Category: Safety

By on June 18, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its preliminary report on how many people died on U.S. roadways in 2018, indicating that overall traffic deaths had likely fallen by 1 percent. While the information doesn’t exactly justify a party, it’s good news after the last few years attempted to provide new footage for the Red Asphalt series.

As the first major spike in traffic deaths since the “Swinging Sixties,” 2015 freaked everyone out a bit. Save for a few annual hiccups, American traffic deaths (contrasted with its population) had been on the decline for decades. However, by the end of 2016, things looked certain — it was becoming less safe to drive in the United States.  Read More >

By on June 3, 2019

A Tesla Model S suffered a total meltdown after being connected to one of the company’s proprietary Supercharger stations in Antwerp, Belgium. While details are scant, local reports state the driver simply went to charge his automobile and returned to a burning wreck a short time later.

Considering the fire department had to totally submerge the ruined vehicle in a pool of water to ensure the car didn’t reignite, the odds of uncovering exactly what went wrong appear slim. But it wasn’t all that long ago that Tesla was pushing over-the-air updates to  mitigate a rash of fires that cropped up in the United States and Asia over the past few months. Surely, the manufacturer has some idea of what might have gone wrong.  Read More >

By on April 30, 2019

With mobile phones now a ubiquitous part of modern-day life, distracted driving has ballooned into a legitimate public safety problem. Alarming studies continue to pour in, with many claiming that driver cell phone use is likely underreported by authorities in crash reports. It’s hard to quantify, especially since nobody wants to admit that their moment of weakness may have contributed to an accident.

Add in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey that found 30 percent of drivers aged 21 to 34 believe texting doesn’t negatively impact their driving, and you’d be forgiven for picking up your keys with sweaty palms.

A new study claims the issue has only gotten worse, with drivers spending more time on their phone than ever before. However, the way the data was acquired is disconcerting in itself. Insurance companies are tapping traffic data startups to monitor people’s phones, and they’re already capable of tracking millions of American devices.  Read More >

By on April 25, 2019

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, currently on a never-ending quest to improve automotive safety and provide underwriters with data, suggested on Thursday that rear-seat passengers are getting the short end of the stick. The announcement comes shortly after the State of Washington announced a new law that would update its Child Passenger Restraint Law, requiring older children to utilize a booster seat.

Having looked at rear-seat safety for years, the IIHS claims rear-seat occupants are now at a disadvantage compared to occupants in the front row. The group aims to develop a new evaluation method to encourage automakers to improve safety systems for back seat passengers and track their progress.  Read More >

By on February 15, 2019

Forty countries, led by Japan and the European Union, have agreed to require passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to come equipped with automated braking systems starting as soon as 2020.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the new regulation will become compulsory for all countries that adopt it during an upcoming June session. However, the measure will only apply to vehicles operating at “low speeds,” which the U.N. claims is anything under 42 mph. Read More >

By on January 31, 2019

If you read this website regularly, browse automobiles online, or have taken a trip to the dealership within the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed the countless names applied to driver assistance systems appearing in new cars. It’s the result of automakers wanting proprietary names for these features that they think sound catchy.

Not everyone is a fan. The American Automobile Association (AAA) doesn’t feel that “having twenty unique names for adaptive cruise control and nineteen different names for lane keeping assistance” helps consumers make informed decisions.

According to its own research, AAA claims that advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) were available on 92.7 percent of new vehicles on sale in the United States as of May 2018. That makes them next to impossible for consumers to avoid. Thus, the motor club group feels it’s time for automakers to standardize their naming strategies — if for no other reason than to help preserve our sanity.  Read More >

By on January 18, 2019

2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Image: GM

In a perfect world, a vehicle’s airbags would only deploy in circumstances where the driver, in hindsight, applauds the life-saving buffer’s invention. Not included in that list of circumstances is a spinout, far removed from hard obstacles or other vehicles.

One Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driver isn’t applauding General Motors after his car’s side curtain airbags made their presence known at 19 mph, free of any impacting object or rollover. Read More >

By on December 22, 2018

All-New 2018 Ford F-150 - Image: Ford

Harnessing the magic of electricity to keep your engine block toasty is a better option than crossing your fingers and saying a silent prayer before turning the key (or pressing the button) on cold mornings. Unfortunately for Ford F-150 owners living in northern climes, the block heater residing beneath their truck’s hood might pose a danger to their vehicle — and perhaps their house.

Hoping to remedy a fire risk, Ford Motor Company has issued a recall on roughly 874,000 late-model F-150s in North America. Read More >

By on December 19, 2018

2019SantaFe

Despite perpetually raising the bar on what constitutes automotive safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just gilded nearly five dozen models with Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus awards. The metrics, which now hinge largely on a vehicle possessing crash avoidance systems and superior headlamps, require the highest rating available in passenger-side protection during its small overlap front crash to get the coveted Plus decoration — which 30 vehicles qualified for in the initial 2019 model year evaluation.

Hyundai, which managed to walk away with the most awards, swiftly issued a press release to humblebrag that it bested the competition two years running. Considering how well the Koreans performed, it was likely warranted. Automakers absolutely love this kind of stuff, so you can expect to see future references made to the awards in the next batch of car commercials.  Read More >

By on December 12, 2018

2018 F-150 Power Stroke Diesel, Image: Ford

A collective groan must have echoed through the automotive industry a couple of years back, after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began testing headlight performance. Early results showed that most headlights, even those on expensive vehicles, fell well short of optimal performance. Most fell short of acceptable performance.

Since then, improvements have begun — slowly, but surely. It’s in an automaker’s best interest to slap a couple of bright peepers on the front of their vehicles from a PR and marketing perspective, but there’s cost issues to be considered. Still, no vehicle can take home that coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating without good headlights.

In its 2018 testing, some 32 models offered standard or available headlights worthy of a “good” rating. That’s out of 165 models. Read More >

By on December 7, 2018

The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica vans operated by Alphabet-owned Waymo didn’t know they were under surveillance, but indeed they were. Reporters from the Arizona Republic were on their tail, watching as the autonomous vans — safety driver behind the wheel — tooled around the streets of the Phoenix, Arizona metro area for a period in October. In total, the rolling stakeout covered 170 miles of sun-drenched roadway.

Earlier this week, Waymo announced it had become the first company to offer a commercial ride-hailing service (“Waymo One”) using autonomous vehicles, even though there’s still a live human being behind the wheel. That employee’s job is to monitor the vehicle and take over if needed, as self-driving tech is still in its early days. There’s bugs to be worked out.

What the newspaper’s surveillance showed was that vehicles operating “by the book” — ie, with a strict adherence to the rules of the road and an abundance of caution — sometimes don’t mix well with humans. Go figure. Read More >

By on November 30, 2018

Successfully operating self-driving cars on crowded, complex roadways in sunny, dry locales like Phoenix, Arizona is already enough of a challenge, but researchers in the cold, tempestuous climes of Michigan have revealed what the latest and greatest autonomous technology is really up against.

Rain, sometimes hard rain. But also light rain. Also: cold temperatures, and trees with leaves that fall off in the winter. Given that so few places in the world boast such extreme weather and vegetation anomalies as Michigan, this won’t pose a problem for the widespread proliferation of driverless cars, will it? Read More >

By on November 21, 2018

Prosecutors may be looking into a vehicle recall affecting certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with the company’s turbocharged 2.0-liter and naturally-aspirated 2.4 liter engines. It’s not an investigation to determine if a recall is needed; rather, it’s a look-see to find out if existing recalls were conducted correctly.

It remains to be seen in these early stages if any charges will be filed. If action is taken, however, the fines levied would likely cut deeply into the company’s balance sheet.

Read More >

By on November 8, 2018

Image: Kia Motors

A hearing that was expected to bring together representatives of Hyundai and Kia and the Senate Commerce Committee, scheduled for November 14th, has been called off.

The committee hoped to gleam information and answers on reports of engine fires in certain Hyundai/Kia products — a long-burning issue, pardon the pun, that’s increasing ever greater attention, especially from public safety groups. Recent media reports made it look like representatives didn’t plan to attend. Read More >

By on November 8, 2018

Image: IIHS

You win some, you lose some. For Fiat Chrysler, the new Ram 1500 represents more of a win, both in terms of quality, drive experience, and especially crash ratings, which just rolled in from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The previous-generation 1500 lost marks in two areas: driver-side small-overlap front impacts (a weakness it shares with FCA’s rear-drive passenger cars) and roof strength. Both of these tests earned the 2018 1500 a “marginal” rating from the IIHS, sinking its overall score. FCA engineers clearly did their homework — the new truck aced all crash tests. Too bad about those peepers, though. Read More >

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