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NEVER RIDE WITH YOUR FEET ON THE DASH OF YOUR CAR

Posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at 2:14 pm    

Propping one’s feet up on the passenger side dashboard is something that many of us are guilty of doing. However, it is a very bad idea! A recent article appearing in USA Today reminds us of exactly why this is such a bad idea. Air bags deploy at speeds between 100 and 220 miles per hour, and the impact from your knees, etc., striking your face or body could cause significant injuries.

According to the article appearing at usatoday.com, Audra Tatum of Georgia had just such an experience approximately 2 years ago. Audra had her legs crossed with one foot on the dashboard when she was involved in a crash which caused her air bag to deploy and send her foot into her face. Audra, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time, said that as a result, she suffered a broken nose, broken ankle, femur and arm. And she stated that she still walks with a limp and cannot stand for more than 4 hours at a time. Audra hopes that her story will encourage others to think twice before putting their feet up on the dash.

If you are driving a car and your passenger puts their feet up on the dash, tell them about Audra’s story and politely suggest they don’t put their feet on the dash.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on August 15, 2017 entitled “Why You Should Never Ride With Your Feet on the Dash of the Car” by Ashley May.

REGULATORS STRUGGLING TO STAY AHEAD OF SELF DRIVING CARS

Posted on Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at 2:54 pm    

Although self-driving cars are just starting to appear on our nation’s highways, USA Today reports that regulators are struggling to catch up with this new technology.

Proponents of the new technology are increasingly concerned about the development of regulations by states which proponents of self-driving cars believe could lead to conflicting regulations and thus slow the development of self-driving cars in the U.S. Many proponents believe the Federal government needs to step in and create national standards relating to testing, crash liability and design requirements for self-driving cars.

So far, 22 states have either passed legislation related to self-driving cars or adopted regulations through government executive orders. Pennsylvania is among this list of states.

While the proponents of self-driving vehicles argue that Federal standards are necessary for uniformity and to make it possible to build vehicles that can be effectively sold across the country, the states say that it is important that they take steps to ensure that this technology is safe.

Tesla introduced guidelines on self-driving vehicle developments in 2016. Recently, U.S. Transportation Secretary, Elain Chao said that the Trump Administration will unveil revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months to replace the existing guidelines.

USA Today notes that competition between key players in the development of self-driving technology, has also lead to issues with respect to the adoption of regulations. For example, General Motors has actively pursued legislation in several states that would prevent non-automakers from providing rides in self-driving vehicles. This sort of competition can lead to problems in developing uniform regulations among the states.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on June 25, 2017 entitled “Regulators Scramble to Stay Ahead of Self-Driving Cars” by Nathan Bomey and Thomas Zambito.

FORD LEADS THE PACK IN SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE ARENA

Posted on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 at 5:40 pm    

According to a recent study completed by Navigant Research, Ford Motor Company is in the lead in the development of an autonomous vehicle. Navigant Research is a company which sells its in-depth surveys of energy and transportation markets to suppliers, policy makers and other industry stakeholders.

Navigant Research stated that GM was close behind Ford Motor Company followed by Renault-Nissan and Daimier. It should be noted that Navigant’s survey did not include technology companies such as Apple. However, Waymo, a new name for Google’s long running car project, came in 7th.

Ford has been testing a fleet of Ford Fusions in real world situations including night testing in Arizona and snow testing in Michigan. Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technology officer, stated that Ford still plans to roll out autonomous vehicles in 2021. And Ford autonomous vehicles would be at the FAE level 4 which is one step down from full autonomy. Such vehicles can operate autonomously in fully mapped areas, but need human input in unmapped locations and extreme weather.

According to the USA Today article, the most often mentioned road block to the rapid development of self-driving vehicles is the murky regulatory environment which currently exists. Additional factors that are effecting the rapid development of self-driving vehicles also include concerns about reliability, hacking and questions concerning liability in the inevitable event of an autonomous vehicle crash resulting in human injuries.

Source: an article appearing at usatoday.com on April 3, 2017 entitled “Ford Leads Self-Driving Tech Pack, Outpacing Waymo, Tesla, Uber: Study” by Marco Della Cava.

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

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

NTSB SAYS DRIVER KILLED IN TESLA IGNORED WARNINGS

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2017 at 2:01 pm    

USA Today reported that the driver recently killed while using his Tesla’s auto pilot system ignored repeated warnings to take the wheel. The driver, John Brown, of Ohio was killed when his Tesla crashed into a tractor trailer truck making a left turn in front of him.

Earlier this year a report by NHTSA stated that that the driver should have seen the truck for at least 7 seconds prior to the collision and called that a ” period of extended distraction ” , noting that the driver “took no braking, steering or other actions”

The report by the NTSB seemed to offer no contradicting information. NTSB reported that the driver had the self driving system on for about 37.5 minutes of his 41 minute trip. During the time the self driving system was on, the driver only had his hands on the wheel for a total of about 30 seconds. NTSB stated that at time of the collision he was traveling at 74 mph in a 65 mph zone. NTSB’s report stated that the driver received 7 visual warning and 6 audible warning before the collision.

Tesla declined comment. However Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has stated that upgrades to the software since the collision would likely have prevented it.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on June 20,2017 entitled “Driver killed in Tesla self-driving car crash ignored warnings, NTSB reports” by Nathan Bomey.

AIRBAG MANUFACTURER TAKATA FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY

Posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 at 1:57 pm    

According to an AP article airbag manufacture Takata filed for bankruptcy in Japan and the United States on Monday. AP reports that the filing clears the way for a takeover of most of Takatas assets by a rivial Key Safety Systems – a Chinese company.

Takata is the Japanese company that manufactured defective air bag inflators that has lead to a massive recall of airbags in the U.S. In the U.S. alone more than 42 million vehicles have been recalled due to defective Takata airbag inflators. Takata stated that filing for bankruptcy was the only way that it could continue to keep suppling its products. Recall repairs are expected to take until the end of the decade.

Among the auto manufactures recalling vehicles for defective Takata air bag inflators are: Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadilliac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge/Ram, Ferrari, Ford, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda,
Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen. This list helps convey just how massive the recall is.

Source: An AP article entitled Air Bag Recalls and Resulting Lawsuits Lead Takata to file for Bankruptcy appearing in the LNP on Tuesday,June 27, 2017

OUTDATED HEADLIGHTS ARE STILL COMMON IN TODAYS AUTOS

Posted on Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 at 1:49 pm    

While new vehicles are rapidly adopting new technology geared toward the development of self -driving cars, the headlights on most new vehicles have failed to keep up with the times. One result is that approximately 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night each year. Experts say that a large number of these deaths are because drivers can’t see the pedestrians as their headlight don’t shine bright enough.

In 2016 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that two thirds of the lighting packages available on 21 small SUV only provided lighting rated as poor. The lighting isn’t any better for pick-ups where the headlights on 7 pick-ups, including the popular Ford F-150, were also rated as poor.

The experts say that outdated Federal rules that block the adoption innovations such as adaptive beam technology are making the problem worse. Toyota asked NHTSA for permission to use this technology, which is common in Europe and Japan, in 2013. NHTSA still hasn’t responded to Toyota’s request.

Unfortunately NHTSA is strapped for resources and has put a priority on developing regulations related to self-driving cars.

Another problem has been the emphasis that manufacturers are putting on making headlights look good. Even lighting engineers working for the auto companies have expressed approval that the IIHS has make testing headlights a part of it safety ratings for new autos noting that there is often a battle between those responsible for safety and styling.

One simple thing that can help is to use your high beams at all times except when approaching another driver. Most drivers don’t realize just how much brighter high beams are that low beams.

Source: An Article appearing at usatoday.com on May 26, 2017 entitled Outdated headlights put drivers and pedestrians at risk by Nathan Bomey.

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR TEEN DRIVER SAFE

Posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2017 at 1:31 pm    

As parents we all worry about our sons and daughters driving, especially when they are in their teenage years. Insurance company USAA offers the following tips to help keep your teenage driver safe:

• Be a Good Role Model. Children are like sponges and they absorb everything you do, good and bad. This means as parents we need to practice good, safe driving habits at all times. And we should avoid all types of distractive driving including talking on the phone, reading or texting, changing GPS settings, etc. while driving.

• Encourage Practice. Be sure your teen son or daughter gets plenty of practice driving to improve their skills. It takes time to learn how to drive well.

• Consider a Tracking Program. Such systems use GPS as devices to track your teen’s driving habits such as braking, acceleration, speed, etc. Reviewing such information with your teen can open up opportunity to discuss safe driving habits.

• Schedule Coaching Time. Help ease your teen into driving by offering more hours behind the wheel with a parent or driving coach.

• Talk About Safety Early. Sessions about safety should start long before your child begins driving. Even elementary age school children are ready to hear the message that phones are not safe to use while driving.

• Teach Your Teen to be a Cautious Passenger. Teach your children not to ride with friends who text, talk on the phone or otherwise engage in unsafe driving habits.

Source: Article appearing at usaa.com entitled Tips to Help Keep Your Teenage Driver Safe.