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ANOTHER TESLA OWNER BLAMES “AUTOPILOT” FOR CRASH

Posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 at 1:43 pm    

An owner of a Tesla Model S sedan recently involved in a crash in China has stated that his vehicle crashed into a car parked on the side of the road while Autopilot was engaged. Fortunately, no one was injured in this collision, although both vehicles sustained damage.

Luo Zhen criticized Tesla stating that “The impression they gave everyone is that this is self-driving, this isn’t assisted driving”.

In response to Mr. Zhen’s assertions, Tesla issued the statement that “As clearly communicated to the driver in the vehicle, Autosteer is an assist feature that requires the driver to keep his hands on the steering wheel at all times, to always maintain control and responsibility for the vehicle, and to be prepared to take over at any time”.

In a related story, USA Today reported that Tesla was parting ways with Mobileye which is one of the top suppliers to its Autopilot partial self-driving system. According to the USA Today report, Mobileye is considered a leader in developing the equipment that will be needed for fully self-driving cars.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on August 11, 2016 entitled Tesla owner in China blames Autopilot for crash by Nathan Bomey, and an article appearing in usatoday.com on July 27, 2017 entitled Tesla parts ways with key Autopilot supplier by Chris Woodyard.

5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PENNSYLVANIA’S NEW CAR SEAT LAW

Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 at 1:53 pm    

Pennsylvania officially became the fourth state in the nation to require children to be in a rear-facing car seat until age 2 when Governor Wolf signed Bill 1152 into law in June of 2016. In doing so, Pennsylvania joined California, New Jersey and Oklahoma in requiring such car seats.

According to EMT Karin Stoltzfus of the New Holland Ambulance, these are 5 things you should know about the new law which is now in effect:

1. What the law is.
Children should be in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old or according to the manufacturer’s guidelines – whichever comes first.

2. The Correct Seat.
Most seats are convertible seats today. That means that they can be used forward or rear-facing.

If you do need to get rid of an old car seat, Stoltzfus recommends “destroying it as much as you can” before you put it in the trash. Do not take it to a consignment store.

3. Have your car seat checked at a car seat checkpoint.
Lancaster County police departments are ready to answer questions you might have about car seats. And, they can help make sure that your car seat is properly set up. Safe Kids Lancaster has a list of locations where you can get help throughout the county.

4. Penalties for violations.
In the first year, police officers have been instructed to give warnings. After that, violations could cost drivers $75.00 and additional fees. A car seat violation remains a secondary offense, which means that an officer cannot pull a person over for that violation alone.

5. Why the Law Matters.
Research has shown that children’s necks and backs better protected when they are in rear-facing car seats.

Source: An article appearing in the Ephrata Review on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 entitled 5 things to know about Pennsylvania’s new car seat law by Lindsey Blest.

FORD ANNOUNCES RECALL OF OVER 800,000 VEHICLES TO FIX DEFECTIVE SIDE DOOR LATCHES

Posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at 2:03 pm    

Ford recently announced that it would recall over 800,000 Ford vehicles made in North America for defective side door latches. A Ford spokesman stated that a faulty spring tab in the side door latch could break, causing the door not to shut correctly and potentially causing it to swing open while driving. Ford stated that it had issued the recall after discovering one injury and one crash that could be linked to the issue.

According to the article appearing in USA Today, the recall affects several vehicles including the 2013-15 C-MAX manufactured at the Michigan Assembly Plant; the 2013-15 Escape manufactured at the Louisville Assembly Plant; the 2012-15 Focus manufactured at the Michigan Assembly Plant; the 2015 Lincoln MKC manufactured at the Louisville Assembly Plant; the 2015 Mustang manufactured at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant; and the 2014-16 Transit Connect made at the Valencia Assembly Plant.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on August 4, 2016 entitled Ford recall to fix doors that could swing open by Nathan Bomey.

TRAFFIC DEATHS INCREASE IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2016

Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 at 1:16 pm    

According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths have risen by an estimated 9% for the first six months of 2016 when compared to the same period for 2015. The Council estimates that over 19,000 people were killed on our roads during the first half of 2016. An additional 2.2 million people were seriously injured during the first half of 2016.

At this rate, the National Safety Council estimates that more than 40,000 people could be killed year on our highways in a single for the first time in years.

The rise in fatalities is a trend which began in late 2014 following years of declining numbers. The states with the biggest jump in fatalities since this trend started in 2014 include: Vermont, up 82%; Oregon, up 70%; New Hampshire, up 61%; Idaho, up 46%; and Florida with a 43% increase.

The National Safety Council believes that some of the increase in fatalities can be attributed to an improving economy and cheap gas. However, the mileage that people have driven for the first half of 2016 is only up by 3.3% when compared to the same period in 2015.

So this raises the question of why more people are dying in spite of significant advances in the safety design of vehicles and roadways, increase use of seatbelts, and a decline in the number of alcohol-related deaths. The answer, according to the National Safely Council is higher speed limits and more and more distracted driving.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that an additional 33,000 people have died since the federally imposed maximum speed of 55 was repealed in 1995. While statistics are much harder to come by with respect to the extent that distracted driving has played a role in this trend, experts seem convinced that distractive driving has played a significant role in the dramatic increases in the number of highway fatalities in the past two years.

Source: An article appearing at www.pbs.org on August 29, 2016 entitled Traffic deaths up nearly 20% since 2014, government says by Joe Lowy of the Associated Press and an article appearing at the www.chicagotribune.com entitled Texting, speeding and cheap gas are killing more of us by Frederick Kunkle of the Washington Post.

WARNING: HOT CARS ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TO CHILDREN

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2016 at 1:45 pm    

According to a recent AP article appearing in the LNP News, the deaths of four children in hot cars in recent days has brought the total to at least 23 so far this year. This number is roughly equal to the entire total of children dying in hot cars for all of last year.

The temperature inside a parked car on a 90 degree day will reach 119 degrees in 20 minutes and 133 degrees in an hour. The worst year for children dying from heat strokes related to being left in hot cars was 2010 when 49 children died from such heat-related deaths.

Experts note that the number of such deaths increased dramatically in the 1990’s with the passing of laws requiring that young children be placed in the back seat to avoid airbag injuries. In short “The problem is, when you are out of sight, you can be out of mind” said Janette Fennell the president of KidsAndCars.org, a national child safety organization based in Philadelphia. Ms. Fennell notes that infant and toddlers’ child seats are now rear-facing.

Fennell recommends that parents get into the habit of always opening their back doors when leaving the vehicle. Some suggestions to help reinforce this habit are leaving a purse or cell phone in the back seat. Another strategy recommended is keeping a stuffed animal in the child’s car seat and placing it in the front seat when the child is strapped in to remind the parent that the child is in the rear.

General Motors recently announced that starting in 2017, their GMC Acadia SUV will be equipped with a system that reminds drivers who have just parked to check the rear seats if the rear doors have been opened at the start of the trip. However, many experts don’t believe that technology is a panacea noting that if every new car were required to have reminder systems, it would still be a very long time before everyone owns a vehicle with such technology.

Source: An article appearing in LNP on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 entitled Recent deaths in hot cars spur plea by Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press.

TESLA “AUTOPILOT” INVOLVED IN FIRST FATAL ACCIDENT FOR A SELF-DRIVING CAR

Posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 at 1:52 pm    

According to news reports, the first U.S. fatality involving self-driving technology took place in May when the driver of a Tesla S sports car died in a collision while the vehicle was operating in “Autopilot”. NHTSA reports that the crash occurred when a tractor trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a divided highway where there was no traffic signal. The crash occurred in Williston, Florida and the driver, identified as Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, OH was killed. Mr. Brown was a former Navy Seal and the owner of a technology company.

Tesla has acknowledged that the Autopilot was engaged at the time of the impact and that neither Mr. Brown nor the Autopilot system activated the brakes before impact.

Tesla cars equipped with Autopilot can use cameras and radar to steer themselves for short periods of time and can detect other moving vehicles and slow or even stop in traffic under certain conditions.

Both the National Transportation Safety Board and NHTSA have announced that they are investigating the cause of the accident.

Christopher Hart, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board had recently stated that while self-driving cars have great potential to reduce highway fatalities, they also raise concerns about the risk of systems that require drivers to intervene as dangerous situations develop.

Tesla is also being investigated by the Traffic Safety Agency with respect to a crash occurring in Pennsylvania on July 1, 2016 involving a Tesla Model X SUV. In that crash, the vehicle scraped a guardrail and concrete barrier before rolling over. The driver of the vehicle told the Pennsylvania State Police that the Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the crash. News report indicate that both the driver and his passenger survived this Pennsylvania crash.

Source: An article appearing in LNP on Friday, July 1, 2016 entitled 1st road death in self-driving car; an article appearing at nytimes.com on July 11, 2016 entitled Fatal Tesla Crash Draws in Transportation Safety Board by Neal E. Boudette; and an article appearing at usatoday.com on July 1, 2016 entitled Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ feature probed after fatal crash by Chris Woodyard.

NHTSA INVESTIGATES HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLES FOR BRAKE FAILURE

Posted on Thursday, September 8th, 2016 at 1:57 pm    

According to a recent article appearing in the LNP, NHTSA is investigating Harley-Davidson as a result of complaints from riders who said that their motorcycle brakes failed without warning.

The article reports that the investigation covers some 430,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles with model years between 2008 and 2011 that have an anti-locking braking system. Riders have reported that the brakes did not work. And, NHTSA stated that it has received some 43 complaints thus far with 3 involving crashes and 2 of the crashes leading to injuries. No further information was reported in the article.

Source: An article appearing in the LNP on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 entitled Harley-Davidson motorcycles investigated for brake failure.

NHTSA WARNS OWNERS OF OLDER HONDAS TO GET AIRBAGS FIXED NOW!

Posted on Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 at 8:07 pm    

NHTSA and Honda have recently taken the extreme step of telling owners of certain older model Hondas to stop driving them and immediately have them repaired because their defective airbags could make them too dangerous to drive. The warning covers approximately 313,000 Honda vehicles from model years 2001 to 2003 that have airbag inflators manufactured by Takata. More specifically, the warning relates to the 2001 to 2002 Honda Civic and Accord, the 2002-2003 Acura TL, the 2002 CR-V and Odyssey, and the 2003 Pilot and Acura CL.

NHTSA indicated that new testing data revealed rupture rates as high as 50%.

The warning applies to Honda vehicles that were already recalled between 2008 and 2011. However, NHTSA notes that records show that not all of the vehicle owners took them to the dealerships for the required repairs. NHTSA recommends that drivers of these vehicles immediately visit www.SaferCar.gov to check to see whether or not their vehicle has any outstanding safety recalls and, if so, immediately contact their dealer to schedule the appropriate repair. NHTSA’s administrator Mark Rosekind stated that “the airbag inflators in this particular group of vehicles pose a great danger to drivers and passengers that must be fixed right away”.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on July 1, 2016 entitled NHTSA: Get airbags in older Hondas fixed now, dangerous to drive by Chris Woodyard and Brent Snavely.

MOST SUVs PERFORM POORLY IN NEW FRONT CRASH TEST

Posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2016 at 1:25 pm    

The well-respected Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which is noted for conducting rigorous car crash tests, is considering adding another front crash test.

In 2012, IIHS added what it refers to as the small overlap crash test. In that test, cars are run into a barrier at 40 mph with all of the impact occurring on the driver’s side of the vehicle rather than striking the barrier head on. The basic thought behind this test was that many accidents involve hitting a tree or a pole and not just running straight into a wall or head on into another vehicle.

Initially, many automobiles performed poorly under this sort of test. However, more recently, automobiles are doing better and more vehicles are getting a good rating. Thus, the IIHS wondered what would happen if it performed the same tests on the front passenger side of the vehicle.

The IIHS tested seven SUVs which received good ratings on the driver’s side front offset test and only one received a good rating when it came to a passenger front offset crash test. That vehicle was the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. The worst performing was the 2015 Toyota RAV4. In test, it had 13 more inches of intrusion on the passenger’s side than on the driver’s side. On top of that, the front passenger’s side door opened during testing which the IIHS states could lead to the risk of passenger ejection.

In light of these finding, the IIHS is giving serious consideration to making the passenger side front offset test a standard part of its crash testing for new vehicles.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on June 23, 2016 entitled Six of seven SUVs fall sort on new front crash test by Chris Woodyard.