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Sensors and associated software on the nose of a Boeing 737 Max jet are at the center of a safety investigation. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Deadly safety crises at Boeing this year and at GM in 2014 share the same, avoidable, root causes — lax government oversight and poor communication.

Driving the news: A multiagency task force this week concluded that "a breakdown in the nation's regulatory system and poor communication from Boeing compromised the safety of the 737 MAX jet before it crashed twice in five months and killed 346 people," the New York Times reports.

  • Boeing did not adequately explain to federal regulators how a crucial new automated software system worked, the report found.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration delegated responsibility for certifying much about the plane's safety to Boeing's own employees, a practice now under scrutiny by Congress, the Times notes.

Flashback: In 2014, GM was gripped by its own safety crisis in which faulty ignition switches were tied to at least 124 vehicle deaths and led to the recall of 30 million GM cars worldwide.

  • An internal investigation concluded that reporting breakdowns and cultural barriers inside GM were to blame.
  • A congressional report also criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for ignoring warning signs that could have resulted in a safety recall years earlier.
  • NHTSA officials blamed GM for not conveying critical information about an engineering change they made to the switches.

What's happening: Lawmakers can't seem to pass self-driving car legislation and the U.S. Department of Transportation has adopted a hands-off approach to autonomous vehicle development, for fear of stifling innovation.

The bottom line: The AV industry is self-regulated and without clear safety standards for self-driving cars, we're at risk of repeating the same mistakes again.

Go deeper

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.