Question Solved1 Answer Ethics in Information Technology Critical Thinking Exercise: Faculty Airbag Software You are the software development manager for an organization that produces the software used to control the deployment of airbags used in several popular U.S. automobiles. Last year, vehicles using your software were involved in 200,000 crashes, and 4,000 people died as a result of those accidents. An internal investigation conducted by your firm revealed that at least 40 of those fatalities occurred when airbags failed to deploy properly because of software problems. The cost to develop an improved version of the software is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $10 to $20 million. Simulations have shown that proper deployment of the airbags would likely have reduced the number of fatalities from over 40 to less than 10. Should your firm make the investment necessary to upgrade the software and install it in all new vehicles? The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects. If your firm chooses to inform the NHTSA of its findings and a recall is issued, it will cost an additional $250 million to execute the recall and upgrade existing airbags to the new software. Should your firm work with NHTSA to execute a recall and install the new software in all vehicles—old and new?

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Ethics in Information Technology

Critical Thinking Exercise: Faculty Airbag Software

You are the software development manager for an organization that produces the software used to control the deployment of airbags used in several popular U.S. automobiles. Last year, vehicles using your software were involved in 200,000 crashes, and 4,000 people died as a result of those accidents. An internal investigation conducted by your firm revealed that at least 40 of those fatalities occurred when airbags failed to deploy properly because of software problems. The cost to develop an improved version of the software is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $10 to $20 million. Simulations have shown that proper deployment of the airbags would likely have reduced the number of fatalities from over 40 to less than 10. Should your firm make the investment necessary to upgrade the software and install it in all new vehicles?

The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects. If your firm chooses to inform the NHTSA of its findings and a recall is issued, it will cost an additional $250 million to execute the recall and upgrade existing airbags to the new software. Should your firm work with NHTSA to execute a recall and install the new software in all vehicles—old and new?

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Introduction In 2015, approximately 35,092 lives were lost on our Nation’s highways. Although that number represents a 17.8-percent decrease in traffic fatalities since 2006, more can still be done to address this issue on our Nation's highways. Traffic crashes are the primary cause of debilitating injuries in the United States and the number one killer of Americans 11 years old and those 16 to 24. In addition to staggering emotional costs, the annual economic loss to society because of these crashes, in terms of worker productivity, medical costs, insurance costs, etc., is estimated at more than $230 billion. Clearly, there is a need for dramatic improvement in motor vehicle safety. Getting unsafe vehicles off the road is integral to improving safety and saving lives. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act gives NHTSA the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet Federal safety standards. Since the Act was enacted in 1966, NHTSA has recalled more than 390 million cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and mopeds, as well as 46 million tires, 66 million pieces of motor vehicle equipment, and 42 million car seats due to safety defects. Manufacturers voluntarily initiate many of these recalls, while others are either influenced by NHTSA investigations or ordered by NHTSA via the courts. If a safety defect is discovered, the manufacturer must notify NHTSA, as well as vehicle or equipment owners, dealers, and distributors. The manufacturer is then required to remedy the problem at no charge to the owner. NHTSA is responsible for monitoring the manufacturer’s corrective action to ensure successful completion of the recall campaign. Purpose The purpose of this booklet is to answer the most commonly asked questions about how and why recall campaigns are initiated, and to inform consumers of their rights and responsibilities when a vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment is recalled. In these pages, you’ll discover how to report a safety-related problem to NHTSA, as well as how participation by vehicle owners like you helps to keep motor vehicles as safe as possible. See the following section for comprehensive answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) NHTSA receives on recalls. Frequently Asked Questions on Recalls When Is a Recall Necessary? › When a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (including tires) does not comply with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. › When there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set minimum performance requirements for those parts of the vehicle that most affect its safe operation (brakes, tires, lighting, etc.) or that protect drivers and passengers from death or serious injury in the event of a crash (air bags, seat belts, car seats and booster seats, energy absorbing steering columns, motorcycle helmets, etc.). These Federal Standards are applicable to all vehicles and vehicle-related equipment manufactured or imported for sale in the United States (including U.S. territories) and certified for use on public roads and highways. What Is a Safety-Related Defect? The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.” A defect includes “any defect in performance, 3 construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.” Generally, a safety defect is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that: › poses an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety, and › may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture. Examples of Defects Considered Safety-Related › Steering components that break suddenly, causing partial or complete loss of vehicle control › Problems with fuel system components, particularly in their susceptibility to crash damage, which result in leakage of fuel and may cause vehicle fires › Accelerator controls that break or stick › Wheels that crack or break, which may result in loss of vehicle control › Engine cooling fan blades that break unexpectedly, causing injury to people working on a vehicle › Windshield wiper assemblies that fail to operate properly › Seats and/or seat backs that fail unexpectedly during normal use › Critical vehicle components that break, fall apart, or separate from the vehicle, causing potential loss of vehicle control or injury to people inside or outside the vehicle › Wiring system problems that result in a fire or loss of lighting › Car ramps or jacks that may collapse and cause injury to someone working on a vehicle › Air bags that deploy under conditions for which they are not intended to deploy › Car seats and booster seats that contain defective safety belts, buckles, or components that create a risk of injury not only in a vehicle crash, but also in the nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle Examples of Defects Not Considered Safety-Related › Air conditioners and radios that do not operate properly › Ordinary wear of equipment that has to be inspected, maintained, and replaced periodically (e.g., shock absorbers, batteries, brake pads and shoes, and exhaust systems) › Nonstructural or body panel rust › Quality of paint or cosmetic blemishes › Excessive oil consumption How Can I Report a Safety Problem to NHTSA? If you think your vehicle or equipment may have a safety defect, reporting it to NHTSA is an important first step to take to get the situation remedied and make our roads safer. If the agency receives similar reports from a number of people about the same product, this could indicate that a safety-related defect exists that would warrant the opening of an investigation. In order to make it convenient for consumers to report any suspected safety defects to NHTSA, the agency offers two ways to file such complaints. Vehicle Safety Hotline NHTSA operates the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Vehicle Safety Hotline to collect accurate and timely information from consumers on vehicle safety problems. Call 888-327-4236 or 800-424-9393 toll-free from anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to register complaints or receive recall information about a vehicle. The Hotline also has Spanish-speaking representatives and offers a dedicated number, 800-424-9153, for use by people who are deaf or hard of hearing. When you call the Hotline to report a vehicle-related safety issue, you will be asked to provide certain critical information that agency technical staff needs in order to evaluate the problem. The information you provide is filed on a Vehicle Owner’s Questionnaire (VOQ), entered into the agency’s consumer-complaint database, and forwarded to NHTSA technical staff for evaluation.  VOQs filed through the Hotline will be mailed to you for verification of data. In addition, you will receive an explanation of how your report will be used, as well as a request for written authorization allowing NHTSA to provide your personal identifiers (e.g., name, address and telephone number) to the manufacturer of the alleged defective product you own. Note that you are not required to provide such authorization. However, sharing this information with the manufacturer can help facilitate the recall process. NHTSA.gov You can also report a vehicle safety issue to NHTSA online at our vehicle safety website: www.nhtsa.gov. Select “File a Complaint” within the Defects and Recalls section of the home page. The information you submit via the website is recorded in VOQ format, entered into our consumer complaint database, and provided to our technical staff for evaluation. When you fill out a VOQ online, you will be given the option of checking a box to authorize or not authorize the release of your personal identifiers to the manufacturer of the alleged defective product you own. Again, while you are not required to provide such authorization, doing so can help facilitate the recall process. How Will My Report Be Used? Information you provide on the questionnaire is entered into the NHTSA consumer complaint automated database, and catalogued according to vehicle make, model, model year, manufacturer, and the affected part, assembly, or system. These reports, with the consumer’s personal identifiers removed, are listed on www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/downloads and updated weekly. Citizen and consumer reports help NHTSA and manufacturers to determine if a safety recall is warranted, and also provide motorists with valuable information about potential safety problems currently under review.  Will I Be Contacted? In some cases, an investigator from the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) may call to clarify or verify information from your report. Unfortunately, the large volume of reports received by the agency does not permit a return call for each report filed. Questions about whether your concern involves an investigation or recall are best answered by contacting the DOT Vehicle Safety Hotline or by searching on NHTSA.gov. NHTSA technical staff conducts a continuous analysis of these reports to determine whether an unusual number of complaints of potential safetyrelated problems have been received on any specific line of vehicles, tires, or equipment (e.g., car seats, booster seats, jacks, trailer hitches). The number of reported complaints and the severity of the outcomes are carefully reviewed by technical staff and measured against the number of vehicles (or items of equipment) manufactured, and how many years the vehicles or equipment have been on the road. This ongoing evaluation process allows NHTSA technical staff to determine whether complaints represent isolated reports or a trend. If a trend is suspected and a problem has a potential for causing a risk to safety, the agency will open an investigation for more detailed analysis of the problem. How Many Reports Must Be Filed Before NHTSA Investigates an Issue? There is no established number. Agency technical experts review each and every call, letter, and online report of an alleged safety problem filed with NHTSA. Although NHTSA has no jurisdiction over defects that are not safety-related, it does review each report that suggests a potential safety defect involving groups of motor vehicles or vehicle equipment.  How Does NHTSA Conduct an Investigation? The agency’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) investigative process consists of four parts: › Screening – A preliminary review of consumer complaints and other information related to alleged defects to decide whether to open an investigation. › Petition Analysis – An analysis of any petitions calling for defect investigations and/or reviews of safety-related recalls. › Investigation – The investigation of alleged safety defects. › Recall Management – Investigation of the effectiveness of safety recalls. The four-step process is outlined below: 1. Screening When screening and analyzing information for potential safety defects, ODI reviews volumes of data from multiple sources. This data includes but is not limited to consumer complaints (also referred to as vehicle owner questionnaires) submitted online at www.nhtsa.gov, through NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline, or via U.S. mail; data submitted by vehicle and equipment manufacturers; anonymous tips; Congressional and consumer letters; and social media content. 2. Petition Analysis Any person may submit a petition requesting NHTSA to open an investigation into an alleged safety defect. After conducting a technical analysis of such a petition, ODI informs the petitioner whether it has been granted or denied. If the petition is granted, a defect investigation is opened. If the petition is denied, the reasons for the denial are published in the Federal Register. Similarly, a person may submit a petition requesting NHTSA to hold a hearing on whether a manufacturer has reasonably met its obligation to notify and/or remedy a safety defect or noncompliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. If the petition is granted, a hearing is held to assess the matter and decide what corrective action should be taken. If the petition is denied, the reasons for the denial are published in the Federal Register.  3. Investigation During the investigative phase, ODI obtains information from the manufacturer (including data on complaints, crashes, injuries, warranty claims, modifications, and part sales) and determines wheth ... See the full answer