Automatic Gates' Deadly Legacy

Last month, the automated gate industry implemented a new voluntary standard ostensibly designed to decrease the chances that individuals will become entrapped, injured or killed by a motorized gate. Will it matter? Automatic gates have been crushing people with regularity since communities and businesses began installing them in the early 1970s, despite occasional education campaigns, amended standards and high recognition among industry and regulators about the safety hazards.

“There have been multiple cases where the gates don’t reverse even though they have a reversing mechanism,” says attorney Bryan Crews, who represents the family of a 12-year-old Florida girl who suffered permanent brain injuries after a 2013 incident. “It’s a hidden trap waiting to spring on unsuspecting children and adults. With more and more gated communities and office buildings you are going to see increasing reports of injuries and deaths.”

Chrysler’s Shifty Shifter and the Wacky World of Defects

Without even waiting for Fiat Chrysler to reply to its Information Request, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has bumped a Preliminary Evaluation into the electronic shifters in 856,284 late model Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 vehicles up to an Engineering Analysis investigation.

No Love for LATCH

Another reason to ditch LATCH? A study recently published in Traffic Injury Prevention concluded that the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) “does not offer equal protection to lap/shoulder belts from head injuries in rear impacts” when used with rear-facing infant safety seats.

NTSB to Release Long-Awaited Tire Safety Recommendations

In February 2014, there were two tragic, fatal, and high-profile tire crashes on U.S. highways that might very well constitute a tipping point for tire safety.

One involved an 11-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain tread separation on a 2004 Kia Sorrento that led to a crash into a school bus carrying 34 members of a Louisiana high school baseball team in Centerville, La. Four of the Kia occupants died, and the fifth was severely injured. Thirty of the bus passengers suffered injuries.

SRS Welcomes Automotive Electronics Diagnostic Expert Aaron Beltram

Safety Research & Strategies, a product safety research and consulting firm with a specialty in automotive defects, has added automotive electronics diagnostic expert Aaron Beltram to its interdisciplinary team.

The Safety World Loses Two Respected Advocates

This month has been a sad one for safety advocates with the passing of two well-respected and pioneering engineers, who also happened to be friends and colleagues: Donald L. Friedman and Steven M. Forrest. Both were born in the Northeast, but made their homes in the Santa Barbara area; both were affiliated with General Motors.

Friedman died peacefully on July 16 just after his 88th birthday. Forrest, 59, died of injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash on July 19. Their deaths cap long and distinguished careers in advancing the causes of crashworthiness and occupant safety.

Former NHTSA Administrator Strickland Gets Part 9 Spanking

When David Strickland went directly from representing industry’s interests as the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to representing industry’s interests as a member of the Washington D.C. lobbying firm Venable, LLC, he was part of a proud agency tradition of lending the dignity of their public offices to private commercial interests.

Dawn of a New NHTSA Era?

Flexing its new tough-on-automakers muscle, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a rare public hearing last week to highlight Fiat Chrysler’s dismal recall record. The hearing was short, statements were read into the record, and that a large fine will be levied against Fiat Chrysler (FCA) seems a foregone conclusion. It’s another signal that NHTSA wants to prove it’s going to ramp up enforcement activities after years of neglect and ongoing recall crises that have left the agency’s credibility in tatters.

Response to NHTSA's "Path Forward"

NHTSA’s Path Forward has some refreshing acknowledgements of the agency’s problems. But it still soft-pedals why they have gone from one defect crisis to another.  It is notable what is missing: Any mention of the importance of transparency and acknowledgement of the real depth of the culture that has kept the agency from objectively investigating defects.

For example:

Seat Heater Safety Takes a Back Seat

Four years ago, Safety Research & Strategies, along with nationally recognized burn care specialists, raised an issue long neglected by automakers and the regulators: seat heater safety. This comfort feature -- often designed to reach maximum temperatures that range far above human tolerances – can and does pose dangers to occupants, but it is rarely investigated or recalled.