Consumers Union Applauds ‘Unprecedented’ Volkswagen Settlement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, today applauded the settlement package announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address Volkswagen intentionally installing software to circumvent the emissions control system in nearly 500,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles sold in the U.S and evade emissions standards.

“Today’s agreement forces Volkswagen to make consumers whole, after having ripped them off. We’re pleased that VW owners and lessees have the option to choose what to do with their faulty cars, and get significant cash compensation regardless of their choice,” said William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union. “We applaud regulators for their work to ensure that the settlement also addresses the environmental and air quality impacts of these faulty vehicles. This unprecedented settlement – the largest in automotive history – and forthcoming civil and criminal penalties should send a strong message to deter companies who look to boost their bottom lines by conning consumers and lying to the government.

“We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the consent decree. We will be watching closely to make sure that VW follows through on its commitments to both consumers and the environment, that separate settlements are reached for cars that are not part of today’s announcement, and that the government’s penalties for VW’s deceit are substantial,” said Wallace.

B.E. S.A.F.E. with tips from Michelin and AAA

 As we approach the Fourth of July holiday weekend Michelin tires and AAA have teamed up to offer six safe travel tips.

B: Begin with a Safety Check: It’s better to be safe than sorry. Conduct periodic safety checks to ensure your car is in good operating condition, especially before a long trip. Before you hit the road, make sure your lights, fluids, hoses, windshield wipers and tires are in good working order.

E: Employ the Penny Test: Tires are the only part of your car that touches the road, so ensuring they’re in good condition for maximum grip is of the utmost importance. Make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread before hitting the road, especially with the possibility of unexpected summer showers. Click here to learn how easy it is to do this with a penny. And if you decide your tires need replacing, you might want to consider a great all-season tire like the Pilot Sport A/S 3 Plus, which delivers true all-season performance and superior wet and dry braking.

S: Stay Safe, Check Your Pressure: Tires don’t carry the weight of your vehicle, the pressure inside them does. Underinflated tires offer less traction, can reduce fuel efficiency, wear out prematurely and, most importantly, suffer unnoticeable and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety. In fact, under inflation is one of the most common reasons for tire failure.

As a general rule, your tire pressure will gain or lose 1 PSI (pound per square inch) for every 10° F change in temperature. Check your air pressure when tires are ‘cold’ in the morning and compare that number to the sticker in your doorjamb before hitting the road for holiday travel.  Don’t forget to check the air in your spare, too.

A: Avoid overloading: Consider leaving your extra suitcase at home when seeking out sun and sand, and be sure to clear out any extra junk that may have accumulated in your car over the winter. Lightening your load will positively impact your gas mileage, handling and braking distance.

F: Focus on the Road: While on the road, focus fully on driving. Any activities that could divert your attention should be avoided while at the wheel. This includes things like using your phone, snacking, or reaching into the backseat to attend to a child or pet. Save these actions for a rest stop, or if necessary, pull over to the side of the road.

E: Emergency Preparedness:  Always carry a well-stocked emergency kit in your car that includes items such as jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles, first aid kit, water and non-perishable food items. It’s also a good idea to program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider, and keep a backup written list in your glove compartment.

Nissan kicks off National Tire Safety Week with tips for proper tire care

Low tire pressures can lead to motor vehicle crashes; Nissan’s Easy-Fill Tire Alert takes the guesswork out of filling your tires to the correct tire pressure

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – To raise awareness for proper tire care and maintenance, Nissan is celebrating National Tire Safety Week from May 29 to June 4 by reminding vehicle owners of the significant role tires play in keeping them safe on the road.

Research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration1 indicates a tire that is 25 percent below its recommended pressure is almost three times more likely to be involved in a tire-related crash than a properly inflated tire. Low tire inflation also costs vehicle owners money over the long term in reduced fuel economy and premature tire wear.

“Checking tire pressure for just a few minutes each month can help protect your family, improve vehicle performance and lengthen the life of tires,” said Sarah Cardinali, senior manager, Product Safety, Nissan North America. “Our innovative Easy-Fill Tire Alert system helps drivers fill their tires to their recommended inflation rating with ease.”

To emphasize the importance for drivers to regularly inspect their motor vehicle tires, Nissan offers the following tire care and maintenance tips:

  • Inspect visually. Regularly look for visual signs of potential tire issues which may include under-inflation, damage or uneven wear. Inspect tires before a long trip to help avoid unnecessary delays or expenses.
  • Know your target. Find and adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, which is located in the vehicle’s driver-side door jam.
  • Be temperature-conscious. Tire pressures fluctuate with temperature changes. Check pressures when tires are cold (in the morning) at least once a month and following significant changes in temperature. Use an easy-to-read digital gauge for accuracy. A digital readout is displayed in the center cluster of many Nissan models.
  • Rotate and balance. Achieve maximum life and performance from tires by rotating them every 5,000-7,000 miles. Also, balance tires periodically to help minimize uneven wear and extend tread life.
  • Don’t overload. Avoid loading tires past their recommended rating. Excessive weight can weaken tires and potentially lead to blowouts.
  • Avoid obstructions. Steer clear of large potholes, curbs or other objects when possible to avoid potential tire damage.

Standard tire pressure monitoring systems on vehicles alert drivers when tire pressure is low. Auto care professionals caution that from one tire gauge to another, there can be a three or four pound difference in air pressure readings when refilling tires. Nissan’s easy-to-use technology, Easy-Fill Tire Alert, takes the guesswork out of filling tires to the correct pressure with a beep of the horn when proper pressure is reached.

 

If tire pressures drop to an unsafe level, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) alerts the driver with an alert in the gauge cluster. Once the driver stops to add air, the Easy-Fill Tire Alert system activates the vehicle’s four-way flashers to indicate that the tire is inflating, the horn then honks once to signal that the tire is at its recommended inflation level. If the driver continues to fill the tire with air, the horn honks twice to indicate over-inflation. Once air is let out of the tire, the horn chirps once more to indicate the correct pressure has been reached, making the whole process fast and easy, eliminating the need for hand-held tire pressure gauges.

“Since its introduction in 2013, more than 1 million Nissan vehicles equipped with Easy-Fill Tire Alert have been sold in the United States,” said Cardinali. “It is a staple technology in the Nissan product line-up focused on helping to give drivers more convenience and peace of mind when filling up their tires.”

First appearing on the Nissan Quest and nominated for an AOL Technology of the Year Award, Easy-Fill Tire Alert is now available on 11 Nissan models including Altima, LEAF, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, Quest, Rogue, Sentra, TITAN, Versa and Versa Note.  

KBB Study: Drivers still multi-task while driving despite risks

 KBB.com Brand Ambassador and Professional Football Player Todd Gurley, NASCAR Driver Chase Elliott Join in 

#DriveSmart Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign

 

IRVINE, Calif., April 14, 2016 – Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. While nearly every state in the U.S., as well as Washington D.C., has laws prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving, a new survey by Kelley Blue Book reveals that 61 percent of drivers continue to multi-task from behind the wheel.

The 2016 Kelley Blue Book Distracted Driving Awareness survey, released today by KBB.com, the vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, is part of the company’s #DriveSmart Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, launched during Distracted Driving Month. The national survey reveals that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents have used their phone while driving on roads or residential streets, 40 percent have used their phones while cruising the highway and 86 percent have used their phone while at a stop light or in heavy traffic. Talking on the phone and using the navigation system were the highest rated activities reported with 78 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Texting came in third with 67 percent, followed by using music apps (47 percent) and using social media (31 percent).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 25 percent of all crashes involve some form of driver distraction, and drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In fact, nearly three quarters of survey respondents (71 percent) believe that cell phone usage is the biggest threat facing today’s teen drivers, with drinking and driving (18 percent) and reckless driving (10 percent) rating as a distant second and third, respectively.

According to Distraction.gov, the average time a driver takes their eyes off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. Millennial drivers report the highest rates of texting (74 percent) and checking social media sites (36 percent) while driving. However, young people are not the only drivers reaching for their phones. The survey reveals that Baby Boomers lead the pack, reporting the highest rate overall of talking on the phone while driving (87 percent), followed by Gen X (83 percent) and Millenials (76 percent).

“We all know that texting while driving is a serious distraction, but it isn’t the only reason drivers are taking their eyes off the road,” said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “With the increase of in-car technology, there are more distractions vying for a driver’s attention. Whether it is in-dash navigation, music apps or voice command call or text, more and more drivers are multi-tasking behind the wheel as opposed to focusing on the road.”

Take the Pledge: “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All”

In addition to conducting the nationwide survey, Kelley Blue Book, along with NHTSA and The Conor Lynch Foundation, will host a student assembly at Inglewood High School in Los Angeles on April 21, 2016, to educate students on the dangers of distracted driving. Professional football player Todd Gurley and local officials will be on hand to bring attention to the issue. At the assembly, the students will be directed to take the “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All” pledge at Distraction.gov.

“Texting behind the wheel is dangerous, deadly and completely preventable.  Help make our roads safe for everyone and save it for when you’re not in the driver seat,” said Chris Murphy, regional administrator for NHTSA. “Working with our safety partners and organizations like Kelley Blue Book, we’re calling on drivers to take the pledge and put their phones down.  Our focus is to drive positive behavior change and encourage safe driving habits.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, also has joined the campaign by creating a digital PSA that was released earlier today to help spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving. Elliott, a champion NASCAR driver who himself is only 20 years old, is uniquely qualified to share the importance of giving your full attention to driving, helping to ensure everyone’s safety by reminding people to just drive.

DOT, IIHS and 20 automakers commit to AEB standard on new vehicles

McLEAN, Va. — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced today a historic commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. auto market to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature on virtually all new cars no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins Sept. 1, 2022.

Automakers making the commitment are Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process.

AEB systems help prevent crashes or reduce their severity by applying the brakes for the driver. The systems use on-vehicle sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver and apply the brakes if the driver does not take sufficient action quickly enough.

NHTSA estimates that the agreement will make AEB standard on new cars three years faster than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. During those three years, according to IIHS estimates, the commitment will prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries.

“It’s an exciting time for vehicle safety. By making automatic emergency braking systems standard equipment on their vehicles, these 20 automakers will help prevent crashes and save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It’s a win for safety and a win for consumers.”

Based on mounting evidence that AEB effectively reduced crashes and injuries in the United States and around the world, NHTSA and IIHS issued a challenge to the industry in September 2015 to encourage automakers to voluntarily make AEB a standard feature. A series of meetings followed to establish details of the commitment.

“IIHS member companies strongly support the adoption of effective safety technologies,” said IIHS Board Chairman and CEO of American Family Insurance, Jack Salzwedel. “Deploying AEB on a wide scale will allow us to further evaluate the technology’s effectiveness and its impact on insurance losses, so that more insurers can explore offering discounts or lower premiums to consumers who choose AEB-equipped vehicles.”

“We’re getting these safety systems into vehicles much faster than what would have been otherwise possible,” said NHTSA Administrator, Dr. Mark Rosekind. “A commitment of this magnitude is unprecedented, and it will bring more safety to more Americans sooner.”

“The benefits of this commitment are far reaching, from injuries and deaths averted to the recovery of productivity that would otherwise be lost in traffic jams caused by the crashes prevented,” said IIHS Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer David Zuby. “It also assures that all Americans will benefit from this technology.”

“With roadway fatalities on the rise, the commitment made today has the potential to save more lives than almost anything else we can accomplish in the next six years,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, who attended today’s announcement. “Including all models in the agreement ensures that safety isn’t for just those who can afford it.”

NHTSA and IIHS also announced that Consumer Reports will assist in monitoring automaker progress toward meeting the AEB commitment. Jake Fisher, Director of Auto Testing for Consumer Reports, said, “We have been calling on automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard in all new vehicles, and today is an important step toward reaching that goal. This proven technology is among the most promising safety advances we’ve seen since electronic stability control almost two decades ago. We look forward to working with NHTSA and IIHS to help put this plan into action and hold automakers accountable for their commitments.”

Today’s commitment will make AEB standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or less beginning no later than Sept. 1, 2022. AEB will be standard on virtually all trucks with a gross vehicle weight between 8,501 pounds and 10,000 pounds beginning no later than Sept. 1, 2025.

As NHTSA continues its regulatory work in this area, NHTSA will track the progress industry is making towards its commitment.

The commitment takes into account the evolution of AEB technology. It requires a level of functionality that is in line with research and crash data demonstrating that such systems are substantially reducing crashes, but does not stand in the way of improved capabilities that are just beginning to emerge. The performance measures are based on real world data showing that vehicles with this level of capability are avoiding crashes.

To encourage further development of AEB technology, NHTSA will accelerate its research on more advanced AEB applications, including systems that reduce the risk of collisions with pedestrians. In December, NHTSA announced plans to rate AEB systems and other advanced technologies under its 5-Star Safety Ratings beginning in model year 2018.


Fact sheet:
Auto Industry Commitment to IIHS and NHTSA on Automatic Emergency Braking

Participating manufacturers: Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car USA — representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. new-car market.

Details of the commitment: Participating automakers commit to make AEB standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or less no later than Sept. 1, 2022, and on virtually all trucks with a gross vehicle weight between 8,501 pounds and 10,000 pounds no later than Sept. 1, 2025.

What is AEB? Automatic emergency braking helps prevent crashes or reduce their severity by applying a vehicle’s brakes automatically. The systems use on-board sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver, and apply the brakes or increase braking effort if the driver does not take sufficient action.

Performance requirements: Participating manufacturers will ensure vehicles have both a forward collision warning system that meets a subset of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s current 5-Star Safety Ratings program requirements on the timing of driver alerts and an automatic braking system that earns at least an advanced rating in the current Insurance Institute for Highway Safety front crash prevention track tests. The baseline performance measures are a speed reduction of at least 10 mph in either the IIHS 12 or 25 mph tests, or a speed reduction of 5 mph in both of the tests.

Safety benefits: IIHS research shows that AEB systems meeting the commitment would reduce rear-end crashes by 40 percent. IIHS estimates that by 2025 — the earliest NHTSA believes it could realistically implement a regulatory requirement for AEB — the commitment will prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries.

Monitoring progress: IIHS and NHTSA will monitor automakers’ progress toward the commitment and provide annual updates on that progress. Commitment letters from each of the manufacturers, along with annual submissions on their progress, will be posted at www.regulations.gov under docket number NHTSA-2015-0101.

Hyundai hails adopting Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) on cars

2016 Hyundai Full Line

2016 Hyundai Full Line

Life-Saving Automatic Emergency Braking Already Available on Hyundai’s Popular Models

Hyundai Motor America praised the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the automotive industry for working together to make Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) a standard feature on new cars in the future. The group has developed a voluntary commitment to make AEB standard on all new cars no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, according to a Hyundai press release.

“Providing effective safety technology is essential for our customers,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, corporate and product planning, Hyundai Motor America. “With all our new models, we are ushering in new standards for safety, featuring technology proven most effective in preventing accidents in the first place, and reducing injuries should an accident occur.”

Six models are available today with AEB as optional equipment: the all-new 2017 Elantra, 2017 Santa Fe, 2017 Santa Fe Sport, 2016 Sonata, 2016 Tucson and 2016 Genesis. Coming this summer to dealerships, the Genesis G90 will feature standard AEB. Later in 2016, additional 2017 model-year Hyundai vehicles will include AEB as available equipment.

AEB uses both the forward-facing radar and camera, through sensor fusion, to detect a vehicle or pedestrian, and warns the driver of a potential collision. If the driver does not react to avoid the impact, the system will apply emergency braking. The Hyundai Genesis, Tucson and Sonata models are also TOP SAFETY PICK+ rated by IIHS.

Building a Tradition of Safety Leadership
Standardizing key safety features at Hyundai began with the application of standard side airbag protection across the Hyundai lineup in 2003: making it the first non-luxury brand to achieve this level of passive safety technology.

In 2004, Hyundai introduced the Tucson, the first under-$20,000 SUV, with standard Electronic Stability Control and six standard airbags.

In 2006 the Sonata was the industry’s first and only mid-size sedan with standard Electronic Stability Control.

Ford goes ballistic to ensure police interceptors are truly ‘bullet proof’

All-roundsOffers Ballistic Protection Against Armor-Piercing Rifle Ammunition

  • US Department of Justice standard Type IV specifies protection against armor-piercing .30 caliber rifle ammunition
  • First pursuit rated police vehicle to offer Type IV ballistic panels in the United States
  • Optional ballistic panels offered on Police Interceptor sedan and utility

BY GERRY MILES

Having a “bullet proof” car is an oft-used phrase meant in most cases to highly the vehicle’s reliability.

For many of today’s first responders that means something entirely different. Ford announced today it will offer ballistic panels on its Police Interceptor sedan and utility with protection from armor-piercing rifle ammunition.

“Ford is well-known in the police community for going further to enhance officer safety.  It’s what our product is all about, first and foremost,” said Raj Sarkar, general marketing manager, Ford North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing operations.

The factory-equipped vehicles are the first pursuit-rated police vehicles in the United States to offer ballistic protection up to Department of Justice’s (DoJ) National Institute of Justice standard Type IV.

The fact that we design our Police Interceptors around officer feedback is what has made them number one. Officers globally told us they needed protection from armor piercing ammunition and we added increased ballistic protection to an already great product – that’s continuous innovation,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer, Ford Police Interceptors.

According to the Department of Justice standard, the description of a Type IV ballistic panel is:

“Type IV hard armor or plate inserts shall be tested in a conditioned state with .30 caliber armor piercing (AP) bullets (U.S. Military designation M2 AP) with a specified mass of 10.8 g (166 gr) and a velocity of 878 m/s ± 9.1 m/s (2880 ft/s ± 30 ft/s).”

While the number of shootouts between police and criminals using high-powered, armor-piercing rifle ammunition is low, they are unfortunately becoming more common.

The Type IV panels are an additional option above and beyond existing ballistic panel protection offered by Ford.

Optional Type III ballistic panels are already on duty in agencies around the United States and are rated to protect against all handgun and non-armor piercing bullets up to .30 caliber (specifically up to 7.62mm x 51mm NATO M80 ball ammunition) as well as special threat rounds identified by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The optional ballistic panels are in addition to a long list of existing features aimed at protecting officers, including Ford Police Interceptor safety cell construction to aid structural integrity.

In the event of a crash, advanced safety technology directs impact forces away from the occupants. Crumple zones are strategically placed in the frame or body of the vehicle, further absorbing and dissipating the energy of a crash to reduce intrusion into the occupant compartment.

Innovative materials – such as aluminum, advanced plastics and boron steel – also contribute to vehicle strength.

Other examples of Ford’s commitment to officer safety include a 75-mph rear crash test rating, police-tuned suspensions, police brakes, steel wheels, unique police interiors as well as a range of upfit options.

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