Category: Safety

By on April 1, 2021

Waymo, the autonomous program backed by Google-parent Alphabet, seems to have upset some residents of Phoenix, Arizona, who have elected to whip eggs at the company’s test vehicles. Selected due to its lax regulatory standards, the state has become home base for Waymo to pioneer its self-driving vans since 2016. However, newly released police reports paint a picture where the locals are far less enthused with the vehicles’ progress than Waymo’s marketing materials would suggest.

A subset of Phoenix citizens has been demanding the firm improve transparency and offer better explanations for some of the higher-profile crashes since 2018. Despite Waymo assuring the public that mishaps are rare, local reports showed some erratic behavior among the test mules operating in 2020. While a few of these incidents made the news, local police reports from Chandler and Tempe (metropolitan Phoenix) indicate there was a slew of incidents we did not know about — many of which involved encounters with frustrated, human motorists.

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By on March 4, 2021

Teens

Teen drivers aged 16-19 and their passengers accounted for speeding-related fatalities in greater proportions than any other age group, said the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) in analyzing data over a five-year period from 2015 to 2019.

During that time, 4,930 teen drivers and their passengers died in 43 percent of speeding-related crashes, versus 30 percent of drivers in all other age groups. The GHSA’s report released last month, Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle, analyzed the driver’s sex, inability to control the vehicle, and likelihood that the driver and occupants are buckled or not.

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By on February 22, 2021

The 2021 Nissan Rogue has bombed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s front passenger-side crash test with a score of two stars. Since we’re not using the Michelin Guide, this is a stain on the freshly pressed slacks Nissan has put on as part of its all-important restructuring strategy.

The automaker has been shedding weight, dropping products, and losing employees in the name of profit. But it also has to restore public faith in a brand that has been caught in numerous quality control scandals and some ugly corporate infighting over the last few years. A crummy score on a crash test isn’t going to help, even if it does help spice up an otherwise bland vehicle segment. But let’s not overcook the eggs. There is a lot to unpack here before we jump on the bandwagon of calling it a cursed model.

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By on January 23, 2021

airbag

In a fight with NHTSA regulators, Ford came out on the short end again, as more Takata airbags were at issue. This time, it will cost the automaker $610 million, of which they will have to carry the cost in its entirety.

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By on January 8, 2021

Tesla

Tesla vehicles that drive themselves and those that continue unintentionally are not the same, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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By on January 7, 2021

Chao

Elaine Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, has resigned in the wake of the unrest in our nation’s capital yesterday.

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By on December 7, 2020

Great Wall Steed 5 African Crash TestThe Steed 5 pickup, Haval H1 five-door SUV, and the Renault Kwid five-door compact, all achieved poor levels of adult and child protection in crash tests conducted by Global NCAP and AA South Africa yesterday.

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By on November 25, 2020

Tesla is issuing head-to-head recalls covering about 9,500 vehicles over a roof trim that may separate from the car and some bolts connecting the front upper control arm to the steering knuckle that might need to be tightened. While both issues can lead to some disastrous results, the unsecured roof is the larger problem by far and may affect more vehicles than the initial report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — which only references 9,136 examples of the 2016 Tesla Model X — suggests.

Earlier this month, the footage was shared over Reddit showing a Chinese Model Y with a roof that also had a hard time staying put when exposed to highway speeds. While the official explanation from the manufacturer was that an authorized third-party shop may have failed to install a replacement glass roof effectively. There’s an investigation pending, though it’s curious to see the smaller crossover’s top popping off in a manner nearly identical to those stated in the American recall.  Read More >

By on November 19, 2020

It turns out there’s a name for the false sense of security provided by modern driving aids. According to researchers with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, the phenomenon is called “driver disengagement” and it’s assumed to be a contributing factor to roadways fatalities. The duo recently published a rather basic study examining how evolving automotive technologies might be eroding safety under the guise of progress.

Since we’ve been onto the perils and shortcomings of advanced driving aids since their introduction, it also provides us with another stellar opportunity to gloat. Heck, our criticisms go back far enough to predate any reputable research on the matter. We were just bitter cranks then, annoyed that the systems seemed unworthy of our trust despite constantly demanding it. But the IIHS said its latest testing found motorists frequently lose focus while utilizing features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping. This issue reportedly worsens the more familiar drivers become with the systems, which would be fine if they could be counted on for total effectiveness. Sadly, there’s been more than enough testing for us to know that’s not the case.

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By on November 17, 2020

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would be upgrading a probe into almost 159,000 Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles relating to touchscreen/memory issues that could result in a failure to comply with federal standards.

U.S. regulatory mandates stipulate that modern vehicles be required to have rear-camera displays to aid drivers traveling in reverse. The expanded investigation has tripled in size and now encompasses 2012-2018 model year Tesla Model S and 2016-2018 Model X vehicles, which may be eligible for a recall if the NHTSA sees fit.

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By on August 28, 2020

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just dropped an updated application for smart devices that offers the ability to automatically track recall information. After downloading, users simply input or scan their vehicle identification number (VIN) into their phone and the government-sanctioned service will notify them when/if recall new information becomes available.

While automakers and equipment manufacturers are still legally obligated to inform customers directly, the NHTSA believes redundancy isn’t a terrible idea when it comes to safety — and the app should beat any mailers sent out in the event of a recall.

Our more tech-savvy readers are probably wondering what the catch is, and with good reason. Free apps typically come with privacy concerns, as user data is frequently shoveled around to “optimize the experience” and/or make the creator some money. But there doesn’t seem to be any of that here. The NHTSA said the app won’t store any user information and only needs the basic details about your vehicle(s), which will never leave your device. Read More >

By on March 12, 2020

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has issued a set of guidelines for advanced driving aids, suggesting that the key to automated safety is making sure drivers are perpetually engaged with the vehicle’s operations. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be a Catch-22 scenario due to the way these systems function. Semi-autonomous features are supposed to be there to help promote safety by adding an extra layer of protection; however, many encourage motorists to disengage by nature of their design.

Adaptive cruise control with lane keeping is probably the worst offender. Implemented as a way to keep cars a safe distance apart on the expressway, it offers an experience that borders on having the car chauffeur you around. The effectiveness of these systems vary widely, with none actually being capable of any legitimate self-driving functionality. You’re also not supposed to be able to tune out while they’re in use, but they all seem coyly contrived to do exactly that. The IIHS is concerned this phenomenon will only get worse as driving aids evolve and become increasingly commonplace.

“Unfortunately, the more sophisticated and reliable automation becomes, the more difficult it is for drivers to stay focused on what the vehicle is doing,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “That’s why systems should be designed to keep drivers actively engaged.” Read More >

By on February 28, 2020

Pretty much anytime automotive data acquisition becomes the topic of discussion, we have to take time to mention customer protections and ask where the line for privacy should be drawn. With social media firms making a mint off the process online and automakers conducting major moves to likewise leverage personal data, it’s practically a nervous tic at this point.

Hoping to get out ahead of some of the potential problems arising from issue, California enacted new consumer protection laws that came into effect at the start of the year.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) aims to give individuals greater control over the personal data being harvested. Most of this is supposed to be done by allowing consumers to request what kind of information is being collected, ask where it’s going, and the ability request that the subsequent sale or continued acquisition of personal data cease. However, CCPA contains provisions for customers to ask a company to delete all information it has stored on them, as well as rules prohibiting any discrimination related to a person exercising their privacy rights.

Frankly, it all sounds rather good to someone who prattles endlessly about data privacy rights, but it’s also causing problems for the automotive industry. Read More >

By on February 6, 2020

General Motors is recalling around 128,500 vehicles in the United States over a previous fix that didn’t work as intended. The cars stem from a larger December callback that aimed, via a software flash, to mitigate braking problems on about 550,000 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6, and GMC Sierra 1500 models from 2019. GM says the solution created issues on about a third of them.

The problems are much the same as before. Affected vehicles may have serious braking issues and have their anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) fail. At least this time the computer will know enough to indicate a problem via the vehicle’s warning lights. In the previous recall, GM said the vehicles’ diagnostic system would not illuminate the instrument cluster to hint that something was amiss.

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By on January 6, 2020

Uber released its first safety report on Saturday, primarily to address concerns surrounding rider welfare. The media has become increasingly critical of Uber as a brand after its corporate culture was dubbed toxic — allegedly loaded with sexism and financial progress by any means necessary. Following a fatal accident involving one of the company’s autonomous test vehicles, many grew fearful that the company hadn’t fallen into the habit of promoting (or appreciating) public safety. Hoping to assuage some of those concerns, Uber put together its own safety report.

Earlier in the month, the ride-hailing service said it had received reports of 3,045 sexual assaults in the United States in 2018, with 9 people murdered (nearly half of them drivers… fortunately?) and 58 crash-related deaths. Uber said these issues only affected 0.0002 percent of the 1.3 billion rides the company orchestrated in the United States that year.

The new study attempts to frame data, accumulated over 21 months, against national averages to show that Uber is simply suffering from issues inherent to our society. While noting that an estimated 44 percent of women in the U.S. have been a victim of sexual violence seems like an odd way to absolve oneself from wrongdoing, Uber’s just a fancy cab service trying to distance itself from systemic fears that may have not have been entirely fair.  Read More >

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