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.
Posted on Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 at 3:02 pm
The New York Times reported that at least 41 children have died from heat stroke so far this year after being locked in the back seat of a parked vehicle. And, since 1990, more than 800 children have died of heat stroke in hot parked cars.
Unfortunately, many times the death is the result of a parent that simply forgot they left their child in a hot car. While modern technology warns us of all sorts of things, only a few automobiles currently warn us when we forget a child in a hot car.
However, Federal Law makers are currently taking a serious look at requiring vehicles to include some sort of system to warn us when we have left a child in the vehicle. Thus far, only Hyundai, General Motors and Nissan have voluntarily developed some sort of warning system. And, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has stated that it opposes a rule mandating such a system in all vehicles.
The Auto Alliance is advocating for education rather than a technological solution. Advocates for the adopting a technological solution note that in spite of efforts to educate the public over many years, the number of deaths each year had not declined. And, in almost every death, the death is simply the result of the driver being distracted or forgetting.
General Motors currently offers this safety feature on many of its 2017 models and Nissan offers it on its 2018 Path Finder. However, the Hyundai system is the only one that can actually detect someone in the back seat. The systems developed by General Motors and Nissan rely on analyzing door sequencing. Thus, if the rear door is open before the car is started, but not after it is turned off, a warning is sounded.
The proposed legislation will mandate that the technology be able to actually detect the presence of a child in the back seat.
Source: An article appearing at NYTimes.com on October 26, 2017 entitled “Forgetting a Child in a Back Seat Can Kill. Cars May Soon Warn You” by Paul Stenquist.
Posted on Thursday, September 28th, 2017 at 1:57 pm
Each year around the Holidays, including Labor Day, police use special patrols and check points to help deter motorists from drinking and driving. According to a recent article in the LNP, there is good statistical support for this extra effort by the police at Holidays.
According to data compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, crashes, especially fatal ones, occurring during Holiday periods are far more likely to involve alcohol. In 2015, for the year as a whole, roughly 8% of crashes involved alcohol. However, that percent jumped to 15% over Holiday periods. And the jump in fatalities related to alcohol is even more significant for Holiday periods. Data for the 2015 year shows that those deaths that were related to alcohol for the year was 29%, but this percentage jumped to 48% for Holiday periods.
The percentage was even higher for the Labor Day weekend reaching a remarkable 57% of highway deaths being alcohol related. In 2015, there were 119 alcohol related crashes and 8 alcohol related fatalities over the Labor Day weekend.
The LNP article noted that in recent years, police have been increasing their effort in looking for drivers under the influence of drugs since they know that this is a growing problem.
Source: An article appearing at LNP on August 22, 2016 entitled “Data Supports Need for Holiday DUI Checks” by Tim Buckwalter.
Posted on Thursday, September 21st, 2017 at 1:56 pm
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently completed a round of safety testing of midsize pickups and SUVs. According to a USA Today article, none of the recently tested 2017 midsize pickups earned top safety honors from the IIHS due to poor headlights. All headlight packages on the midsized trucks performed poorly in the IIHS testing. The IIHS recently added headlight performance as a category in ranking the safety of motor vehicles.
However, with respect to the small overlap front crash test, The Toyota Tacoma, a crew cab version of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon earned a good rating. The small overlap test measures a vehicle’s performance when it clips and oncoming car or smashes into a pole or tree on the side of the road. However, the Nissan Frontier, which has not had a major redesign since the 2005 model only received a marginal rating. The IIHS also recently reported that only 2 of 37 midsized SUVs offered headlight packages which were rated good in testing. The two that received a good ranking were the Volvo XC60 and the Hyundai Sante Fe. SUVs receiving a poor rating were the Infinity QX60, Lincoln MKC, Lincoln MKX, Dodge Journey, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Sante Fe Sport, Jeep Wrangler, Kia Sorento, and Toyota 4Runner.
According to the IIHS, one of the major problems contributing to the poor performance of the headlights is that manufacturers need to do a better job of aiming headlights in the right direction when they are installed. A representative of the IIHS noted that Federal regulations require aim to be controlled.
Other safety advocates such as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, contends that outdated US regulations are contributing to the problem and that the US regulators need to adopt new regulations that will allow for the use of modern technology that is currently available in Europe and Japan that could vastly improve headlight performance. One such example cited by the advocates is adaptive beam headlights that dim the light aimed at oncoming motorists to reduce glare while maintain high beams on the road ahead to ensure good visibility. In 2013, Toyota requested the NHTSA to allow such technology in vehicles manufactured for the US, but NHTSA has yet to make a decision.
Source: Articles appearing at usatoday.com on September 6, 2017 entitled “Poor Headlights Dim Safety Test Results for Midsized Pickup Trucks” by Nathan Bomey and an article entitled “Only 2 of 37 Midsize SUVs Offer ‘Good’ Headlights, IIHS Says” Nathan Bomey published on June 13, 2017.
Posted on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 at 1:43 pm
As of the end of July, the death toll in 2017 for children dying in hot cars reached 29. Eleven children died in hot cars in July,2017 alone. The last time that this many children died in a single month in hot cars was in 2008.
As a result, some legislators are looking at technology as a possible solution. Recently, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, introduced legislation that would require new cars to be equipped with technology that alerts the driver if a child is left in the back seat when the car is turned off. Blumenthal noted that such technology is already available in many of General Motors newest models.
Since 1998, at least 729 children have died from heat stroke in vehicles in the U.S. The USA Today article notes that the annual number of children dying in hot cars each year increased significantly following legislation that required children to sit in the back seat of automobiles to avoid death from front seat airbag deployment.
Some new GM models prompt drivers to check the back seat if they open a rear door at the beginning of their trip. One safety advocate, Jackie Gillan of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Coalition noted that “We need to educate people to ‘look before they lock’, but on the other hand, we have technology that will solve the problem.”
Source: an articles appearing in usatoday.com on 09/06/17 entitled Hot Car Deaths Prompt Push for Tech That Detects Kids in Vehicles” by Doyle Rice and Greg Toppo.
Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2017 at 2:06 pm
According to a recent article in USA Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that 3 large automobiles received its Top Safety Pick following recent crash tests. Those vehicles are:
• The Lincoln Continental
• The Mercedes Benz E Class
• Toyota Avalon
Cars tested that did not receive the top rating included:
• Tesla Model S
• Ford Taurus
• Chevrolet Impala
According to a spokesman for IIHS, the Tesla, Impala and Taurus all had difficulty with the small overlap front crash test.This test was introduced in 2012 to test the cars ability to handle a collision on its front driver side corner as if it were hitting a telephone pole. The Kia Credenza also recently received the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus.
David Zuby, vice president of IIHS, noted that although IIHS rates cars in all size categories, the top safety designation in a large car category is typically safer than the same rating in a small car category. Large cars by virtue of being large, are safer than smaller ones. “Large cars, by virtue of being large, are safer than smaller ones,” Zuby said.
In order to earn the Top Safety Pick, the car must pass 5 safety tests which measure how a car responds to small overlap frontal crash, moderate overlap front and side crashes as well as roof strength and effectiveness of the headrest.
Additionally, as of 2017, cars must also have a good or acceptable headlight rating.
Source: An article appearing in usatoday.com on July 6, 2017 entitled “Three Big Cars Get Top IIHS Crash Rating – – Not Tesla” by Diana Kruzman.
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.
Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 1:20 pm
The Federal Highway Administration says that wet roads and rain in particular are the main cause of weather-related crashes. Here are a few tips from a recent article in the Lititz Record Express to help you drive safely in the rain:
– MAINTAIN WINDSHIELD WIPERS. Be sure that your windshield wipers are in good condition by regular inspections.
– TURN ON LIGHTS WITH WIPERS. Reduced visibility is a major factor in wet weather accidents. Therefore, when you turn on your windshield wipers, be sure to turn on your headlights too.
– REDUCE SPEED. According to the AAA, hydroplaning can be a serious problem with as little as one-half inch of water on the roadway. Reducing your speed and avoiding hard braking will help make sure that your tires maintain good contact with the road.
– SKIP THE CRUISE CONTROL. Avoid cruise control so that you can maintain control over your vehicle at all times.
– MAINTAIN TIRES. Proper tire pressure and tread levels are important to your tire’s traction. Therefore, regularly check your tires for tread wear and proper air pressure.
– BE ALERT TO CHANGING ROAD CONDITIONS. Typically, the first few hours of a rain storm can produce the most dangerous road surfaces. This is because accumulated oil and engine fluids float in the rain water and will lie on the roadway before eventually flowing off the surface.
Source: An article appearing in the Lititz Record Express on Thursday, October 13, 2016 entitled Stay Safe When Driving in Wet Weather.
Posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 at 2:41 pm
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently announced that the Tesla Model S did not receive either of its highest safety ratings.
In order to receive a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, a vehicle must have a rating of “good” in five crash tests and receive a rating of “advanced” or “superior” in frontal crash prevention which requires automatic emergency braking if a collision is imminent. To receive the highest rating, Top Safety Pick +, a vehicle must also receive an “acceptable” or “good” rating for its headlights, which is a new criteria added by IIHS in 2017.
The IIHS stated that Tesla did not receive either of these top ratings because:
− The Model S got an “acceptable” in the small overlap frontal crash test.
− In one of the crash tests, the dummy hit its head against the steering wheel with enough force that it could have caused a concussion or facial fractures in a real crash.
− The car’s headlights were rated as “poor”.
− The test model did not have an automatic braking system to prevent rear end collisions.
Tesla has been known for promoting its vehicles as among the safest available to consumers. In response to the IIHS announcement, Tesla noted that “… we are committed to making the world’s safest cars, and Model S has previously received a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Administration and a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP. Model S still has the lowest ever probability of injury of any car ever tested by NHTSA.”
Tesla also stated that on January 23, 2017, it made software changes to provide for automatic emergency braking in the event of an imminent collision. A spokesman for Tesla also stated that it fully expects the Model S to receive the top rating from the IIHS when it test the vehicle with the software upgrades and other recent modifications.
The New York Times, in its article reporting on the test of the Model S, noted that the Top Safety Pick + designation was awarded to two less expensive plug-in hybrids, namely the 2017 Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Prime. Three luxury models that have recently received the Top Safety Pick + rating are the Hyundai Genesis G90 and G80 models, and the Lexus RC.
Sources: An article appearing at usatoday.com on 02/01/17 entitled “Tesla’s electric car falls short in IIHS crash tests” by Chris Woodyard, and an article appearing at nytimes.com on 02/01/17 entitled “Tesla S Falls Short of Luxury Rivals on Tougher Safety Test” by Cheryl Jensen
Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 at 3:03 pm
The state of Washington is one of 17 states that have introduced legislation regarding seat belts on school buses thus far in the 2017 year. The Senate Transportation Committee recently held a hearing on a Senate bill that would mandate that all public and private school buses purchased in the future have a seat belt for each rider.
Currently, only 6 states, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas have existing laws requiring seat belts on school buses.
This report said approximately 23.5 million children use school buses to travel to and from schools and school-related activities. On average, six children die each year in school bus crashes. However, in 2016, six children were killed in a single bus crash in Chattanooga, TN.
Jane Terry of the National Safety Council cites the Chattanooga crash as a good illustration of why school buses should be equipped with seat belts. Ms. Terry stated “It’s really the safest way for occupants to ride and it comes down to the bottom line of seat belts save lives and we’ve known this for years.” Terry added that from the time a child is born they are placed in a car seat and taught to buckle up in a car, but for some reason a school bus is treated different.
Senator Michael Baumgartner, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, reported at the hearings that he remembered the time when his son was a kindergartener and was surprised that the child did not have to wear a seat belt on a school bus to a field trip.
According to the AP article, Pennsylvania is one of the 17 states that have introduced legislation in 2017 to mandate seat belts on school buses.
Sources: An article appearing at usatoday.com on 01/25/17 entitled “Washington, other states eye school bus seat belts” by Alexis Myers of the Associated Press