Court documents filed this week allege that five auto companies were aware of defects that caused Takata air bags to potentially harm or kill motorists but continued to use them anyway to save on costs, reports The Washington Post. The documents claim that Honda, Ford, BMW, Toyota and Nissan have known about the issues with the Japanese manufacturer’s air bags for more than a decade but still used them because Takata was cheaper than its competitors and could produce the bulk quantities the automakers needed, according to the court documents.
Honda Recalls 1990-2015. Honda earned the distinction as the car manufacturer with the most safety recalls, with over 13 million models affected in this period. For perspective, Honda’s recalls affected more vehicles than all the recalls of Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW, Nissan and Mitsubishi combined. Credit
A decision late last year by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was a repudiation of their statutory duty to protect consumers, writes Cathy Chase, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety. By finalizing consent orders with General Motors (GM) and the Lithia and Koons auto dealership chains, which allow them to advertise used cars with unrepaired safety defects under recall using misleading terms, consumers are duped and safety is jeopardized. Unsuspecting consumers will be tricked by labels such as safe, repaired for safety, having passed a rigorous inspection, and using the imprimatur of certified. Families will walk into dealerships to buy cars, be informed that the vehicles have been given a safety stamp of approval, be required to sign a pile of papers with a message tucked in that the car may be subject to un-repaired recalls for safety issues, and will drive off the lot at their own peril and a danger of everyone on the roads.
U.S. President Donald Trump pushed the chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday to increase production in the United States and boost American employment, reports Reuters. Trump opened a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Mark Fields and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at the White House by saying he wants to see new auto plants built in the United States. The new Republican president vowed to cut regulations and taxes to make it more attractive for businesses to operate in the United States…U.S. automakers have been reluctant to open new U.S. auto plants in recent years, but they have expanded operations at existing U.S. plants…With flattening U.S. auto sales and some excess capacity, U.S. automakers may be reluctant to agree to open new plants, which likely would not come online for several years. Tuesday’s gathering was the first time the CEOs of the big three automakers have met jointly with a U.S. president since a 2011 session with Barack Obama to tout a deal to nearly double fuel efficiency standards by 2025…Automakers have urged the Trump administration to rethink those aggressive fuel efficiency mandates.
In a landmark settlement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports, that Volkswagen agreed to spend up to $14.7 billion to settle allegations of using “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests and deceive customers. Volkswagen will offer consumers a buyback and lease termination for nearly 500,000 model year 2009-2015 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S., and provide additional compensation to consumers, at a cost of up to $10 billion. In addition, Volkswagen will spend $4.7 billion to mitigate the pollution from these cars and invest in green vehicle technology. Together, these actions will restore clean air protections and make our auto industry cleaner for generations of Americans to come.
Sedentary lifestyles contribute to premature death and health inequalities. Researchers have studied personal and community-level determinants of inactivity but few have analyzed corporate influences. To reframe the public health debate on inactivity and open new doors for public sector intervention, we conducted a scoping review of evidence from several disciplines to describe how the business and political practices of the automobile, construction, and entertainment sectors have encouraged sedentary lifestyles.
Case Studies on Corporations & Global Health Governance, edited by Nora Kenworthy, Ross MacKenzie and Kelley Lee, presents interdisciplinary case studies on how corporations influence global health governance and how they could be held more accountable. The empirical studies examine several industries across high, low and middle income countries and explore the impact of corporations and their allies on the governance processes that shape population health.
By Nicholas Freudenberg
Last week, the New York Times reported that the driver of a Tesla Model S electric sedan was killed in an accident when the car was in self-driving mode. This was the first known death involving a vehicle being driven by itself by means of computer software, sensors, cameras and radar. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to apply the brakes. Some observers labeled the accident a setback for driverless cars.
The adverse health and equity impacts of transnational corporations’ (TNCs) practices have become central public health concerns as TNCs increasingly dominate global trade and investment and shape national economies. Despite this, methodologies have been lacking with which to study the health equity impacts of individual corporations and thus to inform actions to mitigate or reverse negative and increase positive impacts. A new report in Globalization and Health describes a framework designed to conduct corporate health impact assessment (CHIA), that was developed at a meeting held at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in May 2015.
Consumer Reports writes that vehicles made by 14 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both in what NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” The airbags, made by major parts supplier Takata, were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2015. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants. At the heart of the problem is the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers, which in some cases has ignited with explosive force. If the inflator housing ruptures in a crash, metal shards from the airbag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin—a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device.
In presentations on “Changing Corporate Practices to Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries: A Promising Strategy for Improving Global Public Health?” at Edinburgh University and University of Glasgow, Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at City University of New York School of Public Health, described the role of corporate business and political practices on the growing global burden of non-communicable diseases and injuries. He also analyzed what roles public health professionals can play in countering the adverse health effects of these practices. View the presentation.