Tag Archive | "Safety"

NADA Forges Partnership With MyCarDoesWhat Campaign


LAS VEGAS — The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has announced a partnership with the MyCarDoesWhat campaign — a research-driven campaign created by the National Safety Council and University of Iowa to help raise awareness of new vehicle safety features designed to prevent crashes and reduce deaths and injuries.

Research from the University of Iowa shows that most consumers are unsure about how potentially life-saving vehicle safety features work. It also shows that consumers are unlikely to fully and properly utilize the features if they are not introduced to them within the first 90 days of vehicle ownership.

“While our cars are getting safer, we might not be taking advantage of the new safety features on our cars as much as we can be,” said NADA President Peter Welch. “A blind spot monitoring system can’t help you if you don’t have it turned on, and automatic emergency braking isn’t going to keep you safe if you think it’s a substitute for being an active, alert driver.

“As the main touch point for consumers considering new car purchases, dealers have a very natural role to play here,” he added. “And by working together, hopefully we can close the consumer education gap, and achieve our shared goal of getting drivers to feel comfortable and confident with all their vehicles have to offer on the safety front.”

The MyCarDoesWhat campaign was created to educate consumers about how to best interact with safety features in order to promote safer driving experiences. The campaign uses multi-media educational tools, public service announcements, consumer-friendly videos and graphics, brochures, fact sheets, a game app and social media platform to educate drivers, according to the association.

“If motor vehicle crashes were a disease, vehicle safety technologies could be the cure,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Through this partnership, it is our hope that making these materials available to new car owners will pique their curiosity, and they will take the time to learn about the new technology they’re driving home.”

For more, visit the campaign’s website.

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GM Unveils Technology to Help Avoid Child Heatstroke Deaths


General Motors Co said on Tuesday it will introduce a new safety system to remind drivers to check for children in the rear seats, and that it could eventually develop features to detect forgotten children, reports Reuters.

The Detroit automaker showed off its 2017 Acadia SUV that includes what it says is an industry-first feature that will alert drivers who had opened the back door at the start of a trip to check the beak seat once they get to their destination.

“Too many children are inadvertently left behind in vehicles, often with tragic results. It’s hard to fathom but it does happen, leading to dozens of fatal heatstrokes in children under 14 every year,” said GM product planning chief Mark Reuss.

The system “does not detect the presence of a child in the back seat but as a simple extra reminder to look in the rear seat on the way out of the vehicle regardless of what may be there,” Reuss said.

He also said that the Acadia is one of the most popular GM vehicles for buyers with children.

While the new GM system won’t be able to sense if a child has been left behind, Reuss said GM could eventually add that capability.

Reuss said GM “has some pretty sophisticated anti-theft motion deterrent systems” and it is possible the automaker could add technologies to detect a child left in a parked vehicle.

The move comes as GM looks to bolster its safety reputation after it recalled a record-setting 30.4 million vehicles in 2014 in North America. GM paid a $900 million U.S. Justice Department fine in September to end an investigation into ignition switch defects linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

In July, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has no plans to require automakers to add in-vehicle technology that would alert those who leave young children behind in hot cars.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in July that if automakers “develop (systems), and they work, and they’re effective, we don’t need to get into it.”

Between 1998 and 2014, there were an average of 38 U.S. deaths a year in hot cars, according to San Jose State University.

Around half were children accidentally left in hot cars, 29 percent were children playing in unattended cars and 18 percent were intentionally left behind. That means a technological fix would likely address only about half of the total deaths.

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Fiat Chrysler CEO Defends Jeep Safety


WASHINGTON — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV CEO Sergio Marchionne defended the safety of millions of Jeep SUVs recalled for possible gas tank fires, as a Georgia jury hears the case of a 4-year-old boy killed in a Jeep fire, reported The Detroit News.

In a 171-page January deposition obtained by The Detroit News, Marchionne said the automaker firmly believes the older Jeep SUVs with gas tanks located behind the rear axle are no more susceptible to fires than other SUVs.

“Our analysis of that data suggested these were defect-free vehicles, and that they performed exactly as the rest of the comparative class performed in the marketplace at the time. Our analysis suggests very clearly that this is not a defect,” Marchionne said in a three-hour session in downtown Atlanta on Jan. 9, as part of a suit brought by the family of Remington Walden, 4.

Under government pressure, Fiat Chrysler recalled an estimated 1.56 million 2002-07 Jeep Liberty and 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs for the problem in June 2013, and agreed to install trailer hitches to protect the gas tanks. In an abundance of caution, it sent letters to 2.27 million owners, though it is not clear how many are still on the road.

Fiat Chrysler notes the vehicles met safety requirements at the time they were built, and insists they are not defective. The company also agreed to conduct a customer service campaign for another 1.2 million 1999-2004 Grand Cherokees.

The recall came after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally asked Chrysler to recall 2.7 million 1992-98 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002-07 Jeep Libertys, saying they were suspectible to gasoline fires resulting from ruptured gas tanks after severe rear-end crashes. The government initially blamed such collisions for the deaths of at least 51 people driving Jeep SUVs; they are now they are linked to at least 70 deaths.

The Detroit News first reported private talks between Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Marchionne and then-NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in 2013. The meeting in Chicago led to the trailer hitch remedy. Emails between Chrysler and NHTSA officials obtained by The Detroit News show the meeting was sought by Marchionne, who had offered to fly to various locations.

“The meeting would only be with the secretary and no other staff, as Sergio wanted,” Strickland said in an email to Chrysler’s senior vice president for external affairs.

In the deposition, Marchionne said he didn’t care who NHTSA brought to the meeting, “If they wanted to bring an army of people, they were welcome, but I was going to show up on my own,” he said. “I would never tell NHTSA who to bring to a meeting and who not to bring to a meeting.” He said he asked for the meeting to try to find a resolution.

Marchionne defended the “incredibly thorough review of the underlying data” and said the company had shared that data with NHTSA, saying it is “fundamentally not different than it would have been for any other competitor car in that class.”

He denied Chrysler wanted to settle the investigation because he was worried about the impact on sales. He acknowledged that there have been deadly fires in Jeep SUVs. “I think that there are unfortunate events surrounding the use of cars, and I find these deplorable,” Marchionne said. “I think it’s unfortunate, and people will suffer injury as a result of driving or riding in vehicles. But I don’t think there is the slightest evidence that Grand Cherokee or the class that we’re talking about here are defective.”

The trial is opening this week in Bainbridge, Georgia, in Decatur County Superior Court in the death of Remington, who died after the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by his aunt Emily Newsome was hit in the rear by a 1997 Dodge Dakota. Newsome, who was driving the boy to tennis lessons, was waiting to turn left, when the driver of the Dakota struck the SUV at high speed, causing the fuel tank to burst.

Marchionne’s videotaped deposition is expected to be played in court.

Lawyers for Fiat Chrysler said in a court filing that the parents “allowed their child to ride in the vehicle after news and media coverage about the NHTSA investigation into the subject vehicle.” They argue that no warning “would have prevented Remi’s injuries in this incident.”

NHTSA has criticized Chrysler for the slow pace of fixes; the company didn’t start fixing them until August 2014, more than a year after they agreed to the recall.

However, NHTSA has acknowledged the hitches will not offer much protection in high-speed crashes. Its investigation did find they provide incremental safety benefits in certain low- and moderate-speed crashes. Chrysler has said since 2013 that the fix would not address high-speed crashes in which most of reported deaths have occurred.

NHTSA issued a consumer advisory in November that urged owners of the recalled Jeeps to get them fixed immediately. The letter came days after a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Ferndale was killed in a fiery crash on the Lodge Freeway in a recalled 2003 Jeep Liberty. Kayla White was killed when her Jeep was struck from behind at high speed, causing it to overturn and catch fire. She died of burns and smoke inhalation, an autopsy found.

NHTSA noted that the Jeeps were among the few vehicles on the roads with gas tanks in the rear of the vehicles. Prior to the 1970s, fuel tanks in most cars were located behind the rear axle, the safety agency said. After the investigaton into gas tank fires in Ford Pintos, most fuel tanks were moved in front of the rear axle.

Chrysler said that as of January, the company’s dealers had 58,600 repair kits on their shelves, and more than 313,000 kits in regional warehouses. To date, about 10 percent of the vehicles have had the recalls completed.

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Democrats Reintroduce Auto Safety Reform Bill


Washington — A group of House Democrats is reintroducing sweeping auto safety reform legislation a year after General Motors Co. recalled 2.6 million vehicles now linked to at least 57 deaths, reported The Detroit News.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is reintroducing a measure that would dramatically hike the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s auto safety budget by at least $100 million by 2017 by imposing a $3 fee on all new car sales that would rise to $9 by 2018. The bill is backed by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and at least four other Democrats, her office said.

Despite withering criticism of NHTSA and congressional hearings into GM’s delayed recall, as well another round of hearings into millions of defective Takata air bags, the prospects for sweeping auto safety reform legislation are hazy. Many auto industry officials think it is unlikely major reforms are approved. In 2010, after harsh criticism of NHTSA after Toyota Motor Corp. recalled millions of vehicles, Congress considered but never voted on major auto safety legislation.

The bill would require auto dealers to repair recalled used cars before selling them and require disclosure of recalls and the status to prospective buyers. It would also give NHTSA sweeping new authority to get unsafe vehicles off the road immediately for “any condition that substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death if not remedied immediately.”

The bill would require NHTSA to create new regulations, including new standards for passenger motor vehicles to reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities. NHTSA would also have to research the development of safety standards to improve the crash worthiness and survivability for back-seat passengers.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group representing major automakers, didn’t immediately comment.

The measure would bar automakers from conducting regional recalls limited to high humidity areas or places where road salt is used.

The bill requires that a remedy for a defective vehicle be provided without charge, regardless of when the motor vehicle or replacement equipment was purchased. Under the current law, remedies are not required without charge for vehicles or equipment purchased more than 10 years before a recall.

On Thursday, a Senate panel approved a bill to allow for additional compensation for auto sector whistleblowers, but Republicans have shown no interest in taking up broader auto safety legislation. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has held hearings and met with automakers and others, but hasn’t proposed any reforms.

The Democrats’ bill would eliminate the $35 million cap on fines for most delayed auto safety recalls. The Obama administration has called for hiking it to $300 million per delay.

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Feds Fine Takata $14,000 Daily for Not Cooperating


The federal government has levied a $14,000 per day fine against air bag manufacturer Takata Corp. for failing to cooperate with a safety investigation over causes for its air bag inflators rupturing, a defect that has resulted in at least four deaths in the U.S, reported Detroit Free Press.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the fine Friday morning at a ceremony in Richmond, Va., where he and Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called on Congress to pass legislation requiring rental car companies and used car dealers to fix safety defects before renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall.

The fine represent the government’s latest tactic in a clash that has been going on since 2008. The recall has expanded to cover about 17 million vehicles in the U.S., of which automakers have replaced the air bags in nearly 2 million, said NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge.

“Safety is a shared responsibility and Takata’s failure to fully cooperate with our investigation is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Foxx. “For each day that Takata fails to fully cooperate with our demands, we will hit them with another fine.”

Takata said it was “surprised and disappointed” by Foxx’s action and took issue with the contention the air bag supplier had not been fully cooperative.

In December, NHTSA issued two special orders to Takata requiring the company to provide documentation and other material relating to the agency’s ongoing investigation. The agency contends Takata has not fully complied with those orders.

NHTSA has said inflators in Takata bags may rupture and explode, particularly in very humid climates, spreading metal shards that have been tied to at least five deaths in the U.S. For passenger-side air bags the recall is limited to Florida, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Puerto Rico.

Five automakers with driver-side Takata bags that could be at risk have expanded their recalls nationwide.

Takata said it provided NHTSA with almost 2.5 million pages of documents and has been communicating regularly with the agency. Neither Takata, the 10 automakers nor NHTSA have discovered the root cause of the malfunction.

“We continue to keep NHTSA closely informed on the extensive testing efforts we have undertaken,” the company’s statement said. “That work has, so far, supported our initial view that age and sustained exposure to heat and humidity is a common factor in the small number of inflators that have malfunctioned.”

After reports of at least one death and other injuries in non-humid regions, NHTSA in December expanded the recall nationwide for driver-side bags, but Takata has resisted. The Japanese-based supplier is conducting its own investigation led by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner.

Separately, the 10 automakers who installed Takata bags have come together to hire an independent expert to investigate the cause of the malfunction. Five automakers have expanded their recalls to the entire country.

Consumers can determine if the vehicle they plan to rent or buy has an open recall that needs to be addressed by using NHTSA’s free Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) look-up tool https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin.

NHTSA’s Safercar mobile app on both provides users free access to key safety information, including recalls and safety performance.

In addition to imposing the fine, Foxx urged Congress to pass the Grow America Act which would extend to rental cars and used cars the existing requirement that all outstanding recalls be repaired before they are sold.

The most recent fatality related to Takata’s air bags occurred Jan. 18 in Spring, Texas, near Houston. It involved a 2002 Honda Accord, which was purchased used while under recall, but neither the previous owner nor the dealer had the air bag replaced.

The Harris County medical examiner’s preliminary report said the driver, Carlos Solis,died of blunt force injuries to the neck.

The Grow America Act would fund infrastructure projects needed to promote economic growth, and enhance safety and efficiency. It also seeks to boost NHTSA’s budget to $908 million for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, including increasing the agency’s defect investigation budget to $31.3 million – approximately triple the current level. It also would raise the maximum penalty NHTSA could levy for failure to report safety defects from $35 million to $300 million.

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Takata Chairman Apologizes for Causing Concern


Takata Corp.’s chairman and chief executive officer issued an apology in response to an auto-safety crisis created by flaws in its air bags, reported Bloomberg.

“We deeply regret that the recent recalls of vehicles equipped with our airbags have likely raised significant concerns and troubles to our product users, our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders,” Shigehisa Takada, whose grandfather started the company as a textile manufacturer in the 1930s, said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize for causing any such concerns and troubles.”

Air bags made by Takata are linked to at least four deaths and more than 30 injuries in the U.S. after the safety devices deployed with too much force, spraying metal shrapnel at occupants. U.S. authorities have begun an investigation and almost 8 million cars made by 10 automakers have been recalled to fix the hazard.

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