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15 Hastings Bus. L.J. 1 (2019)

handle is hein.journals/hbuslj15 and id is 1 raw text is: 














A New Look at Criminal Liability

for Selling Dangerous Vehicles:

Lessons from General Motors

and Toyota



STEVENB. DOW* AND NAN S. ELLIS**



Automobile safety is one of the most serious public health issues facing our
country. In addition to the costs in terms of personal injury and death,
automobile accidents cost society billions of dollars in lost productivity and
medical costs.' In 1966, there were over 50,000 deaths from automobile
accidents. By 2015, this number had fallen to approximately 35,000 deaths
and 2.4 million injuries resulting from     automobile accidents.2     By some
measures, this is a remarkable reduction that might lead us to conclude that
automobile safety is no longer an important public policy concern. The
reduction in automobile deaths has been due to several factors, including
increased focus on drunk driving, the use of seat belts and the lowering of
speed   limits.3   The   reduction   does   not necessarily    mean    that cars
themselves are safer. In fact, in 2014, over sixty-four million vehicles were
recalled because of safety concerns.4 This number represents a staggering



* Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University
** Professor of Law and Social Responsibility, Loyola University Maryland
     1. U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2020
Report, (1997), http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/whatis/planning/202OReport/2020report.html [https://
perma.cc/9YQ3-CYTL]. In 1966, the National Academy of Sciences published a white paper entitled
Accidental Death and Disability  The Neglected Disease of Modern Society. The report likened
automobile safety issues to an epidemic and argued that this neglected epidemic of modern society
[was] the nation's most important environmental health problem. National Academy of Sciences,
ACCIDENTAL DEATH AND DISABILITY  THE NEGLECTED DISEASE OF MODERN SOCIETY, 5 (1966)
(cited in Aaron Ezroj, Product Liability After Unintended Acceleration: How Automotive Litigation Has
Evolved, 26 LOY. CONSUMER L. REV. 470, 473 (2014)).
    2. NHTSA Stats, May 2017, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812348.
In 1996, there were over 6.8 million crashes resulting in over 41,000 deaths and 3.5 million injuries.
NHTSA Report, supra note 1.
    3. These three factors are cited by the CDC as actions that can be taken to further reduce
accidents and deaths. Center for Disease Control Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths, July 18, 2016,
https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/motor-vehicle- safety/index.html.
    4. Rena Steinzor, (Still) Unsafe at Any Speed: Why Not Jail for Auto Executives?, 9 HARV. L.

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