The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ( FMCSA ) makes new laws and regulations regarding our safety all the time. But, regardless of how many laws and regulations are put in place to keep us safe, if we don’t actively do our part to keep ourselves and others safe, none of those things will matter.
We have all seen more than our fair share of recalls over the years for all different parts, of all different makes of cars. We have even had a few recalls over the last few years for seatbelts and airbags which are obviously big safety issues for these cars and trucks. We have had engine parts that cause fires. We have had electrical parts that cause fires. What we haven’t seen in recent memory are seatbelts that can cause fires. There typically are not any parts in a seatbelt that you would even think of that could cause a fire.
Ford has reports of over 23 vehicles having an issue where smoke was generated. The seat-belt pretensioners can malfunction and send sparks out when activated. What is a seatbelt pretensioner? It’s a small part that you likely have never seen in action because it typically only fires when your car is in an accident. Similar to how the airbags in your car will deploy when you hit something, the seatbelt pretensioner will fire when you are in an accident which causes a piston to block the seatbelt from allowing you to move forward.
The National-Highway Traffic Safety Administration received reports of 5 fires caused by the seatbelts, with 3 of those leading to the car being engulfed in flames.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of avoidable motor vehicle accidents. The most common form of distraction behind the wheel is cell-phone use while driving. This is why so many states have enacted laws to cite those that drive while using their cell phone in a hope to decrease distracted driving accidents.
From 2016 to 2017, distracted driving-related citations increased by 52% in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania law enforcement officials issued 5,054 distracted driving citations in 2017, up from 3,336 citations in 2016. 15,542 citations have been issued in Pennsylvania since 2013.
According to the NHTSA, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. They estimate that around 660,000 drivers are using an electronic device while driving daily.
Previous studies have shown that properly installed rear-facing car seats will protect children in front end and side impact accidents. However, a new study performed at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center shows that rear-facing car seats are also effective in protecting children in a rear end accident.
According to the university, the research team performed crash tests with multiple rear-facing car seats and found all the seats were effective in absorbing the force of the crash and controlling the child when properly installed. The study was authored by Julie Mansfield who is a Research Engineer for the Injury Biomechanics Research Center at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Pennsylvania law requires that children under the age of 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer.
A 49 year old woman was fatally hit, while crossing the street by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona earlier this month. The crash happened around 10 p.m. Sunday March 18th near Mill Avenue and Curry Road. This incident is believed to be the first pedestrian death involving an autonomous or self-driving vehicle.
The vehicle was a Volvo that was in autonomous mode when the accident happened. It did however have a backup driver behind the wheel, which is common for Uber in case the vehicle has to be taken out of self-driving mode. The victim was walking her bike across the street when she was struck by the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries. The vehicle captured a video that Tempe police released that shows the moments before the pedestrian was struck. According to the police, the vehicle was going 40 miles an hour in a 45-mile-an-hour zone and it did not slow down before impact.
Police in Tempe and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident. This incident adds to the ongoing debate of the safety and feasibility of autonomous vehicles and how close they are to becoming more common on the roadways.
Most holidays, alcohol consumption increases for many people. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the holidays where alcohol consumption is at its highest level. This also makes it one of the deadliest times of year on the roadways. This is because many individuals make the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are promoting their annual campaign to avoid the dangers of driving impaired as part of a national Saint Patrick’s Day “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”
The NHTSA reports that drinking and driving account for nearly 1/3 of vehicle fatalities in the United States. NHTSA also reports that St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on our nation’s roads.
PennDOT data shows there were 28 alcohol related motor vehicle accidents on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2017. That was an increase from 26 in 2016 and 23 in 2015.
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds the public that as daylight saving time arrived on Sunday March 11 it is a good time of year to check to see if your vehicle has any open recalls. This reminder is a part of NHTSA’s Safe Cars Save Lives Check for Recalls campaign.
The Safe Cars Save Lives Check for Recalls campaign encourages the public to check their vehicles at least twice a year. Much like changing the batteries in your smoke alarms, a good reminder to check for recalls is the time of the year when the clocks change (every March when setting clocks forward and every November when setting clocks back.)
Last year, there were 813 new vehicle safety recalls affecting more than 30 million vehicles in the United States. .
Children are the most important cargo transported in a vehicle. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. That’s why it’s so important to choose and use the right car seat and make sure seatbelts are properly used every time your child is in the car. Unlike adults, young children rely exclusively on others to make sure they are safely secured when sitting in a passenger seat in a vehicle. It is our job to make sure a child is buckled up or if they require a car seat to make sure it is the proper one and they are safely secured.
Under Pennsylvania law, children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat anywhere in the vehicle. Children under 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until the child outgrows the maximum weight and height limits designated by the car seat manufacturer. Children from age 4 up to age 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat. Children from age 8 up to age 18 must be in a seat belt.
PennDot’s Car Seat Recommendations
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced on January 25, 2018 that it is launching a new initiative to fight drugged driving. With a national opioid epidemic and numerous states legalizing marijuana, drugged driving is an increasing problem on America’s roadways. The NHTSA, through its initiative, is making it a top priority to improve safety and reduce deaths caused by drug impaired motor vehicle crashes through creative solutions.
“Nobody can solve drugged driving alone, but by sharing best practices we can begin to save lives today – we cannot afford to wait,” said Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator. “And by advancing the science and the data, we can address this problem for our communities in the future.”
The NHTSA is hosting a summit on March 15 to kick off its initiative. According to the agency, the summit will explore the best practices for educating the public on the overall risk of drug-impaired driving; collecting consistent data; testing and measuring driver impairment levels; and enforcing Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) laws.