Articles Posted in Auto Crashworthiness

Japanese manufacturer Takata Corporation recently admitted that its airbags are defective, NBC 10 News reported.

More than 34 million vehicles fitted with Takata airbags have been recalled because the defective canisters can rupture upon impact and spew shrapnel into the vehicle. The defective airbags have resulted in at least six deaths worldwide and hundreds of injuries.

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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer Larry Coben filed a Takata airbag class action lawsuit in Philadelphia on behalf of 20 million people who own or lease vehicles fitted with defective Takata airbags.

The lawsuit, filed on November 18, alleges that the value of the vehicles has been diminished as a result of faulty Takata airbags that may explode and shoot shrapnel during a collision.

The massive Takata airbag recall affecting millions of vehicles has led to a shortage of parts needed to fix the problem. One car maker proposed drivers disable the airbags or avoid driving the vehicle. As a result, customers have been left with either an unsafe vehicle or no vehicle at all.

Is a car with no airbags safer than a car with faulty airbags? Japanese automakers believe so, according to Huffington Post.

Following a massive airbag recall of millions of vehicles with potential airbag malfunction problems, auto makers in Japan advised they will turn off the airbags in the affected vehicles.

Drivers can bring the recalled vehicles back to the dealer and have the airbags “turned off” until the replacement part is ready. This action is meant as a temporary remedy to a defect that can cause some airbags to rupture in the event of a crash and shoot shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Vehicle owners want Chrysler to issue Chrysler Pacifica recalls and reimburse owners for serious 2004 and 2005 Chrysler Pacifica problems involving rusty and corroded engine cradles that can cause the engine to drop out of the car.

In November 2010, Chrysler issued an extended warranty to 2004 and 2005 Pacifica vehicle owners and explained that they may experience the car shaking or vibrating. Two years later, Chrysler issued an updated bulletin saying it would only cover repairs for Chrysler Pacifica vehicles made between February 23 and March 31, 2004.

Drivers who experienced Chrysler Pacifica problems involving engine cradle perforation or corrosion in vehicles manufactured during that period would likely be eligible for compensation, but thousands of other 2004 and 2005 Chrysler Pacifica models could be at risk for engine cradle rust.

The supplier of the defective ignition switch that prompted a recall of 2.2 million cars says that General Motors (GM) knew the parts did not meet the company’s specifications and accepted them anyway.

The ignition switch can move from the “run” position to the “accessory” position — and cut off electrical power as a result — if a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads pulls on the key too hard.

The defect has been linked to 13 deaths and 31 crashes, and the families of those who died in cars that have now been recalled are looking for answers. In the video below, the father of a 20-year-old killed in a car crash involving a 2007 Pontiac G5 speaks out about his son’s accident four years ago that was once blamed on “driver error.”

Unsecure cargo and overloaded cargo cause truck accidents in Pa.

Yes, there are laws on the federal, state, and locally to govern the weight of commercial vehicles, i.e. trucks and big rigs. However, these laws are difficult to enforce and are not such a deterrent to prevent overloading which in turns helps to prevent accidents.

Trucking companies overload trucks because time is money. The fewer the trips made, the higher the cost of fuel, and the pressure to meet a tight schedule are all reasons why trucking companies overload cargo.

It might seem like a good idea initially but over the long haul and the life of the truck, overloading cargo shortens the lifespan of the transmission as well as the tires and makes each journey riskier regarding braking and controlling the vehicle. Not only does the trucking company put the driver at risk but every other car, vehicle, and passengers on the road and damage to the load.

Loose cargo that falls off of a big rig can cause traffic problems and other people could be hurt or killed, especially during a quick stop or crash.
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USA Today reports that engineers at Ford Motor Company have begun creating a child-sized digital model to give them a better understanding of what occurs to a child’s body in a car accident, and how accident forces affect children differently than adults.

To build the digital child model, researchers are using MRIs from children to recreate a child’s internal organs, bone structure, and brain. Adult digital models were used starting in 2004 and took over 10 years to create. In contrast to crash-test dummies, digital models are specifically used to develop the safety restraint system, while crash-test dummies are used to measure accident forces in actual crash testing. Ford hopes that the digital child model will help the company design vehicles that offer younger passengers better protection in the event of a crash.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of three and 14 in the United States. In 2008, the NHTSA reports that 968 children age 14-years-old and younger were killed in motor vehicle accidents in which they were vehicle occupants. This accounted for approximately three percent of the 37, 261 total traffic accident fatalities that year. An additional 168,000 from this age group were injured in traffic accidents in which they were vehicle occupants, accounting for about eight percent of the total traffic accident vehicle occupant injuries. On average, these statistics result in four children, age 14-years-old and younger, killed and 529 injured in motor vehicle accidents nationwide in 2008.

Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced it will petition the U.S. Department of Transportation for stronger regulations regarding the underride guards on semi-truck trailers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The metal frames that hang below a large truck’s rear-end are referred to as underride guards, often called underriders. They are designed to protect motor vehicle occupants by prohibiting vehicles to slide beneath trucks in the event of a rear-end collision. These guards are required to be on the backs of most large trucks in the U.S. However, the IIHS reports that the guards are not strong enough to withstand force impacts that are typical of an average collision. The IIHS also believes the federal rules that dictate the use of underride guards are not strict enough.

The current underride guard standards went into effect in 1998, with the intent to prevent motor vehicles from going under trucks in the event of a rear-impact collision. However, testing showed that the guards can fail at accident speeds as low as 35 mph, putting passenger vehicle occupants at great risk. In these accidents, the vehicle’s windshield is at the main point of impact, and even vehicles with high safety ratings offer occupants little protection when underride guards fail. According to the IIHS, the upper part of the vehicle’s occupant compartment may crush due to the body of the truck intruding into the vehicle’s safety cage in these instances.

Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 150,000 F-150 pickup trucks model years 2005-2006 due to the risk of air bags deploying without warning. According to a Daily Finance article, the air bag defect has caused dozens of injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reportedly requested that Ford recall 1.3 million F-150 pickups from the 2004-2006 model years after receiving complaints from dozens of consumers about unintentional air bag deployment causing injury. The agency is currently evaluating the recall to determine if it is too limited.

The NHTSA investigation of the Ford F-Series pickup trucks, which has been continuing since September 2009, revealed that air bag deployment without warning has led to injuries that included chipped and broken teeth; cuts to the arm, hand, and face; lacerations; minor burns; and two owners reported loss of consciousness.

Ford had originally resisted recalling the pickup trucks, claiming the number of incidents was low and injuries were minor. The automaker also believed that consumers were given proper warning with an illuminated air bag warning light that informs motorists that the vehicle should be serviced.

A recent article on PennLive.com highlights the effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s vehicle inspection program. On average, about 11 million motor vehicles are inspected by mechanics in the state. Recently, the state’s neighbors, Washington D.C. and New Jersey, have ceased their inspection programs, citing that irrefutable evidence does not prove that they are essential. However, Pennsylvania state officials believe otherwise.

A 2009 report ordered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) concluded that research clearly demonstrated that the state’s Vehicle Safety Inspection program is successful and saves lives. According to the report, without the inspections, the number of fatal traffic accidents in Pennsylvania would potentially increase by between 127 and 169 every year.

Safety inspections are mandatory in less than 20 states in the U.S., which is down from a peak of about 31 several years ago. In 1976, the federal government lost its ability to enforce safety inspections on the states, and soon after, states began to abandon the safety inspection programs. At this time, Pennsylvania does not have any plans to stop its inspection program, a spokesperson for PennDOT states.

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