Automatic Braking Systems may become standard in Passenger Vehicles

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a special report that calls for automatic braking system to become standard in all cars. The board asserts that avoidance systems can help to prevent and lessen the severity of rear-end collisions. Since the NTSB does not actually set policy, its report is essentially an appeal to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require new cars and trucks to include an automatic braking system.

In the report, the NTSB cited statistics from 2012 which indicated 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries occurred as a result of rear-end collisions. The board believes that an electronic avoidance system could have mitigated up to 80% of these deaths and injuries.

The automatic braking systems that the NTSB would like to make standard in new vehicles relies on a camera and laser radar technology to stop or slow down a car if it detects an object ahead, including another vehicle. The technology is currently available from most automotive manufacturers as part of a special safety package costing several hundred dollars extra. However, automakers remain reluctant to make it a standard feature.

The NTSB report criticizes “slow and insufficient action” by NHTSA, with regard to implementing this as standard technology in passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as “a lack of incentives for manufacturers” that have the ability to put the technology in more vehicles but only offer it in more expensive models.

The report advises manufacturers to add collision-warning systems and emergency braking into all vehicles. The NTSB also advises consumers to consider vehicles that have collision warning and emergency braking functions.

Electronic Stability Control is coming for Motorcycles

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.

NHTSA to Require ESC for Commercial Trucks and Buses

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its long-awaited final rule to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on Class 7-8 trucks and large buses.  The rule, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 136, will take effect for “most heavy trucks” in 2017, according NHTSA. The agency said that compliance will be achieved using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp.   “ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said upon introducing the new rule on June 3. “Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users.” According to NHTSA, the mandate was needed because “ESC works instantly and automatically to maintain directional control in situations where the driver’s own steering and braking cannot be accomplished quickly enough to prevent the crash.”  The agency stated that implementing “ESC will prevent up to 56 percent of untripped, rollover crashes– that is, rollover crashes not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road.” NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities annually. The American Trucking Association said it welcomed the mandate. “Ensuring the safety of America’s highways has always been ATA’s highest calling,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves, “and we’ve long known the positive role technology can play in making our vehicles and our roads safer. Today’s announcement by NHTSA will reduce crashes on our highways and make our industry safer.”  “Last month, NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety,” said ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki. “We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control technology, and that’s a positive for our industry. Many fleets have already begun voluntarily utilizing this technology and this new requirement will only speed that process.”

NHTSA proposes standards to prohibit novelty helmets

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.

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.

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

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.