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G.M. PATENTS A PEDESTRIAN AIRBAG

Posted on Thursday, January 18th, 2018 at 2:42 pm    

The Detroit Free Press recently reported that General Motors has received a patent for an airbag located on the outside of the vehicle which is designed to provide protection for pedestrians. This appears to be another effort by the industry to address a growing concern over the large number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in 2016. NHTSA reports that the number of pedestrians killed by automobiles in the United States jumped to nearly 6,000 in 2016. This was an 11% increase over 2015.

According to the patent application, GM’s airbag is mounted in the fender region of the vehicle adjacent to the vehicle’s hood and before the side door. This design could provide protection to a pedestrian from impacting the frontal area of the vehicle structure. According to those involved in the design, most pedestrians struck by an automobile do not die from the initial impact, but rather from secondary impact when the pedestrian passes over the hood and hits their head on the heavy frame piece holding the windshield in place.

GM’s patent did not reveal how potential collisions would be detected in order to trigger the deployment of such an airbag.

Dave Sullivan, a product analyst at Auto Pacific Inc. noted that GM continues to implement airbag technology in ways that other manufacturers have not. For example, he noted that GM introduced a front center airbag that deploys to prevent the driver and passenger from hitting their heads if their vehicle gets hit from the side. This is something that no other manufacturer has done to date.

However, GM is not the only manufacturer looking at airbags as a possible way to protect pedestrians. Daimler, the owner of Mercedes Benz, has also received a patent for an airbag that is attached to the framework at the sides of the windshield. And, Volvo deployed a pedestrian airbag on its V40 model which is designed to cushion the windshield area in the event of a collision with a pedestrian.

Source: An article appearing at USAToday.com on December 29, 2017 entitled, “Could Airbags Save Pedestrians? GM Patents Idea.” by Phoebe Wall Howard of the Detroit Free Press.

46 TRAFFIC FATALITIES ON COUNTY ROADS IN 2017

Posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 at 2:37 pm    

In 2017, 46 people were killed on Lancaster County roads in traffic fatalities. Speeding was the primary factor in about 25% of all the fatal traffic accidents occurring in Lancaster County during 2017.

According to an article appearing in the LNP, records from the District Attorney’s office revealed that speeding was the cause of 12 of the 44 traffic incidents that lead to the deaths of 46 people in 2017. Other significant factors were driving under the influence and distracted driving. The District Attorney’s records show that DUI was a primary factor in 7 crashes and that distracted driving was the primary factor in 6 crashed in 2017.

Six of the people killed in traffic crashes in 2017 were pedestrians and 6 were motorcyclists.
The 46 deaths occurring in traffic deaths in 2017 were one more than the total killed in traffic related incidents in 2016.

PennDOT reports that the state spent more than $375 million in Federal Highway and Safety Improvement Program funds on safety projects from 2012 – 2016 to help make our highways safer.

Source: An AP article appearing at LNP on Monday, January 8, 2018 entitled, “46 Killed on County Roads in ‘17” by Lindsey Blest.

FEDERAL REGULATORS INVESTIGATING FORD F-150 PICKUPS FOR TRANSMISSION DEFECT

Posted on Thursday, January 11th, 2018 at 3:48 pm    

According to an AP article, NHTSA is investigating Ford Motor Company’s F-150 pickups regarding a possible transmission defect that could allow the vehicle to unexpectedly shift into first gear, thereby causing drivers to lose control. In 2016, Ford recalled 153,000 vehicles including its popular F-150 pickups, Ford Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators SUVs and Ford Mustangs from model years 2011-2012 for such a transmission defect.

Federal Regulators state that they are continuing to receive complaints from owners, including some who say Ford’s recall repair work did not solve the problem. Thus, NHTSA is now investigating whether or not Ford’s recall should have included up to an additional 1.4 million F-150s, Navigators, and Expeditions from the 2011-2013 model years.

In April of 2017, Ford recalled 52,000 of its Ford F-250 pickup trucks over concerns that the vehicle could move while in park. Ford Motors says that this problem is apparently related to a damaged park rod actuating plate which may result in the vehicle not actually achieving a mechanical park within the automatic transmission when the driver has shifted the shift lever to park. Ford stated that they are not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this defect.

An AP article appearing at USAToday.com on December 31, 2017 entitled, “Federal Regulator Examining Ford Transmission Recall Involving F-150 Pickups”.

FIAT CHRYSLER IS RECALLING NEARLY A HALF MILLION VEHICLES TO ADDRESS A HEADREST PROBLEM

Posted on Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 at 3:55 pm    

The Associated Press reported that Fiat Chrysler is recalling approximately 470,000 older vehicles to deal with a defect which can cause the headrest to malfunction in rear end collisions.

According to Fiat Chrysler, a safety restraint control computer can degrade over several years of use and that can keep the headrest from moving forward in a crash to protect front row passengers from whiplash injuries. The vehicles involved are certain 2012 Jeep Libertys and 2012 and 2013 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avengers.

Fiat Chrysler says it is not aware of any injuries that are related to this issue. However, owners will be notified in December, 2017 regarding the recall. Dealers will then replace the defective computers at no charge to the owners. Fiat Chrysler added that if an owner sees an illuminated air bag warning light come on, they should contact their dealer.

Source: An AP article appearing at usatoday.com on October 13, 2017 entitled “Fiat Chrysler Recalls Vehicles for Headrest Problem”.

TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING

Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2018 at 3:02 am    

NPR’s popular radio talk show Car Talk offers some tips for winter driving that I thought would be worth passing on to you. With the recent snow, it is a good time to take stock of the car talk tips. Here are some of the tips offered by Car Talk:

1. IF YOUR CAR NEEDS ROUTINE SERVICES, GET IT NOW

While a break down in the summer can be inconvenient, breaking down in the winter when it is freezing outside can be a terrible experience.

2. MAKE SURE YOUR BATTERY AND COOLING SYSTEM ARE IN GOOD ORDER

Have your mechanic check your battery, the belts, and related systems to make sure that everything is in good working order. Remember, you need more power to start your engine in the winter. Also, have the mechanic check that your cooling system and anti-freeze are up to snuff.

3. CHECK YOUR WINDSHIELD WIPERS AND WINDSHIELD WASHER RESERVE

It is important to have good windshield wipers and plenty of washer fluid to help keep your windshield clear in the snowy weather so that you can see where you are going.

4. KEEP YOUR GAS TANK CLOSE TO FULL

If you do get stuck in the winter, you want to make sure that you have enough extra fuel to be able to run the engine to keep warm. And, remember to be careful of carbon monoxide poisoning. So, if you are going to be idling the engine for a while, it is a good idea to crack your window open a little bit even though it is cold outside.

5. HOW ABOUT CARRYING EXTRA WEIGHT IN THE BACK OF THE CAR

Car Talk says that if you have a rear wheel drive vehicle, a bag or two of sand behind the rear axle can help increase traction. However, you need to be careful not to overload the car. It is probably best to start by adding a 20-pound bag and seeing how your car handles with the additional weight.

6. IF YOU MUST DRIVE IN THE SNOW

If you are living in an area where it snows a fair amount, Car Talk recommends that you get 4 good snow tires. Car Talk recommends this even if you have a front wheel drive or all-wheel drive car. According to Car Talk, 4 high quality snow tires are important if you really need to get around in snowy streets.

7. SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR FOR WINTER DRIVING
Be sure to keep a snow brush, ice scraper, shovel and bag of sand to help with traction in your car. It is also a good idea to keep a blanket and winter clothing in your car during the winter driving season. Another good idea is to carry your cellphone charger with you.

8. BEFORE YOU GO, MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS:
Make sure you clean off your entire car including your headlights, taillights, and your side view mirrors. It is important that you are able to see where you are going and that you are visible to other motorists.

9. WHEN DRIVING IN THE SNOW, DO EVERYTHING SLOWLY

Good snow tires, stability control, all-wheel drive, etc. traction is greatly reduced by snow and winter conditions. Therefore, you should slow down and leave plenty of distance between you and the other cars. Spending some time practicing in an empty parking lot in snowy conditions is a good idea if you have limited experience with winter weather conditions.

Source: An article appearing at Cartalk.com entitled “Winter Driving Tips”.

WAYMO PLANS TO TEST SELF-DRIVING VEHICLES WITHOUT A DRIVER PRESENT

Posted on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 at 2:47 pm    

Waymo, Google’s company dedicated to commercializing autonomous vehicles, recently announced that it will soon be offering residents in the Phoenix area rides in self-driving vehicles that have no driver.

Waymo launched a driverless car program earlier this year in an effort to get more information about riders use in such vehicles and the vehicle performance. Approximately 10,000 Phoenix residents applied for the program which proved free access to self-driving Chrysler Pacificas. Waymo stated that over the coming months, some of these users will be chauffeured by a self-driving car without anyone in the driver’s seat. While many states mandate that a driver be present in the driver seat of self-driving vehicles, Arizona has been particularly welcoming to autonomous car companies.

A spokesman for Waymo said, “Our only goal is to bring our fully-self-driving technology to more cities in the U.S. and around the world.”. Waymo seems sensitive to the possible anxiety that could be created with someone riding in a driverless, autonomous vehicle and has tried to design for that issue. Thus, Waymo has included an array of buttons for passengers, including a button that, if pushed, will instruct the vehicle to pull over. Waymo’s driverless autonomous vehicles also include screens that show where the vehicle is headed and what its sensors are seeing as it proceeds.

Like many companies involved in self-driving vehicles, Waymo envisions a future where individuals do not own such vehicles, but rather vehicles are summoned by individuals when needed. The cars would be owned and maintained by large corporate entities rather than individuals. A Waymo spokesman noted that such an arrangement would allow you to choose from an entire fleet of vehicle options and tailor your choice to the trip you are planning to make.

Sources: An article appearing at usatoday.com on November 7, 2017 entitled, “In a Self-Driving Car First, Ride With Waymo and There’s No Driver” by Marco Dell Cava.

Best wishes for the New Year from the Law Office of Bill Pelhan

Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018 at 12:01 am    

The Law Office of Bill Pelhan wishes you the best for the new year!

SAFETY TIPS FOR BUYING TOYS

Posted on Thursday, December 21st, 2017 at 2:51 pm    

With the holidays rapidly approaching, many of us are shopping for toys for our children, a friend’s child or other children on our shopping list. In the rush to complete our Holiday shopping, it is easy to forget that when buying toys for children, safety should always come first.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that last year there were more than 174,100 toy related emergency room treated injuries and seven deaths associated with toys given to toys younger than 15 years of age. According to the CPSC, riding toys, particularly non-motorized scooters, were the toys most associated with injuries in 2016. The injuries associated with toys include cuts and bruises to the head and face.

The CPSC recommends that you follow these simple tips when buying toys for children;

1. CHECK THE LABEL:
Choose age appropriate toys by reading the age label on the toy. For children younger than 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking. In particular, avoid deflated or broken balloons, small parts or small balls.

2. GET SAFETY GEAR:
With scooters and other riding toys, helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and it should be sized to fit. Avoid riding a scooter on a street or roadway with motor vehicles.

3. BE CAREFUL WITH MAGNETS:
High powered magnet sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children under 14. Building sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children. The CPSC also suggest that you supervise your child’s play time and keep up to date on toy recalls by signing up at www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Subscribe.

CPSC blog article dated November 16, 2017 found at http://Onsafety,cpsc,gov/blog/2017/11/16/top-toy-list-start-with-safety/

CAR FEATURES THAT CAN HELP YOU SURVIVE WINTER DRIVING

Posted on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 at 2:35 pm    

Edmund’s recently released a list of 10 car features that it recommends to help you survive winter driving. Here are the highlights of that list:

1. Advanced Safety Feature
Automobiles come with many automated safety features that can help with winter driving such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, adaptive headlights, forward collision avoidance/automatic emergency braking and lane departure prevention.

2. All-Wheel Drive
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive help deliver power to all of the vehicle’s wheels to help it maintain better traction on slick surfaces. Today you can find all wheel drive on all types of vehicles.

3. Engine Block Heater
An engine block heater can help a vehicle start and warm up faster in extreme frigid temperatures.

4. Headlight Washers and Wiper
Headlight washers and wipers help clear snow and ice to help provide good visibility during winter driving.

5. Heated Side Mirrors
Modern cars feature electrical heating elements to help keep the outside mirrors free from fogging with ice.

6. Windshield Wiper Deicer
Some cars now offer electrical heating elements in the lower part of the windshield to help the wipers deice themselves quicker in winter conditions.

7. Winter Tires
Tire manufactured with specially formulated rubber that remains soft in cold temperatures to help maintain traction in ice and snow.

8. Heated Seats
Heated seats can help keep the driver warm, enabling the driver to maintain their focus on driving.

9. Heated Steering Wheel
This feature can help keep the steering wheel comfortable no matter how frigid it is outside.

10. Remote Start
The remote start feature will allow you to start the engine from the comfort of your home, making sure that your car will be warm before you head out.

Sources: An article appearing at usatoday.com on December 9, 2017 entitled, “Edmund’s Recommends Ten Car Features to Help Survive Winter Driving.” By Peter Gareffa of Edmund’s via AP

The Law Office of Bill Pelhan wishes you a happy holiday season

Posted on Monday, December 18th, 2017 at 12:00 pm    

Happy holidays from all of us at the Law Office of Bill Pelhan!