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Posts Tagged ‘auto safety’

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.

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“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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Safety Features Resonate with American Motorists in New Tech Choice Study

US car shoppers uninterested in fuel-saving features.

by on Apr.22, 2015

Consumers are demanding new collision avoidance technologies, according to new Power study.

Today’s new cars are likely to feature more digital technology than you’ll find in the typical home or office – including infotainment systems that can tap into the apps on an Apple or Google smartphone.

But forget about Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. What consumers want most are safety-related technologies such as blind spot detection and forward-collision mitigation – which account for seven of the Top 10 technologies car buyers say they want most, according to the first J.D. Power U.S. Tech Choice Study. Among the Top Five picks, self-healing paint was the only non-safety-related technology.

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“Collision protection ranked above average,” said study director Kristin Kolodge, with “the vast majority” of the more than 5,000 U.S. motorists who participated in the Tech Choice Study. Significantly, she said this was not limited to any narrow segment of buyer. “There is a tremendous interest in collision protection technologies across all generations.”

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New Driver Aid Prevents Accidents

Testing shows errors can be eliminated before they happen.

by on Apr.20, 2015

Researchers have developed technology that monitors a driver's movements and warns them when they are about to make a mistake.

No one has come up with a foolproof system for autonomous driving but driver assistance programs that help motorists control their vehicles are becoming more sophisticated all the time.

Cornell and Stanford University researchers have developed a system that anticipates what a driver is going to do a few seconds before it happens using cameras and a new computer algorithm.

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Some cars are already equipped with safety systems that monitor a car’s movement and warn if there is an unsafe turn or lane change, the researchers noted. But the warning comes too late, after the driver has acted. (more…)

New Vehicle Designs Make Zero Highway Deaths a Real Possibility

Nine models reach that goal, finds new study.

by on Jan.29, 2015

The 2011 Honda Odyssey was one of nine models to experience no fatalities during the study period.

(This story has been updated to include the list of the nine safest vehicles, and additional comments by IIHS.)

The highway death toll has been plunging rapidly in recent years, and safety experts are crediting a number of factors, including improved roadways and a crackdown on drunk driving. But a new study puts the spotlight on vehicle design and improved technology for both preventing crashes and keeping motorists alive when they do occur.

A record total of nine models sold during the 2011 model-year have had a death rate of zero, meaning no one was killed in a crash involving those vehicles during the period studied by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Significantly, these are not ultra-exotic products. They include mainstream models like the Honda Odyssey minivan and Subaru Legacy sedan, as well as the big Mercedes-Benz GL SUV. (See the complete list, below.)

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“We know from our vehicle ratings program that crash test performance has been getting steadily better. These latest death rates provide new confirmation that real-world outcomes are improving, too,” said IIHS vice president and chief research officer David Zuby.

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2014: The Year of the Recall

Safety may remain the big story in 2015.

by on Dec.30, 2014

Barely 2 months after becoming GM's new CEO, Mary Barra was facing a Congressional investigation into the maker's ignition switch problems.

When 2014 opened, the year’s top automotive story seemed likely to be Mary Barra, General Motors’ new chief executive, and the first female CEO of a major automaker. As the year draws to a close, Barra is, indeed, still in the headlines, but enmeshed in what has turned into the year’s biggest story.

GM’s February recall of 2.6 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches has so far been linked to more than 40 deaths. But in recent weeks, that’s nearly been eclipsed by the Takata airbag crisis that has so far led to the recall of more than 10 million vehicles and counting – federal regulators pressing to expand the service action nationwide.

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But those are only two of the many safety issues that have led the industry to recall about 60 million vehicles this year, nearly twice the previous record set back in 2004. The question is whether recalls will remain the big automotive story for 2015.

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Chrysler Expands Takata Recall as 10 Automakers Begin Airbag Probe

Will replacement airbags face a similar problem?

by on Dec.12, 2014

The 2005 Chrysler 300C is included in the latest expansion of Chrysler's airbag recall.

Chrysler is the latest automaker to expand its recall of vehicles equipped with potentially defective airbags provided by the embattled Japanese supplier Takata.

The announcement came hours after the Detroit automaker met with a group of nine rivals in an effort to understand the problems with the airbag systems that have so far been linked to at least five deaths and 46 injuries in the U.S. alone.

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Chrysler will boost its recall of Takata-equipped vehicles by 208,783. It’s the second time in a week that the smallest of the Detroit makers expanded its effort to deal with the airbag problem. Chrysler now has recalled 617,000 vehicles with the suspect Takata safety systems. But the figure jumps to nearly 11 million when other manufacturers are factored in.

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