WASHINGTON (Sept. 26)—Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook lashed out at U.S. auto and tire makers, whom she accused of trying to block pending legislation to strengthen the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration´s powers to combat auto and tire defects. "They are working furiously behind the scenes to mold the legislation to their liking," said Claybrook, who was NHTSA administrator during the Carter administration. Already they had succeeded in the Senate bill in cutting back criminal provisions to cover only those executives who knowingly introduce a defective product, saying it is much more common to discover an auto or tire is defective in use and try to cover up the evidence then. Claybrook also said that Ford´s decision to list the tire pressure for the Ford Explorer´s OE tires "certainly shows there´s some culpability there. Ford, instead of redesigning the vehicle, chose to underinflate the tires." The Senate Commerce Committee passed its NHTSA reform bill Sept. 20, with no Senate floor action scheduled as yet. A House Commerce subcommittee considered its own version of the bill Sept. 21, with more action scheduled for Sept. 27.