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IMPORTANT MOTORCYCLE SAFETY TIPS FOR NEW RIDERS

Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 9:08 pm    

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car. Here are some valuable safety tips offered by Consumer Report (CR) for new motorcycle riders.

DON’T BUY MORE BIKE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE

Consumer Report recommends being careful at the beginning by shopping for a bike that fits you well and cautions against buying too powerful of a bike if you are just starting to ride.

GET ANTI-LOCK BRAKES

According to data compiled by the IIHS, motorcycles equipped with ABS brakes were 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without it. The reason is simple – locking up the brakes in a panic stop will rob the rider of any steering control. Anti-lock brakes avoids locking the brakes.

HONE YOUR SKILLS

CR strongly urges that you take a good safety course such as one offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). See the MSF website for course availability.

PROTECT YOUR HEAD

Wear a DOT approved helmet. The simple fact is that helmets save lives. When Texas repealed their helmet laws, they saw a 31% increase in motorcycle fatalities.

WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR

Protect yourself against road rash and other similar injuries by wearing the proper clothing and gear. Generally, go for leather and other reinforced jackets, gloves, full pants and over the ankle wear.

DRIVE DEFENSIVELY

In the majority of collisions involving motorcycles and cars, the car drivers were at fault. So, be extra alert, don’t tailgate, and assume the worst.

AVOID BAD WEATHER

Rain and slippery conditions reduce your tire’s grip, makes cornering tricky, and cuts your visibility. If at all possible, avoid riding in bad weather.

WATCH OUT FOR ROAD HAZARDS

Sand, wet leaves, gravel, etc. can cause a bike to slide unexpectedly and easily result in a spill. Likewise, bumps, potholes, etc. that are barely noticeable in a car can pose a serious danger when on a motorcycle.

DO A PRE-RIDE INSPECTION

Before you ride, do a quick safety check on your bike and make sure everything is in good working order. Worn out brakes and improperly inflated tires can significantly increase the risk of an accident.

If you, or someone you know, sustained injuries in a motorcycle collision in Central Pennsylvania, contact the Law Office of Bill Pelhan at 717-392-6362 to learn more about your rights and legal options.

Source: An article appearing at www.consumerreports.org entitled 10 Motorcycle safety tips for new riders published April 2013.

NHTSA TO ADOPT TOUGHER CRASH TEST RATING STANDARDS FOR AUTOMOBILES

Posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 at 2:47 pm    

NHTSA recently announced that it intends to revise its current five star safety rating system for new automobiles. Under the current system, automobiles are rated simply based on crash worthiness.

The current system was sharply criticized by lawmakers after a New York Times investigative story reported that nearly 92% of all 2011 through 2015 models received a four or five star rating. And, in the case of Chevrolet, many of its vehicles receiving five star ratings in early 2014 were later recalled for various safety defects.

Under the new system, which NHTSA plans to implement for the 2019 model year, the overall score will be based upon three sub ratings which include testing to assess pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, and crash avoidance capabilities. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox noted that the new plan will use new advanced test dummies with improved sensors to better predict injuries and include a new offset crash testing. An off-set crash is a type of angled crash which continues to result in deaths and serious injuries in spite of the use of airbags and seatbelts.

According to the article appearing the USA Today, an 8% uptick in the number of deaths in the first half of 2015 has fueled concern that progress on vehicle safety may have stalled. Accordingly, regulators have decided to modify the federal crash test standards to encourage automakers to adopt recent advancements in crash avoidance systems including such things as forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, and lane departure warning systems. While these systems have been shown to be effective in avoiding and preventing crashes and thus injuries and deaths, currently they are generally offered as options on new vehicles or only available on more expensive luxury models.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on December 8, 2015 entitled NHTSA toughens crash test rating standards by Nathan Bomey and a New York Times article appearing in the LNP on Sunday, December 13, 2015 entitled Tackling Safety Head-on

GM TO ADDRESS FIRE HAZARD ON SOME OLDER MODELS

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2016 at 2:39 pm    

GM recently announced that it will replace several key engine parts in order to stop oil leaks that have caused more than 1,300 fires and multiple recalls of some of its older model cars.

The recall covers about 1.4 million cars with 3.8-liter V6 engines for model years 1997 through 2004. Models included in the recall are the Buick Regal, Oldsmobile Intrigue, Pontiac Grand Prix and the Chevrolet Impala, Lumina and Monte Carlo.

According to an article appearing in the LNP when the vehicles equipped with the 3.8-liter V6 engines are under heavy braking, oil can seep through valve cover gaskets and drip onto the hot exhaust manifold and catch fire. GM acknowledged that 1,345 cars have caught fire after being repaired pursuant to prior recalls.

Unfortunately, GM also noted in making this announcement that the parts necessary for the repairs under this latest recall are not yet available. GM stated that once the parts become available, customers will start getting letters instructing them to make an appointment with the dealers.

Until that time, GM recommends that the cars be parked outside until they can be repaired due to the continuing potential fire risk posed by these vehicles. Nevertheless, according to the AP article, GM maintains that the vehicles are safe to drive until repairs can be made.

Source: An AP article entitled GM to replace engine parts appearing in the LNP on Thursday, December 10, 2015.

NHTSA FINES BMW $40 MILLION FOR ITS FAILURE TO MEET SAFETY REGULATIONS

Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2016 at 2:38 pm    

NHTSA recently imposed a $40 million civil penalty and several performance requirements on BMW for a series of violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and NHTSA regulations. These penalties were imposed as part of a Consent Order in which BMW acknowledged it violated federal requirements to issue timely recalls, to notify vehicle owners of recalls in a timely fashion, and to provide accurate information about its recalls to NHTSA. In 2012, NHTSA imposed a $3 million dollar fine on BMW for similar violations.

One of the failures that seemed to alarm NHTSA involved its 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper two door hardtop models. According to the NHTSA website, testing in October 2014 revealed that these models failed a crash test designed to determine whether the vehicles met crash protection minimums. At that time, BMW agreed to a voluntary service campaign to add additional side impact protection to the vehicles.

However, in July 2015, when NHTSA conducted a second crash test on a vehicle with the additional side impact protection, NHTSA learned that BMW had not launched the service campaign as agreed.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted that in addition to the penalties, the Consent Decree required BMW to take a series of steps to remedy the practices and procedures that led to the violations. Secretary Foxx emphasized that BMW needs to reform its culture and procedures to put safety where it belongs – at the top of its priority list.

Source: www.NHTSA.gov

FIFTY-TWO (52) PEOPLE DIED IN TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS IN 2015 IN LANCASTER COUNTY

Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 at 2:51 pm    

Based upon records kept by LNP and the Lancaster District Attorney, there were 52 people killed in traffic accidents in Lancaster County in 2015. While that is 10 fewer than last year, it is only 3 below the average for the past 7 years. According to Attorney Christine Wilson of the District Attorney’s Office, “The majority of the deaths continue to be caused by operator error, predominantly those caused by alcohol impairment and unsafe speeds.” While in recent years distracted driving has been a factor in some county crashes, the most significant factor in Lancaster County continues to be alcohol impairment.

Of the 49 fatal crashes occurring in 2015, 6 involved motorcycles which resulted in the deaths of 7 people. And, only 1 crash in 2015 resulted in the death of a child under age 18.

Two deaths led to criminal charges. One was when Dominic Stitely, 21, was intentionally run over and killed by Orlando R. Ortiz. Ortiz was charged with homicide and awaits trial. The other collision resulting in criminal charges was when Brandon Bleecher, 24, struck and killed a 68 year-old pedestrian, Charles Leayman, on January 18, 2015. Bleecher pled guilty and was sentenced to 5 to 12 years.

The 2010 year was the deadliest year for traffic fatalities in Lancaster County since 2009 when 66 people died in traffic fatalities.

Source: An article appearing at lancasteronline.com on January 28, 2016 entitled 52 people killed in traffic accidents in Lancaster County in 2015 by Ryan Robinson.

OBAMA PROPOSES SPENDING $4 BILLION TO HELP DEVELOP DRIVERLESS CARS

Posted on Friday, February 12th, 2016 at 3:08 pm    

The Obama administration is proposing that the federal government spend nearly $4 billion over the next decade to accelerate the acceptance of driverless cars to help curb traffic fatalities and travel delays. The goal is to have federal regulators work with automakers and others to draft rules and policies for vehicles that can operate without a driver at the wheel. And, it would also set-up pilot programs for testing connected cars that talk to one another to help avoid crashes.

Car makers cite a lack of clear regulations as one of the barriers to the advancement of driverless cars. And, they prefer to have a clear national standard or road map for the approval of autonomous vehicles rather than a state by state patchwork of rules.

Executives at Volvo state that the lack of a consensus in Europe has frustrated their efforts to develop such technology.

Regulators in the U.S. see autonomous cars as an opportunity to reduce the nation’s more than 32,000 annual vehicle fatalities.

NHTSA is encouraging automakers and others to contact them for guidance with respect to rules and regulations governing autonomous cars. Regulators acknowledge that it has been a challenge to keep pace with the rapid development of new technologies in the driverless vehicle arena.

In spite of these hurdles, General Motors recently announced that it invested $500 million in Lyft with the goal of creating an on demand network of autonomous vehicles. Similarly, Uber, Lyft’s main competitor, announced plans to open an autonomous vehicle research center with Carnegie Mellon University.

However, Mike Jackson, the CEO at AutoNation recently noted that replacing the nation’s car fleet will take at least two decades.

Source: An article appearing at wsj.com on January 15, 2016 entitled U.S. Proposes Spending $4 Billion to Encourage Driverless Cars by Mike Spector and Mike Ramsey and an article appearing at nytimes.com on 01/18/2016 entitled For Now, Self-Driving Cars Still Need Humans by John Markoff.

VIRGINIA WILL REMOVE CONTROVERSIAL GUARDRAILS

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2016 at 2:41 pm    

A Virginia state official recently announced that Virginia is going to remove the controversial ET-Plus guardrail systems manufactured by Trinity Industries from some of its highways after its own crash test confirmed its concerns about the safety of these guardrails.

According to the AP article, even though federal officials had announced earlier this year that the ET-Plus system had passed all 8 crash tests requested by the Feds, Virginia decided to perform its own independent crash test of the Trinity Industries ET-Plus system after it determined that the safety tests conducted by the federal government were insufficient.

Although the ET-Plus system passed several of the tests financed by Virginia, state officials were concerned regarding the guardrails’ performance in a test designed to see how it performed in what is called a “shallow-angle test” which basically shows what happens when a vehicle hits the guardrail at an angle. This test showed that the system performed in a way that could have serious consequences for vehicle’s occupants with the vehicle overturning after hitting the device.

The long metal guardrail is supposed to flatten out into a ribbon when hit, absorbing the vehicle’s impact and thereby reducing the chances of death or injury. But according to the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of Virginia, changes made to the design of the ET-Plus guardrail cause it to jam and turn into a deadly spear upon impact.

Source: An AP article appearing in The LNP on Thursday, December 17, 2015 entitled Virginia will remove questioned guardrails.

WHEN IT COMES TO DISTRACTED DRIVING – PARENTS ARE KEY

Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 at 2:24 pm    

In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Yet, 20% of all teen and 10% of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text, conversations while driving.

While there are many activities that result in distracted driving, texting is generally considered the most alarming distraction because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver while driving.

According to NHTSA, parents are the number one influence on what kind of driver your teen child will become. And, NHTSA states that you as a parent can help your teen children develop a lifetime of good driving habits by following these simple steps:

• HAVE THE TALK
Driving is a serious responsibility. Therefore, you should discuss with your teen driver what it means to be a safe driver and then establish ground rules for when they are behind the wheel. If your teen is on the road, they should stay off the phone.

• MAKE A FAMILY PLEDGE
Print out the pledge form found at www.distractions.gov/take-action/parents. and have every member of your family commit to distraction-free driving. As a parent, set a positive example for your kids by putting your cell phone in the glove compartment every time you drive.

• KNOW THE LAWS OF YOUR STATE
Many states have graduated driver licensing laws that include cell phone and texting bans for young drivers. Be sure to remind your teen driver that there are serious consequences for violating these laws which can include a delayed or suspended license.

For more information regarding distracted driving see www.distraction.gov/take-action/parents.

Source: See www.distraction.gov/take-action/parents for more information.

NHTSA WONDERS ARE ANY TAKATA AIRBAGS SAFE?

Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2016 at 2:43 pm    

Two recent recalls of 2016/2015 vehicles has raised serious questions in the minds of regulators as to whether or not any of Takata’s airbags using ammonium nitrate as a propellant are safe.

Honda recently announced that it would recall 515 of its CR-V vehicles from the 2016 model year after Takata notified it that a front driver’s side airbag had failed in tests. This recall came on the heels of a similar recall by General Motors involving 400 2015 model year vehicles where the side airbags failed in testing. Additionally, regulators recently asked Volkswagen to provide information regarding the rupture of a Takata-made side airbag in a 2015 V.W. Tiguan.

Up until these recent recalls, automakers believed that the defective Takata airbags were the result of isolated manufacturing problems rather than the design of the airbag itself. But now, regulators have been examining the safety of all of the Takata airbags using ammonium nitrate as a propellant. While regulators have indicated that preliminary evidence suggests that the ruptures in the newer Honda, Volkswagen and GM vehicles may be linked to manufacturing weaknesses in the inflator housing rather than the propellant, regulators plan to take a close look at whether or not it is safe to use ammonium nitrate as a propellant under any circumstances.

Some lawmakers are expressing exasperation with the “slow drip of information regarding potentially deadly defects” as noted by Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the Takata recall.

At this point, NHTSA has ordered the recall of 19 million vehicles, the bulk of which involve vehicles manufactured by BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Mazda. The production of replacement parts is occurring at the rate of about 2.8 million units per month. Thus, the recall could drag on for a long time.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on November 2, 2015 entitled Wave of New-car Recalls Raises Questions for Takata Airbags by Danielle Ivory and Hiroko Tabuchi and an article entitled Recall of Takata’s exploding air bags may expand by Nathan Bomey appearing at usatoday.com on October 22, 2015.

SOME NEW CAR SAFETY SYSTEMS PUZZLE DRIVERS

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 at 2:50 pm    

According to a recent AP article by Joan Lowy, many new car buyers are baffled by the array of new safety technology on their vehicles.

While safety features such as adaptive cruise control, tire pressure indicators, blind side monitors, and lane change alerts offer the potential to reduce deaths and injuries by eliminating collisions or mitigating their severity, some drivers may be turning them off because they don’t understand how they work. Unfortunately, education on how to use these safety features does not come standard with the vehicle.

With the increase in the complexity of these safety systems in the modern car, safety advocates note that owners’ manuals have gone from a 50 page understandable document 20 years ago to 500 or more pages for some current model vehicles. And, Clarence Ditlow, the Executive Director at the Center for Auto Safety, notes that these manuals are. . . “intimidating to all but the most studious car buyer.” While some manufacturers offer CDs or DVDs on how to use safety features, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, most people don’t actually take time to review them. As these technologies become available on lower priced vehicles, there is a growing concern among safety experts that dealers may not be willing to spend the time necessary to educate drivers on the use of such safety features.

Thus, the National Safety Council, University of Iowa, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation have teamed up to start an education campaign to inform drivers on how many of these safety features work. This effort includes a website mycardoeswhat.org which provides video demonstrations illustrating how common safety features work.

Source: An AP article appearing in the LNP on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 entitled New car safety systems befuddle drivers by Joan Lowy.