Tag: Safety

By on May 26, 2017

2014 Hyundai Accent
After a notable decline in driver fatalities during the Great Recession, deaths are back on the rise. However, the increase is rather minuscule compared to every other decade since automobiles became North America’s preferred mode of transportation and the number is projected to go back down in the years to come.

The averaged rate of driver deaths for 2014 models was 30 fatalities per million registered vehicle years, up from the 2011 low of 28. Fatal crashes rose a further 7 percent in 2015. This is can primarily be attributed to people having more reasons to drive when the economy is better, and those added miles translate into additional opportunities for crashes.

More interestingly, however, is which vehicles drivers are losing their lives in most often. As expected, smaller vehicles often are the most dangerous to occupy in the event of an accident but the stats between individual models vary widely. (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2017

2014 Hyundai Sonata

The timeliness of a recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with Theta II four-cylinder engines is the focus of a formal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation revealed today.

Metal engine debris resulting from a faulty production process is behind the expansive recall of nearly 1.7 million vehicles, but the NHTSA wants to know if the recall expanded too slowly. Just how much Hyundai knew about the widespread issue is a big question mark, made all the more pressing by the testimony of a company whistleblower. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

under-ride crash test

In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark W. Griswold road rages his Ford Taurus station wagon under a logging truck to comedic effect. However, without the benefit of movie magic, the following sequence of that film should have been a joint funeral for the entire family. Crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety prove that underride accidents are as devastating as they look, and the IIHS is demanding the implementation of every safety solution available.

While tractor-trailers are legally obligated to affix underride guards to the rear of their vehicles, the same can’t be said for their flanks. Unsurprisingly, there are more passenger fatalities stemming from incidents where a vehicle strikes the side of tractor-trailer than those where it impacts the rear. Since rear underride guards have proven successful in the lab and on the highways, isn’t it time we utilized similar countermeasures for a truck’s haunches?  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

bmw grille

Last week’s ABC News investigation into unrecalled BMW models bursting into flames after being parked raised a number of questions, but didn’t provide viewers with many answers.

While the automaker, like others, has seen its fair share of fire-related safety recalls in recent years, the models involved in the apparent rash of spontaneous fires appear quite diverse — both in model type and age. Any fire can have a number of causes, leading many to see the report as sensationalism, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it couldn’t find a recall-worthy issue behind the blazes.

After taking time to examine ABC‘s findings, BMW decided to speak out. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

While BMW definitely isn’t alone in this regard, the company’s safety recalls often contain an ear-piquing phrase: “Risk of fire.”

The German luxury automaker has had no shortage of fire-related recalls in past years, but a ABC News investigation points to dozens of recent fires that destroyed vehicles not under recall. The models involved reportedly span the gamut of the brand’s product lineup, but the fires share a common trait. Each blaze broke out after the vehicle had been shut off — in one case, after the vehicle had sat dormant for three or four days. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2017

cellphone nissan

Last week, Nissan’s European division proudly announced that it had developed a new feature for use in the Juke that effectively eliminates all cellular signals. In the release, the company praised its UK team for coming up with a 21st century application that uses Victorian-era technology, saying “the beauty of the design is its simplicity.”

Obviously, Nissan is making a play to convince news outlets to cover the prototype and highlight the company’s clever engineering and commitment to safety. While we will happily take the bait and comment on the device, we would be negligent in our duties to consider the item as anything other than an complete waste of resources. The Signal Shield is as useful to motorists as a pair of gloves would be to a person without arms.  (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2017

auction-crash

The elderly man who drove the SUV involved in a crash that resulted in three deaths at a Massachusetts auto auction last Wednesday hasn’t held valid driving credentials in several years. Apparently, the 76-year-old man — whose name remains withheld — had his license suspended in 2012 after numerous incidents a year earlier, including impeding traffic, missing inspection stickers, and a license plate violation. It was never reinstated. His driving record also shows seven other accidents dating back to 1987 and license suspensions on four separate occasions.

Lynnway Auto Auction released a statement after his driving history became public. “We were unaware of the change in status of the driver’s license until the police told us after the accident,” explained Lynnway president Jim Lamb. “When we hired him in 2010, he had a valid Massachusetts driver’s license. As he has had no issues while driving for Lynnway for the past seven years, we were surprised and upset to learn this development.”  (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Normally, a safety recall concerns an intrinsic defect found in a vehicle and, barring some regional temperature-related issues, usually covers units sold throughout the country. While Ford Motor Company is no stranger to recalls, its most recent callback concerns late-model Explorers with a very specific problem in a very specific region.

Blame the mud. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

2002-Chevrolet-TrailBlazer-SUV_Image-08-800

Following a raft of complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has once again turned its attention to the headlights of pre-bankruptcy era General Motors vehicles. Apparently, the first two recalls for the exact same problem might not have culled all of the automaker’s wonky low beams.

The 312,000 vehicles involved in the NHTSA investigation span a fateful period for the automaker. While GM’s future at the time wasn’t bright, neither were its low beams. Owners have complained the lights can shut off unexpectedly, sending one driver on a date with a creek. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

718 boxster S

A segment of the automotive enthusiast community holds a real prejudice against convertibles. While the majority of the ire stems from an irrational bitterness or assumption that any car that sacrifices any amount body stiffness for style is inherently wrong, there is one valid complaint: most convertibles are less safe in a crash than a hardtop.

With that in mind, Porsche has patented an airbag concealed within the A-pillar specifically designed to protect soft-top occupants in the event that the windshield frame bends toward their fragile skulls during an accident — a handy feature for a vehicle lacking roof support. However, there is no reason the system couldn’t also be implemented in vehicles with a rigid ceiling.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

After the reveal of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Dodge Demon at the New York Auto Show, I thought all the hooplah would be over. We all did. Little did I know Automotive News’ editorial board would pen a screed calling for the Demon’s banishment from American roads, which then caused others to cry foul at the bylineless editorial, and subsequently triggered Larry Vellequette — the author of the original piece — to double down on his thoughts, name attached.

In the last piece, Mr. Vellequette claims, “It is still a stupid idea for Fiat Chrysler to outfit the Dodge Demon as a high-performance drag racer and then sell it to the motoring public in a form that makes it inherently more dangerous off the track.”

He’s not wrong. Drag radials come fitted to the Demon from the factory, and he claims they’re “prone to lose traction in even a light morning mist under that much torque — regardless of electronic intervention.” I won’t argue with that.

But I will argue with the logic upon which Mr. Vellequette bases his call for exorcising this Demon from America’s roads, and who he thinks should do something about it.

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2016/2017 toyota tacoma

Toyota of North America is recalling 228,000 Tacoma midsize pickups from the 2016 and 2017 model years. The affected vehicles may be leaking oil from their rear differentials. If left unchecked, the affected component could eventually seize — opening the driver up to a sudden flurry of new problems, like losing control of the vehicle moments before a horrific crash.

However, these leaks seem to cause only a gradual depletion of lubricant, giving owners plenty of time to enjoy some unpleasant warning noises as their truck’s differential slowly destroys itself.

While public complaints on the issue haven’t been overwhelming, checking in with enthusiast forum TacomaWorld led to a posting where owners reported an unpleasant howling noise coming from the rear of third-generation trucks. Several also admitted to having their differentials replaced prematurely after visiting service centers, with no information from Toyota as to why.   (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

tesla model x

Consumer Reports has been pretty hard on Tesla Motors over the past year. The primary point of contention in 2016 was the automaker’s perceived misrepresentation of the company’s Autopilot feature. CR wanted the automaker to disable hands-free operation until its system could be made safer and insisted that it make clear to consumers that it was not capable of true self-driving capability.

While Tesla addressed some of those concerns with its 8.0 software update last autumn, the consumer advocacy publication said it didn’t go nearly far enough — demanding that Tesla stop calling it Autopilot, disable automatic steering, and quit beta testing on its own customers.

Continuing those safety concerns into 2017, Consumer Reports has downgraded both of Tesla’s existing models, claiming the company failed to enable automatic emergency braking features it said would come as standard equipment. This is perplexing, as Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with first-generation Autopilot systems actually had this function.  (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2017

)Image: Tesla]

The fiery aftermath of a crash on a Chinese highway has Tesla on the defensive, rebuffing claims the rear “Falcon Wing” doors of the Model X pose a danger to passengers trying to escape.

Unlike past high-profile crashes, this story doesn’t concern the potential risks of the vehicle’s Autopilot system, as it seems the cause of the accident can be entirely attributed to driver error. The chauffeur-driven Model X reportedly hit cement barriers in Guangzhou, China, while travelling at 47 miles per hour, spinning the vehicle around and sparking a head-on impact from a Ford Focus.

The vehicle’s underfloor battery pack, damaged and exposed to oxygen, erupted in flames. However, it’s what happened next that prompted a $1 million lawsuit against Tesla. (Read More…)

By on April 23, 2017

BMW track day

For the most part, crash avoidance and driver assistance technology is a welcome addition addition to the automotive landscape. While they can be a little invasive sometimes, they’re usually doing what they’re supposed to and helping to save the lives of drivers who may have had a momentary lapse in judgment or focus. However, there is a lot of worry over how lane assistance or emergency braking software will behave when you bring a streetcar to the track.

Several chapters of the BMW Car Club of America and the Porsche Club of America have already decided to forbid any vehicle equipped with aids. The fear is that track day organizers or instructors could be found liable if a car suddenly jerks right when it approaches the apex of a corner or suddenly decelerate when in close proximity to other vehicles. A driver might be caught off-guard if a car unexpectedly takes over and be unsure how to mitigate inputs they were unprepared for.

The bottom line is that newer cars are finding themselves in danger of being banned wholesale, and that’s just not going to work if track days are to continue in the years to come.

(Read More…)

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