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Posts Tagged ‘auto safety’

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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New NHTSA Nominee Promises to Speed Up Safety Recalls

Agency needs to be industry “enforcer.”

by on Dec.04, 2014

Mark Rosekind, nominee for NHTSA Administrator.

(This story has been revised to correct the name of former NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.)

Call him “the enforcer.” Mark Rosekind, the nominee to take over as the new administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says he’ll be getting tough when it comes to recalls and other auto industry safety lapses.

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That appeared to be precisely what members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee wanted to hear as they held a hearing on Rosekind’s appointment by President Obama. Over the last 11 months, since David Strickland left his post as NHTSA chief, the agency has come under intense fire for its handling of a series of safety issues, including the current Takata airbag recall crisis.

“I’ve been concerned with the slowness across all of the agency’s recalls,” Rosekind told the committee, adding that “NHTSA needs to be the enforcer.”

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Recalls Aside, Automobiles Becoming Safer than Ever

An era of zero fatalities may be within reach.

by on Dec.03, 2014

Volvo's new AstaZero safety proving grounds. The maker wants to see zero deaths in its vehicles.

With a record 54 million vehicles facing recall — and nearly another month to go before the books are closed on 2014 — it’s no surprise American automakers and auto buyers alike have been focused on safety this year.

But despite all the lapses that have seen dozens of deaths from faulty airbags and flawed ignition switches, there’s another side to the story: cars are safer than ever. U.S. highway fatalities are now about 40 percent down from their 1970s peak, even though there are more cars on the road logging more mileage.

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“I don’t think we’ve ever seen vehicle safety reach this level before,” contends Raj Nair, global product development director for Ford Motor Co.

The latest vehicles are not only better-equipped to survive crashes but also to avoid them altogether. That’s led several automakers, including both Nissan and Volvo, to declare that they hope to see no deaths occur in the new vehicles they bring to market by the beginning of the next decade.

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NHTSA Debates How Far to Expand Takata Airbag Recall

Agency still wants nationwide recall for faulty driver’s side bags, but hedging on passenger-side airbags.

by on Dec.02, 2014

A Takata airbag after a crash.

(This story has been updated.)

Already under fire for its handling of several recent major safety issues, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to debate how far to expand the recall of vehicles equipped with potentially faulty airbags produced by Japanese supplier Takata Corp.

With NHTSA officials set to testify before Congress on Wednesday, the agency confirmed it is still seeking a nationwide recall of driver-side airbags, but that it is not yet calling for a similar action for passenger-side airbags. The safety agency was sharply criticized following its initial decision in October to order a recall of 7.8 million vehicles in areas with high humidity where the risk of airbag failures was considered most serious.

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The big question is whether Takata will accept NHTSA’s midnight deadline and agree to go along with the expanded driver’s side airbag recall before tomorrow’s Capitol Hill hearing.

Takata Chairman Shigehisa Takada was expected to announce a decision on Tuesday but failed to reveal the company’s position.

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Rearview Cameras Saving Lives, Says AAA

But some systems are better than others.

by on Oct.29, 2014

Backup cameras are already common - even before the new government mandate takes effect.

Advancing autumn darkness increases concerns about pedestrian safety and one innovation that does help reduce accidents is the back-up camera, according to studies by AAA.

On average, these rear-view systems improved visibility an average of 46%, the travel and safety organization found. That’s a significant improvement, and something that can save 100s of lives a year, which is why federal regulators will beginning mandating the technology a year from now.

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“Rear-view cameras are a great supplement for drivers,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering.

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Nissan Latest to Join Big Recall Club

Altima sedans could see hoods fly open while driving.

by on Oct.10, 2014

Nissan targets the Altima for recall.

In most years, a recall of 220,000 midsize sedans might make major headlines. This year, however, Nissan’s latest safety news could almost be lost in the noise, the auto industry already recalling roughly 40 million vehicles for all matter of problems.

But the Japanese maker is warning that it is looking into the possibility that its problems could be more serious, leading to a possible expansion of today’s announcement.

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The initial news, at least, involves 220,000 Nissan Altima sedans sold in the U.S. during the 2013 model-year because their secondary hood latches could fail. If that happens, the hoods could potentially fly open while the vehicles are in motion.

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Chrysler Recalls 349,000 Vehicles for Ignition Switch Defect

One crash linked to defect.

by on Sep.25, 2014

The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, one of the vehicles covered by Chrysler's ignition switch recall.

General Motors isn’t the only automaker facing problems with ignition switches. Chrysler is recalling 349,442 older sedans, wagons and SUVs because of a problem that could inadvertently lead vehicles to shut off while being driven.

The announcement is one of the latest involving faulty ignition switches, though the most notorious case involves 2.6 million small cars produced by GM that were recalled last February and which have since been blamed for at least 21 deaths.

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In the case of Chrysler, the ignition switches may inadvertently slip out of the Run position without a driver’s intervention. In some cases, that will simply shut off accessories such as the windshield wipers. But if the key turns all the way to the Off position, the vehicle’s engine may then shut off, leading to a potential loss of control and possible crash.

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