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TESLA ISSUES ITS FIRST RECALL FOR ITS MODEL X CROSSOVER SUV

Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2016 at 5:49 pm    

Tesla Motors recently announced the first recall of its new Model X crossover SUV due to a defective latch on the third row backseat which could fail in a crash. According to Tesla, the recall covers 2,700 of the Model X crossovers built before March 26, 2016. Tesla will replace the backseats with a new design.

Tesla stated that it initiated the recall when testing showed that the seatbacks failed to meet European standards requiring that the latch hold the seat upright during a crash. According to Tesla, the latch had passed prior testing in the U.S. and complied with U.S. standards.

Nevertheless, a spokesman for Tesla stated that this failure was the result of a manufacturing flaw by the vendor making the seats and that they had not received any reports from owners of the vehicles that the latch had failed. Jon McNeill stated that “we put safety at the very top of our list in terms of our priorities, so if there is any probability of an issue, we will take action”.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on April 12, 2016 entitled Tesla issuing first recall for Model X crossover SUV by Chris Woodyard.

DEFENSIVE DRIVING TECHNIQUES TO HELP KEEP YOU SAFE

Posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 at 5:30 pm    

Driving defensively is an important way for motorists to help reduce their risk of an accident. However, driving techniques can become habit forming and, unfortunately, over time drivers often develop habits that can compromise their safety.

Here are a few defensive driving techniques that all of us can employ to help keep us safe when driving. You may remember many of these techniques from driver’s training.

• DON’T BE IN A HURRY. This may be one of the most effective defensive driving techniques – that is to simply slow down when on the road. Unfortunately, when you are in a hurry, it is easy to forget this simple, but important, technique. If you are in a hurry, call ahead and let those expecting you know that you might be late. Remember being safe is more important than being timely.

• DON’T LANE HOP. Frequently switching lanes can increase your chances of being in an accident. Therefore, stay in one lane as long as possible and only pass cars on the left.

• DON’T RESPOND TO AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS. If a fellow driver is driving aggressively, slow down and allow them to pass or even pull over and let them get far away from you. Research shows that road rage incidents escalate when drivers make eye contact with one another. Therefore, avoid making eye contact. Even if it is not your fault, it is up to you to avoid a potentially dangerous situation and to protect yourself and your passengers.

• AVOID DISTRACTIONS. Today, our automobiles are equipped with all sorts of technology, including such things as smart phone hook-ups, high quality sound systems, display screens, and even TV’s. It is easy to become distracted and all distractions increase the risk of a collision. Therefore, when you get behind the wheel, it is best to keep your stereo low and all of your devices turned off so that you aren’t tempted to make phone call, text, check emails, or engage in similar dangerous conduct while driving.

Source: An article appearing in the Lititz Record Express on Thursday, March 10, 2016 entitled Simple Defensive Driving Techniques Anyone Can Employ.

MOST CAR HEADLIGHTS GET A POOR RATING

Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2016 at 1:27 pm    

The results of a recently released safety study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that only 1 of 31 mid-sized cars offered a headlight option which merited a “good” rating for headlights. Furthermore, the study found that poor headlight performance was not exclusive to cheaper cars. In fact, the study found that many of the mid-sized luxury cars performed just as poorly as mainstream models or even worse.

According to the IIHS, given that about half of traffic deaths occur either in the dark or in dusk or dawn conditions, improved headlights have the potential to bring about substantial reductions in fatalities.

David Zuby, chief researcher for the IIHS, told the Associated Press that regulations for headlights “are essentially unchanged” since the 1960’s.

After evaluating 31 vehicles, the IIHS said that only one headlight option available on the Toyota Prius V qualified as good. That option required purchasing the advanced technology package with LED lights and high beam assist, which was available only on the highest trim level. The standard Prius is equipped with halogen headlights and gets a poor rating.

Only 11 models best headlight option qualified as acceptable. The ten models which were related as poor included Buick Verano, Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Limited, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Mercedes C-Class and CLA, the Nissan Altima and the Volkswagen Passat. The BMW 3-series equipped with the halogen lights posted the worst overall performance of the cars tested.

The IIHS testing revealed headlight systems suffered from common problems of excessive glare and poor low beam visibility.

David Zuby of the IIHS noted that current government standards for headlights is based upon laboratory testing and permits huge variations in the amount of illumination that a headlight provides in actual on road driving.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on March 30, 2016 entitled Headlight study: Only 1 out of 31 models rated ‘good’ by Nathan Bomey.

MAY IS MOTORCYCLE SAFETY AND AWARENESS MONTH

Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 5:30 pm    

For the past two decades, the month of May has been designated as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness month. With the days becoming consistently warmer in May, more and more motorcycles are on the road. However, after the general absence of motorcycles during the winter months, motorists in may not yet be used to seeing motorcycles on the road again.

Charles Umbenhauer of the Alliance of Biker’s Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) states that Motorcycle Safety and Awareness month is a reminder to motorists to be aware of motorcycles and “it is also a reminder to motorcyclists to keep their equipment in shape, ride safely, and take advantage of the training offered by Pennsylvania’s Motorcycle Safety Program”.

Accordingly, during the month of May, ABATE plans to place approximately 10,000 lawn signs in highly visible areas to remind motorists to be aware of motorcycles. The signs will read “Look Twice – Save a Life – Motorcycles are Everywhere”.

According to ABATE, there are approximately 806,000 licensed motorcyclists in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, statistics recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed a 7% increase in the number of motorcyclists killed in 2012 as compared to 2011. For some helpful safety tips for motorists and motorcycles see our recent blog articles on the subject.

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: www.ABATEPA.org and www.nhtsa.gov/safety/motorcycles.

NHTSA SAYS COMPUTERS CAN QUALIFY AS DRIVERS

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 at 1:34 pm    

In a major step towards advancing the development of autonomous vehicles, NHTSA recently stated that computers that control self-driving cars can be considered a “driver” just like humans.

This announcement came in response to a request by Google that its artificial intelligence system pilot in the Google self-driving car be considered a driver under federal law.

However, NHTSA also pointed out that current regulations requiring some key safety equipment cannot be waived immediately. For example, regulations currently require a breaking system activated by a foot pedal. Google had argued that there was no need for such a foot brake in its self-driving vehicle since the electronic driver (computer) can stop the car electronically without applying a foot brake.

A spokesman for NHTSA noted that it may be possible for Google to say that certain federal standards regarding safety features are unnecessary for a particular vehicle design, however, Google has not yet made such a showing with respect to its self-driving car.

This announcement follows a statement by NHTSA in January that it might waive some vehicle safety rules to allow for more driverless cars to operate on our highways as part of a general effort to speed up the development of autonomous vehicles. NHTSA has also stated that it will write guidelines for self-driving cars within six months.

Source: An AP article appearing in the LPN on Thursday, February 11, 2016 entitled Feds: Computers can be drivers, too by Tom Krisher and Justin Pritchard. Also, an article appearing at nytimes.com on 02/09/2016 entitled Exclusive: In Boost to Self-Driving Cars, U.S. Tells Google Computers Can Qualify as Drivers by Reuters.

ANOTHER AIRBAG CRISIS ?

Posted on Friday, April 15th, 2016 at 7:48 pm    

According to an article recently appearing in the New York Times, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz and others are recalling about 5 million vehicles worldwide to fix potentially defective semiconductors which could corrode, thereby causing the airbags to deploy inadvertently or fail to deploy at all.

The semiconductors were manufactured by Continental Automotive Systems which is a German auto parts supplier that manufactures electronic components that control car airbags. Based on a filing with federal regulators, Continental has been aware of the defect since January of 2008.

A spokesman for Continental stated that once it knew of the problem it informed the automakers and that it was up to the manufacturer to issue a recall. While Continental remedied the problem by March of 2008, it did not alert regulators of the defect at that time.

Federal law requires that once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem, to inform regulators of its plans for a recall within five business days. In December 2015, Mercedes-Benz recalled about 126,000 of its 2008 through 2009 C-class vehicles and 2010 CLK vehicles to repair this defect. Honda and Fiat Chrysler recently announced that they would recall close to a half million vehicles in the United States affected by this defective part.

It appears that airbags in vehicles made by Mazda and Volvo trucks may also contain the defective control unit manufactured by Continental. However, at this point, Mazda and Volvo trucks have not yet announced the recall. A spokesman for Mazda stated that the company was still investigating the issue.

Automakers have linked at least nine injuries to this defective part. And, one auto safety expert, Byron Bloch, stated that once again manufacturers are following their usual pattern of handling defects “The pattern is conceal, delay, deny. . .”

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on February 2, 2016 entitled Yet Another Airbag Recall Will Affect Five Million by Hiroko Tabuchi and Christopher Jensen.

APRIL SHOWERS CAN BRING DANGEROUS ROADWAYS

Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2016 at 1:39 pm    

Spring weather can result in tricky driving conditions even for experienced drivers. In early spring, road surfaces frequently change between dry, wet and even icy conditions. The U. S. Department of Transportation estimates that there are over 700,000 automobile crashes each year due to rain.

When it rains and the roads get wet, oil and other substances will rise to the surface of the pavement leading to slippery conditions which compromise the traction offered by automobile tires.

Here are a few safety tips that can help prevent accidents when navigating wet roadways.

• SLOW DOWN: When roads are wet, it can take up to three times longer to stop.

• LEAVE MORE ROOM BETWEEN CARS: Again, because wet roads result in increased stopping distance, be sure to leave more room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

• SKIP CRUISE CONTROL: When the roads are wet, you want to remain in control of acceleration rather than leaving it up to the cruise control system. If your car starts to hydroplane and you are in cruise control, the car may actually speed up.

• USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS: Rain reduces your visibility and makes it harder for other vehicles to see you. Be sure to turn your headlights on in inclement weather.

• CHECK YOUR TIRES: Inspect your tires to make sure that they have good tread wear and proper tire pressure.

• AVOID JERKY MOVEMENTS: Jerking the wheel, sudden acceleration, or sudden braking can cause your car to spinout or skid when the roads are wet.

Source: An article appearing in the Lititz Record Express on Thursday, March 10, 2016 entitled Navigating Wet Roads.

TIME FOR A MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSE?

Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 6:01 pm    

With the beginning of spring officially here and warmer weather returning, many of us are anxious to start riding again. If you don’t have a motorcycle, you may be thinking about purchasing one. You may have even already made a trip or two to a local motorcycle dealer to check out a new bike.

In order to obtain the appropriate motorcycle driver’s license and to learn how to ride safely, you can take a motorcycle safety course/learn to ride course. Courses are offered through PennDot and through some local motorcycle dealers. And, even if you are not a new rider, you may still benefit from taking a safety course to sharpen your skills by taking one of the advanced courses. You can obtain information regarding the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Programs at www.pamsp.com.

According to the website, Pennsylvania offers the motorcycle safety programs free to all Pennsylvania residents and active duty military with a Class M permit or a motorcycle license.

Courses are also offered by Lancaster Harley Davidson for both beginning and experienced riders starting in April. Additional information regarding dates, registration and costs can be found at www.lancasterhd.com. Although per the website there is a charge for the new rider’s course, Lancaster Harley Davidson will provide a Street 500 – Harley Davidson motorcycle for use during the riding portion of the course. The courses offered by the state also provide a motorcycle to the student to use for the course, however they are smaller bikes.

Information is available regarding other safety courses at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) website.

Whether you are a new rider or an experienced rider, we encourage you to take a motorcycle safety course.

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.

GOOGLE SELF-DRIVING CAR CAUSES ITS FIRST AUTO ACCIDENT

Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2016 at 1:38 pm    

According to a recent AP article by Justin Pritchard, a Google self-driving vehicle struck the side of a public bus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View while it was attempting to negotiate its way around two small sandbags on either side of a drain curb. The collision happened on Valentine’s Day and was captured by cameras on the bus. Although the collision occurred at low speeds, the Google vehicle was traveling at about 15 mph, the collision did result in extensive front end damage to the Google self-driving Lexus SUV. Fortunately, no one on the bus or in the Google vehicle were injured.

According to the article, this is the first time in several years of testing the Google self-driving vehicles on public roadways that a Google vehicle has actually caused a crash.

In a statement by Google, Google noted both the car’s computer and the person in the driver’s seat of the Google vehicle thought that the bus would let the Google vehicle proceed in front of it and that the Google employee did not try to intervene before the crash.

Google also noted that between September 2014 and November 2014 its prototypes had covered about 400,000 miles on the city streets without causing a collision.

Source: An AP article appearing in the LNP on March 10, 2016 entitled Video shows crash with bus by Justin Pritchard.

THE WORSE DISTRACTION FOR DRIVERS IS ?

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2016 at 2:13 pm    

Over the last few months, I have written many articles regarding the dangers of distracted driving. Like many of us, I have often wondered which distraction is the riskiest. And, so did a group of researchers at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Accordingly, based on an analysis of millions of miles of driving data collected over a three year period, the researchers determined that dialing a phone was the most dangerous distraction and increased a driver’s chances of crashing by twelve times. The next most dangerous distraction was reading or writing while driving which increased the risk of crashing by ten times.

The research revealed the following ranking for distractions:

• Reaching for an item other than a cell phone – increased the risk of crashing by nine times.
• Texting increased the risk of crashing by six times.
• Reaching for a phone increased the risk by almost five times.
• Reading emails or browsing on a phone increased the risk of a crash by approximately three times.

Researchers also found that drivers were distracted at some point in more than half of the trips they took. And, distractions were a factor in nearly 70% of the 900 serious crashes examined by the researchers.

However, these researchers concluded that no distraction increased the risk of a crash as much as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, which multiplied the risk of a crash by thirty-six times.

The obvious takeaway from this research is that drivers should avoid all distractions while driving and that drugs or alcohol and driving simply don’t mix.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on 02/24/2016 entitled Reading This While You Drive Could Increase Your Risk of Crashing Tenfold by Trilobites.