Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know is an Insider’s Account into The Biggest Scandal in Automotive History, Exposing Cover Ups, Fraud, Falsified Safety Tests and Government Inaction
Book Warns that Defective Airbags made by Japanese Manufacturer Takata Will Rupture Thousands More Times
A shocking new book exposes secrets, lies and cover-ups behind the automotive industry’s biggest scandal. Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know, by Jerry Cox, is an insider’s account of the downfall of the Japanese manufacturer Takata Corporation, which for years supplied defective airbags that have killed, seriously injured and maimed hundreds of drivers. The book, says consumer advocate Ralph Nader, has “all the ingredients for a movie . . . all the corruption, out of Central Casting, former Secretaries of Transportation, bankruptcy judges favoring corporations. It’s got it all.” Killer Airbags: the Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know (www.killerairbags.com) is available on Amazon and Lulu.
“This book is a warning to Americans who own or drive any of the 70 million cars that were equipped with Takata airbags,” says author Cox, a veteran transportation safety expert who helped establish the federal requirement for airbags in passenger vehicles. “Killer Airbags explains how the Japanese supplier put its own profits ahead of human lives and manipulated the U.S. government’s watchdog agency for 20 years.”
Takata’s American executives hired Cox in 2014 to develop a crisis communications strategy to deal with a mounting number of deaths and grievous injuries from airbags that shot shrapnel at unsuspecting vehicle occupants. He considers writing Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know “a moral obligation.” Haunted by the fact that millions of drivers are still at risk, he sought not only to expose the truth but also warn drivers of the danger. With the July 4th weekend approaching and millions expected to hit the roads, the scandal has taken on new urgency. “Millions of people are at risk of losing their lives, and I’m the only person willing and able to tell them the whole truth.”
Early in his work for Takata, Cox saw a disaster in the making. He discovered that the Japanese safety equipment supplier expanded its profits and market share by switching from a safe propellant for airbag cushions to ammonium nitrate, which cost one-tenth as much. Japanese engineers falsified test reports showing that the cheaper chemical was suitable for use in airbag inflators and pressured the company’s American engineers to keep quiet or leave the company.
Cox anticipated that more people would be killed and implored the company to tell the truth about the likely need for more recalls and unprecedented efforts to replace the faulty inflators. Instead, says Cox, they began an aggressive lobbying effort, enlisting politicians — including several former U.S. Secretaries of Transportation and former administrators of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — to forestall additional recalls.
“People need to understand that America’s auto safety regulation system is corrupt to the core,” says Cox, who considers regulators, manufacturers, car dealers, lobbyists, lawyers and legislators complicit in the scandal. “The “revolving door” – the practice of officials jumping back and forth between defending private interests and regulating them – is bi-partisan,” Cox adds.
Among the most egregious examples, Cox says, is President Trump’s appointment of Takata’s private lawyer, Steven Bradbury, as General Counsel and Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation. On Takata’s behalf, Bradbury negotiated what Cox calls a “sweetheart deal” under which Takata replaced millions of old defective inflators with new defective inflators, allowing vehicle manufacturers to avoid recalling or repairing 30 million additional cars that contain ammonium nitrate inflators. Bradbury’s law firm also settled a criminal case with the Justice Department that compensated Takata’s car manufacturer customers, even though they had eagerly accepted the company’s cheap airbags but set aside a pittance in compensation for people who were killed or injured.
“More than two dozen individuals have been slaughtered by their airbags,” Cox says. “Some were essentially decapitated; others had their throats slashed; a few were hit so hard by chunks of shrapnel, their brains were scrambled like eggs; hundreds of other people have lost their eyes, noses, teeth … the toll so far has been unimaginably gruesome.”
The book is poised to send shockwaves through Washington and the automotive industry and is already garnering critical praise.
Killer Airbags is “a fascinating inside account of the shameful and potentially lethal Takata story [and] a riveting and loud call to action to save lives – your life — and the lives of those you love,” says Dennis Wholey, host of PBS’ “This is America” and the best-selling author of The Courage to Change.
Adds former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry: Killer Airbags “raises important issues of safety and accountability. One can hope consumers will take note and, perhaps, the auto industry as well.”
Cox has provided multi-faceted legal and public affairs strategies for dealing with federal, state and local governments to a wide range of clients, including manufacturers of transportation safety and security equipment, defense and homeland security contractors, transportation service providers and major insurance organizations. Cox also is a co-founder and Managing Director of The Forerunner Foundation, a public research and education organization dedicated to forward-thinking public policy. Before he started his own firm, Cox developed and ran the transportation safety practice at Hill & Knowlton Public Affairs Worldwide Co.
Cox has represented several motor vehicle industry clients, including the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA), American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), Carfax and ADT Automotive, the world’s then-largest auto auction company, in addition to insurance organizations such as the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), technology companies involved with aircraft and other high-profile transportation accident investigations, shippers of dangerous goods and developers of innovative transportation safety-related technologies. In 1982, Cox co-authored the brief for the National Association of Independent Insurers in the U.S. Supreme Court case that nullified rescission of the airbag requirement. He began his legal career at a firm in Kansas City, Missouri where, as a newly minted lawyer, he authored a legal memorandum for trial counsel concerning the admissibility in court of safety recall orders by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). He also defended civil engineers in malpractice litigation.
It was Cox’s experience on Capitol Hill, working for Missouri Senator John Danforth, that established Cox as a transportation legislation expert. He joined the legislator in 1981 as Legislative Counsel with responsibility for defense, intelligence and issues pending before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, where his main assignment was to combat the incoming Reagan Administration’s rescission of the mandate for the installation of airbags in automobiles.
Cox is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. Before that, he graduated with honors from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs.