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General Motors is targeting a safety issue with new equipment that until now has been unaddressed.
They plan to release a front-seat center-airbag (pictured above) that deploys between the driver and passenger seats. The new feature is supposed to improve safety in the event of far-side impact crashes, which statistics show to be responsible for 11 percent of all crash-related deaths.
When such a crash occurs, the bag deploys in 26 milliseconds using a combination of pressurized argon and pyrotechnic gas. It forms a hard barrier between the passenger and driver sides of the vehicle, protecting against the possibility of two people damaging each other during a collision. The bag is also angled away from the passenger seat to keep the driver from smashing against the center console and is sturdy enough to help protect against a poll during such a crash.
GM developed the device in partnership with Takata, which stays rigidly inflated for several minutes after impact. Expect to see it in the 2013 Buick Enclave as standard equipment and as an option in the GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. According to MotorTrend, GM chose the crossovers because they are the most likely to carry extra passengers. Despite being an option, the new airbags should appear on about 90 percent of these models.
The safety blitz isn’t stopping there, though, GM is also offering a low-cost safety system that offers both front crash detection and lane departure warning systems for only $295. That’s a bargain compared to the thousands it costs for similar features on Mercedes or BMW cars.
The difference is that GM’s technology takes advantage of a high-definition camera capable of processing 14 images per second through the car’s computer. In doing so, it recognizes pedestrians, motorcycles, cars and trucks while calculating your risk of hitting them. That risk is determined by how quickly the object in question is moving. The camera is mounted on the passenger side of the rear-view mirror, behind the windshield.
The system can be toggled to chirp at near, medium or far settings and can even be shut off completely. It also remembers what distance you set it to last when restarted. The notification system combines a red warning light on the dashboard with a series of eight beeps through the front stereo speakers. The system activates if the driver fails to signal a lane change and lower warning tones come from on the speakers on the corresponding side.
There might be plans in the future for GM to employ more safety features like high beam assist and traffic signal recognition but those features are more expensive because they use radar instead of the camera.
Expect the camera-based features to appear first on the 2012 GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Equinox.
The state of California is considering lowering speed limits and shortening yellow light times. The Senate Transportation Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on Assembly Bill 529. This bill proposes to rewrite the state’s speed trap law so that cities would be able to round down all speed limits. The measure passed the full Assembly by a 77 to 0 vote on May 19.
Jurisdictions within California must set the speed limit at 35 MPH under current law, if traffic is shown moving at that speed. The speed limit must be rounded to the nearest 5 MPH increment. However, a locality can reduce the limit to 30 MPH if there is a safety issue. The proposed legislation would allow jurisdictions to lower the speed limit to 30 MPH without any justification needed by rounding down 5 MPH.
Once the limit is lowered to 30 MPH, the jurisdiction is legally allowed to shorten its yellow light times from 3.6 seconds to 3.2 seconds. Even if that 0.4 seems minor, that difference will generate a significant amount of additional revenue by red light cameras. The red light camera tickets can cost between $405 to $505 each. There was a 110 percent increase in citations reported by the Texas Transportation Institute when yellow lights had shorter times. Interestingly, the majority of those extra violations occurred within the first 0.25 seconds.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Here’s one way of getting your point across in regards to obeying the speed limit – in New York City, the Department of Transportation will flash a skeleton to scare you into going 30 miles per hour.
Set to be launched this summer, a radar-equipped, custom-designed speed board will spook drivers who go above the 30 mph speed limit on city streets with an LED skeleton. This bony fellow reminds drivers of the deadly consequences of speeding, playing on the pedestrian stick-figure showcased on crosswalk lights.
Part of the Transportation Department’s “That’s Why It’s 30″ advertising campaign, the skeleton stars on bus shelter ads and television spots that warns drivers about the dangers that speeding vehicles pose to pedestrians. There’s no word about where these boards will be placed, but we think wherever they go, they will get their point across.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg compared the signs to cigarette packs that feature a skull-and-crossbones label to warn about lung cancer: “Unless you make it graphic, people don’t get the message,” he said.
Do you think these signs will do the trick and get drivers to slow down to 30 mph? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
[Source: The New York Times]