 1959 a $200,000 study entitled "The Federal Role in Highway Safety," which was ordered by Congress in 1956 specifically to "determine what action can be taken by the federal government to promote the public welfare by increasing highway safety." A draft version of this study was sent for review to the Automotive Safety Foundation and the National Safety Council, which may help to explain why by the time the study was published the government's role in vehicle safety was never defined.

Roberts told the department's spokesman, Charles Prisk, a cautious veteran of the Bureau of Public Roads and the principal author of the 1959 report: "Mr. Prisk, you know I have had a good deal of experience with departmental reports. This is not the first time that I have been confronted with the reluctance of the Commerce Department to go along with safety regulations."

Roberts also said: "I am getting tired of introducing bills and holding hearings on safety matters. This is certainly not a far- reaching bill. But it is a bill that can save a lot of lives. And when the Department continually comes up here and recommends against a very small step in the direction of the safety of our people on the highways, roads, and streets of this country, it seems to me that certainly we ought to investigate and find out what is wrong with the Department of Commerce.... They constantly opposed every effort the Congress made for safety in that field. I am not going to be satisfied until we find out what is happening at the Department level."

Roberts never carried through on what would have been a significant inquiry. But he did modify H.R. 1341, authorizing the federal government to establish safety standards for the motor vehicles it purchases, so that the General Services Administration got the job, instead of the Department of Commerce, which did not want the responsibility. In view of the odds against the success of Roberts' efforts, H.R. 1341 was a stroke of legislative genius. It was difficult for the automobile lobby to oppose a law restricted to government procurement of some 36,000 vehicles a year. Nevertheless, the lobby did oppose it. Although the bill passed the House in 1959 and 1962 by large majorities, the automobile industry managed to block it in Senator Smathers' subcommittee on surface transportation. The Automobile Manufacturers Association testimony against the bill argued that "nationally recognized performance standards already are available," and only duplication and expense would result from passage. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators echoed the AMA, declaring that the bill •would probably result in serious injury to the economy of this Nation ... and would create stagnation among automotive engineers and designers." The Automobile Manufacturers Association made clear that when it referred to "nationally recognized performance standards" it meant those of the American Standards Association and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

In the summer of 1964, with Senator Smathers no longer chairman of the subcommittee on surface transportation, Roberts spoke with Senator Warren Magnuson, chairman of the parent Senate commerce committee, and secured his endorsement of the bill in return for Roberts' support of a Magnuson bill providing medical care for commercial fishermen. After that the bill sailed through the Senate and was signed by President Johnson at his Texas ranch on August 30, 1964.

The clear legislative intent behind the law, now Public Law 88-515, was for the General Services Administration to emphasize vehicle safety in its purchase standards so as to exert pressure on the industry and get it moving faster in the engineering of all its vehicles for accident and injury prevention. GSA's administration of Public Law 88-515 during the first year of its enactment failed to carry out this mission.

The task of developing- the standards fell initially to Willis MacLeod of GSA's standardization division, and to his deputy, John Scott. Congress did not make their job any easier. No special appropriations were made available with Public Law 88-515 to facilitate the hiring of specialists and services of expert consultants by GSA.

However, the Roberts law was written in a very permissive manner. It did not limit GSA to prescribing only those standards whose features it could obtain and pay for in the next procurement year. The agency was perfectly free to establish standards that could point the way to future adoption and thus not only give the automobile makers advance notice but also provide a basis for stimulating greater competition in bidding for government business. GSA chose not to avail itself of this flexibility.

MacLeod and Scott did begin their work with sincerity and showed a determination to explore available knowledge from a variety of sources-industry, government, universities, independent specialists,. and physicians. Two advisory committees were created, one consisting of representatives from other federal departments and the other composed of the automobile companies, standards groups, and trade associations. The first standards had to be published by the summer of 1965 for application to 1967 model vehicles.

The Automobile Manufacturers Association invited the General Services Administration officials and members of the government advisory committee to a three-day tour of company facilities and consultations with company engineers. Soon after this early November meeting, General Services Administration officials held a formal specification- development conference attended largely by government and industry people. The synchronized performance of the four automobile companies, the Automobile Manufacturers Association, and the Society of Automotive Engineers almost appeared as if it had been preceded by a dress rehearsal. Their strategy was to point out what they could not do to insure greater safety, never to offer suggestions about what they could do. No data were volunteered to back up their restrictive assertions, nor was any information released about their work on safety, such as what they had done on steering wheel assemblies. They advised the General Service Administration to adhere to the "proven" safety features available as optional equipment and cautioned that within a few months the 1967 models would be "in the pan" except for minor alterations. To emphasize that the industry was not being overly parochial, the redoubtable satellites -- SAE, ASA, AAMVA, and NSC -- either rose in active support or implied concurrence by staying silent.

GSA published seventeen preliminary safety standards in January 1965 [1] and invited comments. Some GSA personnel believed that these standards would be substantially toughened by the June 30th deadline for the issuing of the final standards. Just the opposite occurred.

In February and March numerous detailed commentaries were received. The industry comments expressed approval of the standards that adhered to SAE or ASA standards or simply detailed optional equipment (without any performance requirements) that they were currently selling, or pressed recommendations for lowering or altogether dismissing other standards. Comments from independent specialists and government agencies recommend that many of the proposed standards be strengthened.

During this period a shift to the industry's viewpoints began. MacLeod's superiors, H. A. Abersfeller, Commissioner of the Federal Supply Service, and his assistants, George Ritter and Walter Roberts, began to take over more of the details and the communication with the industry. A final specification-development conference was held on May 19 and 20, 1965. A revised list of preliminary standards was presented by GSA for consideration. There was little indication then that the final standards which came out on June 30 would be even weaker than the draft standards. For example, the standards for padded instrument panels were reduced to the point of uselessness. A GSA proposed standard regarding the decelerative force of the head upon impact was reduced from a required 44 feet per second and 40 gs in 40 milliseconds in May to a required 22 feet per second and 80 gs in 60 milliseconds in June. This standard was such that out of a group of sixteen automobile makes built between 1953 and 1959 that were tested by John Swearingen of the Federal Aviation Agency, nine would have met or exceeded the present GSA requirement without padding. Swearingen considers all sixteen makes he tested as excessively dangerous. Another illustration of how the standards were watered down relates to the instrument panel control devices, which, according to the preliminary standard, were to be designed so as to be Hush with the panel surface or be detached by a force not exceeding forty pounds; this was weakened to ninety pounds in June. The steering column standard had provided for a permissible rearward displacement not exceeding five inches during a barrier collision test at thirty miles per hour; despite much data and expert judgment to the' contrary it was changed to five inches at twenty miles per hour on the basis of some uncritically evaluated cases presented by an anatomist, Dr. Donald Huelke, a protege of GM's Kenneth Stonex and consultant to General Motors and Ford. The glare-reduction standards were weaker than their January levels, to the extent that many 1964 and 1965 glare-ridden models meet the GSA requirements. What makes the GSA standards even more accommodating to the industry is that they assume the occupant is belted to the seat. This assumption means, for example, that the standards do not take knee contact areas into consideration.

Nothing particularly new happened between May 20 and the deadline for the final standards on June 30. Civil servants tend to shape their jobs along paths that avoid strong adverse reaction and great controversy. Reaction and controversy mean more work. The industry and its satellites are most capable of having a strong reaction and creating controversy. The consumer is not.

The General Services Administration says that it did not have the data on which to base standards stronger than the ones it established the first year. This "lack of data" argument seems largely specious. It does not take any more data, for instance, to have more stringent glare-reduction standards, more complete tests for door latches and hinges, and a stipulation of the area adequately wiped by the windshield wiper. The General Services Administration, in a landmark study by John Swearingen on instrument panel design hazards, had data that it ignored completely.

The fact that during the month preceding the June 30 deadline the General Services Administration did not inform other federal agency representatives on the government advisory committee of its decision to weaken the standards was entirely inexcusable. GSA was far more solicitous of the industry than of the government. It permitted company engineers to see and comment on the final draft of the standards, right up to the lime when the draft had to be sent to the printers. The final standards in general represented quite a triumph for the automobile makers. They obtained a government endorsement of existing optional safety devices and approval, by and large, of existing levels of safety. GSA was directed toward the "gadget" approach to safety and away from the much more fundamental structural approach. After extensive interviewing of automobile company engineers, Automotive News reported that "most automotive people are quite receptive to the General Services Administration approach because they have representatives on the General Services Administration committee permitting them to influence the selection of reasonable features."

Comments by two top industry executives illustrate the extent to which the General Services Administration officials fulfilled the law's intent to exert Influence on the manufacturers to engineer higher safety levels for their 1967 models than contemporary vehicles offered. Arjay Miller, president of the Ford Motor Company, said in May 1965, "Although some reports may lead the public to believe that the GSA standards will be new, in most instances they are similar to or stem from our current engineering practice." In July 1965, Mr. Miller said, "Our newest [door] latches exceed ... General Services Administration requirements. The safety features we have added to our cars over the years include almost all the requirements recently announced by the General Services Administration for vehicles purchased by the government starting with 1967 models." In the same month, July 1965, James Roche, the president of General Motors, made note of six GSA standards that covered optional equipment long offered by GM. Then he added, "With respect to other GSA specifications, I would like to point out that General Motors cars already have a standard gear quadrant, safety glass, standard height bumpers, as well as door latches, hinges and anchorages for seats and seat belts -- all of which meet or exceed the standards established. Our current steering wheels more than satisfy these GSA requirements." In a statement submitted to the Ribicoff subcommittee, General Motors even claimed that its door hinges, which the Cornell study showed to have failed in collisions at a rate many times higher than competing vehicle hinges, "for all of these years from 1959 through 1965 more than satisfy the 1967 GSA requirements."

It is understandable why, in view of such a dismal performance, GSA officials did not present any technical justification for their standards, either on a formal basis or when requested by non-industry sources to do so. Instead, inquirers were given useless generalities which only confirmed the shallowness of the specifications. GSA's administration of Public Law 88-515 during 1964 and 1965 does not provide much ground for optimism over standards the agency is committed to develop in succeeding years.

Less than two weeks after the GSA standards were published, the United States Senate broke a sixty-year silence on the vehicle safety issue and, through Senator Abraham Ribicoff's subcommittee on executive reorganization, opened its first hearings. Each of the four domestic manufacturers was invited to testify. General Motors led off with its chief executives, Chairman Frederic Donner and President James Roche. From their testimony and attitude, it appears that Donner and Roche walked into that crowded hearing room on July 13 thinking that it would be just like 1956 and the Roberts subcommittee all over again, with perhaps a bone or two thrown in to pacify some headline-hunting Senators. Both presented statements whicl1 once again repeated the routine that has characterized all of General Motors' statements on safety through the years. Roche spoke about the progress of the past, beginning with the 1910 models. It was just after that date, he reminded his audience, that "all driver compartments were equipped with doors to keep the occupants from falling out." After devoting a quarter of his testimony to cataloguing past advances, he went on to discuss the company proving grounds, the rigorous company testing, the need for better vehicle maintenance by car owners, the support General Motors gives to driver education, and other financial support the company gives to the private safety movement. Then Roche told the Senators that the proper role for the federal government was to encourage and assist the states and local communities," whose traffic safety responsibilities include the vehicle itself, since these communities "are obviously most familiar with their own conditions with respect to the safe operation of automobiles."

Donner's testimony reaffirmed the optional approach to safety which goes back to the days when headlamps and bumpers were options. "Some things must be built into the motor car because they are essential to its operation. Examples are brakes, steering, and lights. Other items must be sold to the customer on their merits." He cited directional signals -- first introduced by General Motors on an optional basis in 1939 -- as a self-evident safety device and deplored the lack of prompt customer acceptance, which Impeded General Motors from standardizing this device on all its cars. Donner said that the "decision to offer an item as optional equipment recognizes what I believe is the basic freedom of the customer to pay the cost of tailoring a car to his own specifications or rejecting whatever he may not want." He neglected to explain why costly styling features were non-optionally imposed on the consumer, or whether General Motors ever clearly informs the car buyer about the safety purposes of particular options. He ignored the obligation of a manufacturer to make such features standard and not leave the decision to endanger innocent third parties, in other cars or on foot, up to the customer's acceptance of an inflated-price option. Rather, Donner was insistent that this optional policy "must be the approach" until there is high general acceptance or "there are other compelling reasons for standard installation."
Since he was speaking of attachable safety features, "safety" (without legislation) was not such a compelling reason. He re-emphasized his point: "I come back again to the climate of public acceptance. If we were to force on people things they are not prepared to buy, we would face a customer revolt; and departing from his prepared text, Donner added, "and we want to stay in business." [2]

At the time Donner was speaking, an advertisement about the Skylark Gran Sport run by his company's Buick division was circulating the country under the title "Son of Gun." The advertisement asked: "Ever prodded a throttle with 445- pound-feet of torque coiled tightly at the end of it? Do that with one of these and you can start billing yourself as The Human Cannonball." It is obvious that automobile company management is taking little responsibility for the climate of public acceptance which its tor rent of advertisements are helping to nurture throughout the country. As American Motors' Roy Abernethy once stated: "The influence of advertising on consumer attitudes is widely accepted as a substantial one."

What prompts automobile makers to refer in testimony or speeches to safety devices or other distinct, observable features instead of the far more important structural advances in safety engineering is the ease with which devices can help shift attention to the area of consumer acceptance and extra-cost options instead of the manufacturers' responsibility.

Donner did have an olive branch for Ribicoff's subcommittee. Just the week before the hearings it had happened that General Motors had arranged to give the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a $1,000,000 grant to be spread over the next four years for a "long-range, in-depth, quantitative analysis of all facets of the safety problem-the car, the road, the driver, and their various interactions." This grant breaks down to $250,000 a year, less than a third of Donner's annual earnings from General Motors. Though no Senator inquired how much "in-depth" analysis of anything such a modest sum would buy, given the majestic sweep of the grant's subject matter, General Motors' testimony did not satisfy either Senator Ribicoff or Senator Robert Kennedy. The question-and-answer period left them even less satisfied.

Donner and Roche refused to tell the subcommittee how much their company spends on collision safety research, claiming it was impossible to segregate it from their other engineering and development programs. When asked about the Cornell report on the exceptional fragility of General Motors' door hinges, GM's engineering vice president, Harry Barr, first said he was "not familiar with such data." After Ribicoff and Kennedy persisted with their questions, Barr suddenly recalled enough of the report to attempt to explain it away.

After one berating by Ribicoff, Donner and Barr inadvertently burst forth defensively with replies that indicated how remote General Motors' top management has been from the subject of vehicle safety and how few resources were being allocated to it. Donner said, "We got very concerned as we dug into this and found that we had nowhere to go." That is why "we wanted to see if we could get an institution like MIT to make a really in-depth study." Barr said that Dr. Huelke's investigations of one hundred and fourteen fatal accidents (financed by a grant of $15,000 from the U.S. Public Health Service) had given General Motors more useful information on second collision passenger impacts in General Motors' cars than the company had accumulated in the preceding ten years.

Senator Kennedy pressed to find out how much was spent for research such as that conducted by Dr. Huelke and whether General Motors had similar investigative arrangements elsewhere in the country. Donner and Barr declined to answer the first question, for obvious reasons. As for the second, Barr said, "We have not found another dedicated doctor that is doing this type of work." Kennedy asked whether he had tried to find people in other areas to do this kind of research. After much evasiveness, Barr simply stated: "No, I have not." Kennedy was visibly nettled by what he properly grasped to be the very low priority given crash safety research by General Motors. What followed was a rapid exchange of such electric intensity that the hearing room was hushed into total stillness.

Kennedy: What was the profit of General Motors last year?

Roche: I don't think that has anything to do --

Kennedy: I would like to have that answer if I may. I think I am entitled to know that figure. I think it has been published. You spend a million and a quarter dollars, as I understand it, on this aspect of safety. I would like to know what the profit is.

Donner: The one aspect we are talking about is safety.

Kennedy: What was the profit of General Motors last year?

Donner: I will have to ask one of my associates.

Kennedy: Could you, please?

Roche: $1,700,000,000.

Kennedy: What?

Donner: About a billion and a half, I think.

Kennedy: About a billion and a half?

Donner: Yes.

Kennedy: Or $1.7 billion. You made $1.7 billion last year?

Donner: That is correct.

Kennedy: And you spent $1 million on this?

Donner: In this particular facet we are talking about ...

Kennedy: If you just gave 1 per cent of your profits, that is $17 million.


This tug of war sent the Ford and Chrysler representatives in the audience rushing back to their typewriters to make revisions and additions to their prepared statements. Both companies were more specific than General Motors in the role they visualized for the federal government The industry, of course, would take care of the vehicle. Chrysler urged the establishment of a federally-financed center to look into accident causation, to study the "sociological and psychological factors" involved in operating automobiles, and to educate consumers to buy and use proven safety devices offered by the industry. Ford recommended a similar long-range program, sponsored by the Department of Commerce and contracted to private industry and universities, to study the driver, the highway, and law-enforcement -- those weaker links of the chain linking the elements needed for safer highway travel. The Ford president, Arjay Miller, stated that at present "industry facilities for vehicle design and testing are the strongest links" in this chain.

During the two-hour hearing, Miller put on a long presentation which left little time for questioning. Learning of the no- nonsense treatment accorded General Motors, he prepared a three-page addendum outlining ten areas of increased activity by Ford in fulfilling "our responsibilities in the safety field." Ribicoff was intrigued by the way the automobile companies suddenly began pledging more attention to safety because of a brief public exposure at a Congressional hearing. But the pledges were vague, unenforceable, and designed to fend off any move for regulation. Safety remained solidly in the corporate embrace of the "trade-off."

Having helped focus Congressional attention on vehicle safety, the question now is how far the Ribicoff subcommittee will go to get at the roots of the problem and propose genuine solutions to it. An idea of the difficulties that any such effort will be likely to encounter can be imagined from knowing the continuing struggle to establish the first public tire safety standards in this country. In 1959 The Wall Street Journal published a front-page article entitled "Tire Troubles," which told of the tire industry's concern about the hazards of over-loaded original-equipment tires and the inadequate recommended air pressures for the growing weight of the new cars. The article quoted an Akron tire engineer as saying, "Tire overloading has been a problem for the thirty years I've been in the business, but it started to become acute in the 1950's." The tire industry, it continued, had been trying to get the motor companies to buy larger tires to avoid this overloading. The Wall Street Journal described why it was bad to overload tires. "The constant Hexing builds up terrific heat in the tire for the new cars. And heat is the worst enemy of a tire. It weakens the fabrics embedded in the rubber and saps the strength of the adhesive which holds together the various layers of fabric and rubber of which a tire is made." This leads to shorter tire life and blowouts long before the tread wears down.

Two years later, Karl Richards of the Automobile Manufacturers Association told the Roberts subcommittee that "tire problems today are mainly concerned with improper use, maintenance, and replacement." Again it was the motorist's responsibility. Again there was no problem with the tires as they were received on the original vehicle.

About this time, New York State Senator Edward Speno began to receive letters from around his state complaining in some detail of new tires on new cars that mysteriously blew out after a few hundred or few thousand miles. The more Speno looked into the matter the more he learned of the inability of the tire buyer to know what he is buying. There were no reliable purchasing guides or any law anywhere dealing with tire safety standards. Any quality of tire could be sold, even those advertised for $7.95 as "perfect for in-city driving." Speno's legislative committee visited Akron, Ohio, home of four of the big five tire companies, on September 23 and 240 1963. At a dinner given in the committee's honor by tire company leaders, Speno proposed the establishment of minimum safety performance standards for new automobile tires. Stunned silence greeted the end of his speech. One dinner guest spilled both his coffee and his after-dinner liqueur onto the man seated on his left. Speno had not only said something no one had ever said before, but it sounded as if he meant it.

The tire industry decided to cooperate with Speno in order to have a voice in negotiating the contents of the tire bill that was to be drafted. After several meetings with Speno and his technical consultants, tire company representatives, headed by those from Goodyear, prevailed upon Speno to limit the bill to standards for blow-out resistance and overloading. The sections on skidding and cornering standards were dropped. Late in 1963, the automobile industry told the tire companies crisply that there was to be complete and total opposition to any tire legislation. There followed what veteran observers at Albany called some of the most intensive and improper lobbying ever seen on those legislative battlegrounds.

Speno told the American Trial Lawyers Association in August 1964 how the tire industry began applying pressure. "In January," he said, "I received at my home a call from Akron from the president of one of the big companies, a very friendly call. It had to do with finances for my next election campaign and national public relations expenses. 'You're not serious about this legislation, Senator: he said. I'm not categorizing the nature of the phone call. I'm just telling you it happened."

Another meeting was held between Speno and leading tire company representatives in Albany on February 19, 1964. Speno agreed to numerous modifications requested by the companies, including deletion of the overloading section which the automobile industry so violently opposed. They then surprised him by saying they would support the bill at the March 4th hearings. At that hearing, Speno was surprised again. The Rubber Manufacturers Association, the Goodyear representative, the Automobile Manufacturers Association, and automobile company spokesman all stood up and totally opposed the bill. The Senate passed it, but the lobbying paid off in the Assembly where the bill was never brought to a floor vote.

On July 1, 1964, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) announced voluntary agreement among the tire companies to adhere to minimum tire standards promulgated by the RMA. The objective of this move was to take the steam out of any further legislative drives. The RMA standards were so obviously incomplete, weak, and unenforceable that both tire and automobile industries turned to another of their controlled agencies, the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission (VESC) to write slightly more stringent standards that would have an official facade.

In September, the managing director of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, Harry Williams, recommended to the Speno committee in a letter and press release that it refer its tire legislation and all other automotive safety bills to the VESC which, Williams implied, was far more qualified to deal with such technical problems. The notorious background, purpose, and structure of the VESC as a tool of the automotive industry and as a palpable undermining of state legislative initiative is fully documented by the minutes of its meetings and its performance to date. Speno, who initially approved the bill making New York state the first to adhere to the compact creating the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission in 1962, is so repulsed by its subversive effect on the integrity of the governmental process that he is considering a move to have the state withdraw from the compact.

Interest in tire hazards began in Washington after Senator Gaylord Nelson med a bill in the Senate to establish tire safety standards. Complaints from motorists, automobile clubs, and tire dealers poured into Nelsons office. They applauded his statement of the need to assure motorists that the tires they are buying are safe. One California tire dealer wired: "You are right -- many motorists are riding on a time bomb." The insidious aspect of this problem is that when the "bomb" explodes it is the driver who takes the responsibility.

Similar complaints were coming into the Federal Trade Commission, which finally decided to hold hearings in January 1965 on tire safety, size, grade, and quality. These hearings brought forth testimony from specialists in industry and government that visibly shocked some of the FTC commissioners. FTC chairman Paul Rand Dixon told the Senate Commerce Committee (which began its hearings in May) what the record had produced: "Our hearing contains substantial testimony as to the inadequacy of these Rubber Manufacturers Association standards.... The specific safety problems which were developed at greatest length during Our hearing relate principally to the matters of tire size and the so-called practice of overloading, which are interrelated. Overload is the situation which exists when the curb weight of a vehicle plus the designed load capacity in terms of passengers and luggage exceeds the load carrying capacity of the tires with which the vehicle is equipped. The matter of tire size is directly related to the overload problem in that, all other things being equal, the size of the air chamber and the amount of inflation pressure therein determines the amount of load the tire can bear.

"Our record contains a number of statements to the effect that many original equipment tires mounted on new cars are inadequate to safely carry the passenger and baggage load the vehicle is designed to carry. One tire manufacturer stated that 'over the years, vehicle manufacturers, in an attempt to cut costs, have cut down the amount of tire they are designing on to their vehicles, and that some vehicles are overloaded when they are empty of passengers or baggage.'"

Repeatedly the problem of overload was traced back to the automobile manufacturers, who chose not to present themselves before the Federal Trade Commission. After it became obvious to the commissioners that cost-cutting and the car makers' obsession with the soft ride were the key reasons for the motorist getting an undersized tire, Commissioner Philip Elman wondered aloud whether the absence of the automobile companies hadn't turned the hearing into a performance comparable to Hamlet without the Danish prince.

A Goodrich executive explained how the automobile industry chooses tires for new cars. "For example, with a six passenger sedan, the weight of three passengers is added to the curb weight of the vehicle to determine the load that is to be used to select the tires." All the major tire companies and the Rubber Manufacturers Association refused to be drawn into any criticism of the automobile industry -- their biggest customer -- though some of the assistants to the spokesmen in the room were heard quietly cursing the automobile makers for forcing them into this predicament of trying to defend the indefensible.

Chairman Dixon later told the Senate Commerce Committee that the replacement tire market provided a great deal of consumer confusion and deception. "We believe confusion and deception are the results inherent in the existing situation where the approximately 950 different tire names currently marketed represent the products of approximately 120 private label marketers and 14 tire manufacturers; where tires may be designated as to quality, i.e., 'premium,' 'first line,' 'second line,' etc., regardless of the lire's inherent quality or safety; where the price of the tire has no discernible relation to its quality or safety level; and where many of the descriptive terms employed, such as 'ply rating,' '100 level,' and other grade designations, have no real meaning or definitive value in the absence of uniform standards. Testimony adduced at the hearing reflects that one manufacturer's 'first line' tire may be inferior to another manufacturer's 'third line' tire; and a manufacturer may supply a tire represented by him as a 'third line' tire to a private label marketer who is free to designate it as his 'premium' tire."

The commissioners listened incredulously as they heard John Floberg, secretary and general counsel of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, offer this steely assurance at the end of the hearings: "I submit that the best standard, the time- tested and proved standard and the appropriate free enterprise standard of quality should be the one that has in the case of tires, as in the case of other consumer products, worked most satisfactorily; namely, the discriminating and sophisticated taste of the American consumer." A leading National Bureau of Standards tire expert has said that he could not compare tires reliably for his own private purchase from the information available on the marketplace. Yet Mr. Floberg would impute such discernment to the average consumer.

There was only one candid statement submitted by a tire manufacturer. This came from Harry McCreary, Jr., chairman of the McCreary Tire and Rubber Company, longtime producers of replacement tires. McCreary argued for the need to inform the car driver, by a visible decal, of the net number of pounds of people and/or baggage which can be put into the vehicle before any tire becomes overloaded. "Then," he said, "if the driver insisted on piling in more people and/or baggage, he would at least know that he was skirting the danger area. As things stand now, the average driver simply doesn't give any thought to the matter-because no one has ever told him that he was placing himself, his passengers and every oncoming driver in a potentially dangerous situation."

McCreary told of the hold which the automobile makers have on the tire companies by virtue of their great purchasing power. "When Detroit snaps its fingers, Akron jumps through the hoop -- backwards, if necessary.... [The1decision as to what kind of a tire will go on those new cars is made in Detroit."
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Re: Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the Amer

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:58 pm

PART 2 OF 2 (CH. 8 CONT'D.)

Henry Wakeland, automotive consultant to the Speno Committee between 1961 and 1965, gave the Senate Commerce Committee some documented illustrations. The committee purchased three tires labeled "Safety Special," manufactured by a Firestone subsidiary, and sent them to the National Bureau of Standards for testing. The bureau reported that the tires failed the endurance test well before the end, being unable to hold air. One of these •Safety Specials" was cut apart and showed tunnel-like voids all around the circumference. Referring to the absence of any public standards, Wakeland observed: "It is even legal to design tires this way, holes and all. Furthermore, when these tires blowout, there is not one police investigator in a hundred who would detect any tire problem. A blowout through one of those voids would have to be detected by an expert."

Wakeland then provided the committee with a clinching argument. The Automobile Club of New York (the state division of the Automobile Association of America) equipped twenty of their staff cars last year with brand-new premium tires of one of the best known names in the rubber industry. The tires were of a kind that had been advertised as the safest tires in the world. These tires retailed at well over fifty dollars each. He described what happened: "With the new tires in use, staff people began to have close calls in their driving, being unable to stop, and skidding unexpectedly. The Club tested several cars, comparing the premiums with much lower priced tires of competitive makes. The skids happened more readily and were between twenty and eighty per cent longer than skids with the rather ordinary lower priced tires. A Club representative told the Speno Committee Staff that the manufacturers took back the entire group of tires and he' thinks it also pulled back stock from warehouses. The manufacturer actually changed his rubber compounding."

The tire company did not warn motorists to whom it had sold these tires and who are driving around on them. (The New York AAA preserved the anonymity of the company by not even advising its members to jettison those tires.) And as Wakeland concluded, "all of this is still perfectly legal in New York and everywhere else."

The Senate tire hearings were significant for future legislative thinking on vehicle safety. The attitude toward public law and public safety prevailing at the Department of Commerce was clearly stated by the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, J. Herbert Hollomon. There was no doubt about the strong need for tire standards, he stated, but the Department of Commerce preferred the voluntary, cooperative approach. "However," Hollomon said, "the Department would not object to legislation placing discretionary authority in the Secretary of Commerce to issue mandatory standards if in his discretion he determines that voluntary tire standards do not provide adequate safety requirements for the motoring public." The Secretary of Commerce, John Connor, a member of the General Motors board of directors until his appointment to the cabinet post in January 1965, did not display much enthusiasm in establishing government standards. His blanket defense of the automobile industry's record and policy on vehicle safety before the Ribicoff hearings in March indicated that he had a detailed grasp of all the customary assertions. Alluding to his personal experience at General Motors directors meetings, Connor was categorical in his statement to Senator Ribicoff. Regarding safety features, he said, "There is no lack of emphasis on the part of the manufacturers."

Senator Vance Hartke, who conducted the Senate tire hearings, heard Hollomon's conclusions with some wonder. He asked, "Why is the Commerce Department so reluctant to move in this field?" Hollomon reminded Hartke that the department welcomed Congressional authority to establish a research program to help develop better standards in cooperation with the tire industry, but the department did not want mandatory authority to set standards. His position, in sum, was that the "private government" of the tire and auto industry should be the preferred approach to public safety.

The Commerce Department's primary and overriding statutory mission is to "foster, promote, and develop" commerce and industry. It is the "house of business" in government. Given such a purpose, the department's leadership, its innumerable undisciplined advisory committees, and its omnipresent business constituency are generically unsuited to handle consumer protection laws. The consumer's interest would take second place to the interests of the business community. This is the reason why manufacturing interests always try to steer what consumer legislation they cannot defeat over to the Commerce Department. This is also the reason why they have fought any attempts to transfer the department's technical research institution, the National Bureau of Standards, to another department, or to give it independent status.

The automobile industry finally appeared on the scene of the tire controversy at the Senate Commerce Committee tire hearings in August 1965. Unfortunately, the committee asked the automobile companies and their trade association to appear together, as an industry, rather than individually. By assuming uniformity in viewpoint, the committee helped foster it and thereby lost the chance to explore company differences in tire specification policy. The most useful Congressional investigations into industry affairs have been those in which companies were questioned separately. The commerce committee accepted the idea that safety is not an object for competitive excellence but a subject of industry- side collaboration such as in the case of the vehicle pollution question. A frequent corollary to this idea is that public regulation is unnecessary because of industry self-regulation.

The automobile executives arrived that August morning at the hearing room and filled two benches. A single statement was read for the industry by Harry Barr of General Motors. Afterwards Barr himself answered questions from the Senators or gave them over to various friendly competitors for reply. The critical issues of undersized, overloaded tires, the consequence for safety of cost-cutting and what Henry Wakeland calls that "soft, squishy ride" were dodged. Barr's testimony consisted principally of emphasizing tire inspection and maintenance and the full capability of the states in handling tire matters under the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission. Barr conceded that much more had to be done to inform the car owner about proper tire inflation pressures. He urged the committee not to look into past practice but to concentrate on the pending improvements the industry was about to make.

The hearing failed to compile an adequate record chiefly because Senator Hartke did not fill the promise of his known talent for incisive questioning. He simply did not do his homework and therefore came to the hearing room with little background or knowledge of the subject The same was true for the other Senators on the committee. Unless Senators and Congressmen are willing to brief themselves properly, as Senator Mike Monroney bas done in the aviation safety area, the automobile industry will continue to come to hearings with their programmed statements and cinematic performances and leave with automobile safety still subjected to unconscionable erosions.

It takes an impressive kind of political stamina for elected representatives to stand firm for an interest that has no organized constituency. But this has been the very nature of the consumer's safety interest. Without too much difficulty a legislator can succeed in identifying himself with a safety cause and soon find himself being maneuvered by private and allied government forces into sponsoring superficial laws of little consequence other than to cancel out what contribution government can make in fostering greater safety.

The automobile industry is in a particularly strategic position to force the subordination of vehicle safety in the overall hierarchy of legislative and executive programs. The industry knows that the political success of any administration more and more is being measured by its success in promoting economic growth, in sheer quantitative terms. However much talk there may be of increasing the national welfare by better distribution of income and opportunity, and controlling the safety and health hazards of a mechanized economy, the first and primary goal is to see that the gross national product goes up and up. There is little difficulty in establishing the important role of automobile production and sales in the overall economic picture. One look at the input-output tables prepared by the Department of Commerce will clearly illustrate this fact. Automobile production utilizes 21 per cent of all steel, 49 per cent of all lead, 61 per cent of all rubber, 32 per cent of all zinc, 13 per cent of all aluminum and 58 per cent of all upholstery leather sold in this country. One business in every six is classified as automotive; one worker out of every seven is employed directly or indirectly in connection with producing, supplying, servicing, financing or transporting the automobile. Automobile spokesmen never fail to cite these figures whenever they want something from government, or want to block the government from acting on certain measures.

During the House hearings on the excise tax cut in 1964, Richard Cross of the Automobile Manufacturers Association told the Congressmen: "Need I comment on the essential role of the automobile in the growth of the American economy? Fifteen per cent of our economy, one-seventh of our total economy, the bellwether, the leader of private enterprise, is our -- that is your -- automobile industry." At the same hearing, Congressman Charles Chamberlain of Michigan said: "It is essential to the continued health of the economy that all obstacles to its growth and stability be removed." Mr. Chamberlain is not the only politician who has got their message: Disturb or restrict the automobile makers and you jeopardize the entire economy.

As a privileged institution, the automobile industry has made an impressive record in Washington. Hearings reveal abuses, but legislation almost never follows. Senator Kefauver's lengthy hearings on its treatment of automobile dealers and the abuses of market power and concentration in the automobile industry spawned no laws to rectify the patent wrongs that had been so exhaustively documented. The industry's power is felt in the administration and enforcement of existing laws, as well. In the antitrust area there is sound doctrinal basis for taking action against one or more of the automobile companies, but it is not considered politically practical to do so. The Federal Trade Commission, which has known about odometer rigging for over three decades, never took action against the manufacturers for this deceptive practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is not at all satisfied with the evidence it is given by the automobile industry to determine improvements or deteriorations in auto quality for consumer price index adjustment purposes. The automobile makers permit only economists and marketing specialists, not engineers, to meet with Bureau of Labor Statistics statisticians. Selective information is given only to bolster c1aims of improved quality; the automobile companies put great pressure on the Bureau of Labor Statistics to accept these claims without their producing adequate data to support them. The industry then turns around and uses Bureau of Labor Statistics quality improvement credits as proof that the consumer is getting better automotive quality for his money.

The industry has been instrumental in pushing through Congress gigantic grants for more highways and in opposing the use of public funds for rapid transit and other surface transportation developments that would increase the efficiency, safety, and speed of the nation's transportation system. Like a Moloch, the automobile makers press for an increasingly larger share of everything economic. The result is that the American economy, the largest in the world, is being distorted by tendencies strikingly similar to those that operate in one-crop economies. It should be a matter of concern, not pride, that one of every live retail dollars in this country is being spent for automotive products. A modern technological society should be more efficient in getting around on the ground.

As expected, the automobile manufacturers want to sell more and more automobiles, regardless of the demand their production and use places on resources and consumer dollars, regardless of the gross imbalances in our land transport system, of the impact on land use and urban planning, and of all the other consequences of a flood of automotive products. It is clear that the sales success of the automotive industry is not simply due to the willingness of customers to buy, but also to public policy that ignores needs for rapid transit and builds the highways and provides other services that make possible the growth of the automotive subeconomy. It is also clear that the manufacturers are increasingly relying upon and encouraging a demand for automobiles which has little to do with a demand for transportation. General Motors' vice president, William Mitchell, pointed this up succinctly: "The motor car must be exciting and create a desire and not become mere transportation, or we will have just a utility and people will spend their money for other things, such as swimming pools, boats, hi-fi sets, or European vacations." (Or, it might have been added, education, clothes, food, medical care, furniture, and housing.)

Such an attitude is not likely to give much attention to safety beyond the minimum demands for it in the marketplace. And even these minimum demands, relating as they do to observable operating mechanisms, are restricted by a highly concentrated industry which, as George Romney, then president of American Motors, said in 1958, has adopted a 'common product philosophy" that has ended its "basic product competition." "Why should they promote customer interest in new product engineering possibilities that might eventually obsolete their existing production facilities?" asked Romney, emphasizing the limited consumer choice offered by the narrow quality of competition engaged in by automobile makers. What truth may remain in the classical economic notion that the public interest lies in the unhindered operation of the free market has been seriously compromised by a concentrated industry capable of substantially defining the standards of the marketplace. [3] Thus, out of the array of demands the public might make for the automobile, that of visible styling changes is greatly encouraged by the industry's promotion and advertising, while those of safety and nonpollution are not encouraged. According to Ford's Gene Bordinat, a new rear end on a car model costs its maker between twenty-five and fifty million dollars. Twenty-five million is more than the combined research and development expenditures of the industry on collision safety in the past fifteen years. If, as Ford's Donald Frey says, the customer cannot describe the kind of car he wants until the manufacturer shows him some ideas and innovations, and if, as GM's Kenneth Stonex admits, increased public awareness of automobile safety (stemming from the General Services Administration standards publicity) will produce faster adoption of vehicle safety features by his company, then there is a useful role to be played by both industry and government in worming the consumer fully about product safety. Yet the industry, by successfully blocking government efforts in this direction and by dominating the channels of communications through which the customer receives his information about automobiles, has obscured the relation of vehicle design to life and limb and has kept quiet its technical capability of building crashworthy vehicles.

The reference to "communications" pertains not only to the content of advertising and promotion engaged in by automobile makers, but to the impact which the massive sums spent ($361,006,000 in 1964 on auto advertising alone) have on the communications media's attention to vehicle safety design. It is more than coincidental that radio, television, newspapers, and magazines have so long ignored the role of vehicle design in producing the :first and second collisions. In a rare exposure, Newsweek described the operations of the "two-hatters, who both sell automobile advertising and cover the news beat for their papers. After Chrysler's preview in San Francisco last year, Paul Masson, two-hatter for Hearst's Journal-American, filed glowing copy and then called attention to his stories by writing a letter to Chrysler's director of public relations. 'Our publisher is pleased to go all out,' wrote Masson."

The automobile companies do nothing that discourages this depreciation of journalistic standards. The Newsweek article reported how Chrysler Hew more than three hundred newsmen to New York City. "They were bedded down at the Waldorf-Astoria, fed and watered grandly, and, of course, given a long peek at the firm's 1965 cars and trucks. The tab for all this chromium treatment -- $400,000 -- was picked up by Chrysler." Newsweek made it clear that there were leading newspapers which did not permit "two-hatting." The article made no reference to magazines indulging in this nasty habit But the same strains and inducements operate on all newspapers and magazines that rely significantly on automobile advertising. With all that money pouring into the till, it is not difficult to see automobile safety entirely in terms of the careless motorist. Some major magazines devote their news or feature sections to showing the reader the new model cars, which he could see just as well in the company's advertisements a few pages away. Several times a year U.S. News and World Report devotes cover page headlines to promotional stories about the automobile industry. Reader's Digest, the world's largest magazine, devotes several articles a year to automobile subjects. It has dealt with highway safety in terms of berating careless driving, advising drivers how to drive carefully and maintain their vehicles properly, and praising the quality and progress of automobile design. The Digest is no stranger to controversial causes, as its attack on cigarettes and its refusal to take cigarette advertising illustrates. When it comes to automobiles, however, it avoids criticism of the industry in spite of the judgment of its editors as to what constitutes a good story for its twenty million subscribers. For example, in the summer of 1963, an associate editor of the Digest, Walter Adams, had an idea for an article. "If we could point out to readers specifically what the various unsafe features of modern cars are, and if we could document our contention that these features are dangerous, we then could get at least some of these readers to looking for these features and avoiding them when they buy their new cars." Mr. Adams supported his point by citing the dangerous rear vision in his convertible and the reflection of the instrument panel on his windshield which "makes it hard to see the road and on a hot summer day has a sort of hypnotic effect that helps put [one] to sleep. My thought is that if only someone had pointed out such treacl1erous bits of design to me before I bought the car, I could have watcl1ed out for them and taken my money elsewhere. Most articles on safe automobile design take off on describing the author's idea of the ideal car. That gets us nowhere, because manufacturers can just ignore the whole business. I'd like to get an article on design they can't ignore because it sends the critical customer elsewhere."

Adams' sensible idea never developed into an article, but it was not because he could not obtain adequate information. Instead, the Digest published in early 1964 an article telling the country that today's cars are built better than they were in the old days. Apparently the magazine's publishers had sensed a widespread impression that this might not be so and had striven to correct it. Before and since, Reader's Digest has printed articles uncritically praising vehicle design and quality in the context of safety.

General Motors has made a special effort to persuade readers of opinion journals, Ivy League alumni publications, and scholarly journals that its tremendous powers of decision over automobile design are held by something more than an old- line, acquisitive corporation. The series of institutional advertisements called "General Motors is People," with headlines like "Discoverer," "Originator," "Perfectionist," and "Safety is His Business," have appeared in outlets like the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The Re porter, the Princeton Alumni Weekly, the American Journal of Sociology, and numerous engineering school alumni publications. These ads do not sell cars; they by to sell General Motors as a worthy keeper of people's trust.

The result of continuing efforts like this has been the automobile industry's preservation of its hegemony over the design of its products -- an independence unparalleled among the manufacturers of any other transport vehicle. Aviation, marine, and rail vehicles and equipment must adhere to public safety standards. These standards are as important for the principle they represent as for the safety performances that have been registered. The principle is that the rule of law should extend to the safety of any product that carries such high risks to the lives of users and bystanders. The automobile is the only product in America which continues to be sold year after year even though it kills thousands of people and injures millions more. If this continued marketing is evidence of the vehicle's importance, it also indicates how hard a bargain the automobile is striking with the American people. While the old diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and rheumatic fever are diminished as causes of death, the prominence of death by automobile rises. Today the motor vehicle is the leading cause of death among people between the ages of five and thirty and the fourth leading cause of death in this country. Car accidents account for over one-third of people hospitalized by injuries in the nation; they are the leading cause of injury to ears and eyes and cause over twenty-five per cent of partial and complete paralysis due to injury. In 1964, 47,700 deaths meant the extinguishment of about one and three-quarter million years of expected lifetimes.

Only the federal government can undertake the critical task of stimulating and guiding public and private initiatives for safety. A democratic government is far better equipped to resolve competing interests and determine whatever is required from the vast spectrum of available science and technology to achieve a safer highway transport environment than are firms whose all-absorbing aim is higher and higher profits. The public which bears the impact of the auto industry's safety policy must have a direct role in deciding that policy. The decision as to what an adequate standard of public responsibility in vehicle safety should be ought not to be left to the manufacturers, regardless of their performance. But the extraordinarily low quality of that performance certainly accentuates the urgent need for publicly defined and enforced standards of safety.

Two industry policies are especially inimical to a rational quest for safer automobiles. First is the all-pervasive secrecy that obstructs freedom of communication in the scientific and engineering communities. Company engineers are happy to benefit from the work of university engineering professors, but in return the university engineers are offered excuses about proprietary data, however purely technical or related strictly to safety it may be. Not only does this industry secrecy impede the search for knowledge to save lives -- presumably a common dedication for all men -- but it shields the automobile makers from being called to account for what they are doing or not doing. Secrecy preserves their control over how quickly safety innovations will be introduced. The perfect illustration of this is the curtain Ford has kept over its numerous prototype safety cars during the past decade -- not to mention industry opposition to the New York state prototype car project and to a similar bill on the federal level introduced by Senator Gaylord Nelson. Secrecy permits the industry to enjoy a double standard of proof. For example, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company's demonstration safety cars have been criticized by auto company representatives on the legitimate ground that they were never crash-tested. Liberty's cars are scheduled to be crash-tested in late 1965, with public recording of the data by Derwyn Severy's group at UCLA. But the automobile industry has no plans to expose its vehicles to the same treatment. While it properly states that safety features have to be proven before adoption, it exempts from this stringent testing such features as sharp fins, glare-ridden chrome, hard-tops, wrap-around windshields, undersized tires, smaller brake drums, and front placement of fuel tanks in rear-engine cars (considered a dangerous collision hazard by many engineering authorities, whose findings are supported by mounting accident data).

The second policy inimical to the quest for safer automobiles is the industry's research and development commitment. Probably no other major manufacturing industry in this country devotes so few of its resources to innovations in its basic product. The automobile is not in line for any significant changes in the next two decades; this is the estimate of J. M. Bidwell of General Motors research laboratories and is also the understanding that the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory representatives carried away from extensive consultations with company executives and engineers.

Many scientists and engineers in government or outside the industry concur with William Stieglitz's observation: "It may well be that the evolutionary development of the automobile from the horseless carriage has gone as far as it can and that a totally fresh approach is required." This would mean innovation in an industry that has slowed innovation to a snail's pace, as shown by a glance at the list of "automotive highlights" since 1900 which Automotive News prints in its annual almanac issue. George Romney pointed to this problem before the Kefauver subcommittee in 1958 when he declared, "All companies In the automobile Industry have the benefit of the vast research organizations of the supplier industries and companies, and that area of research vastly outweighs the area of research and improvement that is occurring right in the motor-vehicle industry itself." Romney cited among other illustrations power steering and improved application of steel to automobiles as supplier contributions. The automobile industry has also adopted as its own a number of important advances that came from military transportation research.

An idea of how meager a sum the automobile Industry spends for safety innovations was given In 1958 by Andrew Kucher, vice president for engineering and research at the Ford Motor Company. His was the only public estimate given up to the summer of 1965. Speaking for the Automobile Manufacturers Association, Kucher told an audience of motor vehicle administrators: "Because we are thoroughly sold on this philosophy, the motor vehicle manufacturers spend between five and six million dollars each year in safety-oriented research programs. This expenditure is aimed at solving basic problems and also is a searching for new and better solutions to old problems. You may be interested to know how this research effort is budgeted. One company, [Ford Motor Company] for example, estimates that about one-third of its annual safety research budget of one million dollars is devoted to the problem of safely packaging passengers. Another third goes to safety control of vehicle components, and the last third to projects such as lighting and development of general safety equipment. In individual company organizations, brake development programs cost between two hundred and two hundred fifty thousand dollars annually. Studies of vehicle controls and stability range from one hundred fifty to three hundred fifty thousand dollars in specific company budgets. Visibility and lighting problems each are accorded budgets in the fifty thousand dollar range." Even granting Kucher a margin for exaggeration, the sum of five million dollars amounted to less than one-twentieth of one per cent of the industry's gross sales in vehicles that year. Ford was spending $333,000 on second-collision research and at that time was assumed to be in the vanguard of the industry in such work. There is no evidence that any greater sums were spent in succeeding years.

In July 1965, after refusing to tell the Ribicoff subcommittee how much it spends on second-collision safety research, General Motors released a statement saying that it spent $193 million in 1964 on "safety, durability, and reliability." Into this swollen sum went vast and indiscriminate manufacturing, quality control, and many annual model-change expenses -- none having any relation to improving the state of safety knowledge above existing levels, which is what the subcommittee's question pertained to. Nor did the General Motors statement designate any category for second-collision research. Not to be outdone, Ford and Chrysler followed by stating that they spent $138 and $78 million respectively in the areas delimited by General Motors. Ford's breakdown was more specific and listed 1965 expenditures of $700,000 for its new automotive safety center and $300,000 for designing and building of prototype safety cars -- indicating the outer limits of their research on crashworthiness. Considering such an allocation, it is understandable why the automotive safety center's director, C. R. Briggs, was being realistic when he told Automotive News, "You can't expect breakthroughs."

All these multi-million-dollar figures for safety and reliability did not fool anyone with any familiarity of the industry's actual commitments to the development and application to safety innovations. In 1965, General Motors' chief safety engineer, Kenneth Stonex, was still writing to individual physicians asking them if they could give him any data about maximum loads that a motorist can absorb should he strike the steering wheel or instrument panel. Ford was lending its new cars to Dr. Huelke to drive around for a week at a time so he could advise them that sharp edges or points inside the vehicle could hurt people. And Chrysler was dilatorily arguing that it was not getting enough police data on accident causation, while fully knowing that the Cornell data, the Harvard and Northwestern studies, and particularly the rapidly increasing variety and quality of human-simulation techniques, statistical and computer tools, and crash-testing permitted them many avenues for developing and evaluating safer designs.

Scientists in the Bureau of Public Roads estimate that the combined public and private support of highway traffic research (defined as the design and testing of safety measures and techniques) was eight million dollars at the most in 1964 -- the highest to date. This was broken down to two million dollars spent by industry, two million spent by state governments (mostly from federal disbursements) and private agencies, and four million spent by the federal government Some accident specialists, like Dr. William Haddon, would place the true figure for high-quality research much lower. He does not think there are more than ten competent scientists working full time in traffic accident prevention in this country. These are the resources being devoted to discovering measures to prevent what Senator John F. Kennedy called in 1960 "one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest of the nation's public health problems." At the eight million dollar level, this country is spending about $166 in research for every traffic fatality, without taking into account the more than four million injuries every year. [4]

With some 1200 or less fatalities annually in civil aviation, the federal government spent between thirty-five and sixty- our million dollars each year from 1960 to 1965 on research and development for greater air safety. This was in addition to what was spent for safety work by the aircraft industry itself. Expenditure of sixty-four million dollars for 1200 fatalities means over fifty-three thousand dollars spent in safety research per fatality. The Federal Aviation Agency and the Civil Aeronautics Board spent about five million dollars to determine the Cause of two Electra turbo-prop transport crashes in 1959 and 1960 and to find out how to correct the defect in other Electras.

Patently, such neglect of highway safety research is a rebuke to an affluent, technologically advanced society. The federal government's delay of decades in facing up to basic initiatives in vehicle safety is not without its price, for now the solution of the highway safety problem is fragmented and scattered among numerous federal agencies, each jealously guarding its presumed prerogatives and all either staunchly supporting or frightfully cowed by the automobile industry.

Federal activity in highway safety (apart from government employee safety programs) in 1965 consisted of (a) supporting research by the Bureau of Public Roads and the Public Health Service; (b) regulatory activity over the operational safety of interstate commercial trucks and buses by the Interstate Commerce Commission; (c) educational and state support activity by the Bureau of Public Roads, the Public Health Service's Division of Accident Prevention, and the General Services Administration (the latter by means of safety standards for government-purchased vehicles). These agencies with highway safety functions are quick to exclude the automobile itself from their area of responsibility. The Bureau of Public Roads and the Division of Accident Prevention have supported some university-based projects in accident investigation, tire skidding research, collision testing, and highway-vehicle communications systems. With few exceptions (the seat belt was one) these studies never yielded any policy recommendations affecting the vehicle; in fact, they produced virtually no policy recommendations at all. For the most part, the studies are not evaluated with the idea of translating knowledge into action. In the Division of Accident Prevention, the right to see these studies is granted at the discretion of the research grants chief. If he thinks an inquirer is not technically qualified to interpret the reports accurately, he can simply deny him access to the reports. The division has not even prepared summaries of these studies so that interested persons can learn what findings have been made as a result of this publicly supported research. One five-year grant for about $900,000 awarded in 1959 to a team of Harvard investigators to study fatal highway collisions at the scene was terminated after its fourth year for undisclosed reasons. There is a cloud over the published work of these investigators as a result and the Division of Accident Prevention has not done anything to dispel it, though to users of this information, it is essential that the division clarify its position. Whenever the Division of Accident Research is asked why it does nothing about known vehicle hazards, its answer is that it is primarily interested in the "human factor." If the "human factor" included executives of the automobile companies, the division's focus might have more immediate results. Unfortunately, the "human factor" is interpreted to mean only the driver.

The director of the office of highway safety in the Bureau of Public Roads, James Williams, and the chief of the division of accident prevention, Dr. Paul Joliet, say that the influence of the automobile industry on their operations restrains how far they dare go in criticizing or warning the public of vehicle design hazards. Both Williams and Joliet show adeptness in sympathizing with industry personnel on the one hand and critics of the industry on the other, depending upon which ones they are with.
The federal effort in highway safety in general and vehicle safety in particular suffers from the inadequate legislative authority of the groups that are required to administer it, from insufficient funds allocated to the effort, and from the lack of administrative consolidation that could launch a concrete program with a concrete purpose that would have the kind of high-level support that complex programs in atomic energy and space ventures have. But the highway safety effort has not received this high-level support (as President Johnson's highway beautification program did recently).

On February 20, 1957, when he was still a Senator, Lyndon B. Johnson expressed on the Senate floor a thought that regrettably is still true. He called the "deadly toll of highway accidents" a problem whose "very familiarity has bred either contempt or indifference ... We cannot abolish the automobile, but neither can we ignore the problems that it brings to us. There is a responsibility here which we must face." The Senator was proposing the establishment of an automobile and highway safety division in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare that, among other objectives, would "promote research into improved designs for automobiles ..."

A federal research and development facility where problems of automobile safety could be comprehensively examined and solved is only the first stage of greater federal authority extending to the establishment and enforcement of safety standards and their continuous upgrading. This function in turn must form a part of a larger highway transport research and development program for more efficient and safe travel, by means of a more advanced integration of the functions of highway and vehicle. The Johnson Administration is expected to formulate gradually an overall national transportation policy which presumably will involve a closer coordination of air, land, and sea transport systems and a more rational allocation of public resources, especially in the direction of high-speed rail systems and more novel forms of rapid land transit between cities. This policy may lead to an examination of the present inefficient and disparate administrative arrangements for various forms of transportation. The advantages of taking the Bureau of Public Roads out of the Department of Commerce and making it into a separate entity (called, say, the Federal Highway Transportation Agency) directly responsible to the President should be seriously explored. It could be the first step toward creating an overall Department of Transportation.

If the government is to be made capable of securing continually safer automotive design, it will require a sharply focused supportive constituency that is dedicated and skilled in pursuing the interests of safety. For until sufficient engineers, lawyers, physicians, and other specialists whose income and skills are pertinent to the building of the automobile or to its post-collision problems -- until these people assume the roles of leadership that their superior knowledge makes available to them, legislators and administrators will continue to display "contempt or indifference." What must be squarely confronted is the blurring of the distinctions between government and business under the guises of "partnerships," "voluntary approaches," and "advisory committees." The growth of government power in Washington is far from being a zero-sum game with business; rather it presents business with an opportunity to use government to its special purposes. Thus, as in other consumer protection areas in recent years, there is considerable danger of Congress enacting the "no- aw" law for automobile safety. The "no-law" law's chief purpose is to fill a genuine need with illusory matter. It impresses the remote public and relieves the nearby Congressmen by a facade of controlling a consumer hazard problem. In reality, it omits the safeguards that would prevent the existing framework of private government, fostered by trade associations and standards organizations, from being made part of public administration. The "no-law" law is ambiguous or makes no mention of enforcement (like the seat belt and brake fluid bills), provides no standards for balanced representation on advisory committees (or for how and when they should meet), does not consider the issue of indiscriminate adoption of private safety standards, requires no periodic progress report to Congress on administration and enforcement, does not stipulate that prescribed standards must be technically justified in writing that is publicly available, restricts authorizations for funds to a nominal or zero level, and is peppered with the word "discretionary" as to the promulgation and issuance date of standards. "Regulated" groups are adept at becoming unpaid public servants, with the public defined as synonymous with themselves. The Interstate Commerce Commission has been delaying the release of a tire accident study until those groups at whom it is primarily directed pre-screen the material in detail and resolve any differences before it is made public.

The regulation of the automobile must go through three stages -- the stage of public awareness and demand for action, the stage of legislation, and the stage of continuing administration. Since automobile safety ideally should keep pace with advancing technological capabilities, administrators have to do more than bold the line; they have to advance it. Without full disclosure, Congressional review, and participation by a consumer-oriented constituency of professionally qualified citizens, obsolescence and bureaucratic inertia will stifle the purpose of even a properly drafted law. Motorists may benefit from the efforts of dedicated and selfless champions performing this persistent vigilance, but these efforts will not be enough without a residual vigilance throughout the consumer public.

This vigilance can be kept up simply by understanding a few facts about automobile safety. First, safety measures that do not require people's voluntary and repeated cooperation are more effective than those that do. Second, the sequence of events that leads to an accident injury can be interrupted by effective measures even before there is a complete understanding of the causal chain. Apply these two cardinal principles of safety policy, proven in the control of epidemics and machine hazards, to highway safety and the spotlight turns on the engineering of the automobile. Furthermore, our society knows a good deal more about building safer machines than it does about getting people to behave safely in an almost infinite variety of driving situations that are overburdening the driver's perceptual and motor capacities. In the twenty to forty million accidents a year, only a crashworthy vehicle can minimize the effects of the second collision. Vehicle deficiencies are more important to correct than human inadequacies simply because they are easier to analyze and to remedy, And whether motorists are momentarily careless or intoxicated, or are driving normally when they are struck by another vehicle is entirely irrelevant to the responsibility of the automobile makers to build safe cars. Dr. Bernard Fox, a distinguished psychologist in the Division of Accident Prevention, after spending many years in research on the "human factor," concludes that the most economically, administratively, and technically feasible safety measure, and the one with the quickest and greatest results in saving lives and preventing injuries, is a crashworthy automobile. This is not a startling observation, except that it comes finally from a federal researcher who has stated his candid judgment.

A leading crash researcher and biophysicist, Dr. Carl Clark of The Martin Co. states: "Instead of the 40 mph barrier collision survival being a 'spectacular accomplishment,' it should be a routine requirement of proper car and restraint design. Indeed, without major modifications of car structure and size, by applying what we now know about crash protection, a fixed barrier impact of 45 mph should be experienced without injury, and crashes at higher speeds should be survivable." (A 45 mph crash into a fixed barrier, like a tree or stone wall, generates, for example, the same forces as a car striking the rear end of a stationary vehicle at more than 75 mph).

Engineers are not noted for making metaphors, but a safety engineer for one of the Big Three companies inadvertently offered an illuminating one to Automotive News (August 30, 1965) in describing his work: "It's like walking into a room in which there are a bunch of ping-pong balls on the floor. Then you throw another ball in the middle and try to keep track of what happens." That last ping-pong ball was safety, Dr. Donald Ruelke, one of the few outsiders to be brought into the inner sanctums of design studios and given the confidence of the three or four safety engineers at General Motors and Ford reported: "The auto industry has a small, dedicated group of individuals-almost a fifth column-working for car designs of greater safety."

One ping-pong ball among many presents a low order of probability. A fifth column indicates the activity is subversive of the dominant way.

At the basis of such symptoms and impressions is the unwillingness of the automobile companies to dedicate their engineering and investment energies into the kind of first line research and development that will produce the innovations that can make the automobile responsive to the safety requirements of motorists. Over the past decade in particular, the possibilities for completely new approaches to be translated into mass production hardware are almost programmable given certain allocations of men and resources. The gap between existing design and attainable safety has widened enormously in the post-war period. As these attainable levels of safety rise, so do the moral imperatives to use them. For the tremendous range of opportunity of science-technology -- by providing easier and better solutions -- serves to clarify ethical choices and to ease the conditions for their exercise by the manufacturers. There are men in the automobile industry who know both the technical capability and appreciate the moral imperatives. But their timidity and conformity to the rigidities of the corporate bureaucracies have prevailed. When and if the automobile is designed to free millions of human beings from unnecessary mutilation, these men, like their counterparts in universities and government who knew of the suppression of safer automobile development yet remained silent year after year, will look back with shame on the time when common candor was considered courage.

_______________

NOTES:

1. These were: anchorages for seat belt assemblies; padded dashboard and visors; recessed dashboard instruments and control devices; impact-absorbing steering wheel and column displacement; safety door latches and hinges; anchorage of seats; four-way flasher; safety glass; dual operation of braking system; standard gear quadrant PRNDL automatic transmission; sweep design of windshield wipers-washers; glare-reduction surfaces; exhaust emission control system; tires and tire safety rims; back-up lights; an outside rearview mirror. All these items were retained in the final standards, which were significantly weaker in many instances. Pedestrian protection was not considered by GSA, though its general counsel interpreted the law as permitting it to do so.

2. Medical Tribune, long a reasoned critic of unsafe vehicle design, commented on Donner's statement with unconcealed acidity: "It is somewhat difficult to picture a horde of sans-culotte consumers, waving red flags, attacking the castles of General Motors dealers, determined to rip seat belts, dual-braking systems, left-hand mirrors, safety tires, padded dashboards, etc., out of every car or die in the attempt."

3. In the sale of buses, buyer choice is almost synonymous with whatever General Motors chooses to offer. GM has over ninety per cent of the bus business in the country. Since 1957, the Southern California Rapid Transit District has desperately tried to persuade GM to improve the braking systems of its buses. It was not until 1965 with competitive bidding of a small Ohio bus manufacturer and the district's threat of public denunciation, that General Motors stated it would install better braking capabilities on new buses sold to the District.

4. This $8,000,000 for research should be compared with just one federal department's costs. In 1963, the Department of Defense reported that direct bodily injury, death and partial property costs of motor vehicle accidents involving active duty personnel amounted to $83,641,000. Moreover, $8,000,000 represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the direct costs of highway accidents in 1964.
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Re: Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the Amer

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:02 pm

Appendix A

HOW WELL ARE THE NEW AUTOMOBILES ENGINEERED FOR VISUALLY SAFE DESIGN? RATE THEM YOURSELF.


The visual design requirements listed below are some that can be evaluated easily as a car sits on the show room floor. A failure to meet one or more of these requirements means that needless hazards to life and limb have been engineered into the car.

Does the automobile you wish to rate meet each of the requirements listed below for visually safe design? If not, score it off by circling the corresponding number in box below.

Image

1. The windshield wiper assemblies should not be bright chromium.

2. The windshield should not be tinted. (Standing outside, compare the appearance of your hands when the one is outside and the other is viewed through the windshield. If no tint is present your hands will look almost the same color and brightness.)

3. Stand In front and look through the car at objects behind it. There should be no major distortions, waves or other irregularities In the objects.

4. Each of the front turn signals should be at least 12 square inches in area.

5. Both front turn signals should be visible from every possible angle In front of the car. For example: You should be able to see them both while standing slightly in front and 6 feet to the side of the car.

6. There should be an outside rearview mirror.

7. Both red tail and brake lights should be clearly visible from every possible angle behind the car. For example: You should be able to See both the left and right sets of lights from a position 10 feet to one side of the car and slightly behind the rear bumper.

8. The top of the dash panel should be finished in a dull black or non-glossy dark color.

9. The instrument panel should not be darkly shaded by a wide long hood or deep covered well.

10. The numerals and pointers on the instrument panel should be large, of good contrast and readable at a glance.

11. The gear that the transmission is in should be instantly readable at a quick glance.

12. You should be able to identify all controls at a glance and to reach them easily.

13. The windshield should be free of distortions. These can be observed from the driver's seat by moving your head and noticing if outside objects bend or move irregularly. Move head up, down, and sideways.

14. The windshield should he free of internal reflections. These appear as ghost images around bright lights.

15. The windshield corner posts should be thin enough that with both eyes open an object 10 feet away, no matter how small, would not be hidden.

16. There should be no chromium on the inside of the windshield corner posts, on window trim or on the hood or fenders that can be seen by the driver behind the wheel.

17. There should be vision reference marks at the left and right front corners of the car. These may be fender ornaments or body contours that help the driver know the width and position of his car. They must not be shiny chromium. And they should be designed in a manner that does not present a hazard to any pedestrian struck by a vehicle.

18. In rearward view there should be no blind spots to interfere with backing or with perception at a glance of the location of other cars near you in freeway driving.


Form designed by Merrill J. Allen, O.D., Ph.D., Professor of Optometry, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
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Re: Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the Amer

Postby admin » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:03 pm

Appendix B

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES
383 HALL OF ADMINISTRATION / LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90012
GORDON T. NESVIG, CLERK OF THE BOARD

Members of the Board
BURTON W. CHACE, Chairman
FRANK G. BONELLI
KENNETH HAHN
ERNEST E. DEBS
WARREN M. DORN

On motion of Supervisor Dorn, unanimously carried, it is ordered that the following resolution be and it is hereby adopted:

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors is responsible for the health and welfare of the nearly seven million residents of the County of Los Angeles; and

WHEREAS, in 1947 the Legislature of the State of California, under an enabling act, conferred the authority to control air pollution in Los Angeles County upon the Board of Supervisors, and in 1948 the Board of Supervisors implemented this authority by activating the Air Pollution Control District; and

WHEREAS, medical science has accumulated epidemiological, experimental, and clinical evidence that levels of smog now experienced in Los Angeles County seriously affect persons suffering from asthma, emphysema and other respiratory ailments, affect significantly the breathing of normal subjects during high exposure periods, and produce significant increases in lung tumors in exposed animals; and

WHEREAS, the Los Angeles County Medical Association has affirmed repeatedly that air pollution constitutes a hazard to the health of persons residing in this community, and, because of the polluted condition of the air, physicians practicing in Los Angeles County advised during one year about 10,000 persons to move from the area; and

WHEREAS, scientists in the field of air pollution control, among the foremost being Dr. A. J. Haagen-Smith, have demonstrated conclusively that continuing occurrence of irritating, noxious, health-impairing smog in the Los Angeles Basin results from automobile emissions; and

WHEREAS, health and welfare in Los Angeles County is being jeopardized by the exhaust emissions of 3,500,000 motor vehicles, burning about 7,150,000 gallons daily; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors, since 1953, frequently has made known to the automobile industry the emergence of facts concerning the effect of automotive emissions upon air pollution conditions in Los Angeles County and the consequences to public health and welfare being experienced; and

WHEREAS, in 1953 members of the Automobile Manufacturers Association entered into agreements to pool all of their findings concerning control of air-polluting emissions from motor vehicles, and in 1955 they agreed to cross-license to each other any developments In controlling air polluting emissions from motor vehicles; and

WHEREAS, at that time, and thereafter, spokesmen for the members of the Automobile Manufacturers Association asserted that as soon as they were convinced that motor vehicles contributed significantly to air pollution in Los Angeles County, and as soon as fundamental principles of control for motor vehicles emissions became known, these member manufacturers would undertake to have devices embodying these principles Installed upon the vehicles they produced; and

WHEREAS, because of this representation by the automobile industry, millions of dollars have been spent to develop such devices by companies that are not members of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, such as American Machine and Foundry, Walker Manufacturing, American Cyanamid, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, Universal Oil Products, Arvin Industries, Ethyl Corporation, Norris Thermador, W. R. Grace, Chromalloy, Holly Carburetor, Clayton Manufacturing Company, Oxy-Catalyst Company and many others; and

WHEREAS, in 1960, there was enacted in the State of California, principally as a result of the efforts of this Board of Supervisors, Assembly Bill 17 known as the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Act, for the purpose of dealing with the problem of motor pollution on a statewide basis; and

WHEREAS, under this legislation, within one year after the certification of two exhaust control devices, such controls would be required on new cars sold within this state; and

WHEREAS, on June 17, 1964, four exhaust control devices were certified, which started the time period running within which devices would become mandatory on new cars; and

WHEREAS, within two months thereafter the Automobile Manufacturers Association announced that automobiles of the 1966-model year would be equipped with exhaust emission control systems, which involved no new principles, but applied principles long known to the automobile industry; and

WHEREAS, if the Automobile Manufacturers Association had given the same attention to the problem in 1953-56 as they did after installation became mandatory, air pollution from motor vehicles would have ceased to be a problem in 1966, by which time vehicles with these control systems would have been produced and sold for ten years and hence most existing vehicles now would be equipped; and

WHEREAS, this was not done because of the aforesaid cross-licensing agreement and restraint of competition between the members of the Automobile Manufacturers Association; and

WHEREAS, the Owners of 3,500,000 motor vehicles in Los Angeles County are now faced with the prospect of having to equip their cars, at an advanced age and depreciated value, with exhaust emission control devices at a cost of $450,000,000 for installation and $150,000,000 for annual maintenance; and

WHEREAS, none of the certified devices, developed at a cost of many millions of dollars, will be bought by the auto industry to go onto new cars; and

WHEREAS, it is unreasonable to anticipate under these circumstances, that the developers of devices will continue to improve their devices so as to provide stimulus for the auto industry to meet the more stringent standards required in 1970 and 1980, with the increase in motor vehicle population:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Attorney General of the United States be requested to investigate the agreements between members of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, in relation to possible violations of the laws concerning conspiracies, monopolies, product fixing, restraint of trade, and unfair competition; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that an investigation be made of the effect of the manner of implementation of these agreements upon the health and welfare of residents of the State of California; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Attorney General institute an action for the purpose of preventing further collusive obstruction to the control of air pollution from motor vehicles by the Automobile Manufacturers Association, and to assure full, open competition in automotive developments affecting the public health and welfare.

STATE OF CALIFORNIA
County of Los Angeles

I, GORDON T. NESVIG, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles, and ex officio clerk of the governing body of all other special assessment and taxing districts for which said Board so acts, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true and correct copy of a resolution adopted on January 26, 1965 by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles, and ex officio the governing body of all other special assessment and taxing districts for which said Board so acts.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the County of Los Angeles this 28th day of January, 1965.

Gordon T. Nesvig

GORDON T. NESVIG, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Los Angeles, and ex officio clerk of the governing body of all other special assessment and taxing districts for which said Board so acts.
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