Articles Posted in Automobile Safety

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More than 33 people were injured, at least 4 of them seriously, when a high-speed train crashed into an empty train at a suburban station near Philadelphia early August 22.  One passenger described it as a “bloody scene.”

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) said the incident happened at around 12:15 a.m.   SEPTA spokeswoman Heather Redfern said an inbound Norristown High Speed Line train crashed into an unoccupied stationary train at the 69th Street Terminal (one of SEPTA’s busiest terminals) in Upper Darby, Pa.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0a/SEPTA_text.svg/2000px-SEPTA_text.svg.pngSEPTA officials initially reported that 42 people were injured in the crash. However during a press conference that evening, Ruben Payan, the lead investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said that the 42 number was the amount of people onboard the train.  The actual number of those injured in the crash is 33 which includes the conductor.  While 4 of the injured are in critical condition, all of the victims are expected to survive.

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157059-161244-300x200The beginning of August fast approaches, and that means that summer is ending for students across the country. With the start of school comes increased road traffic from school buses and teen drivers, as well as plenty of children on bicycles, and young pedestrians hurrying to get to and from school.

Safe driving can save lives. Slowing down and paying extra attention to your surroundings, especially when you’re near a school, can help avoid tragedies. The National Safety Council has published a few recommendations to help make sure that back to school season is safe for everyone.

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For the last several years various companies have worked to make self-driving cars a reality. Google has been working on a self-driving car since 2009. Automaker Tesla has gone a step further, their “Autopilot” feature has been available on consumer vehicles since 2014. Tesla CEO Elon Musk estimates that by 2019 “Autopilot” will allow vehicles to drive people to their destinations safely while the driver sleeps.

This sudden growth in self-driving car technology raises questions about safety, and many states, including Pennsylvania, have been working on laws to deal with the issue. The Pennsylvania legislature has been working on two bills that deal with self-driving cars.

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Japanese auto parts manufacturer Takata Corporation has announced that 2.7 million more airbag inflators will be recalled over concerns that a chemical in the inflator may rupture while the airbag is being deployed sending fragments into cars that can injure drivers and passengers. This most recent recall adds to what is already the largest ever auto safety recall.

The defective airbag inflators are used in certain 2007-2012 model year Ford, Nissan, and Mazda vehicles. The largest recall group is Ford. A spokesman for the Ford Motor Company has said that the issue covers roughly 2.2 million vehicles. Nissan plans to recall 515,000 Versa models in the United States, and an additional 112,000 Versa models worldwide. While Mazda has said that the new recalls will cover a much smaller number of vehicles, only 6,000.

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The odds of getting into a crash increase with the number of cars on the road and Memorial Day weekend is one of the most heavily traveled weekends of the year.  The American Automobile Association (AAA) projects 34.6 million people will drive 50 miles (80 km) or more from home during this holiday period, the most since 37.3 million in 2005 and an increase of 2.4 million people from last year.

National Safety Council put out their highest estimate of Memorial Day holiday accident fatalities since 2012. The estimated number of fatalities is 12% higher than the average number of deaths that occurred during the previous six Memorial Day holiday periods.  The Council also estimates around 47,000 people may be seriously injured on the roads during the three-day holiday period, beginning Friday, May 26 and ending on Monday, May 29.

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“Memorial Day should mark the start of summer – not the start of another deadly driving season,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Paying attention, slowing down and being courteous can ensure you and your fellow travelers make it to picnics, beaches and BBQs rather than emergency rooms.”

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With the rising popularity of cell phone use over the years the amount of car accidents caused by distracted drivers has also increased.  More and more drivers are having trouble keeping their eyes on the road and instead are choosing to look at their cell phones to text, use Facebook and snapchat, read and send emails, or do any number of distracting things on their phone.  Even though almost all of the States ban texting while driving, the National Safety Council estimated that as many as 10,000 Americans were killed because of distracted driving last year.

If you are travelling at 55mph and are looking at your phone for 5 seconds you will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road and the possible dangers that exist on it.  By texting and driving you are essentially driving blindfolded and putting your life and the lives of others in danger.

In 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a survey and found that 40% of drivers stated they have read a text or an email while driving, and nearly 1/3 reported typing one.  There have been numerous public service campaigns, such as “It can wait,” to convince people to put down their cell phones while they are driving but the distracted driving epidemic continues to exist at an alarming level.

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Teenagers dream about getting their driver’s license.  It is one of the milestones of their life.  However, handing over the car keys to their child is one of the most stressful moments of being a parent. That stress comes from the fact that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 24 year olds.

May is National Youth Traffic Safety Month and PennDOT is encouraging parents of teenage drivers to review Pennsylvania’s Graduated Driver Licensing law.  The GDL law has been shown to be effective in reducing crashes and fatalities for teen drivers. The GDL lays out restrictions for drivers with a learner’s permit, as well as those with a junior license.

Last year, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards began delivering personal safety messages to young drivers convicted of moving traffic violations. Driver’s between the ages 16 and 20 who were cited for driving violations received a personal letter from Richards reminding them of the importance of following the law and the consequences of developing bad driving habits so early in their driving experience.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has applied to the US Department of Transportation hoping to have Pennsylvania be designated as an Automated Vehicle Proving Ground.  The purpose of the application is to help in the facilitation of the safe and innovative development of Automated Vehicle technologies.

The application puts forth the benefits of Pennsylvania as a testing location because of the already existing facilities, environments, and topography within the state. “This application further illustrates that we’re a national leader in supporting automated vehicle development with safety and flexibility in mind,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We’ve put in significant work on this issue with our task force, with our partners in the legislature, and through close collaboration with the industry.”

The application also highlighted the Pennsylvania Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force, which recently issued its recommended guidance to assist with testing policies helping to make testing proving grounds a success.

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Pennsylvania’s Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force has created some recommendations for PennDOT to review regarding the testing of Highly Automated Vehicles (HAVs). The public even had the chance to be involved, with the ability to ask questions and review the report during an online public forum that occurred earlier this month. This technology could be the future for transportation, so it was vital that safety as well as modernization were both kept at the highest importance during testing.

“Autonomous and connected vehicles will change transportation and could bring benefits of safer travel and greater ease of mobility for all if rules are in place to ensure passenger and pedestrian safety,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards in a press release. “Since HAVs will bring major changes to our transportation system, it is vital for Pennsylvanians to be informed and engaged in this process, so I encourage the public to participate in the Dec. 12 on-line forum.”

Some key highlights from the recommendations included restricting testing on only certain routes, ensuring PennDOT is notified when any HAV is tested without an operator, and more.

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reckless driverReckless driving seems easy enough to spot, right? But, accidents still happen and it’s important to know the signs so that you can avoid getting in one. What seems like common sense can sometimes be overlooked on the road. Keep an eye out for these kinds of driving behaviors to ensure you and your passengers remain safe.

Ignoring Traffic Signs and Lights

If a car is continually running stop signs, blowing through red lights and simply ignoring the rules of the road, they are a hazard. Make sure you are obeying all traffic signs and lights, as well as staying away from those drivers who don’t, to prevent a potential accident.