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CADILLAC INTRODUCES A FREEWAY SELF DRIVING SYSTEM

Posted on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 at 2:45 pm    

According to a recent article in USA Today, Cadillac is offering a self-driving system for freeway driving on its 2018 Cadillac CT6 sedans. The technology, which is called “Super Cruise”, allows you to take your hands off the wheel and feet off the accelerator and brakes while on highways or freeways with limited access.

The USA Today article reports that Super Cruise is designed as an interim step towards fully autonomous driving. The article describes Cadillac Super Cruise system as being similar to Tesla’s auto plot system. Both of which require the driver stay alert and occasionally take part in guiding the car.

The Super Cruise system works using advanced GPS, cameras, and sensors and based on a test drive, Nathan Bomey of USA Today said that once the system is activated “…the car stays dead center in the lane, deftly handling curves and staying a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead of it.”

Cadillac’s system offers a new feature to make sure that the driver is paying attention that is not currently on the Tesla autopilot system. That is a driver facing camera that monitors your eye movements to ensure you are still watching the road. At night time, the camera uses infrared technology to monitor your attentiveness. This is a feature that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated that they wanted automakers to adopt following its investigation of a recent Tesla Model S crash that killed an Ohio driver who wasn’t paying attention while the vehicle was on autopilot. Instead of a camera system, Tesla’s autopilot system currently requires the driver to grip the steering wheel so that it knows the driver is still monitoring the road.

In the Cadillac Super Cruise system, if the camera detects that the driver is not paying attention, it will initially provide a visual warning followed by a chime sounding and then the car will begin coasting to a stop if the driver fails to take the wheel.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on September 25, 2017 entitled “This Cadillac Drives Itself on the Freeway, But Don’t Look Away” by Nathan Bomey.

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”.

POTENTIALLY DEFECTIVE STEERING WHEELS CAUSE MORE HEADACHES FOR FORD

Posted on Thursday, December 14th, 2017 at 2:49 pm    

The Associated Press recently reported that federal regulators are investigating complaints that steering wheels on Ford Fusions can come lose or even fall off. According to the AP article NHTSA recently opened an investigation into the complaints related to the steering wheel on the Ford Fusions coming lose or falling off. One person from Georgia told the NHTSA that the steering wheel on her 2015 Ford Fusion fell off and into her lap while she was turning into a gas station.

According to the article, two other individuals reported that the bolt holding their steering wheel in place came lose while they were driving and had to be tightened up at a repair shop. Thus far, NHTSA does not have any reports of crashes or injuries related to this issue. It appears that the investigation covers about 841,000 Ford Fusions, model years 2014 through 2016. Ford stated that it is cooperating with NHTSA’s investigations and that any owners who have concerns should contact their local dealers.

Although NHTSA is investigating the complaints, no recall has been issued at this point.

Recently, Ford has seemed to experience a number of defects which have led to recalls, including recalls for defective door latches on Ford Mustangs and Ford F-150 pick-ups and issues related to carbon monoxide getting into the passenger compartment of Ford Explorers.

Source: An AP article appearing at usatoday.com on October 27, 2017 entitled “{Probe of Ford Fusion Steering Wheels That May Loosen, Detach”.

SAFETY TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING

Posted on Monday, December 11th, 2017 at 3:27 pm    

With snow’s arrival, it seems like a good time to consider these winter driving safety tips offered by Traveler’s Insurance.

First and for most, ask yourself if you really must travel during bad weather conditions. If so, preparing your car in advance, checking the forecast, and adjusting your driving based on road conditions are three key ways to help keep you safe on winter roads. Here are some tips from Travel’s Insurance:

1. PREPARE YOUR VEHCILE

Check your tires and determine whether or not it is time to replace them or consider purchasing snow tires. Make sure your car has a winter survival kit which should include an ice scraper, a snow shovel and sand or salt.

2. MAKE SURE YOUR WINDSHIELD WIPERS ARE IN GOOD CONDITION AND WINDSHIELD FLOOD RESERVE IS FULL

Also, it is a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full so that you can run your engine to keep warm if you get stuck or stranded.

3. CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST

If you must travel when bad weather is approaching, be sure to check the weather conditions before leaving your home.

4. DRIVING IN WINTER CONDITIONS

Before you head out, take the time to clear the snow and ice off of your vehicle. Be sure to clear the windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk of your vehicle. Drive with your headlights on to help improve visibility. Once you are on the road, keep in mind that the posted speed limits are meant for dry road conditions. You should be sure to reduce your speed, and increase your following distance in bad weather. Do not use cruise control as you want to have as much control of your vehicle as possible.

5. INFORM SOMEONE OF YOUR PLANS

It is a good idea to inform a third party of your travel plans, including your route and when you expect to arrive. That way, if you are overdue, First Responders will know where to start looking for you,

Winter driving is challenging, even for experienced drivers. Allowing extra time for your trip, slowing down, wearing your seat belt, devoting your full attention to the road, and leaving extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you will help keep you safe in winter weather conditions.

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

SAFETY TIPS FOR ELECTRIC EXTENSION CORDS, POWER STRIPS AND SURGE PROTECTORS

Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2017 at 2:58 pm    

As the holidays approach and we start putting out the Christmas lights and holiday decorations, it a good time to take stock in a few safety tips of the use of surge protectors, electrical extension cords and power strips.The consumer product safety commission estimates that each year about 4,000 injuries and 3,300 fires result from surge protectors, electrical extension cords and power strips.

Here are a few tips to help prevent fires or injuries from happening when using surge protectors, electric extension cords, or power strips:

– Power surge protectors or power strips need to be UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Electrical Testing Laboratory) approved.

– Do not plug a surge protector or power strip into an existing surge protector or power strip.

– Never use a surge protector, electrical extension cord, or power strip that has frayed, exposed or damaged wires.

– There should be only one surge protector, extension cord, or power strip plugged into a single duplex electrical outlet.

– Never attempt to repair a damaged wire.

– Do not cover a surge protector, extension cord, or power strip with carpet, furniture, rugs, newspaper, clothing, or any other item that will limit or prevent air circulation.

– When not in use, the surge protector, extension cord, or power strip should be unplugged.

– Never use a 3 or 2 plug adapter to power a surge protector, extension cord, or power strip.

– When disconnecting the cord, pull the plug rather than the cord itself.

– Never use a surge protector, extension cord, or power strip while it is coiled or looped.

– Do not staple, tack or tape a surge protector, extension cord, or power strip to any surface.

– Buy medium or heavy-duty extension cords and avoid bargain brands.

– If at anytime the surge protector or power strip is hot to the touch, remove and replace it.

Sources: LG Safety Tips/ U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

U.S. TRAFFIC DEATHS HIT A 9 YEAR HIGH IN 2016

Posted on Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 at 3:30 pm    

According to the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents killed 37,461 people in 2016. This was a 5.6% increase over the prior year and the second straight year traffic deaths have risen in the U.S. This marks a reversal of a trend where fatalities fell in 6 of the 7 years from 2007 to 2014, reaching an all-time low of 32,744 in 2014.

Although vehicle safety technology is better than ever, according USA Today, there are several other factors that have contributed to the deadly increase in traffic fatalities. The chief factors appear to be: speeding, not wearing seatbelts, and a rise in motorcycle deaths. While in previous years, distracted driving was a growing cause of traffic fatalities, according to NHTSA, distracted driving deaths actually fell by 2.2% in 2016.

The increase in traffic deaths in 2016 appears largely attributable to other mistakes by drivers and passengers including a 4% increase in speeding deaths and a 4.6% increase in fatalities as a result of unbelted passengers. NHTSA also reported 5.1% increase in motorcycle deaths. Other factors noted in the USA Today article included a 9% jump in pedestrian deaths and that drunk driving deaths rose by 1.7%.

NHTSA noted that 94% of serious crashes are the result of human error. Because human error is responsible for such a significant percent of serious crashes, the Federal government and automakers are continuing to push forward at a rapid pace to develope self-driving vehicles. In 2016, the Obama administration set a goal of eliminating highway deaths within 30 years with the expectation that self-driving vehicles would play a key role in reaching this goal.

While safety advances such as automatic brakes, lane departure warnings, rear view cameras, and advanced airbags have helped improve car safety, a recent report by AAA notes that other features such as touch screen systems which allow operation while the vehicle is in motion, have contributed to driver distraction.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on October 6, 2017 entitled “Deadly Car Crashes Are on The Rise Again, Hitting a 9 Year High” by Nathan Bomey.

MORE NEWS ON THE TESLA AUTOPILOT CRASH

Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 at 2:06 pm    

The NTSB recently announced new information regarding its investigation in to the crash of a Tesla Model S car while on autopilot that resulted in the death of Ohio resident, Joshua Brown. Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla crashed at a high speed into a semi-tractor trailer truck making a left turn in front of him. The NTSB concluded that both drivers had at least 10 seconds to spot each other, but there was “no evidence of any evasive action taken by either driver before the collision.”

While concluding that the Tesla’s autopilot functioned as designed, it also noted that no vehicle currently on the roads are capable of monitoring and responding to cross traffic like the truck that crossed in front of Brown’s vehicle. Thus, Robert Sumwalt, chairman on the NTSB stated that Tesla’s “operations limitations played a major role in this collision.”

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB recommended that auto makers limit the use of partially self-driving technology by insuring that drivers are engaged at all times. Finally, the board concluded that Tesla’s method of requiring that the driver’s hands are periodically on the steering wheel is not sufficient to ensure that drivers are engaged at all times. And, suggest that other solutions such as a camera that tracks eye movement disengages the self-driving system if the camera detects the driver is not paying attention. This is a method that is being developed by several other auto makers including General Motors.

The NTSB report notes that at the time of the collision the driver was traveling at 74 miles per hour, but the posted speed limit was only 65 miles per hour. The report also stated that the driver used Tesla’s self-driving system for 37.5 minutes of the 41-minute trip and during that time he had his hands on the wheel for a total of approximately 30 seconds.The NTSB report also stated that the driver received seven visual warnings on the instrument panel which blared “Hold Steering Wheel” followed by 6 audible warnings before the crash.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently stated that technological advances implemented in to Tesla autopilot system several months after the crash probably would have prevented it.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on September 12, 2017 entitled “Tesla Autopilot Crash: Feds Want to Force Drivers to Watch Road” by Nathan Bomey

1.5 MILLION HONDA ACCORDS BEING RECALLED TO PREVENT POSSIBLE ENGINE FIRES

Posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at 1:51 pm    

According to an article appearing at USAtoday.com, Honda is recalling about 1.5 Million new model Accords globally to prevent possible engine fires that may result from a defect in the vehicle’s battery system. Honda stated that it has linked 4 reports of engine fires to the defects.

This recall covers model year 2016 Honda Accords which were sold in the United States.

Honda stated that the defect involves a 12-volt sensor that monitors the battery’s charge level. According to Honda, the sensor may not be properly sealed off from moisture or road salt which could cause corrosion or electrical shorting. This could result in engine smoke or a fire.

Honda stated that it will notify owners when they can visit their local dealerships for repair and that repairs will be free. However, because of the size of the recall, if upon inspection dealers determine that the battery sensor is in good condition, a temporary repair will be made until enough parts are available to replace the sensors in all vehicles.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on July 14, 2017 entitled “Honda Recalling 1.5M Accord Cars to Prevent Potential Engine Fires” by Nathan Bomey

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.

TEXTING AND DRIVING DON’T MIX

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm    

Recent statistics show that distracted driving is a factor is a factor in more than 1 million car crashes annually. Texting is the number one distracted driving activity by a long shot. People may not realize just how dangerous texting really is.

An individual texting while driving will take his eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which results in a 23% increase in the chance of an accident. Putting this in perspective, for the average driver if you are driving at 55 miles per hour while texting, that means that you travel approximately the length of an entire football field while sending a text.

Car & Driver Magazine recently performed an experiment to determine just how dangerous texting and driving can be by comparing it to driving while intoxicated. The magazine tested how long it would take to apply the brakes and upon being given a red signal when legally impaired at a BAC of .08 when reading an email, and when sending a text. Sober drivers took an average of .54 seconds to brake. Legally intoxicated drivers needed an additional 4 feet. It required an additional 36 feet when reading an email, but it took a whopping additional 70 feet when sending a text.

In another test conducted by the Transportation Research Laboratory of London, researchers found that texters had slower response times and were more likely to drift in and out of lanes, and drove even worse than drivers who were high on marijuana.

Many argue that texting is even more dangerous than drunk driving. A statistic often cited is that in 2014, 431,000 were injured and 179 were killed due to car accidents involving distracted drivers. That same year, drunk driving was responsible for 290,000 injuries and claimed 9,967 lives. And, while the number of accidents and deaths resulting from drunk driving is declining, the number of accidents and deaths resulting from distracted driving and texting keeps climbing year after year.

One consequence of the ever-increasing numbers of accidents related to distracted driving is that NHTSA is putting more and more focus on addressing the dangers of distracted driving. You can help by setting a good example for your children by not texting or engaging in other distracting driving behavior.

Source: An article appearing at distracteddriveraccidents.com on 11/23/16 entitled “Is Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than Drunk Driving?” by Kiernan Hopkins