Tag: Safety

By on October 16, 2019

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rick Scott (R-FL) plan to introduce new legislation forcing automakers to install hardware that would effectively stop intoxicated individuals from operating motor vehicles by the middle of the next decade. The stated goal is to prevent the thousands of fatal crashes stemming from drunk driving each year. It’s similar to a bill introduced by House Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI), which aims to have advanced DUI prevention devices in all cars by 2024.

While it’s difficult to get bent out of shape over any system that curtails drunk driving, we’ve managed to find a way. As usual, it plays into your author’s ever-growing phobia of surveillance-focused technologies.  (Read More…)

By on October 14, 2019

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar’s electric I-Pace (not to be confused with the gas powered E-Pace) earned unflattering press this past summer after slow sales led to ballooning inventories of the brand’s first EV. Now, there’s another PR stroke against the model, and electricity once again lies at the core of the issue.

As new safety features proliferate across the industry, electronic stability control stands out as one of the veteran lifesaving nannies, joining the fray after anti-lock brakes, airbags, and crumple zones became the norm. In the I-Pace’s case, ESC conspired to turn the model’s “moose test” into a viral sensation. (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2019

Image: Toyota

While side-mounted camera systems have been approved as an acceptable replacement for mirrors by much of the developed world, the United States has yet to approve their installation. But it’s under consideration via an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the federal register.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been testing the worthiness of these systems and how drivers interact with them vs traditional mirrors. Now it’s looking for hot takes as research continues.

On Thursday, the NHTSA announced it was also opening the door for public comments on the technology. If you care about this at all (yay or nay), it might be worth offering the agency a well-spoken piece of your mind.  (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

In the wake of a deadly Ford Excursion limousine crash in upstate New York, the National Transportation Safety Board is calling on limo operators and builders to ensure passengers are belted in. It’s also calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make its recommendation the law of the land.

The 2018 crash in Schoharie, NY killed 18 occupants of the aging SUV-turned-limo, as well as two pedestrians. Using this crash and several others as a starting point, the NTSB’s study and subsequent report found that the only way to ensure passenger safety is the most obvious one: buckle up. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2019

The paranoid luddites that write for this site have occasionally been accused of being hyper critical of modern-day driving aids. Be it a cursory mention of how a little snow totally flummoxed the systems of an otherwise agreeable review car, the direct addressing of an issue where road salt encouraged a vehicle to attempt to steer itself into a ditch, or one of this author’s many diatribes on how the bulk of this technology doesn’t seem anywhere near market ready, there’s always a couple of exceptional individuals ready to call us backward-looking morons.

While that’s often a correct assessment in other matters, it seems we’ve called this one correctly. The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently tested four sedans from competing manufacturers, running them through a handful of scenarios intended to replicate situations that place pedestrians at extreme risk. Taking into account the above smugness, you can probably imagine how poorly it went.  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

For some strange reason, U.S. road safety regulators are showing an interest in a Tesla feature that allows driverless vehicles to navigate tight, crowded public spaces on their own — one Tesla admits “may not detect all obstacles.”

Clearly, by investigating reports of Tesla’s Smart Summon feature going awry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is standing in the way of progress, or so some brand diehards would have you believe. To others, the agency’s scrutiny is overdue. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

2019 Nissan Altima

Nissan is recalling over 1.2 million late-model vehicles out of fear that drivers will shift into reverse and see nothing on their infotainment screens. The recall affects 2018 and 2019 models of almost the entire Nissan and Infiniti stable.

Because the backup camera on the affected vehicles can be adjusted to the point that no view of the area behind the vehicle remains, Nissan finds itself in violation of federal safety rules. The problem is not that the image can be adjusted, but that the obscured view will remain after the driver restarts the vehicle and shifts into reverse.

The list of models is a long one. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2019

Tesla scored its first big win with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this week after the group graced the 2019 Model 3 with its coveted Top Safety Pick+ award. “Vehicles with alternative powertrains have come into their own,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said. “There’s no need to trade away safety for a lower carbon footprint when choosing a vehicle.”

The Audi e-Tron and hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo also qualified. But Tesla’s position as North America’s electric vehicle sales leader is held by a wide margin, making its crash-test results a tad more noteworthy.  (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2019

2018 Nissan LEAF SL

What you hear, too. While most electric vehicles emit noises at low speeds to alert pedestrians of their presence, drivers don’t have a say in the sounds emanating from their vehicle. If it came from the factory sounding like a spaceship, that’s something you’ll just have to live with.

Next year is the deadline for full compliance with mandatory low-speed EV noise rules finalized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration early last year, but a proposed amendment shows the feds want drivers to dial up a tune. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2019

Image: FCA

It’s Fix-it Friday, apparently, and the ailing vehicle news hasn’t stopped rolling just yet. You’ll see.

Over at Fiat Chrysler, it seems the only thing capable of stopping the mighty Jeep Gladiator is its manufacturer, which just issued a stop-sale order to prevent new pickups from leaving the lot and potentially dropping their driveshafts. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2019

2016 GMC Sierra with eAssist, Image: General Motors

General Motors is recalling 3.46 million examples of its largest models over brake degradation. The culprit is a wheezing vacuum pump that gradually loses its ability to function over time, resulting in underperforming brakes. Affected vehicles include all of GM’s big boys, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, and GMC Yukon from the 2014-18 model years.

The recall was preceded by a preliminary investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which launched in 2018 after reports of crashes and a couple of injuries surfaced. In December, GM followed up by extending warranty coverage for vacuum pump replacements for the suspect vehicles. The NHTSA sent its findings off to General Motors last July, but not before the automaker had recalled 310,000 vehicles in Canada over the same issue. A safety bulletin was issued in the United States this month.  (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2019

While Ram’s holdover 1500 Classic isn’t about to earn any top safety awards, its current-generation successor just did. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bestowed a coveted Top Safety Pick + label upon Ram’s strong-selling full-size pickup, making it the first vehicle in its class to ever earn the accolade.

Lots of pickups are plenty safe, lording over the road as they do, but a new addition to the IIHS’s testing regimen prevented the awarding of top honors to any member of these open-trunk, half-ton family sedans — headlights. Thanks to a tweak in May of this year, the Ram 1500 crew cab now qualifies for the top podium. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2019

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

Years of boasting from Tesla over the capabilities of its Autopilot driver-assist system — boasts the automaker dialed back after a series of fatal crashes — are in part responsible for a Culver City, California crash in January 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board states in a new report. Driver-assist features aim to make the monotonous task of driving easier, with the most advanced systems allowing users to take their hands off the wheel for varying periods of time.

Tesla’s system, which doesn’t employ the driver-monitoring camera fielded by Cadillac’s Super Cruise, is not as rigorous at ensuring the driver actually pays attention to the road ahead as its main rival. Videos of sleeping Tesla drivers continue to show up on the internet. Is it the driver’s fault for misusing the system, or the automaker’s for designing a system that’s ripe for abuse? The NTSB says it’s both. (Read More…)

By on September 3, 2019

Honda Research family of dummies

Overwhelming geek that I am, I’m often reminded of The Simpsons in odd situations, mostly as the show’s been on so long, it can’t help but have covered a circumstance ad nauseum. In the car-centric season four episode “Mr. Plow,” the family heads to an auto show, where a suspiciously named automaker shows a slow-motion video of a crash test while Lisa watches. Disconcertingly, one of the dummies starts to crawl away from the scene of the crash, at which point the OEM rep shuts down the exhibit.

I did recently get the chance to watch a controlled car crash at Honda’s research facility. Just as important as seeing how the car handles the stresses of the impact is measuring how a human occupant reacts. Honda has a massive family of dummies, all ready to sacrifice themselves for the real people of the world.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been pretty good about letting companies test autonomous vehicles on public roads. And yet pretty much every automotive manufacturer, ride sharing firm and tech giant still wants laxer rules. To a degree, it’s understandable. Take General Motors, for example. Back in 2017, GM sought exemptions from NHTSA to deploy fully automated vehicles without steering wheels or pedals, but that would have placed the car in clear violation of preexisting safety standards — as they were not in line with the General’s vision of what a self-driving car should be.

GM’s autonomous division recently said the self-driving Cruise AV it had been prepping for the end of this year will likely have to be delayed. While development issues assuredly played a role in stalling the car’s commercial deployment, it could never have launched as initially designed anyway.

Earlier this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and NHTSA asked for input regarding the testing of automated vehicles to help decide if the “removal of unnecessary regulatory barriers” would be a prudent move. You can probably guess the feedback received from the automotive and tech industries.  (Read More…)

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