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SELF-DRIVING TRACTOR TRAILER MAKES A 120-MILE TRIP IN COLORADO

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 at 2:18 pm    

USA Today recently reported that in October, self-driving truck company Otto teamed up with Anheuser-Bush to successfully deliver a tractor trailer truck full of beer from Ft. Collins through Denver and onto Colorado Springs without incident. According to the article, for the majority of this 120-mile trip the driver was not seated behind the wheel, but rather observed the road from the comfort of the sleeper berth of the truck.

The writer of the article, Marco della Cava, also reported that Otto shared a video of the drive showing the massive 53-foot trailer rumbling down I-25 with no human in the cab.

Apparently, the Colorado Department of Transportation worked with Otto for a number of months evaluating the company’s technology and joining on test runs before agreeing to allow Otto to try a test on I-25.

Otto is a new start-up in the self-driving arena and was recently purchased by Uber in August 2016 for 670 million dollars.

The article also noted that trucking industry advocates remain concerned about the technology’s ability to decipher highway emergencies and the dangers of having a driver resting, or even sleeping, while the truck is traveling at highway speeds. Amy Ford, a spokesman for Colorado DOT stated that “Safety remains our primary concern, but we believe that in this case the driver is the automated system itself. We’d like to help get this tech deployed in the real world.”

All this made us wonder who all might be responsible if the test truck had been involved in a collision.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on October 25, 2016 entitled 120-mile beer run made by self-driving truck by Marco della Cava.

WATCH OUT FOR DEER – TIPS TO AVOID HITTING A DEER

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 at 2:28 pm    

The fall months are when most vehicle collisions with deer occur. From July 2015 through June 2016, State Farm estimated that there were more than 1.3 million collisions involving deer in the USA. Because hunting season, mating season, and long nights all coincide during the fall months, you are more likely to see deer on the move after the sun sets during the fall than during any other time of the year.

Geico Insurance and the Indiana State Police offer these tips for avoiding hitting a deer or minimizing the damage if you do:

1. USE YOUR HIGH BEAM HEADLIGHTS: A deer’s eyes will reflect in your car’s headlights, helping to make them easier to spot.

2. LOOK FOR ROAD SIGNS WARNING OF DEER: These signs are placed in areas of high deer traffic. If you see one deer near the road, there is a good chance that there more nearby.

3. AVOID DISTRACTIONS – Focus your attention on driving.

4. STAY NEAR THE CENTER OF THE ROAD – IF YOU ARE ON A 4 LANE OR WIDER ROAD WITH LITTLE TRAFFIC. This gives you extra space and thus more time to react.

5. HONK IF YOU SEE A DEER IN THE ROAD. A long blast of the horn can scare the deer out of your way and could be your last chance to avoid a collision.

6. DON’T SWERVE TO AVOID A DEER. If you swerve you will be more likely to hit a guardrail or a tree, increasing your risk of injuries.

7. STAY IN YOUR LANE – and brake firmly if you have to hit a deer. Just before striking the deer, take your foot off the brake as this will cause the nose of your vehicle to come back up, thereby reducing the chances of the deer smashing into your windshield.

8. IF YOU HIT A DEER: If your vehicle is not disabled, get to a safe place before reporting the accident such as a driveway, parking lot, or the next exit on the Interstate. If your vehicle is disabled, put on your hazard light and call the police.

The top five states for the best chance of hitting a deer are West Virginia, Montana, Pennsylvania, Iowa and South Dakota.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on November 22, 2016 entitled What to do if you’re about to hit a deer with your car by Allison Carter.

24/7 WALL STREET LISTS THE MOST DANGEROUS CARS IN AMERICA

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm    

24/7wallst.com recently published the list of the 12 “most dangerous” cars currently on American roads. 24/7wallst.com compiled this list by reviewing the crash worthiness evaluation results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and only considered generations of cars from the model year 2005 to the present. To be considered a “most dangerous” car, the model had to have received a poor or “marginal” rating in either the frontal crash impact or side crash impact safety test and also have received a “poor” rating on either the roof strength test, which simulates a vehicle rollover or the head restraint and seat test which simulates a rear-end collision.

In general, the safest cars tend to be the largest. In 2014, there were 55 driver deaths in subcompacts per million cars registered versus only 19 in large cars per million registered.

Here is the list of the most dangerous cars compiled by 24/7wallst.com:

1. 2000-2005 Dodge Neon
2. 1996-2005 GMC Safari van
3. 2001-2006 GMC Sierra 1500 pick-up
4. 2006-2011 Hyundai Accent
5. 2001-2005 Kia Optima
6. 2006-2009 Kia Rio
7. 2000-2006 Mazda MPV (van)
8. 2000-2006 Nissan Centra
9. 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
10. 2002-2005 Saturn L Series
11. 2005-2008 Suzuki Forenza
12. 2003-2005 Suzuki Gran Vitara (SUV)

While many of the models listed above have been discontinued or redesigned, there are unfortunately many of these vehicles still on our highways today.

Source: An article appearing at 247wallst.com on October 11, 2016 entitled The most dangerous cars in America by Evan Comen and Michael B. Sauter.

PEDESTRIAN KILLED BY DRIVER PLAYING POKEMON GO

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 2:28 pm    

According to the New York Times a pedestrian in Japan was recently killed when struck by a driver who was distracted while playing the smartphone game Pokemon while driving. The Times reports that the incident occurred in rural Tokushima Prefecture in the southern part of Japan.

Police arrested the driver of a small cargo van after he struck two pedestrians at an intersection. One of the pedestrians died of a broken neck. According to the police, the driver admitted that he had been distracted by the game when the collision occurred.

Nintendo, which is part owner of the company that manages the Pokemon franchise, said it was working to “create an environment where people can play the game safely.”

This is just one more example of how distracted driving continues to be a serious problem for drivers all over the world.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on August 30, 2016 entitled Driver in Japan Playing Pokemon Go Kills Pedestrian by Jonathan Soble.

NHTSA REPORTS A DISTURBING TREND IN USE OF CAR SEATS

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 at 2:38 pm    

NHTSA reported that the proper use of child restraints in vehicles has declined in several categories from 2013 to 2015. Among the findings were:

– The percentage of children ages 4 – 7 that were properly belted in booster seats fell from 46.3% in 2013 to 44.5% in 2015.

– Nearly 14% of children ages 1 – 3 were prematurely graduated to booster seats in 2015 compared to only 9.3% in 2013.

– Seatbelt use among girls age 8 – 12 fell nearly 8% from 2013 to 2015

These findings were part of a 2015 national survey of use of booster seats.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that “risking the safety of future generations by letting children ride unrestrained is not acceptable. Seat belts and car seats save lives and need to be used on every trip.”

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on November 9, 2016 entitled Study: More kids left unrestrained in cars by Matt Schitz and Chris Woodyard.
Among the findings were:

– The percentage of children ages 4 – 7 that were properly belted in booster seats fell from 46.3% in 2013 to 44.5% in 2015.

– Nearly 14% of children ages 1 – 3 were prematurely graduated to booster seats in 2015 compared to only 9.3% in 2013.

– Seatbelt use among girls age 8 – 12 fell nearly 8% from 2013 to 2015

These findings were part of a 2015 national survey of use of booster seats.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that “risking the safety of future generations by letting children ride unrestrained is not acceptable. Seat belts and car seats save lives and need to be used on every trip.”

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on November 9, 2016 entitled Study: More kids left unrestrained in cars by Matt Schitz and Chris Woodyard.

DISTRACTED DRIVING REMAINS A SIGNIFICANT THREAT TO TEEN DRIVERS

Posted on Thursday, November 10th, 2016 at 2:54 pm    

Memorial Day to Labor Day is sometimes referred to as “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers. This is because the rate of teen crashes usually rises during the summer.

The AAA recently reported some disappointing results from a study completed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. According to the AAA their research revealed that in spite of continued efforts to discourage teens from texting and using social media while driving, distracted driving has actually increased among teen drivers in recent years. By analyzing police reported crash statistics, as well as recent crash videos, the AAA Foundation determined that distractions remain a factor in 60% of the crashes involving teen drivers.

Motor vehicles continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers all year round. Teens are most at risk during the first three years of driving and especially during the first month after obtaining their license.

Distracted teen drivers put everyone at risk, not just themselves. The Foundation study revealed that in crashes involving teen drivers, the vast majority of resulting injuries and fatalities occur to occupants to another vehicle. Tools and resources to help parents guide their teen drivers through their early months and years of driving can be found at the AAA’s website TeenDriving.AAA.com. Among the popular features offered at this site are the downloadable Parent-Teen Driving Agreement and the AAA Start Smart Program.

We all need to do everything we can to stop this alarming trend of more and more distracted driving.

Source: An article appearing in the September/October 2016 edition of AAA Now entitled Texting While Driving -A Serious Treat to Teen Drivers.

DEFECTIVE TAKATA AIRBAG CLAIMS ELEVENTH VICTIM IN U.S.

Posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 at 3:17 pm    

A 50-year-old California woman died recently when her Takata airbag exploded and strewed shrapnel into her vehicle following a crash near Los Angeles, CA. Honda confirmed that the woman was driving a 2001 Honda Civic at the time. According to the AP article, this brings the total number of deaths in the U.S. as a result of defective Takata airbags to eleven. It is believed that an additional five people have been killed by the defective airbags in Malaysia.

Unlike most airbag manufacturers, Takata used ammonium nitrate to create the small explosion that inflates their airbags in a crash. However, it has been determined that the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to prolonged heat and humidity and thus can burn at a faster rate than designed. When this occurs, this can blow apart the metal canister designed to contain the explosion, causing shrapnel to spew into the passenger compartment.

As a result, more than 69 million Takata inflators have been recalled in the U.S. Honda stated that the vehicle involved in this crash had been included in multiple recalls since 2008 and noted that it mailed more than twenty recall notices to the car’s registered owners, but records show that the vehicle was never repaired.

As recently as June of this year, NHTSA issued an urgent warning to owners of 313,000 older Hondas and Accuras to stop driving them immediately and have them repaired because tests revealed that their Takata inflators were extremely dangerous. NHTSA stated that their testing showed that the chances that these inflators could explode in a crash were as high as 50%.

Vehicles covered in this urgent warning included multiple models of Hondas and Accuras from model years 2001 through 2003. For more information regarding which vehicles are being recalled for the defective Takata airbags, go to safercar.gov.

Source: An AP article appearing at usatoday.com on October 21, 2016 entitled Exploding Takata air bag claims 11th victim in U.S. by Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin.

TAKATA AIRBAG PROPELLANT EXPLODES ENROUTE TO FACTORY

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 at 1:51 pm    

The New York Times reported that a woman in her home was killed and four other people were injured when a truck transporting Takata parts and explosives crashed and detonated on a Texas road. The crash occurred in front of the home of 69 year old Lucila Robles and the blast completely destroyed her home.

At the time of the crash, the truck was carrying the airbag propellant and airbag inflators. Inflators are the small devices within the airbag which cause the airbag to inflate in a collision.

According to an internal document leaked by a former Takata employee, Takata transports its airbag propellant, ammonia nitrate, more than 2,000 miles across the United States from a manufacturing plant in Washington to a distribution center in Texas.

The incident is being investigated by the U. S. Department of Transportation along with local officials in Texas.

This is not the first explosion involving the ammonia nitrate propellant used by Takata. In March of 2006, its Monclova plant was severely damaged after a series of blasts blamed on the ammonia nitrate propellant. Fortunately, there were no injuries in that incident.

Source: An article entitled Airbag Propellant Bound for Takata Factory Detonates en Route by Hiroko Tabuchi appearing at nytimes.com on August 30, 2016.

TOYOTA RECALLS PRIUS FOR DEFECTIVE BRAKES

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 at 2:57 pm    

Toyota recently announced that it has launched a global recall of its recently redesigned Toyota Prius sedans for a defect involving its parking brake. According to an article appearing in USA Today, Toyota is recalling 340,000 of the 2016 and 2017 Prius models for the potential defect. Approximately 92,000 of the vehicles are located in the U.S. The bulk of the vehicles appear to be located in Japan.

According to Toyota, as a result of the defect, there is a possibility that the parking brake could become inoperative. Toyota acknowledges receiving reports of crashes, injuries and deaths and is investigating the reports. Toyota stated that if the parking brake becomes inoperative as a result of the defect, and the driver exits the vehicle with the transmission in a gear other than park while the ignition is on, the vehicle could roll away thereby leading to the risk of a crash and injury.

Toyota said that the repair will be free and that owners subject to the recall will be notified in November of 2016.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on October 12, 2016 entitled Potentially deadly brake defect triggers Toyota Prius recall by Nathan Bomey.