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The U.S. Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on driver privacy as more automakers begin developing wireless connectivity in vehicles.
Consumer groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for its delay in making backup cameras mandatory by law in new vehicles.
To kick off Child Passenger Safety Week, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has teamed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Safe Kids to address common mistakes parents make when using car seats and booster seats.
The United States Department of Transportation just released data suggesting an overwhelming majority of drivers who experience connected vehicle technology respond to it favorably and perceive it as an important safety measure.
Black boxes in cars? We’ve reported on it before, but a bill requiring such devices has recently passed the U.S. Senate and is expected to fare the same in the House.
If it goes all the way, cars built after 2015 will all have tattlers to give specific information on a car’s activity. If implemented, the devices are meant to be used by emergency responders during an accident, but the applications are far from limited to those incidents.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the first-ever federally proposed guidelines for in-vehicle electronic devices to automakers, hoping to limit how distracted drivers can get by these new devices.
The proposed voluntary guidelines affects communications, entertainment, information gathering, and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safety operate a vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued out the guidelines hoping to establish a criteria for electronic devices installed by the manufacturer that require visual or manual operation by drivers.
“Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America’s roadways – that’s why I’ve made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel,” said Secretary LaHood. “These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages.”
These new guidelines are the first in a series of guidance documents NHTSA is planning to issue, hoping to limit the use of distracting technology that requires the use of hands and/or diverting the eyes from the road. Some of the recommendations released in the first set of guidelines including limiting the device operation to one hand only. limiting unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view, and limiting individual off-road glances to no more than two seconds in duration.
In addition, it also recommends the disabling of operations such as visual-manual text messaging, internet browsing, social media browsing, 10-digit phone dialing, and displaying more than 30 characters of unrelated driving text.
NHTSA hopes to release a future phase that will have guidelines for aftermarket components such as portable electronic devices or navigation units, while a third phase will address voice-activated controls.
The United States Department of Transportation has proposed a plan to require all light-duty vehicles to be equipped with data-recording black boxes. The 197-page proposed document was released yesterday by the White House.
NHTSA is also considering the meausure for heavy-duty trucks. The electronic data recorders(EDR) are equipped to many vehicles already. GM began using the technology in 1990, and has made it a standard on all light-duty vehicles built after 1995. According to NHTSA estimates, 64 percent of all 2005 model year vehicles sold in the U.S. were equipped with some form of an EDR.
GM, Toyota, Ford, and Chrysler previously endorsed EDRs but concern is growing regarding the proposed regulations. The boxes are designed to record pre and post-crash data. The more sophisticated these systems become, the more they cause an increase in vehicle price.
Rules have already been finalized to standardize EDRs by 2013 to make data collection easier.
[Source: The Detroit News]
An updated U.S fuel economy label was unveiled today aimed at reducing gasoline consumption and exhaust emissions. These new stickers will be required on all 2013 models, allowing consumers to quickly glance at fuel consumption.
Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says the reason for the redesigned labels is to give consumers, “the best possible information about which cars on the lot offer the greatest fuel economy and the best environmental performance.” The EPA developed the updated labels with assistance from the Department of Transportation.
Check out the video after the jump!
The United States Department of Transportation reported that 2010 was a record low for traffic fatalities, besting the previous record of 2009. While that year saw 33,808 deaths, 2010 saw a drop to 32,708.
Both the DOT and NHTSA credit public awareness campaigns and stricter law enforcement, with programs against impaired driving, distracted driving and even pro-seatbelt campaigns being lauded. Undoubtedly, safer vehicles and improved safety systems can also share some of the glory, but either way, we are pleased to see the statistic falling and hope that its a continuing trend in the future.
An investigation by NASA has cleared Toyota‘s electronics systems of causing the unintended acceleration phenomenon that was widely reported in 2010.
The Department of Transportation, who oversaw the investigation, released a statement claiming “NASA engineers found no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed unintended acceleration incidents.”
Although the report effectively vindicates Toyota’s claims that they were not at fault, the damage to the brand has been done, and is undoubtedly severe. Toyota recalled 8 million vehicles due to the scandal and paid nearly $50 million in regulatory fines.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Breakfast Show and said, “There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that. That’s one way. But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That’s the bottom line.”
LaHood went on to say that texting or talking on the phone while driving has claimed nearly 5,500 lives in the last year and that nearly 500,000 people have been injured.
To raise awareness, the DOT has launched a new online campaign called “Faces of Distracted Driving” in which victims speak out about how their lives have changed by making such a simple mistake.
Currently there is no federal law prohibiting people from using cell phones while driving, although some states do have anti-texting laws, while some states only allow handsfree phone usage.
The DOT is looking at software solutions which will detect when the phone is being used while driving, although there are still plenty of glitches to work out, after all a passenger could be using a cell phone so how will the phone know? Since this restricting technology is not mandated by the Government, it will boil down to individuals who want to have the technology for their own benefit, or companies can install such devices in their fleet vehicles.
Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas believes these tech features won’t be enough and many people will be able to work around the issue. He believes the only thing that can work is to change people’s attitude.
Do the sensible thing, don’t text or talk while driving, and everybody wins.
You’d think that with all of the public service announcements, all of the shocking statistics and all of the cringe-worthy footage you can find on YouTube, drivers would think twice about getting behind the wheel drunk. Does it surprise you that almost 12,000 people are still killed annually from alcohol-related accidents? Just as surprising is a new study out by the Department of Transportation that shows that one in five drivers admit to driving within two hours of drinking.
The study comes up with some pretty revealing facts. This includes that the total number of drinking/driving trips in the past month is estimated to be at 85.5 million (this is up from 73.7 million in 2004) and it reverses a trend that has been on a decline since 1995. It also found that four out of five people see drunk driving as a major threat to the safety of themselves and their family.
Other stats pulled from the study were that eight percent of people accepted a ride with someone who they thought was too drunk to drive, and of those, 24 percent of males aged 21-24 were more at risk of riding with a drunk driver. Other facts to note were that drivers who drink were three times as likely as drivers who don’t to ride with someone they thought had consumed too much alcohol. For non-drivers who drink, they were eight times as likely to do so.
Sadly, this survey found that eight percent of all drivers (approximately 17 million people) have driven drunk at least once in the past year. For those caught driving under the influence in the past two years, about 1 percent of those were aged 16 or older, with five percent of men 21-24 years of age arrested. When questioned about curbing drinking and driving, 63 percent say that alcohol interlocks in vehicles would be very effective at helping to stop this behavior.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
As early leaked reports indicated, Toyota is being exonerated after Congress pushed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reveal the preliminary findings of its investigation into the cases of “unintended acceleration” of Toyota vehicles.
A Department of Transportation investigation of the black box recorders in 58 Toyota vehicles involved in “unintended acceleration” crashes has revealed that in 35 of those cases the brakes were never engaged. In nine other cases the brakes were only applied immediately before impact. In five additional cases no data was recorded, while in five more it was shown that the brakes were applied early on. One incident showed that both the accelerator and brake were pressed.
Toyota did place a recall for a faulty mechanical brake pedal and for millions of vehicles with what could be improperly installed floor mats – the later which is believed to be a cause of the crash in at least on of the 58 vehicles investigated by NHTSA.
“The limited research completed so far has not led to identification of safety defects other than sticking gas pedals or pedal entrapment,” reads the report, clearly indicating that faulty vehicle electronics are not to blame.
Results of the NHTSA investigation are not final and the government agency warns that it may still take months to look over all the vehicles in question.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
Last week the Department of Transportation announced a $16.4 million fine for Toyota after it declared the automaker acted too slowly in informing the government about a problem with sticking accelerator pedals which later led to a recall. That might not be the end of it, however, as according to a report by Automotive News the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could levy yet another similar fine.
Of note is the fact that current legislation has saved Toyota from a far more costly payout. The DOT could have fined Toyota for each infraction on the 2.3 million cars, but the current law limits the amount to just one. Were it not for the current legislation, the total could have been as high as $13.8 billion.
The DOT is continuing to investigate Toyota and as it combs though mounts of subpoenaed documents new items of note continue to surface, allowing the DOT to put together a timeline of events. Most recently, investigators uncovered a document that Toyota has asked for accelerator pedal changes to be made in Europe last October, but not in the U.S. In addition, an email uncovered recently by former Toyota VP of environmental and public affairs Irv Miller, urged company execs to “come clean” on the accelerator pedal issue, stating that, “the time to hid on this one is over.”
No official word of the fine has been made by the NHTSA and Toyota has yet to announce if it will appeal the initial fine.
[Source: Automotive News va Autoblog]
As though Toyota needed any more to deal with right now, the automaker could face a fine from the Federal Government for not acting quickly enough in issuing recalls. Legally, automakers that don’t issue recalls in a timely manner can be stuck with a fine for as much as $16.4 million. That amount, however, pales in comparison to the almost $2 billion that Toyota says the recent recalls will cost the company.
On Wednesday Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that until then Toyota had been uncooperative in working with the government and that it had taken a considerable effort to get the automaker to issue recalls.
To date, the largest fine the DOT has dolled out was to General Motors, for $1 million.
Toyota has said it has received no word tat a fine is pending.
[Source: Automotive News via eGMcartech]
With the Cash-for-Clunkers program officially ending last night, the U.S. Department of Transportation has now released its top 10 list of the most purchased vehicles under the program, with the most popular car purchased being the Toyota Corolla.
Toyotas actually took three of the top 10 spots, with the Camry placing third and the new Prius ranking seventh. Honda did equally well, taking three of the top 10 spots, with the Civic coming in second, the Accord 8th and the Fit 9th.
Nissan and Hyundai each had one spot on the list with the Versa in 6th and the Elantra in 5th. Ford was the only U.S. automaker to break into the top 10, with the front-wheel drive Focus in 4th and the FWD Escape in 10th.
The “Top 10″ list doesn’t tell the whole story, however. While no General Motors products are listed in the top 10, collectively, GM products accounted for 17.6% of the total of new cars purchased under the program, second only to Toyota with 19.4%.
In total, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) generated 690,114 transactions worth a total of $2.8 billion.
“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash for clunkers program,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment. This is one of the best economic news stories we’ve seen and I’m proud we were able to give consumers a helping hand.”
In total, 84 percent of consumers traded in trucks, while 59 percent purchased cars. The average fuel economy of a car traded in was 15.8 mpg, whereas the average fuel economy of a car purchased was 24.9 mpg – an improvement of 9.2 mpg or 58 percent.
GM, Ford and Honda all scheduled to increase production to bolster depleted inventories
The Cash for Clunkers program has come to an end and its impact can now be evaluated.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation, dealers submitted 690,114 transactions under the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), more commonly known as Cash-for-Clunkers. Those rebate applications account for $2.877 billion out of the $3 billion approved by Congress.
That number may rise considerably, however, as rejected filings are resubmitted. The DOT has said that filings approved after last nights deadline will be reimbursed. The DOT reported several issues with its servers approaching the deadline, which may account the fact that only $229 million in claims were filed during the last 36 hours of the program, while over the previous weekend $611 million in claims were filed.
A preliminary analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers says the CARS program boosted economic growth in the third quarter of 2009 by 0.3-0.4 percent, will help sustain an increased fourth quarter GDP and create or save 42,000 jobs in the second half of 2009.
“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash for clunkers program,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment.”
Ford and General Motors recently announced production increases for the second half of the year due to the demand generated by the CARS program. Honda also said it will increase production at its plants in East Liberty and Marysville, Ohio, and in Lincoln, Ala.
“This is one of the best economic news stories we’ve seen and I’m proud we were able to give consumers a helping hand,” said LaHood.