A source of great information about product safety is a watchdog organization called Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., or SRS. Combining research, investigation, analysis, strategy and advocacy, SRS provides important consumer information about injuries associated with product hazards. SRS has been in the news a lot lately for its work on issues surrounding motor vehicles, but it also examines dangerous consumer and industrial products, and medical devices.
Founder and President of SRS, Sean Kane, began his work as a consumer advocate in 1991, at the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) in Washington, D.C. CAS was established in 1970 by Ralph Nader, in cooperation with the Consumers Union, as a voice for auto safety and quality. SRS has also been a key player in issues of auto safety.
In particular, Mr. Kane’s research into Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration provided a wealth of valuable information that became a cornerstone in Congressional investigations into the automaker’s conduct surrounding the deadly defect. He provided testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the U.S. Academy of Sciences regarding the problem. Mr. Kane provided additional testimony and data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). His research helped expose Toyota’s failure to comply with federal regulations regarding timely reporting of automotive defects and failure to recall affected vehicles, which may have prevented many senseless deaths.
Our firm was eventually able to prove to a jury in Oklahoma City in the Bookout v. Toyota litigation that the sudden unintended acceleration defect was tied to an electrical problem in the vehicles, rather than due to floor mats or sticky accelerator pedals as the automaker long claimed.
Other groundbreaking work done by Mr. Kane and SRS includes a 2000 investigation into the dangers of Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires, and their propensity to roll over in the event of a crash. His research led to a Congressional inquiry into the matter, and an overhaul in the way automobile recalls are supposed to be handled. Mr. Kane work was used in the establishment of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accuracy and Documentation (TREAD) Act, which was enacted on Nov. 1, 2000.
SRS is based in Rehoboth, Mass., and has staff in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. They have contract partners in Detroit, Europe, Australia and Asia. Mr. Kane regularly provides comments, testimony and data to NHTSA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and speaks to public safety issues in the media. He also is editor of The Safety Report, a publication and blog that covers topics of motor vehicle and product safety.
Kane is on the advisory and editorial boards for SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., a non-profit committed to child passenger safety; founded and is on the board of The Safety Institute, which examines areas of injury prevention and product safety; and is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and International Motor Press Association. He also is active in his local community, as the co-chairman of the Massachusetts multi-disciplinary injury prevention network, Mass PINN, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control / Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which works at the state and federal level to advocate for public health and safety. Mr. Kane also serves on the board of Safe Kids Massachusetts, which is part of the Safe Kids USA network that strives to prevent unintentional childhood injury.
For more information about SRS, visit them online at www.safetyresearch.net or contact the organization at 340 Anawan St., Ste. 200, Rehoboth, MA 02769.
Sources: SRS, The Center for Auto Safety, NHTSA
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