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FORD TO RECALL APPROXIMATELY 441,000 VEHICLES FOR DANGEROUS DEFECTS

Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 at 1:48 pm    

Ford Motor Company recently announced that it would recall approximately 441,000 vehicles in North America to repair potentially dangerous defects. The vehicles involved include some versions of the popular Escape SUV and Fusion sedan.

According to USA Today, a new recall is being issued to address a defect which could result in an engine fire in the vehicle. This recall involves 230,756 vehicles outfitted with the 1.6 liter GTDI engines. Apparently, the engines can overheat due to a coolant circulation issue that can result in the cylinder head cracking and causing an oil leak which could potentially cause an engine fire. This defect has been linked to 29 reports of fires in the U.S. and Canada but, according to Ford, no injuries related to the defect have been reported.

The second defect is related to a tab in the side door latch on some 210,619 vehicles which could break and possibly cause the door to swing open while driving. Ford noted that no record of any crashes or injuries connected to this defect. This recall involves certain versions of the 2014 Fiesta, 2013 and 2014 Fusion, and the 2013 through 2014 Lincoln MKZ.

More information regarding this recall should be available at the Ford website or by contacting your local Ford dealer.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com entitled Ford recalls 441,000 vehicles, including Escape, Fusion by Nathan Bomey posted on March 29, 2017.

TESLA ‘AUTOPILOT’ CAR STRIKES POLICE MOTORCYCLE

Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 2:02 pm    

Phoenix police recently confirmed a collision between a Tesla Model X operating on autopilot and a Phoenix police office on a police motorcycle. According to a report appearing in USA Today, the officer stopped his motorcycle for a red traffic signal and then noticed that the Tesla stopped behind him began moving forward. This prompted the officer to jump off his motorcycle and move away. The Tesla then struck the fallen motorcycle. No damage was reported to either vehicle and the police officer later estimated that the Tesla was moving at about only 3 miles per hour.

The Tesla driver told the police officer at the scene that the Tesla was in the autopilot mode. A spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department stated that investigators were unable to collaborate that statement and that no further investigation will be conducted because it was a very minor collision and the officer was not harmed.

Sargent Alan Pfohl speaking on behalf of the Phoenix Police Department stated that “It was pretty much a tap.” “It wasn’t even a reportable collision. If it wasn’t involving an officer, we would not have even investigated it.” The USA Today article also notes that Telsa company executives declined to comment on the record.

Source: An article appearing at USA Today entitled Tesla ‘autopilot’ car hits Phoenix police motorcycle by Megan Cassidy of The Arizona Republic posted on March 28, 2017.

COULD SELF-DRIVING CARS PROVIDE MOBILITY FOR THE ELDERLY

Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 at 1:38 pm    

Many older individuals and automakers are looking to self-driving/autonomous cars as a way to provide mobility for the elderly after they are unable to drive an automobile themselves. According to the Institute for Highway Safety, by the year 2030, the number of individuals over the age of 70 living in the United States is expected to increase to 53.7 million people. In 2014 there were approximately 30.9 million U.S. residents over age 70.

Joseph Coughlin, the Director of MIT’s AgeLab, stated that currently approximately 70% of the people over age 50 live in suburbs where on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft are not available.

Even if services such like Uber and Lyft are available, many individuals may not be able to afford such services for regular use. Furthermore, a recent study estimates that approximately 22% of baby boomers are now or at risk of becoming elder orphans, that is elderly adults with no children available to provide transportation. And thus, Mr. Coughlin noted that autonomous vehicles might be a way to close the coming mobility gap for an aging society.

Many automakers including Audi, GM, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Mercedes Benz, Volvo and BMW are engaged in the development of autonomous vehicles.

The engineers involved in the development of autonomous vehicles are generally aware of the importance of considering the elderly in designing self-driving cars. For example, one of the big fears expressed by the elderly is the fear of ending up in the wrong destination. Oliver Rumph-Steppat, head of BMW’s United States Production Requirements Engineering Division, stated that one way that manufacturer’s may address this fear is to rely on voice recognition systems.

Volvo plans to put approximately 100 highly automated XC90 vehicles in the hands of real world drivers in Sweden later this year as a part of its Volvo Drive Me program. And a spokesman for Volvo noted that one of the goals of this program is to see how older drivers handle the new technology.

Source: An article appearing at nytimes.com on March 23, 2017 entitled Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdlers by Mary M. Chapman.

WHICH STATES HAVE THE WORST DRIVERS?

Posted on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 at 1:43 pm    

According to a study done by CarInsuranceComparison.com, the top ten states for the worst drivers are: Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Dakota, Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada, Alabama, Arizona and Montana. To reach this conclusion, CarInsuranceComparison.com analyzed data from NHTSA and looked at five categories: fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, failure to obey traffic signals or wear seatbelts, drunken driving, speeding and careless driving.

Texas and Louisiana actually tied for first place this year. And, Texas was the only state where drivers placed among the top 15 in each of the five categories examined by CarInsuranceComparison.com.

Transportation officials from Texas noted recently that at least one person had died on Texas highways every day for the past 16 years. To stop this streak now totaling 55,578 deaths, state officials urge Texas motorists to buckle-up, pay attention to the road, and never drink and drive.

Louisiana drivers ranked as the worst at obeying traffic signals and were the 5th worse in the country for fatalities per miles driven and careless driving.

According to Mark Rosekind, the NHTSA administrator, data reveals that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled. Mr. Rosekind also noted that despite decades of safety improvements, traffic-related fatalities are rising again after decades of decline with 7.2 percent more people killed in traffic accidents in 2015 than in 2014. Traffic deaths haven’t seen this sort of increase since 1966 when fatalities rose 8.1 percent over the prior year.

Incidentally, Pennsylvania was ranked as the 19th state for the worst drivers. By comparison, our neighbors New Jersey and Ohio were among the states with the safest drivers, ranking as the 7th and 5th states for safest drivers. The state with the safest drivers was Vermont.

Source: Articles appearing at usatoday.com on November 23, 2016 entitled Hitting the road for the holidays? These states have the worst drivers by Bart Jansen and an article appearing at CarInsuranceComparison.com entitled Worst Drivers by State.

UBER SELF-DRIVING CAR INVOLVED IN COLLISION

Posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 at 1:30 pm    

According to a recent article appearing at USAToday.com an Uber self-driving car was involved in a collision in North Tempe, AZ on Friday, March 24, 2017. According to the report, the Uber self-driving car, collided with another vehicle that failed to yield while making a left-hand turn. A third vehicle was also involved in the collision. However, no serious injuries were reported.

As a consequence, Uber has temporarily grounded its self-driving vehicles while an investigation is conducted by the company.

A spokesman for Uber stated that “We are continuing to look into this incident and can confirm we had no backseat passengers in the vehicle.” The vehicle involved in the accident was a self-driving Volvo SUV and was reportedly in the self-driving mode at the time of the collision. Uber has been testing the self-driving Volvo SUVs as part of a $300 million partnership with Volvo.

Sources: Articles appearing at USA.com entitled Ubers Self-driving Car Involved in Arizona Crash by Diego Mendoza-Moyers of The Arizona Republic posted on March 25, 2017 and an article entitled Uber halts self-driving car tests after Arizona crash by Edward C. Baig posted on March 26, 2017.

DANGEROUS USED CARS ARE SOMETIMES SOLD AT AUTO AUCTIONS

Posted on Thursday, April 6th, 2017 at 2:19 pm    

In a recent article appearing in the New York, it was reported that used cars which are subject to safety recalls are sometimes sold at auto auctions without the recall repair having been made or without disclosure that the car is subject to a recall. According to the article, According to the article, this happens because there is no federal requirements that sellers of used cars fix problems related to safety recalls or disclose that the vehicle is subject to a recall when selling the vehicle. The Times notes that efforts to introduce tougher laws for used cars have languished in Congress under lobbying pressure from the used car industry.

The article went on to report a recent example of a 50-year-old Riverside, Calif., woman, Delia Robles, who died in a collision while driving a 2001 Honda Civic equipped with a defected Takata airbag. Delia Robles was killed when she collided with a pickup truck on her way to get a flu shot when the defective Takata airbag exploded, sending shrapnel into the vehicle’s passenger compartment. According to the article, Ms. Robles’ 2001 Honda Civic was sold three times at auto auctions before her son bought it from an acquaintance. Ms. Robles’ car was equipped with a defected Takata airbag. And, according to the Times,her civic was one of about 300,000 cars with defective Takata airbags that federal regulators said posed a particularly high risk of exploding.

According to the Times article, the gentleman who sold Ms. Robles’ car to her son purchased the car at a wholesale auto auction which is a part of Cox Automotive. The article notes that a spokesman for auction said that the company encourages sellers to disclose recall information, but that there was no realistic way for the company to force dealers to disclose safety defects.

The seller of the Honda Ms. Robles’ son bought for her said he was shocked to learn only after her death about the car’s safety issues, and that when he bought the car, “They just said ‘as is’, I knew nothing about the car.”

A spokesman for Honda stated that it had mailed out 20 notifications regarding the recall and made more than 90 phone calls to the vehicle’s previous owners in an effort to have the defective Takata airbag addressed.

Sources: An article appearing at nytimes.com on 10/26/16 entitled “Used Cars Slip Past Recall Safeguards, Putting Drivers in Danger” by Rachel Abrams and Hiroko Tabuchi

TIME TO SIGN UP FOR A MOTORCYCLE SAFETY COURSE

Posted on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 1:41 pm    

The warm weather makes it feel like Spring is finally here. For many of us, Spring means it’s time to get out the motorcycle an start riding again. Whether you’re a long-time motorcyclist or just a beginner, a motorcycle safety course is a good idea.

Pennsylvania has been offering motorcycle safety courses through the Pennsylvania Motorcyclists Safety Program (PAMSP) to riders of all skill levels since 1985. The goal of the program is to give all riders the skills they need to deal with the everyday hazards they encounter on the road while riding.

And to encourage motorcyclists to take these safety courses, Pennsylvania offers the motorcycle safety courses FREE to all Pennsylvania residents and active duty military with a Class M permit or a motorcycle license. According to the website, the program offers three (3) different levels of safety courses:

1. Basic Rider Course (BRC):
This course is designed for individuals with little or no motorcycle experience. The course includes 5 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of riding. Motorcycles and helmets are provided. At the end of the program, students take a skill evaluation test and those meeting the skill standards received a card that allows them to waive the motorcycle skills test required by the State for a motorcycle license.

2. Basic Rider Course 2 (BRC2): A 6-hour course which is designed for riders who already have some experience riding a motorcycle and wish to become more comfortable riding their own motorcycles. Participants will use their own motorcycle, helmet and protective gear. Participants are required to have proof of insurance, and a current registration and current inspection.

3. Advanced Rider Course (ARC):
This course is geared toward licensed riders who already have experience riding but which to enhance their safety skills. The focus is on helping riders achieve an increase in perceptual filtering capabilities to help reduce risk while riding. Attendees use their own motorcycle, helmet and protective gear. As in the BRC2 course, proof of insurance, current registration and inspection are required.

To date, over 450,000 people have taken one of the courses offered by the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program. All courses are taught by MSF-certified instructors.

Last year, I took the Basic Rider Course and was impressed by how much was covered in such a short period of time and how dedicated the instructors were towards the goal of making safety the number one priority for motorcyclists.

Learn To Ride safety courses are also offered by the local Lancaster Harley Davidson dealer in Willow Street, PA. While there is a fee for the courses offered by the Lancaster Harley Davidson dealer, participants are provided with 500cc Harley Davidson motorcycles for the course.