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TAKATA AIR BAG WORRIES CONTINUE

Posted on Thursday, July 27th, 2017 at 2:01 pm    

Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata recently announced that it has added an additional 2.7 million air bags to what is already the nation’s auto mobile industry’s largest recall ever. According to an article appear in New York Times, Takata advised NHTSA that it has discovered that additional air bag inflators using calcium sulfate to help keep its air bag propellant dry can, like its other versions, rupture the propellant canister while deploying the air bag thereby hurdling metal shards into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. According to the article, Ford, Mazda, and Nissan used these inflators in vehicles manufactured for the U.S. market from 2005-2012.

Before this recent announcement, Takata’s recalls had already effected 42 million vehicles in the U.S. and at least 12 deaths in the United States have been connected to the defective Takata inflators.

According to earlier reports, it has been determined that exposure to moisture and temperature fluctuations can degrade the ammonia nitrate used by Takata as a propellant in its air bag inflators. The result is that the propellant can then ignite with such force as to cause the air bag canister to explode and propel metal shards into the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

According to NHTSA approximately 17 million of the defective air bags have been replace thus far in the United States. This latest development can only be seen as another serious blow to the motoring public.

Source: An article appearing at NYTimes.com on July 11, 2017entitled “Takata Expands Airbag Recall Again, Citing New Airbag Hazard” by Micah Maidenberg.

WILL SELF-DRIVING ELECTRIC CARS MAKE CAR OWNERSHIP DISAPPEAR

Posted on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 at 3:27 pm    

There is a lot of debate by experts and in the media about the future of self-driving cars in America. One company, RethinkX, an independent think tank focusing on technology’s impact on transportation, energy, finance and healthcare, believes that the self-driving automobile will soon become so culturally ubiquitous that it will lead to the abandonment of car ownership. And RethinkX says this will result in a one trillion-dollar boost in disposable income and a catastrophic shift for the oil industry and driver economy.

Unlike many experts,that believe that it could still be decades before self-driving cars take over, RethinkX thinks that the transition is just around the corner and expects self-driving autonomous cars to cause a major disruption in transportation in the next decade. RethinkX notes that tech companies such as Alphabet and automaker, Ford, have all been targeting around 2020 for the first commercial roll out of self-driving cars. RethinkX is predicting that such an event will be virtually an overnight sensation that will be no less transformative to the introduction to the model T. RethinkX predicts that by 2030:

• 95% of U.S. passenger miles will be via economist electric vehicles owned by companies providing transportation as a service.

• 60% of vehicles on the road will be dedicated to that service.

• The average household will pocket around $5600 a year by switching from car ownership to using autonomous self-driving vehicle services

Among the biggest disruptions that will occur will be to the oil industry and to the millions of Americans that drive for a living.
RethinkX also believes that car dealerships and auto part stores will face a major impact as car manufacturers pivot to becoming manufacturers of autonomous electric vehicles that are owned by ride hailing service companies.

What could possibly disrupt RethinkX’s view of the future? RethinkX thinks that perhaps the biggest potential road block is government regulators or lobbyist push back on laying out a clear plan for autonomous vehicles.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on May 4, 2017 entitled “Self-Driving Vehicles to Make Car Ownership Vanish” by Marco Della Cava.

MORE ON VEHICLE TO VEHCILE COMMUNICATIONS

Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2017 at 1:54 pm    

In a recent blog article, I noted that the federal government recently announced new regulations aimed at requiring all new cars and light trucks be able to communicate wirelessly between one another within about 5 years. One of the big reasons for the Federal government’s push to have vehicles able to communicate with one another is that it is estimated that up to 80% of the crashes not atributable to driver impairment could be eliminated or eradicated by V2V devices. And, accordingly to a recent New York Times article, NHTSA plans to require future cars and light trucks include the hardware required for dedicated short range communication between vehicles.

General Motors recently announced that starting in March 2017, their 2017 Cadillac CTS models will be equipped to use a short-range radio frequency based communication system for V2V communications. However, since the only other vehicles equipped with the same system will be other Cadillac CTS automobiles, for the time being, the communication will be limited to Cadillac CTSs. And, while many manufactures seem to be pushing for the use of short range radio frequencies, other manufactures such as BMW and Mercedes Benz are working on systems which will not use such technology, but rather rely on existing cellular phone networks to transmit alerts.

The systems relying on cellular telephone networks are designed to operate on the 5G system which is in the works. However, the system is not expected to be available in a significant way until 2022 or 2023. BMW and Mercedes argue that a cellular phone based system offers a significant advantage in that the system will allow vehicles to not only communicate with other vehicles but to communicate with other non-vehicle traffic devices such as traffic lights, poles and other transportation infrastructure.

Others involved in the design of such systems note that in many rural areas, cellular services are nonexistent and even where cellular service is available such a system would not be as fast as the short-range radio frequency system. And some argue that the carrier based system would not be as reliable since the cellular network is a multipurpose network and not limited to safety communications from one vehicle to the other. In the end, some experts expect that it will take some combination of both systems in order to make vehicle to vehicle connections work reliably.

Source: Article appearing on NYP.com March 9, 2017 “Cars Will Talk to One Another. Exactly How is Less Certain” John R. Quain

CALIFORNIA PROPOSES ALLOWING AUTONOMOUS CARS WITHOUT STEERING WHEELS

Posted on Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 at 3:26 pm    

According to an article recently appearing in USA Today, California recently proposed new rules for self-driving vehicles that would allow companies to test autonomous vehicles that lack a steering wheel. Not only that, the article states that under the new proposed rules, the autonomous cars would no longer be required to have a human driver present in the vehicle while operating in the state of California.

The proposed regulations would also eliminate the need for having a driver sitting ready in the driver seat of the autonomous vehicle prepared to take charge at any second should something go wrong. FInally, under the proposed rules, it appears the autonomous car could drive on California highways under the watchful eye of a “…remote operator…”.
Although the proposed rules do require the manufacture submit an application and meet certain requirements regarding testing, training requirements for the remote operators and a safety assessment letter from NHTSA, some consumer groups say those rules are too lax.

Proposed regulations were published on March 10, 2017 and the Proposed rules could take effect in 2018.

Source: An article appearing in USA Today on March 10, 2017 entitled “Look, Ma, No Hands. No Steering Wheel Needed Under New Calif. Car Rules” by Elizabeth Welse

FORD RECALLS TRANSIT VAN FOR DRIVE SHAFT DEFECT

Posted on Thursday, July 13th, 2017 at 1:41 pm    

Ford recently announced another recall involving his transit van due to a potentially defective drive shaft. According to the article appearing at USA Today, a defect flexible coupling on the drive shaft could cause separation of the drive shaft cutting off power which could cause the vehicle to move while parked or cause damage to the surrounding parts. Ford stated that the recall involved 402,462 transit vans in North America including 370,630 in the United States.

The recall involves model years 2015-2017 of the transit vans which were assembled in the automakers plant in Kansas City from January 17, 2014 to June 15, 2017. Ford estimates the recall will cost approximately 142 million dollars.

Ford also stated that it had not identified any crashes or injuries as a result of this defect. However, Ford acknowledged that it has not yet figured out how to permanently fix the defect area but stated that they can repair the Transit of a vehicle that is driven for 30,000 miles. For now, Ford states that it will replace the couplings every 30,000 miles until a final repair is implemented and completed.

This recall comes on the heels of another recent recall by Ford involving nearly 2.4 million vehicles to repair doors that could fly open while the vehicle was in motion. Among the vehicles effected by that recall were the popular Ford Escape SUV (2013-2015) and the 2015 Ford Mustang.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on June 28, 2017 entitled “Ford Transit Recalled: Drive Shaft Defect Costs $142 Million” by Nathan Bomey.

SUMMER DRIVING SAFTEY TIPS

Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 at 2:00 pm    

According to a recent article in the Ephrata Review, the highest number of fatal car accidents occur in the months of June and July. Here are a few safety tips offered by the Review to help have a safe summer:

1. AVOID DISTRACTIONS:
It’s recommend that before you leave, you answer any texts or voice messages and choose your radio station in advance. Adjust the volume and interior temperature of your car before you start your trip. Taking these steps should help you avoid any primary distractions while driving.

2. IF IT RAINS, TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS
If it’s raining, turning your headlights on will make you more visible and help other vehicles see you.

3. CHECK YOUR TIRES
Regularly check the air pressure on your tires as under inflated tires can be dangerous and cause your tires to wear quicker. Don’t drive in the summer with winter tires on as they increase your breaking distance.

4. CHECK YOUR WINDSHIELD WIPERS
It is recommended that you change your windshield wipers every year. The rubber can wear off the wiper blades causing streaks on the windshield which will decrease visibility in bad weather.

5. INSECT IN YOUR CAR?
Remain calm! If your hand is near the window control, calmly put your window down, stop the car as soon as possible, and attempt to guide the insect out of the window or door.

Source: An article appearing in the April 2017 Supplement 2 Ephrata Review entitled “Drive Safely This Summer”.

Happy 4th of July from Bill Pelhan!

Posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 at 2:17 am    

From the Law Office of Bill Pelhan, we want to wish you a safe and happy holiday with your friends and family!

TECHNOLOGY TO HELP KEEP TEEN DRIVERS SAFE

Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2017 at 1:58 pm    

A new report from the CDC once again confirms that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the USA. And the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that teen drivers are three times more likely to be in a deadly crash than an adult driver.

The good news is that there is a slew of new teen tech driving tools out there to help. Here are a few of the most notable:

1. MYKEY: This technology offered by FORD on its cars has a number of custom setting to help keep your teen focused. For example there e are settings to limit the radio’s maximum volume, a speed limit setting, a seat belt choice and mutes the radio until the driver buckles up.

2. Chevrolet’s TEEN DRIVER TECHNOLOGY: this system works like a virtual coach that lives in the car. It also has settings similar to MyKey.

3. Apple’s DO NOT DISTURB WHILE DRIVING: This is a new feature soon to be available on iPhones. If it detects that the the phone user is in a car it silences texts, phone cals etc.

4. ACEABLE : is a new online VR drivers ed stimulator. It is a great teaching toolbar learning basic driving skills.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.copm on june 25.2017 entitled ” Got a teen driver? Here is tech to help keep them safe” by Jennifer Jolly