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“Drive High, Get a DUI”: Feds Tackle Drugged Driving

Concerns rise as more states legalize marijuana, and as opioid epidemic worsens.

by on Aug.15, 2018

NHTSA's new ad campaign will run through Labor Day, usually one of the most deadly weekends to drive.

“Drive High, Get a DUI.”

That’s the theme of a new ad campaign being launched today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that reflects growing concern about the potential risks raised by the expanding legalization of marijuana and the rise in opioid addition.

As TheDetroitBureau.com previously reportedly, tests indicate 44% of the drivers killed in U.S. car crashes in 2016 had the residue of drugs in their system – up from 28% a decade ago. Some data point to a rising death toll related to the growing, legal availability of marijuana, though not all research backs that up. Opioid use is also catching some of the blame.

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Whatever drug one uses, “If you feel different, you drive different,” Heidi King the deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said during an event in Nashville. “That’s the message we have for anyone using alcohol, marijuana or other drugs, whether obtained legally or illegally.”

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NHTSA Investigating Ford F-150 Seat Belt Fires

Five complaints filed, but no recall issued yet.

by on Aug.07, 2018

NHTSA is investigating a series of fires involving the truck's seat belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is exploring complaints about fires occurring in 2015–18 model year Ford F-150 pickup trucks. The fires may have been caused by the truck’s seat belts.

Ford officials say they are cooperating with the query involving more than 2 million trucks. A Ford spokeswoman said the automaker takes “the safety of our customers very seriously. We are investigating the matter and will cooperate with the agency, as we always do.”

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No recall has been ordered yet. (more…)

Automakers Offer Possible Solutions as Child Heatstroke Deaths Rise

Issue shows rare Washington bipartisanship, but Hot Cars Act yet to pass.

by on Jul.31, 2018

Nissan's Rear Door Alert system uses the horn to sound an alert to remind the driver to check the back seat.

The record heat scorching the country has been blamed for a series of devastating wildfires and other natural disasters, while contributing to what is on pace to become a record year for heatstroke deaths among children left in hot cars.

As July draws to a close, authorities have so far counted 29 child heatstroke deaths, a figure expected to soon surge pass the annual average of 37. Heatstrokes are not only the number one cause of non-crash vehicular deaths among children 15 years of age and younger, but also one of the most preventable. That’s led to a bipartisan push for new legislation on Capitol Hill, while several automakers have begun taking steps that could lower the deadly toll.

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“No one thinks a hot car tragedy can happen to them or their family and that is why these tragedies continue to happen,” said Janette Fennell, founder and president of the nonprofit child safety organization KidsAndCars.org. (more…)

Tesla Batteries Reigniting After Being Put Out by Fire Departments

NTSB reports find lithium-ion power packs catching on fire again.

by on Jun.27, 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.

Tesla’s lithium ion batteries have reignited on two separate occasions after the initial fires were extinguished, according to NTSB reports.

The National Traffic Safety Board sent teams to investigate Tesla crashes in Florida and California and in both cases found that after the fire departments put out battery fires, the powerplants each reignited and had to be extinguished again.

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In May, a Tesla Model S that crashed into a wall at high speed in Fort Lauderdale burst into flames, killing two teens and injuring a third.The Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue Department found the Tesla “fully engulfed in flames” at the crash scene and extinguished it with 200 to 300 gallons of water and foam, the report stated. (more…)

Safety Groups Want Tesla Autopilot Name Banned

Groups argue it is “deceptive and misleading.”

by on May.23, 2018

Despite Tesla's claims to the contrary, safety advocates believe the company's use of the name Autopilot is misleading.

It’s called Autopilot but, at least for now, Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology is a not completely reliable co-pilot, it can require rapid human intervention to avert a crash. And that, two consumer groups argue, makes the use of the Autopilot name “deceptive and misleading.”

The Center for Auto Safety, or CAS, and Consumer Watchdog aren’t the first to raise concerns about the Tesla technology. German regulators briefly considered banning the name, Autopilot. But the American non-profit safety groups have taken their concerns to the Federal Trade Commission, asking it to initiate an investigation of how Tesla not only has named, but also how it promotes its semi-autonomous system.

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In a letter to the federal agency, they claim Tesla has taken steps to “mislead and deceive customers into believing that Autopilot is safer and more capable than it is known to be.” (more…)

Three Quarters of Americans “Too Afraid to Ride” in Self-Driving Vehicles

As more problems reported, acceptance declines, finds new AAA study.

by on May.23, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

They’re expected to flood our roads by the millions over the next decade, and Congress is currently working on legislation that would expand testing on public roads – but a new AAA study reveals that the American public is, if anything, growing more concerned about the safety of autonomous and fully driverless vehicles.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. drivers would be “afraid” to ride in one today, up from 63% when the AAA last polled American motorists in late 2017. The decline in confidence appears to follow an array of incidents involving prototype autonomous vehicles, including the first-known fatal crash near Phoenix when a hands-free SUV being tested by Uber slammed into a pedestrian.

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“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

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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…)

FCA Continuing Diesel Settlement Talks with DOJ, CARB

Discussions centering on potential penalties for automaker.

by on Apr.11, 2018

The 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is part of the group of vehicles that allegedly used a cheat device to beat emissions tests.

Despite repeatedly denying any wrongdoing, Fiat Chrysler is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department and California Air Resources Board to reach a settlement about accusations it used illegal used software to beat diesel emissions tests.

The discussions, which according to multiple reports, are very far along, address allegations that FCA used the software, in a manner similar to Volkswagen’s diesel testing cheat device, for 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles – mostly light trucks – sold since 2014.

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According to Reuters, Ken Feinberg, an adviser in the process, at a federal court hearing in San Francisco revealed that government lawyers and Fiat Chrysler were swapping documents as part of the settlement process, which was moving “at a rather swift pace.” (more…)

Uber CEO Says Autonomous Testing Done Until NTSB Investigation Complete

Company reached a settlement with victim's family.

by on Apr.11, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company wouldn't resume testing its self-driving cars until the NTSB was complete.

Uber is tackling one issue at a time after one of its autonomous test vehicle collided with and killed a pedestrian outside of Phoenix last month, according to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

He said right now the company is cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the event.

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“Right now our total effort is helping them out and we’ll figure out what we do afterward,” he said, adding that self-driving cars “ultimately will make the world much, much safer.” (more…)

Distracted Driving Problem? Nope, It’s an Epidemic, Study Shows

Two of three drivers with phones use them behind the wheel.

by on Apr.10, 2018

Distracted driving behavior may be much worse than government regulators have reported.

It’s not your imagination. In spite of concerted efforts by federal agencies and safety advocacy groups, Americans are spending more time than ever using their phones while behind the wheel.

According to a new study by Zendrive, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks phone use for auto insurers and ride-hailing fleets, two out of every three drivers uses their cell phones at least once during a trip in their vehicle.

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This can be as simple as taking a phone call or as dangerous as texting. Zendrive monitored 4.5 million drivers from December through February, who travelled 7.1 billion miles, comparing the results with the year-earlier period. (more…)