Elective Warning Reports Redux

Mercedes seat warmers are burning holes in their customers – but, really, who cares?

Industry Experts Urge FHWA to Test Trinity Guardrails Properly

Last Monday, a federal jury in Marshall, Texas forced the Federal Highway Administration to do what state directors of transportation could not – launch an investigation into the crashworthiness of the ET-Plus guardrail end terminal. The agency, which, two years ago accepted Trinity Industries’ old test reports and spent most of its efforts deflecting the concerns of state highway officials and the questions from journalists, ordered the Texas-based manufacturer of highway safety equipment to submit to a new testing regime.

Takata Airbag Defect Explodes into Crisis

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a Consumer Advisory urging “owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags.” The announcement was accompanied by an agency web page with an incomplete list of vehicles under recall, as well as mistakenly naming 14 GM models equipped with Autoliv airbags that were once recalled in 2002. The recalls, investigations and complaints look-up functions on its website were inoperable. Toyota announced that it would disable defective airbags in some affected vehicles until replacement parts were available and Acting Administrator David Friedman told The New York Times concurred, under the logic that a vehicle with no airbag was better than one that might spray the occupants with shrapnel upon deployment. 

Trinity Defenses Collapsing Faster Than an ET-Plus End Terminal

A jury in Marshall County, Texas found that Trinity Industries, a global manufacturer of highway safety equipment, defrauded the federal government in 2005, when it won approval for an energy-absorbing guardrail end terminal that featured design changes that saved the company $50,000 annually. In finding that Trinity had knowingly made a false claim to the government, the jury awarded the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia guardrail competitor who brought the suit on behalf of the United States government $175 million.

NHTSA Seeks Input on Electronics Rule

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published a Federal Register Notice seeking comments on the possibility of writing regulations to ensure the safety of automotive electronics. The 10-page request for comments, satisfying a directive from the federal legislation known as MAP–21 to “complete an examination of the need for safety standards with regard to electronic systems in passenger motor vehicles,” would have been an excellent addition to Volume 54 of the Federal Register (published in 1989).

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