Rear Passengers Less Likely To Wear Seat Belts

A new study carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shed new light on the topic of seat belts and rear passengers. The study determined that the mindset of adult passengers in motor vehicles is that the rear seats are automatically safer than the front seats and that, in many cases, seatbelts are optional when riding as a passenger in the rear of a vehicle. The study showed that approximately 28 percent of individuals who participated did not wear their seat belts while in the back seats of a vehicle. 91 percent of individuals who participated claimed that they would wear seatbelts while in the front seat, however. Interestingly, of those who admitted not always using safety belts while in the back seat of a vehicle, approximately 4 out of 5 individuals stated that they would not use seat belts at all while on short trips, such as during ride-shares, taxis, or Uber. The mindset that the rear seat is automatically safer than the front seat may have come from the early advent of seat belts in vehicles during the 1960’s and 1970’s. During this time, the rear seat was considered safer than the front seats because none of the seats were required to have seat belts. Without any seat belts, the rear seat is technically safer because the occupant is less likely to impact the hard dashboard in the event of an impact. However, with safety belts now required by federal law, the rear seat is basically just as dangerous as the front seat during a car accident. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study identified that the age group of adults who were the least likely to wear seat belts while in the rear of a vehicle was those individuals 35 to 54 years of age. Only 60 percent of these individuals reported to wear seatbelts in the rear of a vehicle, compared to 76 percent 55 years old or older, and 73 percent of those aged 18 to 34 years. –from IIHS

NHTSA Plans To Review Fuel Economy Regulations

Under new legislation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may revise the regulations set forth for fuel economy by the year 2021. The revision would effectively lower the requirements that automakers produce vehicles that meet certain fuel economy numbers for each successive year. Currently, automakers are required to meet a fleet-wide fuel economy number that increases each year. This policy has been in effect since the Obama Administration started the program in 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing to set fuel economy requirements for automakers in 2021 and leave them at this value for four years, or until 2025. Effectively, fuel economy requirements, while progressing towards better efficiencies and lowering fossil fuel burning and carbon dioxide production, will be reduced in an attempt to ease the constraints on the automobile industry to produce more efficient cars. New Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has also planned on reviewing the limits for environmental pollution around the same time period, however the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not adopted the same policies on carbon dioxide pollution as of yet. The level of vehicle pollution is increasing as the effective size of vehicles demanded by consumers in the United States increases, even with the increase in production of electric and hybrid vehicles. Consumers are attracted to big, expensive, excessive vehicles such as trucks and full-size sport utility vehicles more than small compact vehicles and sedans. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will provide more reviews of the effect of fuel economy and vehicle pollution levels within the next four to five years. Many high-level environmentally conscious executives oppose the idea of peeling back the current fuel economy standards due to the effect of further pollution causing significant environmental damage. Even further, some are hinting that the Trump administration is rolling back all pollution standards in an attempt to pad the pockets of Big Oil companies and automobile industry executives. -Taken from Green Car Reports

Single Vehicle Accidents Are Dangerous

A recent study carried out by AAA Mid-Atlantic found that the majority of automobile crashes that result in a fatality are actually single-vehicle accidents. In other words, crashes caused by the driver are the most lethal type of crash, as opposed to multi-vehicle accidents which are typically considered more dangerous in the public’s view. Common crashes involving two or more vehicles are viewed as typically much more dangerous and common than crashes involving only one vehicle. The thought of being impacted by another vehicle in which the driver has no control over, such as being hit by a car running a red light, is typically much more daunting than a crash in which the vehicle’s own driver is at fault.  Approximately 96 percent of motorists fear the thought of being hit by another vehicle, whereas single vehicle accidents are fatal for more than half of all accidents. Significant data points were taken from statewide accident data in 2015 in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Virginia data shows that approximately 474 of 753 traffic fatalities were the result of single vehicle accidents. In Maryland, approximately 275 out of 513, or 54% of fatal accidents were caused by single vehicles. Washington DC had the highest percentage at approximately 74%. Nationwide averages show that single vehicle fatalities take up approximately 55% of fatal crashes.   Single vehicle accidents manifest themselves in different ways. For example, a vehicle rollover is considered a single vehicle accident. Vehicle rollovers are typically extremely dangerous because the occupants can be hit multiple times from multiple directions during the accidnent, causing severe injury at the minimum. Leaving the roadway is also considered a single vehicle crash, or colliding with a fixed object such as a telephone pole or concrete barrier. However, crashes that involve hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist are also considered single-vehicle accidents. These accidents are also often fatal due to the significant injuries that can occur during impact. taken from www.wtop.com

Airbag Manufacturer May File For Bankruptcy

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

Instant Battery Recharging

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

NHTSA is Developing Vehicle Communications

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

New Tool to Stop Texting While Driving

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

Higher Speed Limits Equal More Crashes

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