Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle accident reconstruction’
Knoxville, TN – On Tuesday, the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on House Bill 700 by Representative Jay Reedy (R-74th Dist. TN). The proposed bill would allow riders 21 years and older not insured with TennCare, to ride without a helmet. Tennessee’s current law requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of age or experience of the rider.
The AAA (American Automobile Association) has come out in strong opposition to the bill. Last week during the Committee meeting Don Lindsey (the Tennessee Public Affairs Director for AAA east), testified to the drastic drop in helmet use seen in other states after repealing helmet laws. The auto club also brought in another individual with a personal testimony in support of helmet laws.
In the event of a crash, motorcyclists without a helmet are three times more likely than helmeted riders to suffer traumatic brain injuries. Helmets have been shown to be highly effective in preventing brain injuries, which often require extensive treatment and may result in lifelong disabilities. Helmets also decrease the overall cost of medical care.
Historically, states that relax their helmet laws have seen a sizeable increase in injuries and deaths. According to a peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Pennsylvania had a 66 percent increase in deaths caused by head injuries and a 78 percent spike in head injury hospitalizations following motorcycle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities in Kentucky increased by 58 percent after they repealed their helmet laws. Finally, in Florida, the number of hospital admissions of motorcyclists with head, brain and skull injuries increased by 82% after its helmet law was relaxed.
NHTSA says a badly-designed automatic shifter is confusing drivers, causing them to exit a vehicle that’s still in gear. 121 crashes and 30 injuries have been reported.
This past summer the National Highway Traffic Safety administration opened a preliminary investigation into just over 400,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees after some owners alleged their vehicles would roll away after being shifted into Park. Now, the NHTSA has more than doubled the number of Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles being investigated and the agency now blames the problems on a confusing shifter design that doesn’t adequately indicate to drivers that they haven’t engaged Park.
The Detroit News reports that the NHTSA is conducting an engineering analysis on more than 856,000 Fiat Chrysler vehicles. The agency has received reports of 314 roll-away incidents, involving 121 crashes and 30 injuries, caused when drivers exited a vehicle after they thought they’d shifted into Park. And while the initial investigation treated the issue as a mechanical defect, it’s looking more and more like the problem has at least something to do with driver error due to a poorly-designed shifter.
The investigation involves 3.6-liter V6-powered 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers and 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s—all of which use a push-button console shift lever that looks like a traditional PRNDL shifter. But in operation, the electronic shifter works more like a joystick, returning to its center position once you’ve selected your gear. There is no gate around the shifter; the lever itself moves through somewhat subtle detents, and the whole range of motion is incredibly short compared to a traditional mechanical shifter, perhaps two or three inches from end to end.
The console shifter on a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 models included in the investigation use an identical shifter.
It’s worth pointing out that the aforementioned Fiat Chrysler vehicles are not the only ones that use this shifter, which is called the Monostable and is produced by transmission supplier ZF. As an example, Audi A8 uses an identical shift knob, with the thumb button on the left and a PRNDS gear pattern with no separate button for Park.
In testing, NHTSA found that the electronic gear shifter’s operation is “not intuitive” and offers “poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection.” In Fiat Chrysler vehicles equipped with this shifter design, opening the driver’s door when the car is not in Park triggers a chime and an instrument cluster alert, and the engine cannot be turned off with the car in gear; however, NHTSA says “this function does not protect drivers who intentionally leave the engine running or drivers who do not recognize that the engine continues to run after an attempted shut-off.”
So while it may seem silly that drivers could be confused by the operation of an automatic transmission, the reality is that this shifter design operates differently enough to require more concentration than a traditional shifter. Folks who’ve been driving for years, who are used to the way a mechanical PRNDL shifter operates, probably don’t think consciously about the act of shifting—it’s the kind of act we’ve committed to muscle memory years ago.
NHTSA has upgraded its treatment of this problem in FCA vehicles from an investigation to an “engineering analysis,” though no plans for a recall have been announced at this time. FCA went to a different shifter design in model-year 2015 for the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, and changed the Jeep Grand Cherokee shifter for 2016.
via Detroit News
When electronic stability control (ESC) first appeared on luxury cars in the 1990s, its effect was described as “the hand of God”, reaching down and righting the driver’s mistakes. But what vehicle is less tolerant of mistakes than a motorcycle, with its propensity to tip over and subsequently expose its rider to all manner of pain and suffering? What if, as with ESC, engineers developed a system that would stand in the background, unnoticed, waiting to reach out with its electronic hand at just the instant when the bike is poised to tumble?
What you’d have is something not unlike the Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control System (MSC). It is fitted to the Ducati 1299 Panigale superbike and KTM 1190 Adventure, while BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle subsidiary of BMW Group, employs some of its components in conjunction with the company’s own designs on all its models.
Bosch’s development objective was not for the computer to ride the bike automatically, but to serve as an otherwise invisible safety net for riders, says Frank Sgambati, director of marketing and product innovation at Bosch’s North America division. “The draw for motorcycle riding is the excitement,” he acknowledges. “We don’t want to interfere with or change that experience. We only want [MSC] to appear in panic situations.”
Anti-lock braking, a feature that helps dramatically reduce the likelihood of a crash, has been around for many years for motorcycles. Bosch’s MSC system builds on its existing ABS hardware, adding a yaw and pitch sensor to the ABS module so that the computer knows how far over the bike is leaning and whether it is tilting upward from acceleration or downward from braking. This may all seem like wonderful news for the cause of motorcycle safety, if only MSC were available on less expensive bikes to accommodate new riders, who would most stand to benefit from such a system.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed standards that would effectively ban novelty helmets—helmets that don’t meet DOT standards but are frequently marketed and sold for on-road use. The proposal establishes preliminary screening criteria to help law enforcement agencies quickly identify helmets that are incapable of meeting the minimum performance requirements. The preliminary screening involves examining the thickness of the inner liner and the outer shell, and of the liner’s ability to resist deformation, which indicates its ability to absorb crash energy.
“Motorcycle rider deaths are disproportionally high. Our nation lost 4,668 motorcyclists in 2013 alone and protective helmets could have saved many of those lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Motorcycle helmets that meet DOT safety standards help save more than a thousand lives every year, according to NHTSA estimates. A study of motorcyclists injured in crashes and transported to a shock trauma centers showed that 56 percent of those wearing a novelty helmet had serious head injuries, compared to 19 percent of riders who were wearing a DOT-certified helmet.
“Wearing a helmet that meets DOT standards can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. “Our proposal ensures that when motorcyclists put on a helmet it offers that life-saving protection.”
Click here to view the full proposal.
It is fairly well accepted that tires should be replaced after they are 6 or 7 years old. The rubber compound in tires which are older than 6 or 7 years can begin to deteriorate, causing the tire to become stiff or brittle. However, it is important to note that the “shelf-life” clock for tires begins ticking as soon as the tire is manufactured, not when the tire is purchased. In order tell the age of a tire, date codes are stamped into all new tires. The date code typically consists of four digits: the first 2 digits indicate the week in which the tire was made and the last 2 digits represent the year. As an example: if the date code reads 3710 then the tire was manufactured in the 37th week of 2010. If your tire has only 3 digits in the date code that indicates that it was made prior to 2000, probably time to replace it.
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:
A problem with the rear wheels on a wide variety of BMW motorcycles has prompted them to issue a recall for 43,426 vehicles. In conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),recall campaign number 15V141000 has been issued. The recall notice states that on affected motorcycles, the rear wheel flange threaded holes can crack if the wheel bolts are tightened beyond the specified torque limit when reinstalled after a service procedure. BMW will notify owners, and dealers will replace the existing aluminum rear wheel flange with a steel one, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin April 21, 2015.
Please follow the links below view the official documents associated with the recall:
Recall acknowledgement letter: RCAK-15V141-4032.pdf
Defect Notice Report 573: RCLRPT-15V141-9082.PDF
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
- 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.