AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said today that it might create a “silver” rating system to examine how well vehicles protect older occupants.
After a press release and a strongly-worded blog response by Gualberto Ranieri, Chrysler’s senior vice president of communications, it seemed as thought the battle between the automaker and with Swedish publication Teknikens Varld was all but over — until the magazine published new claims that prompted the brand to issue another response.
This isn’t supposed to be a problem anymore, but a Swedish publication found during its “moose test” that even at moderate speeds the Jeep Grand Cherokee is at serious risk for a potentially fatal rollover.
Nothing is certain but death and taxes. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study which consisted of researcher Dr. Donald Redelmeier and colleague Christopher Yanell of the University of Toronto comparing the number of fatalities during each tax deadline day to the number of fatalities occurring on regular days. The statistics show that the number of fatal crashes taking place during tax deadline day was 6 percent higher than the control days.
Dr. Redelmeier says, “Tax Day is one of the few opportunities to study societal stress on a widespread basis because it’s synchronized and it’s recurrent throughout an enormously large community.”
A total of 19,541 individuals were killed in crashes during the 30 tax days and 60 control days. Sorting the numbers, Redelmeier’s study revealed that the 30 tax days accounted for 6,783 deaths, or an average of 226 fatalities per day. In comparison, the 60 control days accounted for 12,758 deaths, averaging 213 fatalities a day. Spread over 3 decades, fatalities on tax deadline day account for an additional 404 fatalities.
Here are some sobering study results that may shock parents – teen drivers are most likely to cause a car accident within their first month of unsupervised driving.
The study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that teenage drivers are 50 percent more likely to get into a car crash in their first month of driving than after a year of driving by themselves. It also goes on to show that these drivers are twice as likely to get into an accident during the first month than after two years of driving experience.
To compile this information, AAA mounted cameras in the cars of 38 teenage drivers in North Carolina. Footage followed teen drivers as they learned to drive with their parents as well as their first six months of driving solo.
From the data collected, 57 percent of the accidents that were caused in the first month of driving happened because teens were driving too fast, weren’t paying attention, or failed to yield to other cars. Researchers also found that in the first few months of driving, teens got into quite a few left-hand turn crashes while trying to navigate across traffic, which suggests that young drivers could use more practice with it comes to certain driving maneuvers.
After driving with their parents, the footage showed that the teen drivers’ driving behavior changed drastically. While they had their learner’s permits, teens stuck to the same routes, but once they got their full licences, these drivers started taking new routes and displaying bad driving habits such as texting, running red lights, or socializing with passengers.
[Source: Motor Trend]
Here’s one more reason why grandparents rock – according to a new study, it’s safer for kids to ride with grandparents than it is with their own parents.
Researched under the supervision of Dr. Fred Henretig, a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, this study found that grandparents were safer drivers than parents. This is especially true in the case of injuries sustained in car accidents – the study shows that a child being injured in an auto accident were 50 percent less when a grandparent was driving.
“More of the baby boomers are coming into grandparenthood now, and this important group of drivers of young children hadn’t really been looked at critically,” said Dr. Henretig. “Grandparents were a little bit less up-to-date on child restraints, but we discovered that the injury rate was lower in grandparent driver crashes.”
When the study started, researchers believed that because of older vehicles and newly adopted safety measures, kids wouldn’t be as safe while driving with their grandparents. Now, imagine what would happen if grandparents could be current on child restraints – kids would be even safer while driving with them. As it stands now, about three out of every four grandparents were using “optimal” child restraints.
Feel free to let out a huge sigh of relief – a panel of experts investigating the causes of sudden acceleration heard on Monday that the risks of driving a recalled Toyota are minimal.
Paul Fischbeck, a professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, told the National Academy of Sciences that the risk of dying in a traffic crash is 1.05 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.
After examining the 2.3 million Toyota vehicles recalled for sticky pedals, Fischbeck said if all of these vehicles remained unfixed and were kept on the road, the risk of dying would rise to 1.07 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. That equates to an additional six deaths in a year (one Toyota-recall death per 5 billion miles traveled). This raises the odds of dying in any given year by 2 in 1 million.
The Academy is conducting an investigation at the request of the U.S. Transportation Department. This investigation is looking into the causes of sudden acceleration cases in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles as well as across the auto industry.
Toyota has recalled nearly 6 million vehicles for sudden acceleration concerns in the United States. After investigating over 4,000 recalled models where driver’s complained of unintended acceleration, Toyota experts have found no instances of an electronic throttle flaw. These findings have been backed up by initial DOT findings that suggest driver error is to blame in most “unintended acceleration” cases.
[Source: The Detroit News]
A new study says that parents are even more important then ever when it comes to teaching their teens to drive. The report goes on to state that parents are not giving their teenagers enough experience behind the wheel before they get their license, especially in challenging situations – this includes driving in bad weather, at night, on highways or in heavy traffic.
In the study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly half of parents reported that after the yearlong learner’s stage, there was at least one condition that they were not comfortable letting their teenagers to drive in on their own. Even though this was reported to be the case, more than one-third of parents still allowed their teens to get licenses within a month of being eligible.
In the U.S., teenagers have the highest crash rate of any age group. It has been found that the most dangerous time is when they drive on their own during the first few years after being licensed.
“The goal is to get people to realize how serious a situation it is,” said Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the foundation, a non-profit research and educational organization.
The study, which was conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, was based on analysis of driving patterns of 50 families in North Carolina. During this study, cameras were installed in their vehicles for four months right after the teenagers obtained their learner permits. During the yearlong period, parents were interviewed 10 times.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there had been little scientific research on what parents actually do while supervising their teen’s driving. Thanks to this study, they found that most common form of parental instruction (in 54 percent of the clips), had to do with the handling the vehicle (“you need to slow down”). These instructions were often stressful and emotionally charged. Instructions such as visual scanning or anticipating the actions of other driver, was found in just 5 percent of clips.
[Source: The New York Times]
It’s a little thing that does so much. By buckling up in the car, you increase your chances of surviving a serious car accident. And now, seat belt use in the U.S. has risen to 85 percent – its highest level yet.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released these new stats that show that the numbers for seat belt use are up one percent from last year. Other increases include seat belt use in rural areas (up from 81 percent to 83 percent) and drivers who use expressways (an increase from 89 percent to 91 percent).
And what’s the driving factor behind this rise? The NHTSA seams to think it’s because of police enforcement. When seat belt use is a primary law in a state, use of the safety devices is higher (88 percent). For those states that don’t have stricter enforcement, they have significantly less compliance (76 percent).
In another NHTSA study, they found that in 2009, seat belts saved an estimated 12,713 lives. Over a five-year period from 2005 to 2009, they saved over 72,000 lives. What’s sad is that an additional 3,688 lives would’ve been saved if all passengers over 5-years old involved in fatal crashes had bucked up. But thanks to campaigns such as “Click it or Ticket,” people have started to really get the message about seat belt safety.
Here are some more 2009 stats from the NHTSA found that in 2009: that year, 2,381 lives were saved by frontal air bags and 1,483 lives were saved by motorcycle helmets. If all of the motorcycle riders had used a helmet, 723 more lives would’ve been saved. By enforcing a minimum drinking age law, 623 lives were saved and child restraints saved 309 children 4-years old and younger.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
The 2010 national Distracted Driving Summit was designed to shine a light on the dangers of distracted driving, and it’s not just us regular drivers that are getting a stern warning in the form of a law. It’s also commercial truck and bus drivers who are banned from texting while driving.
This new ban covers drivers who transport hazardous materials, commercial truck and bus drivers, and rail operators. Many companies have already jumped on the band wagon – already, 1,600 corporations have banned distracted driving (this affects 10.5 million drivers), while another 500 companies will follow suit in the next year.
The pilot enforcement campaigns have been running in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York. In Hartford, Connecticut 4,956 tickets have been passed out to texting or talking drivers, while in Syracuse, New York, another 4,446 citations have been issued. These results show that efforts have already dramatically reduced distracted driving behavior in both cities.
In addition to these new policies, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been working closely with the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) to engage the private sector to promote anti-distracted driving policies in the workplace.
Distracted driving in a huge issue and the numbers don’t lie. In 2009, nearly 5,500 people died and half a million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research, distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities in 2009.
School is back in session, and the District of Vancouver, Canada wants to make sure drivers slow down. They’ve joined forces with safety organizations in order to raise awareness, and thanks to the BCAA Traffic Safety Association, drivers motoring down 22nd Street in West Vancouver will be greeted with a 3D image of a little girl chasing a ball across the street.
This is a wakeup call for distracted drivers who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. When they go through this school zone, these drivers are going to be in for a shock when they see this realistic image.
“We need to expect the unexpected because anything could happen, whether it is a 3D image on the road … or whether it’s a live child or a dog running in front of the car, these are all things that we have to be able to control for in a vehicle,” says David Dunne of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation.
This 3D image costs $15,000 to run, and will be active for one week. From far away, the image will look like an indistinguishable mark, but when the driver is about 30 meters from it, the image of the girl and ball will become clear.
“You’ll see this image start to rise off the pavement and it will look like a little child is crossing the street. As you get closer to the image, the image recedes into the pavement,” said Dunne.
September and October are the two months with the highest child fatalities, according to the BCAA Traffic Safety Association, and this experiment goes well beyond the typical awareness campaign.
How bizarre does this sound? A single pedal that can be used for braking and accelerating could change the way we drive – but are we up for it?
This invention, which has been around for 20 years, is finally getting some attention. It’s brainchild of Japanese inventor Masuyuki Naruse, who claims that putting the brake and acceleration pedals side-by-side is dangerous. His solution is the Naruse pedal, a contraption that puts accelerator and brake on the same foot-activated lever.
Here’s how it works: the accelerator control on Naruse’s pedal is placed on the side of a larger brake pedal, and the foot can nudge it to the right to increase acceleration. To stop the vehicle, the driver just presses down on the pedal. According to Naruse, this will prevent accidents caused by drivers hitting the wrong pedal, accelerating into peril when they are trying to brake.
The recent surge of accelerator-related recalls has made created interest in the idea. Swedish regulators are already testing a single-pedal contraption, and the Naruse pedal has been declared street legal on about 130 individual cars in Japan.
Of course, when a new idea is introduced, there are going to be some nay-sayers. The biggie would be the need for people around the world to relearn the ingrained skill they’ve developed over a lifetime of two-pedal driving. But from engineering and safety standpoints, a single-pedal design actually makes a lot of sense.
Do you think it’s a safer way to drive? Would you be will to drive a car outfitted with this type of pedal? Leave us your comments below.
It’s a sign of the times – texting while behind the wheel isn’t cool to do anymore. In fact, it’s pretty stupid, now that we know the dangers associated while trying to do the two acts simultaneously. But for all those drivers who still don’t get it, don’t worry – TxtStopper will stop you from being your own worst enemy.
If the laws, scary stats or social stigma won’t do it for you, TxtStopper will. This professionally installed and handy 12 volt device will make sure you never text and drive again, because it will shut down all communications on any U.S. cell phone when it’s in an operating vehicle. Unfortunately though doesn’t differentiate between a driver and a passenger and will switch on whenever the car is in gear and running.
Available for a mere $200, there is no hard evidence of the TxtStopper working as intended just yet, but give it time. Perhaps judges will make it mandatory for repeat offenders who just can’t put their cell phones down. And if you happen to have a built-in GPS navigation system in your cell, it would kind of defeat the purpose of having this feature. Oh well, you can always pull over and ask for directions at the nearest corner gas station.
Sometimes, you have to admit, posted speed limits are so unfair. Well, you’re not too far off – if you’re in Michigan. It seems that speed limits in this state may be illegal. So, does this mean you can start setting your own pace and challenging police to a high speed chase? Not quite…
When it comes to safety, researchers have found that speed limits should be set at the 85th percentile traffic flow speed. In most cases, drivers tend to cruise at what they consider a safe speed, regardless of the speed limit. By that theory, speed limits should be raised to what 85 percent of drivers are moving.
And Michigan legislature knows about this tidbit of information, that’s why in 2006 they passed a law that reflects these traffic studies. So where does the illegal part come into play? It turns out that most Michigan municipalities haven’t complied, so that means there are plenty of speed limits posted that are themselves unlawful.
So why not change them? It may be because these municipalities want the revenue the speeding tickets bring in, so they don’t conduct the required speed studies which allow them to keep enforcing the lower speed limits.
And you know something is wrong when even the cops don’t agree with it. Lt. Gary Megge, head of the Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section, finds it “reprehensible” that communities are not following the law. “In many cases, the problem is the speed limit, not the motorist,” said Megge. “Communities have to obey the law, too.”
Sound unfair to you? You can do something about it – because of the law, drivers have started to challenge their speeding tickets and had them dismissed, if no traffic study had been done in that municipality.
Let’s hope that bringing awareness to the issue will force these municipalities onboard with raising the speed limit.
[Source: Detroit News]
No more teachers, no more books! School’s out for summer, and with the warm weather, kids are headed outdoors to make the most of their time off. It also means parents need to be extra vigilant when it comes to keep track of youngsters, especially when it comes to their vehicles.
So far this year, child safety group Kids and Cars have reported 100 non-traffic fatalities, which includes 35 frontovers, 32 backovers, and 18 related to heat. Expect more sad stats to come, as injuries and deaths peak in the summer months. In fact, seven children died of heat stroke last week after being left along in cars.
Consumer reports as put together a video, as well as some tips, on how you can do your part to prevents these types of tragedies:
- Kids should never be left alone in a car, as the interior temperature rising quickly, and children being particularly vulnerable to temperature changes. There’s also the risk of a child disengaging a parking brake, which could set the vehicle in motion.
- If you’re changing up your everyday routine, be sure to check your car before you leave for the day. To remind yourself that there is a child in the car, you can use a hint such as a stuffed animal in the front seat so you don’t forget to check the rear. Another good idea is to put an essential item such as your purse or briefcase in the back seat – that way you’ll be forced to open the back door before locking up.
- When entering or reversing from a driveway, make sure there are no children in the way and go slowly. Music should be turned off, and a backup camera comes in handy, especially if you have a large vehicle
- To ensure that kids don’t get into your car while you’re not around, always lock the doors and keep the windows rolled up.
- If you’re in a parking lot, have a casual and quick look around to see if any children are left in their vehicles. If so, take action and call 911 immediately.
Watch the video after the jump.
We’re starting to hear about features that will help drivers avoid certain car accidents, such as Ford’s Collision Warning System and Volvo’s City Safety (stops a vehicle from a low-speed impact). And according to Continental AG, the next big thing is on its way – the ability to avoid collisions at normal driving speeds.
Continental has developed its Emergency Steer Assist (ESA), which is suitable for vehicles that come equipped with electronic power steering and an adjustable suspension. Here’s how it works: the vehicle’s front radar first feeds information to the chassis computer. This, in turn, is calculated into closing rates and how likely it how be to perform an evasive maneuver or if a collision could take place. What’s cool about this technology is that is stiffens the suspension and offers torque assist in steering efforts that attempt to induce correcting steering maneuvers from the driver.
It’s the last part of this equation that’s so unique to this type of driving safety feature. “If the driver of a vehicle traveling at high speed has gone beyond the last possible point where braking would have an effect, it may still be possible to avoid an accident through steering, or by taking evasive action. This possibility is not yet being actively incorporated into driving safety,” said Dr. Peter Laier, Vice President of the Chassis Components for Continental.
In order for ESA to work properly, a vehicle must be fitted with sensors that monitor the road as far ahead as possible. The video images from the camera systems are combined with radar signals, which will be sent to the vehicle’s chassis. This will teach the vehicle to learn to “see” oncoming hazard situations before a collision takes place, and will send the appropriate correcting steering maneuvers to the driver.
Watch for this technology to come to a car near you in the next two to four years. Until then, you’ll just have to keep your eyes on the road and pay attention.