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Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Tesla Model S Was in Autopilot at Time of Crash

Driver repeatedly took hands off the wheel.

by on May.17, 2018

The NTSB is investigating a third crash involving a Tesla vehicle using Autopilot at the time of the collision.

A Tesla Model S sedan that crashed into the back of a fire truck in Utah last week was operating in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, the battery-electric automaker has confirmed, though the company has also tried to shift blame to the 28-year-old driver by noting that she repeatedly took her hands off the wheel and admitted being distracted immediately before the crash occurred.

The incident is the latest in a series of accidents involving Tesla vehicles in the U.S. and abroad and could raise new concerns about the safety of the automaker’s products – especially those using Autopilot which Tesla CEO Elon Musk has hailed as a potentially life-saving feature.

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The latest crash occurred when a Model S slammed into a parked fire truck at around 60 mph. The female driver suffered a broken foot. She subsequently told authorities that she was driving in Autopilot mode. Tesla engineers on Wednesday accessed the vehicle’s black box and confirmed that statement, though they also revealed that the driver had taken her hands off the wheel for as much as 80 seconds immediately prior to the crash. (more…)

Denso Readies Driver Monitor for Big Trucks

Supplier adapts tech for commercial vehicles.

by on May.16, 2018

Denise's adapted its driver monitor sensor for use in large commercial vehicles.

Denso Corp. is looking to keep drivers of large commercial vehicles alert and awake behind the wheel, or least let them know when they should pull over, with its newly released a driver status monitor that can be used by vehicles already on the road.

The driver status monitor is can be placed in existing vehicles on the road and can therefore accelerate the introduction of safety devices to large commercial vehicles.

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If drowsy or distracted driving is detected, the monitor voices an alert. It is now sold by Denso Sales and Denso service stations across Japan and will be released outside the country later this year. (more…)

Uber Backs Down on Arbitration Accused of Silencing Sex Assault Victims

Ride-sharing service’s drivers accused of numerous rapes and assaults.

by on May.15, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi agreed to end the company's practice of using only confidential arbitration to resolve issues.

Ride-sharing giant Uber responding to critics who feel it has tried to silence victims of sexual assault says it will stop using the forced arbitration contained in its terms of service.

The move comes after reports surfaced revealing at least 100 Uber drivers in the U.S. had been accused of sexually assaulting passengers in recent years, including one recent case in which a driver followed a female passenger after reaching her home and tried to force himself into her apartment. Critics have also accused the service of lax background checks that have allowed some convicted of sex crimes to go to work for the company.

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Anyone using the Uber smartphone app to hail a ride was required to enter into confidential arbitration, even in the event of serious crimes, such as rape, committed by a driver. Going forward, Uber says it will now let victims, including passengers as well as drivers and employees, choose the venue in which to pursue their grievance, including the courts. (more…)

Tesla’s Musk Orders “Flattening” of Management Team as Problems with Safety, Manufacturing Mount

Newest crash also linked to Tesla’s Autopilot system.

by on May.15, 2018

Tesla's Elon Musk "flattened" the company's management structure to improve communications.

Facing increasing problems that have raised concerns about both Tesla’s technology and manufacturing operations, CEO Elon Musk has ordered a shake-up of the company’s management structure.

Tesla continues to struggle to meet production targets for its Model 3 battery-sedan, an issue that led to record first-quarter losses. But the company has also found itself in the news because of a series of serious vehicle crashes, at least some of which appear to have occurred while they were operating in the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode.

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While those crashes could raise concerns about the safety of Tesla’s products, the more immediate threat to the company’s viability is lagging Model 3 production at its Fremont, California assembly plant. In a memo sent to employees, Musk noted he was “flattening (the company’s) management structure to improve communications,” while shifting away from “activities that are not vital to the success of our mission.” (more…)

Click It or Ticket is Back: This Means You Teen Driver

Gen Z drives least likely to buckle up overtime behind wheel.

by on May.11, 2018

Teenage drivers are the least likely group of drivers to use seat belts, according to a new survey.

In a digital world, it is the most “analog” of devices that will save your life: a seat belt. It’s common sense to get in and buckle up; however, the digital generation, Gen Z, are the least likely of driving age groups to strap themselves in when driving.

According to a recent national survey of drivers by Erie Insurance, just 77% of Gen Z drivers — the age group most likely to get in and die from a car accident — buckle up. As drivers get older, they are more likely to use seat belts: 81% of millennials use them, 87% of Gen Xers and 94% of Baby Boomers make sure to buckle up every time they get in a car.

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This isn’t just posturing, but based on hard evidence. In 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the use of seat belts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,668 lives of occupants ages 5 and older. Many Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt – the national use rate is at 90.1% – but nearly 27.5 million people still don’t buckle up. (more…)

NTSB Opens 2nd Tesla Investigation After Florida Crash Kills 2 Teens

Batteries catch fire after high-speed impact.

by on May.10, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board launched a second investigation into a Tesla crash. This time a Model S burst into flames after spinning into a wall.

Even as federal investigators probe the cause of a fatal March crash in California, the National Transportation Safety Board is sending another team off to Florida to look into a fiery crash that killed two Ft. Lauderdale teenagers and seriously injured a third this week.

While the California probe focuses on the Tesla Autopilot system in use at the time of the crash, the new investigation aims to find out why the battery pack in the Model S sedan the teens were riding in burst into flames after the vehicle spun out of control into a wall.

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“NTSB has a long history of investigating emerging transportation technologies, such as lithium-ion battery fires in commercial aviation, as well as a fire involving the lithium-ion battery in a Chevrolet Volt in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” noted NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt in a statement. (more…)

Pedestrian Deaths Skyrocketing – Pot, SUVs and Smartphones Catching Blame

Tech distractions and possible tech solutions.

by on May.09, 2018

Despite recent efforts to improve safety, pedestrian deaths have risen for the past few years.

Highway deaths have been on the rise in recent years, reversing a long period of improved roadway safety. And one reason for the deadly turnaround has been the skyrocketing increase in pedestrian fatalities.

Since 2009, the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes has jumped by nearly 50%, and a number of factors are being blamed, including the use of mobile devices by both motorists and pedestrians. But a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety puts a chunk of the blame on the increasing number of SUVs on the road.

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Both the number SUVs and their design appear to be factors, according to David Harkey, the president of the insurance industry trade groups, who noted that, “SUVs have higher front ends, and often the design for the vehicle is much more vertical than passenger cars.” That can make for a more blunt impact and less likelihood that a pedestrian being struck by an SUV might be able to roll off the vehicle and reduce injuries.

(more…)

Production Version of Kia Niro EV Breaks Cover

Timing of U.S. launch unclear.

by on May.04, 2018

The long-range version of the Kia Niro EV will get 236 miles out of a 64 kWh battery pack.

We got a first look at the concept version of Kia’s all-electric Niro model during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. The Korean carmaker has now pulled the wraps off the production model during the Fifth International Electric Vehicle Expo in Seoul.

A quick glance suggests the version that will be rolling into showrooms is a bit more conservative than the CES show car, with relatively conventional lights and bumpers. Perhaps the biggest difference between the Niro EV and earlier versions of the crossover can be seen in the textured, albeit solid, grille – which actually bears more than a passing likeness to the snout on the all-electric Hyundai Kona that debuted at the New York International Auto Show barely a month ago.

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Kia is being sparse when it comes to offering details about the Niro EV, though it did indicate the battery-electric vehicle will be offered with a choice of two different batteries – at least in some markets – the more powerful, 64 kWh pack will provide enough energy to travel an estimated 236 miles between charges, the 39.2 kWh pack reducing range to around 149 miles.

(more…)

Study Shows Motorists Want Calmer, More Comfortable Commute

Better seats, audio systems and safety tech top list.

by on May.04, 2018

A study from Volvo Cars and Harris show that drivers want a calmer daily commute.

Commuting is stressful, and Americans are looking for relief and a lot of them are finding it in their cars. A new study from Volvo Cars and Harris indicates 75% of Americans are seeking more ways to find calm amid increasing stress levels.

Moreover, the respondents to the Volvo/Harris survey are also looking in surprising places to find it. In fact, more Americans find serenity on their daily drive, approximately 20% more than while doing yoga, which 14% respondents said helped them minimize the stress.

Volvo commission the study because it was seeking to better understand how commuting and traffic drive stress levels amongst Americans, and what factors might help drivers decompress and find their own personal sanctuary on the road.  (more…)

Former VW CEO Winterkorn Indicted in Diesel Emissions Case

Indictment comes in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

by on May.03, 2018

Former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned after claiming to have no knowledge of the diesel cheat devices.

Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen AG, was charged in U.S. District Court in Detroit today, for conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act, for his role in the automaker’s efforts to cheat on diesel emissions standards.

VW officials did not comment on the indictment, which was filed in secret in March and unsealed today. Several executives were named in the indictment. Winterkorn, the highest-ranking executive charged, was cited for trying to mislead regulators about the cheating.

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When the scandal broke in 2015, then-CEO Winterkorn denied having knowledge of the efforts by VW engineers to use a device and software to pass emissions inspections.  (more…)