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Posts Tagged ‘auto safety’

Rental Car Act Named for Two Sisters Killed in Crash Passes Senate

House delays vote until after recess.

by on Jul.31, 2015

The Houck sisters were killed instantly when their vehicle spun out of control and hit a truck head-on.

With Washington lawmakers set to go home for their summer recess, family and friends of two sisters killed in a 2004 rental car crash received at least one bit of good news.

The Senate passed a 6-year highway bill on Thursday that includes the terms of the long-delayed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. The House won’t deal with the measure until lawmakers return to the capital in September. But if they also approve the measure it would ensure that rental car companies can no longer keep cars in operation that are subject to recall until the necessary fixes are made.

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The two California sisters were killed in a crash of a Chrysler PT Cruiser they’d gotten from Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Initially, the company attempted to blame 24-year-old Raechel, who was driving, going so far as to say she might have been “suicidal or on drugs.” But a jury later disagreed,

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Hidden Killers? What Happens When Airbags Age?

Federal regulators worried that safety systems could fail -- or worse -- on older vehicles.

by on Jul.21, 2015

A Takata airbag after a crash. The supplier hasn't been able to pinpoint the problem causing the airbags to explode.

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They’ve been called one of the most important safety technologies ever developed, but there’s growing concern that as airbags age they could become a major threat to the safety of millions of American motorists.

Nearly a dozen different automakers have so far recalled more than 40 million vehicles around the world due to faulty airbags produced by Japan’s Takata Corp. that have been blamed for at least eight deaths and 100s of injuries. But as NHTSA launches an investigation into the supplemental restraint system provided by a second supplier, the nation’s top automotive safety regulator told TheDetroitBureau.com that he’s worried the problem could be far more widespread.

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“Cars are lasting on the road a lot longer than ever before,” said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during a visit to Detroit. “Is aging now an issue? That’s part of the investigation going on.”

And it’s taking on increased urgency as automotive regulators, safety advocates and industry officials begin to question whether a technology designed to save lives can, over time, become a threat to life and limb.

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Feds Aim for “More Muscular” Auto Safety Oversight – and Congress Ready to Help

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle ready to act.

by on Jul.10, 2015

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx may get some help from Congress for a "much more muscular" effort to regulate automotive safety.

After a year of record recalls and a number of well-publicized fatalities, federal regulators and lawmakers alike apparently are ready to commit to what the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation is calling “much more muscular” enforcement.

And in a politically polarized Washington getting ready for a long presidential campaign, the issue of auto safety is spurring some unusual agreement across the aisle. That said, proposals from the Democratic and Republican camps appear to be taking very different approaches to solving the problem.

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Calling for “much more muscular” enforcement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx this week said that under new leadership, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is “going to be pretty rigorous,” emphasizing that “If companies fall short, they are going to hear from us.”

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GM Recalling Nearly 700k Utility Vehicles Because Liftgates Could Fail

News caps a week of safety-related problems.

by on Jul.10, 2015

The Enclave's curves are different than any other SUV on the market.

The 2012 Buick Enclave is one of the various GM crossovers covered by the liftgate recall.

Capping a week that already has seen some massive recalls, General Motors has announced a new service action covering 686,000 midsize crossover-utility vehicles because their rear liftgates could fail.

The latest recall by GM – which has taken major heat for safety problems over the last 18 months – covers Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia CUVs sold during the 2008 through 2012 model-year, 2009 through 2012 model-year Chevrolet Traverses and 2007 through 2010 model-year Saturn Outlooks.

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According to a report posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, the affected vehicles are equipped with power liftgates whose gas struts may prematurely wear out. If that happens, the hatches could suddenly and unexpectedly fall.

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Honda Adds Another 4.5 Mil Takata Airbags to Recall List

Further recalls could be possible.

by on Jul.09, 2015

Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said the automaker won't financially assist Takata.

Already having recalled more vehicles for defective Takata airbags than any other manufacturer, Honda Motor Co. is adding another 4.5 million vehicles to its global tally, it announced today.

More than a third of those vehicles were sold in Japan, according to Honda, which noted that none of the affected vehicles are in North America. Until recently, the U.S. and Canada constituted the bulk of the recalls involving Takata airbags, but the latest announcement from Honda suggests the problem is much more widespread.

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The latest recall appears to bring the total number of vehicles impacted by faulty Takata airbags to more than 40 million worldwide. At least eight deaths have been directly linked to the problem, all in Honda vehicles. So far, all but one occurred in the U.S. But it remains to be seen if more fatalities will be added to the list as manufacturers expand the scope of their recalls abroad.

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Potentially Faulty Truck Hitch Could Be Cause of Deadly Crash

Did federal safety investigators miss defect?

by on Jul.01, 2015

One of two pickup trucks struck by a runaway trailer in Batavia, OH, in January 2014.

Already under fire for failing to catch a series of deadly defects – including the flawed General Motors ignition switch blamed for over 100 deaths – federal regulators may have missed yet another fatal flaw.

This one involves a potentially defective hitch used on as many as 6,000 semi-trucks plying U.S. highways. Produced by an Alabama supplier, the part has been linked to a case involving a runaway trailer that killed two people on a snowy highway in Batavia, Ohio early last year.

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Though the manufacturer had issued several service bulletins, and users had filed several complaints – at least one involving a crash – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declined to open a formal investigation until last month.

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Amidst Safety Crackdown, NHTSA Comes Under Fire

“Significant safety concerns (are) being overlooked.”

by on Jun.22, 2015

Mark Rosekind, NHTSA's new administrator, will testify before a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

In the wake of a series of fatal safety problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has promised to crack down on the auto industry. But NHTSA itself is expected to come under fire for its own lapses.

Published reports indicate the agency charged with regulating automotive safety fell short in a variety of ways in recent years, among other things failing to uncover the ignition switch problem at General Motors that led to more than 110 deaths.

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“Collectively, these weaknesses have resulted in significant safety concerns being overlooked,” says a harsh, 42-page report by the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General, which is expected to be published on Friday.

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Men More Likely Than Women to Die in Car Crash

Blame alcohol as much as testosterone.

by on May.28, 2015

Men are more likely to die in a crash, and alcohol is just one of several reasons why.

After years of decline, U.S. highway fatalities have taken a jump in recent months, and that could be particularly bad news for men. Whether you blame testosterone or alcohol, male motorists are twice as likely to be killed behind the wheel as women, according to federal crash data.

Men tend to have more severe crashes than women, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. But in comparable crashes, women are more likely than men to be killed or injured. Separate studies have shown young men are particularly prone to being involved in fatal crashes, and the new NHTSA report indicates that the gap between men and women narrows with age.

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Federal researchers focused on crash data from 2012, a year in which 33,541 Americans were killed on the nation’s roadways. That broke down to 23,808 men and just 9,733 women.

The NHTSA study pointed to a variety of factors that could lie behind this gender gap: (more…)

Ford Targeting Nearly 450,000 Vehicles With Two Separate Recalls

Power steering problems are primary issue.

by on May.27, 2015

One recall covers versions of the new 2015 Ford Mustang equipped with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine.

Ford is targeting nearly 450,000 vehicles as part of a pair of recalls, it announced today.

The primary problem is a flawed power-steering system on a variety of recent sedan and crossover models. But the second problem affects the turbocharged version of the recently redesigned Ford Mustang.

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Ford says the bigger recall involves a problem so far linked to four minor crashes with no injuries. There have been no accidents, fires or injuries involving the Mustang defect.

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Senate Bill Would Bar Rental of Vehicles with Unrepaired Recall Problems

Measure has support of major rental firms - but dealers oppose it.

by on May.01, 2015

The Houck sisters were killed instantly when their vehicle spun out of control and hit a truck head-on.

A new bill facing the Senate would ban car rental companies from offering vehicles to consumers until outstanding recall problems are repaired.

Dubbed the Rachel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015, the measure is named after two sisters killed in the 2004 crash of a Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented which had a serious defect that hadn’t been fixed.

The Last Word!

“Whether they come from the renter’s lot or a dealership, cars under recall should be not be on the road until their defect is repaired,” said NY Senator Charles Schumer, and one of the lead sponsors, along with California’s Barbara Boxer, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill Florida’s Bill Nelson, all Democrats. A similar piece of legislation is facing the House of Representatives.

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