December 10th, 2010
By: Kevin Ransom
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into how rental car companies deal with manufacturer recalls. It is specifically looking into whether or not rental car companies are properly fixing vehicles that have been recalled before renting or selling them and whether those repairs are being done promptly. Currently, there is no law in place that requires rental agencies to perform recall repairs before renting vehicles to customers. But the head of one consumer advocacy group is hoping that changes.
As surprising as it is, but no law currently exists that specifically prevents such a practice, according to the president of the American Car Rental Association. However, Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) says that the Federal Trade Commission Act states that companies “shall not engage in unfair trade practices. And, not repairing a defective vehicle after it has been recalled, before renting it out, is an unfair trade practice, and is a violation of the act.”
The NHTSA probe will look at almost 3 million General Motors, Ford and Chrysler vehicles — covering 29 different models, and spanning model years 2001 through 2010 — that were sold to rental car companies, and were subsequently recalled. Why just the Detroit Three? The American carmakers are the top providers of vehicles to rental car companies.
Ditlow says he would like to see the investigation lead to a more detailed law that specifically addresses this practice.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car At Fault For Deaths
In a statement, NHTSA declared that “particularly in recent months, (NHTSA) has been informed of incidents involving allegations of personal injury and death claimed to have been caused by safety defects and failures to conform to minimum Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) on rental car vehicles for which a safety recall to remedy the safety defect or noncompliance had allegedly not been performed prior to the rental car company’s lease of the vehicle.”
In the statement, NHTSA also noted, “there is presently a petition before the Federal Trade Commission seeking to prohibit at least one rental car company from renting vehicles on which safety recall campaign remedies remain outstanding.”
That rental car company would be Enterprise Holdings, which is presently the largest provider of rental cars in North America, via its three car-rental brands: Alamo, Enterprise and National.
The FTC petition was filed in August by CAS and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) after Enterprise admitted liability at the end of a five-year lawsuit that stemmed from the 2004 deaths of two young women in a car wreck. According to the petition, the women, Rachel and Jacqueline Houck, were killed in a collision that was indirectly caused by a defect in a Chrysler PT Cruiser that had been recalled.
That defect was not fixed before it was rented to the women by Enterprise, according to the petition, which said the PT Cruiser had been recalled due to a risk of under-hood fires. The women were not informed of the risk and while driving in California, the car caught fire, causing a loss of steering power that led to a head-on collision with a semi-trailer truck. The women were killed instantly, according to the document.
Further, the petition said that at least four individuals had rented the vehicle after Enterprise received a recall notice.
After five years of fighting the suit, Enterprise admitted liability, and the parents of the Houck women were awarded a damages-only verdict of $15 million.
Compliance Required By Rental Companies and Manufacturers
NHTSA stated that the purpose of the probe is to “investigate recall remedy completion by rental car companies on (the above-mentioned) safety recall campaigns. These campaigns were chosen due to their inclusion of vehicles used in the rental market. This information is expected to provide the agency an indication of how completely and how quickly rental car fleets, in general or individually, perform necessary recall-related repairs or other remedies on the vehicles owned and then leased for use on the roadways.”
Laura Bryant, spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings, said that the company is “willing to cooperate with the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in any inquiry they wish to make concerning our current practices. We are confident those practices and procedures are fully consistent with our commitment to provide customers vehicles that are safe to drive… In most cases, we place a ‘hold’ on recalled vehicles so they are not rented until the recall work is completed.”
Ditlow strongly supports the NHTSA investigation, “because we need to find out how widespread this practice is in the rental-car industry — either not fixing the vehicles before they are rented, or not fixing them soon enough — or selling recalled vehicles to consumers without fixing the defect or informing them of the recall.”
Ditlow said that CAS knows of two specific instances of the latter practice.
NHTSA and the auto safety groups are also concerned about how promptly the recall notices are sent to the car-rental companies. “We would like to see NHTSA require the automakers to do a direct and early notification of the defect to the car-rental companies — instead of waiting for the general recall letter to go out to car owners,” said Ditlow. “If the NHTSA investigation concludes that this is a widespread problem, and it gets the attention of the public, and consumers are constantly going up to rental-car counters and saying, ‘Please check to see if there is an outstanding recall on this vehicle,’ then I think this practice would change.”
In a statement, Bob Barton, president of the American Car Rental Association, said that most recalls issued by manufacturers “do not require the owner of the vehicle (whether it be a rental company, leasing company or a private individual) to ground a vehicle and cease operation.”
Although the Association does not maintain an industry standard, Barton explained, each car-rental company follows its own pre-established operating guidelines. He said that in most cases, the rental-car companies do not rent the vehicle until the recall work is completed, and that the practices of many companies “exceed what is required.”
October 4th, 2010
By: Paul Joseph Watson
The government has discovered a new way to obtain Americans’ blood in pursuit of an effort to surreptitiously build a huge national DNA database, by taking blood samples for HIV testing when drivers renew their license at the DMV.
“Starting Tuesday, getting tested for HIV in the District will be as easy as renewing a driver’s license,” reports the Washington Post.
“In what District officials say is the first effort of its kind in the nation, the city will partner with a nonprofit group to offer free HIV testing at the Department of Motor of Vehicles office in Penn Branch in Southeast Washington. Participants will receive up to $15 to help defray their DMV costs.”
The new program is of course voluntary, but as Alex Jones exposed over a decade ago, the eventual plan, under a 1993 executive order signed by Bill Clinton, is to institute mandatory blood and urine testing at the DMV.
Police in Texas and Idaho are already forcibly jabbing needles into people’s arms and taking their blood at DUI checkpoints, even if they are merely “suspected” of being drunk.
Despite being littered with internal checkpoints that are now starting to pop up all over America, not even the Nazis or the Soviets sank to the depth of having their goons forcibly stick needles into people’s arms to take their blood.
The practice of cops drawing blood at the side of the road has been in place in some areas since 1995 but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated that the program is ultimately intended to be introduced nationwide.
Nicole Watson, the College of Western Idaho phlebotomy instructor teaching the Idaho officers, described how the process would unfold.
“Once they’re back on patrol, they will draw blood of any suspected drunk driver who refuses a breath test. They’ll use force if they need to, such as getting help from another officer to pin down a suspect and potentially strap them down, Watson said.”
Of course, once Americans are trained to accept authority figures jabbing them with needles against their will on a whim, programs for mandatory mass vaccination will be all the more easier to implement.
As we covered earlier this year, the government is harvesting samples of DNA from every newborn child in the country, storing them in monolithic bio banks and providing them to outside researchers and other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, all without the consent or knowledge of parents.
In April 2008, President Bush signed into law a bill which formerly announced the process that the federal government has been engaged in for years, screening the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. within six months of birth.
Described as a “national contingency plan” the justification for the law S. 1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is that it represents preparation for any sort of “public health emergency.”
The bill states that the federal government should “continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening” and “maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening… ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the internet and is updated at least quarterly”.
Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests, both by the government and by researchers chosen to handle the DNA samples and the information that goes with them.
Allowing the government to illegally obtain and store Americans’ blood is a total invasion of privacy and completely unconstitutional. Every effort should be made by citizens to resist this tyranny and prevent the bloodsucking state from building their national DNA database.
April 7, 2010
By Ken Thomas and Larry Margasak
Long before Toyota told U.S. regulators about sticking accelerator pedals, the Japanese automaker warned its distributors throughout Europe about similar problems, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.
Concerns about sticking gas pedals and complaints from Toyota owners in the U.S. were rising at the end of 2009. The documents show that weeks earlier, on Sept. 29, its European division issued technical information “identifying a production improvement and repair procedure to address complaints by customers in those countries of sticking accelerator pedals, sudden rpm increase and/or sudden vehicle acceleration.”
Distributors throughout Europe and in Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Israel received the technical information.
In assessing a record $16.4 million fine on Toyota for failing to alert the U.S. government to the safety problems quickly enough, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood cited the warnings to the other countries. LaHood said Tuesday that Toyota made a “huge mistake” by not disclosing the safety problems sooner.
The timeline in the documents shows that Toyota said in October it had received three reports of sticking pedals in Corollas sold in the United States. It notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the cases in November.
In November and December, Toyota engineers examined pedals from the Corollas and were able to replicate the sticking pedal problem in two of the three cases. The engineers “concluded that the phenomenon experienced in the United States was essentially the same as the phenomenon experienced in Europe,” the document said.
In mid-January, Toyota held internal meetings “to discuss status of production changes and to prepare for meetings with NHTSA” on Jan. 19, according to the timeline. Two days later, Toyota announced it would recall 2.3 million vehicles to address the sticking pedals.
The documents obtained by the AP were among 70,000 pages of papers turned over to government investigators. They show that on Sept. 29, the same day Toyota issued the repair procedures in Europe, the company told NHTSA of its decision to recall several Toyota and Lexus vehicle models “to address the risk of accelerator pedal entrapment by all-weather floor mats.”
Toyota has said the problems involved separate issues, and in the case of the sticking gas pedals, the problem was related to the buildup of condensation on sliding surfaces in the accelerator system that helps drivers push down or release the gas pedal.
The timelines, titled “preliminary chronology of principal events,” were provided to the government on March 24.
LaHood told reporters in Chicago on Tuesday that he wouldn’t be surprised if a review of documents from Toyota Motor Corp. uncovered additional safety lapses by the Japanese automaker.
“This is the first thing that we have found,” LaHood said. “It may not be the last thing.”
Under federal law, automakers must notify NHTSA within five days of determining that a safety defect exists and promptly conduct a recall.
Toyota, in a statement Tuesday, said it “has and will continue to practice its philosophy of satisfying consumers with high quality vehicles that are safe and reliable, and responding to consumer feedback with honesty and integrity.”
Toyota has recalled more than 6 million vehicles in the U.S. and a total of more than 8 million worldwide because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid.
The Japanese automaker was still weighing its options Tuesday about whether to accept or contest the fine. It has also been named in 138 potential class-action lawsuits over falling vehicle values and nearly 100 personal injury and wrongful death cases in federal courts.