Washington, DC – The Nader/Gonzalez presidential campaign announced that it will protest the auto industry’s takeover of the federal auto safety agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that Ralph Nader was instrumental in creating in 1966. The protest will take place in front of the NHTSA in Washington, DC on Thursday May 8, 2008 at 12 noon. Ralph Nader plans to attend the protest.

Nader said the NHTSA is about to implement a weak auto industry approved roof crush safety rule that would preempt state action. If the preemption rule takes effect, victims of roof crush accidents would not be able to seek justice in state courts under the 200-year old product liability common law.

In 2005, 43,200 Americans were killed in motor vehicle crashes. While less than 5 percent of those crashes were rollovers, fully 25 percent of the fatalities – 10,816 in 2005 – were from rollovers. The vast majority of rollover fatalities and injuries are the result of the roofs crushing down on the passengers – or when the roof crush shatters the side window glass, allowing deadly ejections to occur.

In addition to the almost 11,000 fatalities a year from roof crush accidents, in 2005 the total number of quadriplegics in motor vehicle collisions totaled 5,608 according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. A significant number of those are due to roof crush in rollovers.

“The auto industry is using a federal regulatory agency to eliminate the rights of injured car crash victims to seek justice and compensation for their preventable injuries,” Mr. Nader said. “The proposed roof crush standard is dangerously weak and lags behind existing, practical technology. Some automakers – Volvo, Saab, and Subaru, for example – produce models that offer greater protection in roof crush rollovers than the protection offered by this long-overdue anemic standard that NHTSA is about to issue. The federal government, at the very least, should mandate the best practice in the industry. NHTSA was created in the 1960s to establish technology forcing, life-saving safety standards for motor vehicles. It has now become a pathetic consulting firm for the motor vehicle manufacturers. We must build the political and citizen pressure to turn this agency around and set it on its original statutory mission.”

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