Will the Regs Catch Up to Vehicle Autonomy?

In July, the California Utilities Commission granted Waymo (formerly the Google self-driving car project) the state’s first permit to test its driverless vehicles without safety drivers on public roadways. And, by the end of this year, the company planned to launch a driverless taxi service in Phoenix. Ford has promised the public a “fully autonomous vehicle in commercial operation” by 2021. Tesla, which has led the bumpy path on semi-autonomous vehicles, has forecasted the introduction of as many as a million Tesla “robo taxis” on the road by the end of this year.

What does the Mueller Report have to do with auto safety?

On March 24, newly minted Attorney General William Barr released a four-page summary of the Office of Special Counsel’s 448-page report of a two-year investigation into President Donald Trumps ties to and cultivation and acceptance of Russia’s help in defeating Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton via the use of stolen emails, and of Trump’s efforts to stop an investigation into his actions.

NHTSA Says Electronic Tire Registration Feasible

A new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report says requiring tiremakers to electronically identify tires is feasible, but the main technologies to achieve it – Radio Frequency Identification tags or two-dimensional bar-codes – come with plusses and minuses that would need sorting out to achieve a standard format across manufacturers.

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With Rosekind Gone, NHTSA Retreats

In November 2016, trade publication Automotive News published a rosy headline on the eve of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind’s departure: NHTSA positioned to continue Rosekind's work after inauguration.

The article went on to repeat Rosekind’s predictions that the agency’s aggressive enforcement stance would continue because “the agency has taken steps to keep its momentum on issues such as autonomous vehicles and cementing a “proactive” safety culture in the new presidential administration.”

Preventing Heavy Truck Rear-Impact Crashes: We Have the Technology. Why Don’t We Use It?

On a hot Friday afternoon in June, truck driver Perry McCleod, at the wheel of a 2004 Peterbilt tractor-trailer pulling a 2016 Hyundai box trailer, crashed into the back of a Toyota Tundra, stopped at a work-zone on Interstate 94 in Cass County, Missouri. A forensic examination of the crash showed that McCleod was doing nearly 70 miles an hour seven seconds before the crash. The impact created a four-vehicle chain collision. A witness at the scene told investigators from the Missouri State Police “the truck driver had to be distracted. He was not slowing down at all.

NHTSA Gets Real on Tire Fatalities

Safety Fact: 733 is the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2016 in which a contributing factor was tire malfunction.

Safety Fiction: On average, 200 people die each year in tire-related crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration happens to be the purveyors of both tidbits, and the discrepancy is not just a matter of facts, it’s a matter of rulemaking and a matter of mixed messaging.

FCA Launches AutoPark “Customer Satisfaction Notification” Campaigns, Why no Recall?

About three weeks ago, FCA sent out a Customer Satisfaction Notification, alerting dealers “to enable” the AutoPark feature on 192,400 Model Year 2014-2016 Dodge Durango with rotary-style shifters. This follows a May campaign to “enable” the feature on in 281,790 RAM 1500 Pickup, Dodge Durango, and Chrysler 300 vehicles – all from the 2017 model year – and also with rotary-style shifters.

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.

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