The U.S. Department of Transportation wants to mandate speed-limiting devices on all tractor-trailers and buses in the country in a bid to save lives and fuel.
Announced yesterday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the proposal would limit vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more to 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. Other speed limits could be considered, but that’s up to the public to debate. (Read More…)
Your vehicle’s hidden flaws and most shocking (mechanical) secrets will soon be just a click away.
The Department of Transportation is ending the clandestine relationship between your car’s dealer and the manufacturer by posting all Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) online, according to Consumer Reports.
TSBs, which outline the recommended procedure for repairing vehicles, will be posted in PDF form on the safercar.gov website.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers on Thursday sent a letter to the heads of the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Commerce, urging the groups to keep dedicated a frequency spectrum for future car communication systems.
The spectrum, which is between 5.850 GHz and 5.925 GHz, was allotted to automakers for car-to-car communication and road-to-car communication. Telecommunications and Wi-Fi industry officials have asked to share the spectrum.
“Um, no,” in the nicest possible way, from the Alliance:
We are committed to finding the best path forward to protect the development and deployment of advanced automotive safety systems while also considering the need for additional unlicensed spectrum to meet the increasing demand for wireless broadband Internet services.
I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this has interests beyond the world of automobiles. As both an observer of and participant in the news and information biz, it’s fascinating for me to see how a story in the automotive media will sometimes percolate into general news outlets, showing up on the front page, print or digital, of your local newspaper (if it’s still in business) weeks after you’ve read about it here at TTAC or at another car enthusiast or news site.
So when I get my next big check I’m getting me a Panther. On this you can depend. You’ve talked me into it! But that’s not the point of my email. Rather, I’ve seen these HID light kits and wonder if it’s a lot of hype or if there is some veracity to the upgrade?
Reasonable minds can disagree about the wisdom of the auto bailout, but according to analysis by the EPA and Department of Transportation (based on data from the Department of Energy and auto forecasters CSM), the Government’s rescue of GM and Chrysler may not have been the best idea (at least from a market perspective). According to data buried in the EPA/DOT proposed rule for 2017-2025 fuel economy standards [PDF here], Fiat-Chrysler is predicted to be the sick man of the auto industry by 2025, losing over half of its 2008 sales volume, while GM is expected to improve by only 3%, the second-worst projected performance (after Aston-Martin). In terms of percentages, even lowly Suzuki and Mitsubishi are projected to grow faster than The Mighty General. Ouch.
On the other hand, the proposed rule notes that data will be finalized before the final rule comes out. Besides, the agencies appropriately admit (in as many words) that projecting auto sales so far into the future is one hell of a crapshoot. Still, with the obvious exception of “Saab-Spyker” and with some skepticism about the projection’s optimism about overall market growth aside, these are not the craziest guesses I could imagine. Who knows what the future holds, but it certainly is a bit troubling that the government’s own data suggests the two automakers it bailed out may well have some of the weaker performances of the next 14 years. At least the Treasury could have sold off their remaining GM stock before this report was released…
Remember the uproar over Unintended Acceleration in Toyotas? After more than a year of investigation, NHTSA has yet to find a definitive cause for the furor… although the experience was not an entire waste. In fact, the most interesting result of the entire situation was that it cast light on NHTSA’s inefficacy as much as it did embarrass Toyota’s quality control. And to help clarify what exactly the lessons of the Toyota flap were, the DOT’s Inspector General has released a report detailing its criticisms of the federal safety regulators. According to the report [PDF], NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) has not
Adequately tracked or documented pre-investigation activities.
Established a systematic process for determining when to involve third-party or Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC) assistance
Followed timeliness goals for completing investigations or fully implemented its redaction policy to ensure consumers’ privacy. [Ed: gee, you think?]
Established a complete and transparent record system with documented support for decisions that significantly affect its investigations.
Developed a formal training program to ensure staff has the necessary skills and expertise.
Transportation Secretary and Supreme Allied Commander in the War On Distraction Ray LaHood is quite chuffed about initial pilot program results for his latest offensive against in-car cell phone use, and he’s taking to the airwaves to declare victory. The programs, modeled on the “Click It Or Ticket” and “Over The Limit, Under Arrest” initiatives combined an advertising blitz and waves of enforcement to crack down on the behavior, but more importantly to send the message that distracted driving is as serious a problem as drunk driving or not wearing a seatbelt. Thanks to the relative success of these earlier programs, the DOT has a strong template for its pilot anti-distracted driving campaign, the enforcement components of which took place in April, July, and October 2010 and March-April 2011. But was the “Phone In One Hand, Ticket In The Other” program actually as successful as LaHood claims? (Read More…)
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano today took the unusual step of publicly voicing the Japanese government’s satisfaction with the U.S. government’s findings that Toyota’s electronic throttle control system is free of glitches, ghosts and malfunctions. It was a not so subtle reminder that politics weighed heavily in Toyota’s SUA scandal. (Read More…)
If checking whether your car has been recalled is part of your morning routine and civic duty, then you were greeted by the above message this morning. Defects appear to be contagious. The insidious part: The NHTSA recall database appears to be operational. You are left clueless about what is and what isn’t working. Troubles without a fix? Ghost in a machine? Is the database safe for us to use? (Read More…)