Early Projections Indicate Motorcycle Fatalities Declined in 2014

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting that motorcycle fatalities decreased for the second straight year in 2014, based on preliminary state data. GHSA motorcyclist fatality trend reports, produced annually since 2010, offer an early look at current data and developing issues. GHSA projects the final motorcyclist fatality total for 2014 will be 4,584, or about 1.8 percent less than the 4,668 recorded in 2013. This will be the second straight year in which this number has decreased and only the third decrease since 1997. While the projected decline in motorcyclist fatalities is good news, the report also points out that motorcycle safety progress lags behind that of other motor vehicles. For example, in 2013, the rate of motorcyclist fatalities per registered vehicle was about the same as in 1997, whereas during that time period the rate of fatalities per passenger vehicle dropped 66 percent. Safety improvements to passenger vehicles, such as structural improvements to vehicle design, increases in seat belt use, electronic stability controls and policies such as graduated driver licensing, account for a large portion of the decline in passenger vehicles but do not impact motorcyclists.  There is little evidence that risk factors for motorcyclists have been reduced in recent years, and fluctuations in motorcyclist fatalities are likely to have more to do with economic factors and weather patterns affecting exposure. “We are glad to see a continued decrease in motorcyclist fatalities, but the number of motorcyclist deaths on our roadways is still unacceptable,” said Kendell Poole, GHSA chairman and director of the Tennessee Office of Highway Safety. “While we support technology advances such as antilock brake systems and traction control, state laws and behavioral changes are critical to saving more motorcyclist lives.”  Poole also encouraged all states to adopt universal helmet laws and said, “By far, helmets are the single most effective way to prevent serious injury and death in the event of a motorcycle crash.” In addition to increasing helmet use, the report also recommends that states focus on motorcycle safety programs that:
  • Reduce alcohol impairment.In 2013, 28 percent of fatally injured riders had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08.
  • Reduce speeding.According to the most recent data, 34 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 21 percent for passenger vehicle drivers.
  • Ensure motorcyclists are properly licensed.In 2013, 25 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes did not have a valid motorcycle license, compared to 13 percent of passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  • Encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.According to NHTSA, when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the other driver is often at fault. Many states conduct “share the road” campaigns to increase awareness of motorcyclists.

DOT announces $10M fine for Graco car seat recall

Graco Children’s Products has been fined $10 million after the company failed to provide timely notification of a defect in more than 4 million car seats. Graco must pay a fine of $3 million immediately to the Federal Government and an additional $7 million is due in five years unless they spend at least the same amount on new steps to improve child safety. The penalties close an investigation launched last year by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into whether the company failed its obligations, under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, to begin what ended up as the largest ever recall of child seats. The seats had buckles that could stick or become stuck in a latched position, potentially placing child occupants at risk in an emergency. Parents need to know that the seats they trust to protect their children are safe, and that when there’s a problem, the manufacturer will meet its obligations to fix the defect quickly. Graco will create a plan and procedures for addressing certain targeted performance requirements, which may include methods to increase effectiveness of consumer product registration of car seats, which allows parents to be notified of defects, identifying potential safety trends affecting car seats industry wide and launching a child safety awareness campaign. According to NHTSA, on average, only 40 percent of people who have recalled car seats get them fixed. That’s in comparison to an average of 75 percent of people who have recalled light vehicles, for which registration is required by law. The company also must provide certification from an independent, third-party that it has met its cost obligations; if Graco fails to meet those obligations, it must pay the balance of the $10 million civil penalty. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act states that once a manufacturer knows or should reasonably know that an item of motor vehicle equipment, such as a car seat, contains a safety related defect, the manufacturer has a maximum of five business days to notify the agency. Once it notifies NHTSA of a defect, it is required to launch a recall. Under the consent order issued today, Graco admits that it did not provide the required defect notice. Under pressure from NHTSA, Graco recalled more than 4 million convertible and booster seats with defective buckles in February 2014, and nearly an additional 2 million rear facing infant seats in June. NHTSA launched an investigation into the timeliness of Graco’s decision making and reporting of a defect in those recalls in December. With this consent order, Graco is required to pay a $3 million civil penalty, and to commit at least $7 million to meet targeted performance obligations, over the next five years. Those obligations may include: · Improving its assessment and identification of potential safety defects. · Creating a scientifically tested program to increase effectiveness of child seat registration programs. · Revising its procedures for addressing consumer safety complaints and speed the recall of defective products. · Launching a campaign to disseminate safety messages to parents and caregivers by producing media products to incorporate in child safety campaigns.  

Bill to repeal Tennessee helmet law defeated

A Tennessee senate committee voted down a bill on March 26 that would have repealed the state’s helmet law for adults 21 and older.  The bill had been opposed by The Automobile Association of America who said that it would lead to more highway deaths. A survey conducted by AAA in October found 91 percent of Tennesseans were in favor of the current helmet law. The following is a link to some interesting helmet use statistics published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:  http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles

Utah Senate Approves ATV On-Road Access

The Utah state Senate voted to let street-legal ATVs on more roadways and at higher speeds. The bill, SB 258, passed by a 21-4 vote and was sent to the House.  The bill would allow “street-legal” ATVs on any state roads or highways outside of Salt Lake County other than interstate freeways. It would also increase the maximum speed limit for the vehicles from 45 to 50 miles per hour.  The House will have to vote on the bill before Utah’s legislative session ends March 12 or the bill dies until the next session. If the state bill passes, there is still the issue of all major manufacturers strongly recommending that ATV’s and UTV’s should not be operated on roadways.  It will be interesting to see how courts address the discrepancy.

Adaptive headlights help drivers spot objects earlier; glare not excessive

A new IIHS study has found headlights that swivel around curves in response to steering input allow drivers to spot hard-to-see object(s) on dark, curvy roads about a third of a second earlier than they would with conventional headlights. The experimental study of adaptive headlights was conducted with volunteer drivers on a rural road near the Institute’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Va. It compared drivers’ ability to spot objects on the roadside in vehicles with fixed halogen headlights, fixed high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and adaptive HID headlights. The results suggest that HID lights, whether fixed or adaptive, have a small advantage over halogen ones, and adaptive HID lights improve visibility over either type of fixed headlight. HID lamps began appearing in luxury vehicles in the 1990’s and have gained popularity because they improve visibility by casting a whiter light and illuminating the driver’s peripheral field more than halogen lamps. Adaptive headlights were first introduced in the 2004 model year. As of the 2014 model year, they were standard on 14 percent of models and optional on 22 percent. Earlier research showed that vehicles equipped with optional adaptive headlights had lower rates of insurance claims under most coverage types than the same vehicles without the technology (see Status Report special issue: crash avoidance, July 3, 2012). The benefits were greater under property damage liability insurance, which covers damage to someone else’s vehicle or other property, than they were for collision insurance, which covers damage to the insured vehicle. Injury claim rates also were lower. In the IIHS study, 20 volunteers drove a pair of 2013 Mazda 3 small cars. One car had adaptive headlights with HID bulbs. The adaptive lighting system could be turned off, making the headlights fixed HID lights. The second vehicle had fixed halogen lights. Each participant drove an 8-mile round trip with each of the three types of headlights. The driving was done at night on a two-lane road with no markings. Aluminum targets, measuring 8 by 12 inches, were placed at various locations on the side of the road. Half of the targets were highly reflective, and half were less reflective. As they drove at 30 mph, the drivers were tasked with pushing a button each time one of the targets came into view. With adaptive headlights, the drivers spotted low-reflectance targets located inside of curves as much as a third of a second earlier, or about 15 feet sooner at 30 mph, than with regular headlights. Response times also were shorter for low-reflectance targets on the outside of curves, but these results weren’t statistically significant. As expected for a system designed to help drivers negotiate curves, there was no difference between adaptive and fixed headlights when the targets were on straight stretches of road. HID lamps also appeared to help visibility even when they were fixed. In this case, the benefit was seen with high-reflectance targets on straight sections of road. HLDI’s 2012 analysis of Mercedes-Benz features also indicated a benefit from fixed HID over halogen lamps. Together these observations indicate that the advantage of adaptive systems is partly due to their steerability and partly a result of using HID instead of halogen lamps. When it comes to improved headlight systems, it’s important to consider how changes affect other drivers on the road. The IIHS researchers conducted a separate study to compare the glare from the Mazda’s halogen, fixed HID and adaptive HID headlights. The 20 volunteers were asked to rate the glare from approaching vehicles on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being unbearable and 9 barely noticeable. They also rated a fixed high-beam headlight system to serve as a benchmark for excessive glare. Participants rated the HID low beams as slightly more glaring than the halogen lamps, but neither was excessively glaring. There was no difference between adaptive HID low beams and fixed HID low beams. Measurements taken from light meters located near the participants supported their subjective ratings.  

Honda Fined $70 Million for Failing to Comply with Laws That Safeguard the Public

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that as a result of a NHTSA investigation, Honda will pay two $35 million civil penalties, for a total of $70 million, for failing to report deaths, injuries, and certain warranty claims to the federal government in violation of the TREAD Act. In the Consent Order, Honda also agreed to increased NHTSA oversight and third party audits to ensure that all required reporting is completed now and into the future. In 2014 alone, NHTSA issued more than $126 million in civil penalties, exceeding the total amount collected by the agency during its forty-three year history.  These fines reflect the tough stance we will take against those who violate the law and fail to do their part in the mission to keep Americans safe on the road. NHTSA’s investigation into Honda’s safety reporting found that the automaker failed to submit early warning reports (EWR reports) identifying potential or actual safety issues. The first civil penalty is a result of Honda’s failure to report 1,729 death and injury claims to NHTSA between 2003 and 2014. The second civil penalty is due to the manufacturer’s failure to report certain warranty claims and claims under customer satisfaction campaigns throughout the same time period. Additional details are available in the audit report prepared for Honda by Bowman and Brooke and in Honda’s Response to NHTSA’s Special Order addressing the violations. Federal law requires manufacturers to submit comprehensive EWR reports of potential safety concerns to the Department. These quarterly reports include production information; incidents involving a death or injury; aggregate data on property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and field reports; and, copies of field reports involving specified vehicle components, a fire, or a rollover. The data are then used to investigate whether safety defects or defect trends exist and warrant further action, including possible recalls. In addition to civil penalties, Honda has been ordered to comply with NHTSA oversight requirements under a Consent Order. It requires that Honda develop written procedures for compliance with EWR requirements, train appropriate personnel on at least an annual basis, and complete two third-party audits of the automaker’s compliance with its reporting obligations. The Consent Order also requires Honda to provide NHTSA’s Early Warning Division with information regarding the 1,729 unreported death and injury incidents and the warranty claims, so that the agency can analyze these incidents for potential safety concerns and take appropriate action to protect America’s driving public. While 2014 was a record year for civil penalties, the fines are limited by a Congressionally-established $35 million dollar cap, the amount Honda will pay for each of the two series of violations. The Administration’s four-year reauthorization bill – the GROW AMERICA Act – proposes to increase the limit to $300 million. The Administration’s proposal also seeks additional authority to aid NHTSA in its efforts to force recalls. NHTSA issued the following civil penalties in 2014:
  • Honda, $70,000,000, for failing to both submit early warning reports and warranty claims.
  • Gwinnett Place Nissan, $110,000, for failing to perform recall remedy in new motor vehicles prior to sale and delivery.
  • Ferrari S.p.A. and Ferrari North America, Inc, $3,500,000, for failing to submit early warning reports.
  • Chapman Chevrolet LLC, $50,000, for failing to perform recall remedy in new motor vehicles prior to sale and delivery.
  • Hyundai Motor America, $17,350,000, for the failure to issue a recall in a timely manner.
  • General Motors Company, $35,000,000, for the failure to issue a recall in a timely manner.
  • General Motors Company, $441,000, for failing to fully respond to Special Order by due date.
  • Prevost, a division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc; Volvo Industrial de Mexico S.A. de C.V.; and Prevost Car (US) Inc., $250,000, the second of six annual installments of a total of $1.5 million in civil penalties, for untimely recalls and untimely submission of early warning reports, and technical service bulletins (TSBs).
  • Southern Honda Powersports (a/k/a Big Red Powersports LLC), $25,000, the second of five annual installments of a total of $125, 000 in civil penalties, for the sale of unrepaired, recalled vehicles.

Bosch announces the release of CDR Ver. 15.0

Bosch is pleased to announce the release of the new CDR 500 Adapter and version 15.0 software.  The release of Ver. 15.0 allows for the following vehicles to now be included in the CDR coverage list: Alfa Romeo (MY2015, US/Canada markets) – 4C Fiat (MY2015, US/Canada markets) – 500L Nissan (MY2015/2016, US/Canada markets) – 2015 NV Cargo & Passenger Van – 2016 GT-R – 2016 MICRA (Canada only) RAM (MY2015, US/Canada markets) – ProMaster® City   New Hardware CDR 500 Adapter Kit (P/N: 1699200114)  This new kit includes the new CDR 500 adapter and cables.  It is needed when imaging EDR data directly from ECUs with FlexRay communications.  Initially, applications such as the 2014+ Hardtop MINI and 2015 BMW i3 & i8 require this adapter.  In the future, other manufactures including Audi will also require the ICDR 500 for imaging EDR data directly from their ECUs. BMW ACM Cable (P/N: F00K108788)  Use this new cable to connect the BMW / MINI FlexRay ECUs to the CDR 500 adapter for direct-to-module EDR imaging.   The Bosch CDR system supports select airbag modules for vehicle as far back as 1996. To see if the pre-crash data from your vehicle’s airbag module can be downloaded please see the BOSCH CDR Coverage List. Veritech engineers utilize the Bosch CDR system as an important tool to aid in performing vehicle accident reconstructions. Airbag modules are capable of recording valuable pre-crash information, such as vehicle speed, brake application and seatbelt usage, but are not capable of telling the entire story. Accident reconstruction engineers must still consider all of the available physical evidence, along with the ACM data, in to order to properly reconstruct an accident. Veritech Consulting Engineering employs Professional Engineers who are specifically trained and certified in the use of the Bosch CDR system and have performed numerous accident reconstructions utilizing airbag module information. Click on the following link for more information on “black box” technology.

NHTSA: Motorcycle injury & fatality rates drop in 2013

According to a report issued in mid-December by NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities dropped 6.4 percent in 2013.  “This was the first decrease in motorcyclist fatalities since 2009 [and] the only other decrease since 1997,” NHTSA reported.  More than half of the decline was attributed to a drop in older rider fatalities. Additionally, the injury rates associated with motorcycle accidents also dropped 5.4 percent from 2012. Alcohol-impaired fatalities dropped as well. “Motorcycle riders showed the greatest decrease in the number of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes from 2012 to 2013, dropping 8.3 percent or by 117 riders. This was both the greatest percentage drop and the greatest drop in actual alcohol-impaired drivers,” NHTSA said. Some of the interesting points from the report include:
  • There were 190 fewer fatalities in the 50-to-69-year age group in 2013 than there were in 2012, NHTSA noted.
  • There were 4,668 motorcycle fatalities in 2013 vs. 4,986 in 2012 and 4,630 fatalities in 2011.
  • Motorcycle-related deaths accounted for 14.3 percent of all traffic deaths in 2013, down from 14.8 percent in 2012.
One of the most interesting statistics in the report shows that states without universal helmet laws reported 11 times as many unhelmeted motorcyclist fatalities than states with such laws: 1,704 vs. 150, respectively.