Takata Airbags have been the center of a lot of recent attention due to the massive industry-wide recall that has occurred due to faulty airbag modules made by the company. Unfortunately, the extremely expensive recall has taken its toll on Takata, whom has privately announced that it will be seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection soon to help minimize the damages and loss of money. Takata has been forced to pay nearly one billion dollars in fines, penalties, and repayment to major automakers as a result of the recall. Industry experts estimate that Takata may have to be sold to another competitor after the bankruptcy takes place in order to keep its doors open, or risk going under due to their unpopularity after the recall. The result of the recall may mark the end of a once prominent Japanese company that was started over 85 years ago, as a textile manufacturing company that started out making parachutes for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
The Takata airbags were recalled because of their potential to cause death or serious injury during deployment because the propellant used in the airbags became unstable over time when exposed to heat and humidity. The Takata airbags were responsible for about 17 deaths and numerous injuries as a result of the defective propellant. Of the one billion dollars paid during the recall, approximately $150 million was paid out to victims of injuries due to the defective airbags. More than one dozen automobile manufacturers have recalled vehicles with faulty Takata airbags, including Volkswagen, General Motors, and Toyota. The recall covers approximately 100 million airbag modules from Takata.
One possible outcome of the bankruptcy would be the forced sale of Takata to a competitor. One such competitor, Key Safety Systems, owned by Chinese company Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corporation, has expressed some interest in purchasing Takata. Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corporation has the financial capacity to support Takata during the recall.
Taken from SFGate.com
Scientists at Purdue University are in the process of developing a radical new method to recharge batteries quickly. Their hope is to develop a system that will be able to recharge the large batteries in electric cars in a fraction of the time that it currently takes to recharge, allowing consumers to replenish the energy in their electric vehicle batteries without having to wait for hours upon hours for the batteries to charge using conventional plug-in-the wall methods. Ultimately, decreasing the time to charge an electric vehicle will make electric vehicles more attractive for consumers worldwide and will allow these vehicles to travel much further without the need for a stop in travel to recharge for an extended period of time.
The concept is to extract the electrolytic fluid from a spent battery and replace it with new, electrolyte-enriched fluid. So, for example, instead of filling a gas tank with gasoline, electrolytes would be refueled in a vehicles battery. The only difference is that the old, spent electrolytic fluid would be extracted from the battery first. The old fluid could be re-used many times. In fact, scientists from Purdue anticipate that the spent fluid could be collected together, sent to a electrical power plant, and re-energized for use again. The best part, is that the process reduces the amount of pollutants generated during energy generation, reduces the necessity for fossil fuels, and can be easily tied to renewable energy sources for regeneration, such as a solar-powered power plant or a wind farm.
Scientists at Purdue expect that the technology will be able to utilize much of the same infrastructure that is already in place for refueling gasoline-powered vehicles, such as the refueling stations and transport vehicles (tankers, trains, semi trucks), and the refueling process for electric vehicles will be largely the same as for gasoline powered vehicles, making the process easy to adopt by consumers.
-taken from Science Daily
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is helping the automotive industry develop a new technology to help make cars safer. The technology is termed vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications and it is being developed to provide vehicles with close-range communication abilities. Vehicle sensors have been focused on helping drivers determine where their vehicle is in relation to the surrounding environment. Rear backup cameras, vehicle sonar, lane departure warnings, and active emergency braking are all systems that assist the driver in knowing where their vehicle is in relation to other object. V2V communications is intended to enhance the abilities of current safety sensors by sending and receiving vehicle information between vehicles as they travel down the roadway. How does it work? Wireless transmitters and receivers located in each vehicle work to communicate vehicle information between the onboard vehicle and surrounding vehicles. The wireless transmitters can transmit data on vehicle speed and heading, and can also sense position of the vehicle in relation to other vehicles with the same sensor setups. The wireless signals are designed to detect and analyze vehicle information from other vehicles that are located nearby, to a proximity distance of about 300 meters. For example, a vehicle following another vehicle on the same roadway would detect information about the front vehicle’s speed or whether or not the front vehicle had begun emergency braking, providing the driver of the following vehicle with either a brake assist, or a noticeable warning as to the behavior of the front vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expecting that the V2V systems will help increase vehicle safety and reduce the number of automobile crashes, however other uses for the system could be implemented as well. For example, detection of stolen vehicles could be sensed by vehicles surrounding the stolen vehicle. Information pertaining to the vehicle’s driver could also be shared between other vehicles. V2V communication will allow more vehicle and driver data to be collected which could benefit the entire transportation industry as a whole.
-taken from NHTSA.gov
A disturbing trend has increased in the past few years with the rapid increase in cell phone usage: texting while driving. Not necessarily limited to just sending texts while driving a vehicle, texting while driving is defined as virtually any cell phone input by the driver while driving a vehicle that takes visual attention off the road. Even some popular smart phone based games that use an augmented reality for gameplay (think Pokemon Go or similar) require significant attention of the user and can still be played while a vehicle is in motion. Texting while driving is very dangerous to the driver and to those drivers nearby. A new form of technology is aimed at detecting when texting while driving has occurred and law enforcement agencies are interested in utilizing it. The technology, termed “Textalizing”, can detect whether or not a cell phone was used to send texts and whether or not the vehicle was moving while the texts were sent. The technology works in much the same way that law enforcement “breathalizers” work in that, after a traffic stop by a police officer, the officer requests that the driver submit their cell phone for a brief examination by the textalizer which analyzes the text messages that were recently sent and determines whether or not the phone was used by the driver, while driving.
The technology behind the textalizer is being developed to help curb the rise in texting while driving. Many accidents occur due to driver distraction and texting while driving is especially distracting because it requires the person texting to take their eyes off the road for a prolonged period of time to focus on sending the texts. The textalizer technology still has a ways to go before it can be implemented by law enforcement agencies, though. Issues, such as determining who is actually texting if multiple people are in a vehicle, or whether or not hands free systems were used to send the texts, etc. still need to be properly addressed so that the textalizer can accurately detect distracted driving.
-taken from www.npr.org
Increasing speed limits on highways and urban roadways has had an effect on the number of traffic-related fatalities in recent years. New studies carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have shown that many of the incremental speed limit increases have increased the number of deaths on the roadways where the speed limit increases have occurred. Speed limit increases are typically carried out in an effort to reduce traffic jams, traffic related breakdowns, driver road rage, and transportation costs. Many of the reasons that speed limits are increased are to reduce financial and time-related costs and reduce traffic annoyance. New thinking from congress is working towards reducing traffic fatalities; however lowering speed limits may, in turn, raise financial costs of travel.
Individual states are responsible for managing their own speed limits. Texas is currently the only state in the union that has a maximum speed limit of 85 mph. There are six other states, including Utah, that have maximum speeds limits of 80 mph. The majority of remaining states in the middle of the country have maximum speed limits of 75 mph. In 1995, Congress repealed federally mandated speed limits and turned the responsibility of establishing maximum speed limits over to states.
The main conclusion drawn from the data shows that, for every 5 mph of speed limit increase, fatal traffic deaths increase by approximately 4 percent in rural areas, and 8 percent, or more, in urban areas. See graphs below. Unfortunately many fatalities are not reported or not included in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety survey, so the results of increasing the speed limit are most likely under-estimated. The speed limit that was federally mandated back in 1993 was 65 mph. Since then, many states have increased their maximum speeds as shown in the graph below.
taken from http://www.iihs.org
The topic of drowsy driving has been visited by researchers many times before now, however new data has shown that the issue of drowsy driving is more serious than previously thought. Every driver has probably been through an episode of tiredness when behind the wheel. As many have been able to arrive at their final destination while driving drowsy, many others have not arrived safely or have even been killed due to drowsy driving. The likelihood of causing an accident is definitely more severe when a driver is tired, drowsy, or otherwise sleepy. Researchers have compared the effects of driving drowsy to that of driving distracted, or even driving under the influence of alcohol. Reaction times are reduced when a driver is tired, and even worse than that, driving with your eyes closed and unconscious literally turns a moving vehicle into a lethal weapon for the driver, passengers, or others on the roadway.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has worked diligently to determine accident statistics relating to driving drowsy. While it can be difficult to determine if an accident was caused by drowsy driving, estimates have been made in attempt to raise public awareness of such a dangerous behavior when behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there were approximately 846 traffic-related deaths due to drowsy driving in 2014, and over the past decade, approximately 83,000 crashes per year can be blamed on drowsy driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some pointers for drivers to follow to avoid driving drowsy and potentially causing an accident:
For more information, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving
A recent fire in Harrisburg Pennsylvania is thought to have been caused by a hoverboard. If the fire department investigation determines that the hoverboard was the cause of the blaze, the fire will be the first ever fatality caused by a hoverboard, marking the failure of a recall put in place last year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Consumer Product Safety Commission implemented an industry-wide recall in 2016 that affected many hoverboards from 10 major manufacturers in an attempt to eliminate the potential threat of fire caused by the hoverboard’s batteries. Police and fire investigators are still investigating the blaze, which left a toddler dead in the aftermath.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recall covered more than 500,000 hoverboards, warning that the hoverboard’s batteries did not meet strict federal safety standards for fire resistance. During charging, the hoverboard’s batteries can overheat, or rupture. If the amount of heat is significant enough, the batteries may actually catch fire, melting the hoverboard itself and causing more severe property damage and personal injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has investigated over 60 separate cases of hoverboard fires since 2015. Consumers are still covered by the recall and can take advantage of a battery replacement if their hoverboard batteries are determined to be defective.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission initially had difficulty enforcing the recall since many of the products come from overseas manufacturers who were eager to cash in on the increasingly popular hoverboard trend early on. These days, hoverboard manufacturers from reputable brands carry a certification from the Underwriter’s Laboratories certifying that their batteries have undergone very rigorous and thorough testing to reduce the likelihood of fire or explosion during normal usage. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that consumers review their purchased hoverboard or potential purchase for the “UL” symbol which certifies that the product has been tested by the Underwriter’s Laboratories as a safer product.
taken from www.foxbusiness.com
Semi Trailer bumpers are becoming more technologically advanced in an effort to reduce the likelihood of severe injury or death in the event of a rear-end collision. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, IIHS, has tested new semi bumpers and determined that new designs are performing much better than previous iterations used on older trailers. The trailer bumpers, known in the industry as ICC bumpers (after the Interstate Commerce Commission) or simply as underride guards, are put in place to protect passenger vehicles against the high-slung blunt edges of a trailer in the event that a passenger vehicle collides with the rear of the trailer. Typically, trailer decks on semi trailers sit at a height of about 48 inches, whereas a typical passenger vehicle’s front clip sits much lower than this. In some cases, the entire front of a passenger car can fit underneath a trailer deck, positioning the deck edge at a point where the vehicle’s occupants’ heads could be decapitated in the event of an accident.
The IIHS has undertaken testing of trailer ICC bars from trailer manufacturers such as Great Dane, Manac, Stoughton, Vanguard, Wabash, Hyundai Translead, Strick, and Utility to find out how new ICC bar configurations fare against three distinct rear-end collision tests. The first test is directed at the full width of the ICC bar, impacted by a vehicle traveling 35 mph. The second test focuses at approximately 50 percent of the width of the ICC bar, again at 35 mph. The third test focuses the impacting vehicle at only the edge of the ICC bar to determine how well it sustains an offset collision.
Despite the improvements in ICC bar technology, government statistics show that commercial vehicle versus passenger vehicle accidents are still on the rise. Even worse, the number of fatalities caused by commercial vehicle crashes has increased between 2011 and 2015 by over 39 percent.
Taken from www.motor1.com
- Ensure that one is getting about 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to avoid becoming drowsy, especially if driving after dark or early in the morning.
- Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving. Driving under the influence while tired increases the risk of an accident dramatically.
- If any medication is taken that can cause drowsiness, avoid driving altogether. It is especially important to be aware of the effects that new medications can have on alertness and consciousness.
- Remain vigilant for signs of tiredness and sleepiness, such as heavy eyelids, passing over the centerline, and shortness of breath. Any signs of sleepiness should signal the driver to stop driving immediately.