CO and Cars: Unfinished Business

In 1975, the auto industry began to equip vehicles with catalytic converters to meet the emission limits of the Clean Air Act of 1970. Sitting unobtrusively between the engine and the muffler, the “cat” changes the noxious gases in automobile exhaust into harmless nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water. The result, according to the National Institutes of Occupational Health, was an 80 percent decline in the number of unintentional vehicle-related deaths caused by the most dangerous byproduct of combustion engines: carbon monoxide. 

Autonomous Vehicles – The Beta Test Coming to a Roadway Near You

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Automated Vehicles web page breathlessly forecasts: “Vehicle safety technologies signal the next revolution in roadway safety. We see great potential in these technologies to save lives—more than 30,000 people die on our roads every year and we can tie 94 percent of crashes to human choice—transform personal mobility and open doors to communities that today have limited mobility options.”

Who Are the Victims of Takata’s Fraud?

For more than a decade, airbag supplier Takata manufactured what turned out to be ticking time bombs – airbag inflators with a volatile propellant called Phased-Stabilized Ammonium Nitrate (PSAN) – that were placed in vehicles worldwide by the hundreds of millions.

Fiat Chrysler’s Transmission Woes Continue

Last Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a new probe into rollaway complaints from drivers of late-model Dodge Durango SUVs and Ram 1500 trucks equipped with Fiat Chrysler’s new rotary dial shifter. It follows on the heels on a rollaway investigation into FCA vehicles with a Monostable shifter, which concluded in June with a recall, and a high-profile death. Actor Anton Yelchin, famous for his portrayal of Pavel Chekov in Star Trek movies, died when when he was pinned by his 2015 Jeep Cherokee in the driveway of his home.

GM Stiffs Takata Recall, Petitions for Delay

Safety Research & Strategies response to this request: Deny! It’s rare for an automaker to request such a change – it’s even rarer for the agency to ask for comments. But, our focus on this issue tells us that the petition is a stunning display of chutzpah, considering that the automaker is already flouting the Consent Order it signed. GM has been selling unremedied recalled vehicles while telling its customers it isn’t replacing the airbags because there’s no problem. Everything we’ve learned about the history of this defect assures us – there ain’t no such guarantees.

A Tipping Point

[Editor’s Note: The following article is a response to best-selling author Malcom Gladwell’s recent podcast “Blame Game” on the Toyota unintended acceleration crisis. Gladwell’s depiction of the controversial defect issues plaguing Toyotas is wildly inaccurate and refuted in many public record documents.

NHTSA Progress Slow as Safety Crises Keep Coming

On Friday, the Office of the Inspector General threw another report on the stack of official criticisms of the way the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation operates.

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Preventable Ford Airbag Death Touches off Latest Recalls

Another day, another episode of the long-running soap opera, All My Airbags. Last week, on the heels of the tenth death and the eve of an historic blizzard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that another five million vehicles with defective Takata airbag inflators will be recalled. This recall will include driver’s side SDI-type airbag inflators in Ford vehicles.

Not Very FAST Act Tackles Recall, Tire Issues, Closes Rental Loophole

After years of short-term fixes as durable as a pothole cold patch, Congress has cobbled together a $300 billion, five-year comprehensive transportation bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

(We know that Congress loves it some acronyms. But, it’s been a decade since House and Senate passed the last long-term transportation bill, the mouthful known as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act --a Legacy for Users [SAFETEA-LU] so perhaps they deserve some points for brevity. And irony. Or chutzpah.)

Software Promises and Perils

In May, Honda recalled some 2014-2015 Acura MDX 2WD and AWD, RLX and 2014 Acura RLX Hybrid vehicles, because its Collision Mitigation Braking System could incorrectly interpret certain roadside objects such as metal fences or metal guardrails as obstacles and unexpectedly apply the brakes. In October, Google and Volvo were demonstrating their driverless cars for journalists on two continents – the U.S.

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