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HONDA RECALLS 800,000 MINIVANS BECAUSE OF DEFECTIVE SEAT LATCHES

Posted on Monday, February 12th, 2018 at 3:24 pm    

According to a recent New York Times article, Honda announced that it is recalling approximately 800,000 Honda Odyssey Minivans in the U.S. due to problems with locking adjustable seats into place.

In the statement, Honda stated that, “If a second-row seat is not properly latched after adjusting it side to side or reinstalling a removed seat, the seat may tip forward during moderate to heavy breaking, increasing the risk of injury to an occupant. This issue will not occur if the seat is properly latched.”

According to the Times article, Honda stated that the minivans involved include model years 2011 through 2017. Honda also said that is was training any uneducated owners on how to properly latch the seats until it is able to develop an approved repair.

Honda also stated that it has received 46 reports of minor injuries related to the seat issue and that it will begin notifying owners of the recall in late December of 2017.

Source: An article appearing at NYTimes.com on November 18, 2017 entitled, “Honda Recalls 800,000 Odyssey Minivans Because of Seat Latches” by Matt Stevens.

DEALING WITH ROAD RAGE

Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 2:29 pm    

The term road rage was coined in the late 1980’s following a series of shootings on the freeways in Florida and California over what drivers perceived as slights – such as being cut off. Carinsurancecomparison.com states that road rage occurs when a person acts on that feeling of rage and does something at best, rude, at worst, homicidal.

Here are some examples of actions taken when a driver is overcome by fury:

– Speeding
– Improper turns
– Tailgating
– Cutting other cars off

Generally, road rage is caused by an actual or perceived slight done by another driver. It is an overreaction to your life being put at risk.

Typically road rage involves a seemingly normal driver who blows a fuse and tries to get revenge on another driver who slighted him and then the situation spins out of control, typically resulting in an injury to other people.

We can do our part to try to help prevent road rage by being better drivers. Be sure to use your turn signals, respect other drivers, abide by the speed limit and give your fellow drivers enough space to feel free.

However, if you do run into another driver who acts like they feel slighted and are going over the edge, here are some techniques recommended by carinsurancecomparison.com to help prevent the situation from spiraling out of control:

– Don’t engage – Avoid eye contact and don’t reply to any screaming or gestures. Engaging may just enrage the other person more and involve you in a more dangerous way.

– Get out of the way – If the other person wants to pass you or otherwise hog the road, get out of their way and let them to do so within the limits of your own safety.

– Leave your ego out of it – If another driver engages in rude conduct, don’t try to teach them a lesson or pass them. Let it go.

– Report dangerous driving to the police as quickly as possible.

– Support enforcement programs- Properly executed enforcement programs against aggressive driving can help curb road rage.

Source: An article appearing at carinsurancecomparison.com entitled How can I help stop road rage?

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.

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.

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

BMW RECALLS 1.4 MILLION VEHCILES DUE TO FIRE HAZARD

Posted on Monday, November 27th, 2017 at 3:04 pm    

According to a recent AP article, BMW is recalling more than 1.4 million cars and SUVs in two separate recalls due to the risk of catching fire. While a spokesman for BMW says that the risk of fire is very low, BMW recommends that the vehicles be kept outside in an abundance of caution. Recalls are expected to start on December 18, 2017.

The largest of the two recalls involves the 128i model years 2008 through 2011 and various other 2007 through 2011 models equipped with 6-cylinder engines such as the 328i and the 525i. The potential hazard in these vehicles involve a heater with a positive crank case ventilation valve which can overheat and cause the valve to melt, increasing the risk of a fire even when the vehicle is not in use. This recall involves more than 740,000 vehicles. Thus far, no injuries have been reported due to this defect.

The second recall involves many of the popular 3 series BMWs for model years 2006 through 2011. In these vehicles the wiring and electrical conductors in the climate control system are vulnerable to overheating. Such overheating can cause the connectors to melt which increases the potential for a fire even when the vehicles are not in use. Thus far, 4 drivers have reported injuries as a result of this defect.

An ABC News investigation, which aired this past May, found more than 40 instances over the past 5 years where parked BMWs, including some that had been turned off for days, spontaneously burst into flames. According to a New York Times article, BMW has stated that dealers will replace the recalled components without charge.

Source: An AP article appearing at usatoday.com on November 3, 2017 entitled “Fire Hazard: BMW Recalls 1.4M Vehicles Due to Risk of Under-Hood Fires” and an article appearing at NYTimes.com on November 4, 2017 entitled “BMW Recalls Roughly a Million Vehicles at Risk of Catching Fire” by Christin Caron

WHY PITTSBURGH IS A TESTING GROUND FOR SELF-DRIVING VEHCILES

Posted on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017 at 3:22 pm    

According to an article appearing at LPN,, Uber’s fleet of more than 200 vehicles have logged more than one million miles in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona. A spokesman for Uber said that, Uber’s self-driving vehicles have given rides to 30,000 people since August of 2016.

Uber is not the only company doing research and testing in Pittsburgh. Ford’s artificial intelligence division has set up in Pittsburgh with a one-billion-dollar investment from Ford. Delphia and Aurora Innovation are also conducting research in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Pittsburgh has been chose by Uber and others for testing of self-driving vehicles is that according to Roger Cohen at PennDOT, “Its currently legal to drive an autonomous vehicle in Pennsylvania because the law is silent on it.” Cohen stated that “All that needs to be done is to have a licensed driver in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t even have to have his hands on the steering wheel.”

Testing has not been without problems however. Uber has twice grounded its fleet in Pittsburgh. Once following a crash in Tempe in March of 2017 and again on September 18 after crash in Pittsburgh. Police, however, determined that the non-Uber driver caused the Tempe crash and that a human was driving during the Pittsburgh crash.

However, according to LPN, bicyclists in Pittsburgh have reported that a self-driving Uber vehicle failed to recognize a bike lane.

According to the LPN article, Craig Ewer of Uber stated that “Our vehicles are programmed to follow local passing laws. If a vehicle is unable to abide by the law due to the challenging road conditions – narrow alleyways, for example – the vehicle operator will take over to keep the vehicle operating in a safe, law abiding fashion. Respecting bike lanes is something we continue to work on.”

The LPN article also pointed out that legislation was reintroduced earlier this year by Senator Randy Vulakovich of Allegheny County, who sets out exactly how the state will regulate self-driving vehicles. As a result of criticism from the industry, the committee is currently working on an amendment to overhaul the bill in an effort to win more industry support.

Perhaps one of the biggest pushes for the development of autonomous vehicles is the recognition that vehicle crashes, which are largely a result of human error,led to more than 4 million Emergency Room visits in 2014 according to the CDC. This represented about 1 in every 10 trips to the ER in 2014.

Source: An article appearing in the LNP on October 6, 2017 entitled “Driving Disruption” by Mike Wereschagin.

SELF DRIVING TRUCKS RAISE CONCERN OF CONSUMER GROUP

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 at 2:48 pm    

Among Uber’s recent ventures into the self-driving arenas was its purchase of Otto, a self-driving truck company, last year for approximately $670 million. And, last October, Otto made headlines when it completed a 120 mile “beer run” with a large semi-tractor trailer in Colorado.

However, recently a California non-profit group asserted in a letter to a California DMV that Otto was testing self-driving trucks in California in violation of that state’s regulations. In support of its allegations, the Consumer Watchdog group cited documents which Otto had submitted to the California officials that described a process where the driver hit a button and let the truck do the work. According to an article appearing in USA Today, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is looking into the allegations.

This is apparently not the first time that Uber has run afoul of California law Not too long ago, Uber had announced that it would start testing its self-driving Volvo SUVs in San Francisco, but shortly after the announcement, halted that process after the California DMV said Uber had not applied for the proper permits. In response, Uber moved its fleet of self-driving vehicles to Arizona.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on February 8, 2017 entitled “Watchdog Group Wants Uber’s Self-Driving Trucks Off the Road” by Marco Della Cava.