What new safety features help prevent auto accidents?

What new safety features help prevent auto accidents?

0 Comments

What New Safety Features Help Prevent Auto Accidents?

Car companies over the last twenty years have focused on safety features and technologies that can help prevent accidents. For example, there’s electronic stability control in cars. So, when someone begins to lose control of their car, the technology in the car keeps them under control. There’s also anti-lock brake systems in cars now. More recently you have computer technology where you have automatic braking system that if you come up to a car and you don’t recognize it, the car will brake on its own. Or when you change a lane the car will tell you, “You’re changing a lane. Get back into your lane.”

All of this technology is critical because it prevents accident. It keeps people from even needing the airbags or the seat belts because the accidents never happen. What we have found over the years is companies unfortunately don’t put that technology into the cars they should, and, so, we’ve had cases where an accident has happened when it never should have because the safety technology was not used in that car when it should’ve been used, which would’ve prevented the accident.

If you or someone you know have been catastrophically injured in an accident, please contact us today.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Again Tops Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List

0 Comments
ford explorer exhaust leak

Jeep Grand Cherokee Again Tops Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List

The Safety Institute released the Quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List this month and Jeep Grand Cherokee again took the top 2 spots. Plagued with power train issues, 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees have held the #1 and #2 positions since November 2016. The report monitors NHTSA investigations and recalls to share the vehicles with the most concerning safety issues at press time.

The powertrain problem with the Jeep Grand Cherokees correlates to the 2016 Fiat Chrysler recall of vehicles equipped with a mono-stable gear selector. This gear shift created great confusion with drivers who exited their vehicles thinking they were in the PARK position, only to have the vehicle roll away, colliding with objects and people. At first Fiat Chrysler attempted to better educate the drivers on the new gear shift when they first were investigated in 2015. After nearly 300 reported incidents of rollaway, and the high profile death of actor Anton Yelchin who was struck and killed by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Fiat Chrysler initiated a recall of over 800,000 vehicles equipped with this specific gear shifter which includes the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the 2012-2014 Chrysler 300 (#3 on Watch List) and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.

GM’s Chevy Cobalt is a regular on this list for electrical problems stemming from faulty ignition switches discovered by the investigative work of Lance Cooper and The Cooper Firm. The 2009 Toyota Camry also remains on this quarter’s list for its unintended acceleration/speed control issues.

To view the complete list for this year and previous years, visit The Safety Institute’s website.

If you, or someone you know, have been injured by a vehicle with a reported safety defect, please contact us today.

Source: The Safety Institute Press Release

Your Next Car Could Tell You When You’re Not Paying Attention

0 Comments
Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Your Next Car Could Tell You When You’re Not Paying Attention

Since fully autonomous vehicles are still many years away from infiltrating the auto market, automakers are developing technology that will allow vehicles to determine if its human driver is paying attention to the road.

Distracted driving is a growing and deadly problem. According to Distraction.gov, 3,197 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in 2014 due to distracted driving. Thousands of people are dying every year due to drivers not paying attention behind the wheel. This technology could help save lives. Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen have already started testing some of these systems, and it’s rumored that the technology will be available in two models next year.

Delphi Automotive has created the technology which will use cameras and software to track driver’s eyes and head movements. Since one of the most common distractions is cell phones, tracking a driver’s eye movement will help identify when a driver has become too distracted to drive. The systems will then alert the driver through vibrations or sound to let them know they need to re-focus their attention on the road. The system will work the same for drivers who may get drowsy behind the wheel as it will track their level of alertness. The radar will be able to recognize sagging eyelids, wrinkling of the temples, and squinting.

For drivers who are worried about their privacy or their distracted driving habits being shared, automakers have said that the information will not be released without their consent or a court request. More than likely, it will still be a long battle between automakers, technologist, consumers and industry government officials.

If these technologies are developed correctly, they have the potential to save thousands of lives.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident due to distracted driving, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Consumer Reports Suggest Buying Cars with Advanced Safety Systems

0 Comments
Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Consumer Reports Suggest Buying Cars with Advanced Safety Systems

Consumer Reports is urging consumers to consider vehicles with active safety systems whenever purchasing a new vehicle.

Automakers have recently developed several advanced technology systems to help drivers avoid accidents. Initially, these systems were only offered by a few select automakers and usually on vehicles with a hefty price tag. Now, they are more readily available on vehicles and are not as expensive as they once were. There is hope that they will one day become standard like seat belts and airbags.

The new active safety systems include:

Forward-collision warning, with or without auto brakes. Consumer Reports states this system, “should be at the top of your list.” This system notifies driver of a potential for the most common type of car collision, a forward collision through radar, lasers and cameras.

Backup cameras and sensors. Consumer Reports shared that by 2018, this system will be standard on all vehicles.

Blind-spot warning and rear-cross traffic warnings. These systems alert drivers of possible collisions due to blind-spots through vibration of driver’s seat or alarm.

Lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. These systems help keep the vehicles in its proper lane when the driver may be drifting.

Although none of these systems are perfected, the extra layer of protection they add far outweighs the kinks. Many of these systems have variety of names due to the fact they were developed by different automakers with different branding.

If you are currently in the market to buy a new vehicle, Consumer Reports has pulled together all feature names and options on each vehicle model which you can view here – http://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/cars-with-advanced-safety-systems/

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a car accident, contact our law offices today.

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

0 Comments
Auto Recall Attorney - The Cooper Firm

How automakers plan to eliminate rear-end collisions

Rear-end collisions account for a third of all car crashes. After years of trying to figure out how to prevent these accidents, automakers have started implementing technology to help reduce the amount of rear-end collisions.

Accidents cost Americans billions of dollars every year and lead to injuries and in some cases deaths. Safety technology could change that dramatically, and automakers and regulators feel strongly that it will. Ten automakers, federal safety regulators and an insurance industry trade group announced that automatic emergency braking will become a standard feature on all new car models sold in the United States. Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo were all automakers who agreed to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on developing a timeline to install the feature in all upcoming and future models.

Automatic emergency braking uses a combination of sensors and cameras or lasers to detect a potential crash and then warns the driver. In some cases, the vehicle will even brake for the driver if the driver does not take action. There are several newer vehicles that already offer this feature and those similar such as automated cruise control, lane departure warnings and high beams that will automatically adjust if an oncoming vehicle is coming. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety feels that automated braking systems can potentially reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35%.

Having technologies that react quickly will help eliminate driver error and assist with drivers that may respond slower than normal. NHTSA found that many drivers in rear-end collisions didn’t apply the brakes at all or did not apply the brakes fully, both of which can be corrected by this new technology. Details regarding the roll-out have not been decided yet, and since it is not a federal mandate, companies are taking time to establish the performance criteria. Most of the technologies that are already on these newer models come with a price tag, so hopefully with the new roll-out, automakers will not add a price to safety. It has also not been decided if insurance premiums will be lower for vehicles that have these technologies or not.

While these products are going to help decrease the amount in injuries and deaths on the road, there is a potential that they could come with glitches and defects just as safety technologies before it such as airbags and seat belts. It is our hope that manufacturers and automakers alike will take the time to really ensure that these products are safe and that drivers understand them before they hit the market.

New Auto Safety Technology Come With Little Technology for Drivers

0 Comments
Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

New Auto Safety Technology Come With Little Technology for Drivers

Safety technology has allowed vehicles to almost completely drive themselves, but with the new technology additions to vehicles there has been little to no education for drivers.

Vehicles can brake themselves before getting too close to another object, move back into its lane if it starts drifting, alert drivers if there is a vehicle in its blind spot, and some more advanced vehicles have adaptive cruise control allowing drivers to ride hands- and foot-free. Many of these safety technology features will completely revolutionize safety for vehicles and prevent thousands of accidents and injuries from occurring. Unfortunately, a large portion of drivers have these technologies on their vehicles but do not know how they work making them potential hazards.

Due to the lack of education regarding these technology features, the Department of Transportation along with the University of Iowa have started an education campaign to help explain to drivers how these technologies work. The campaign will include a website that drivers can view video demonstrations on how each technology works (Mycardoeswhat.org). The University of Iowa also conducted a study where the majority of drivers said they were not sure how the technology worked. About 40 percent of individuals in the study said their vehicle had behaved in an unexpected way.

The least understood technology, according to the University of Iowa, was adaptive cruise control, which allows a vehicle to slow or speed up to maintain a constant following distance. Some adaptive cruise controls do even more than that, such as the newest Tesla model, which you can read more about here.  Adaptive cruise control has been around for nearly a decade, but is still misunderstood. The safety technology features vary from model to model making it even more difficult. Owner’s manuals rarely explain how each system works and are often written in a way that makes it hard for owners to understand. Even though some automakers will offer CDs or DVDs on how to use the safety system, drivers usually never spend the time to sit down and watch them, or don’t even know that that’s what the disc are intended for.

Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge can make these technologies dangerous. In some situations, owners think the safety systems do more than they actually do, such as completely stop a vehicle if it is too close when it will actually only alert the driver if they are too close. In some cases, alerts can catch drivers off guard causing them to over correct. Some systems still require the driver to brake or steer, they are simply warning signals, while others will correct, brake or function for the driver.

New drivers and teens are not learning these technologies in their driving courses either. Most state-required curriculum is years behind the newest technology. They are still talking about airbags and anti-lock brakes, but nothing like lane departure warnings or automatic braking.

Even though vehicles are capable of being completely self driving, due to the lag in regulations it will be years before we will see them across the nation. In the meantime, there needs to be more partnering with automakers for education on these technologies.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a product defect or vehicle, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Tesla Releases Most Advanced Autonomous Driving Feature

1 Comment
Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Tesla Releases Most Advanced Autonomous Driving Feature

Tesla Motors Inc. released a new and advanced set of autonomous driving vehicle features which just fall short of making its vehicles fully driverless.

Due to safety and regulatory issues, the update requires the driver to grab the steering wheel every ten seconds or so to avoid having the vehicle slow down. The new software update allows the vehicles to drive hands- and feet-free in stop-and-go traffic and on the highway. The vehicle can also park itself. The features became available for 50,000 newer Model S vehicles across the world with a simple software download. Only vehicles that were built in the past 12 months will work with the new software. The newer models have the complex sensors and cameras needed for autonomous driving features.

The demand for driverless vehicles is high and consumers want more and more gadgets on their vehicles. Unfortunately, automakers are battling with state regulators and the lack of safety regulations in place for vehicles of this nature. Telsa’s Chief Executive Elon Musk has said that Telsa is being extremely cautious during the early stages. Currently, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles requires special licensing for autonomous vehicles. Because of Tesla’s check-in feature, where the driver must touch the steering wheel, the vehicles’ upgrade does not fall under the stage where it would need special licensing.

Musk has tested the vehicle himself for several months, and said that it works best with a car in front of it and clear distinct lane lines. In three years, Musk feels that Tesla will be capable of building a vehicle that will take you to a destination without touching anything. Currently, the driver can set the speed using cruise control and the car will stay in the center of the lane keeping a safe distance in between itself and other vehicles. By hitting the lane change signal, the car will check to see if there is a vehicle in the blind zone and will then switch lanes and accelerate to an appropriate speed. Most advanced is the vehicle’s ability to understand dangerous curves and things such as exits ramps where it needs to slow down.

This is only the beginning for driverless vehicles. As more safety regulations are passed, automakers will roll out more technology. Many automakers in development are already claiming to take full liability for accidents caused by its vehicles in order to help speed up regulations.

Volvo says it will accept full liability for driverless car accidents in its cars

0 Comments
Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Volvo says it will accept full liability for driverless car accidents in its cars

Volvo recently announced that it will be accepting full liability for accidents that involve driverless vehicles. It is one of the first automakers to make that announcement.

For quite some time,the driverless vehicles debate has argued who will be responsible if a self-driving vehicle gets in an accident? Although many are eager to get them out on the road, others are hesitant of if driverless vehicles will really be as safe as some claim. Mercedes and Google have also made similar claims regarding accepting liability for accidents in the vehicles. Volvo said it would accept full liability as long as the accident was a due to a flaw in the vehicle’s design. It will not take responsibility, however, if the accident is due to the user or a third party.

Volvo’s representatives have said that the announcement was made in hopes that the US would speed up its regulation process where certain rules are holding back the industry. President of Volvo Cars, Hakan Samuellson, fears that the US risks losing its leading position as being the most progressive country in the world in autonomous driving due to the lack of Federal guidelines for the testing and certification of the vehicles. Currently, each state has very different and inconsistent rules, which makes it difficult for companies to roll out new technology. California and Nevada are the only states that currently allow autonomous vehicles on public roads. The largest question is mostly around who would be liable if the vehicle crashed.

Will Volvo’s announcement actually help speed up legislation? If enough manufacturers rise up and take the same claim as Volvo, then maybe. There is still a concern for how many accidents these vehicles will cause. Even if a company was to accept full liability, if its vehicles are causing thousands of accidents and causing severe injuries or death, then it really doesn’t matter who accepts liability. Too many lives are being lost.

We will most likely not see a great deal of driverless vehicles on all our roads until more of these grey issues related to safety are resolved. Unfortunately, it seems as though federal regulators are not eager to speed up the process.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective vehicle or product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

VW spent two years trying to cover a security flaw

0 Comments
Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

VW spent two years trying to cover a security flaw

Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, has left thousands of consumers at risk for car-hacking over the past two years and has tried to cover it up.

“Keyless” car theft is on the rise. It is especially a problem in Europe accounting for 42 percent of stolen vehicles in London. In 2012, researchers discovered that the RFID or Radio-Frequency Identification transponder chip used in immobilizers were weak and could easily be hacked into. The automakers sued the researchers to prevent them from exposing the findings, and still did nothing to fix the problem.

The findings were finally published, by Roel Verdult and Baris Ege from Radboud University in the Netherlands and Flavio Garcia from the University of Birmingham, U.K.  The paper revealed the details on how the Megamos Crypto transponder, one of the most common immobilizer transponders, can be targeted by hackers to steal vehicles. The Megamos is used in Volkswagen-owned luxury brands such as Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Fiats, Hondas, Volvo’s and some Maserati vehicles.

Immobilizer transponders are what stop the engine from running unless the correct key fob with the RFID chip is near the vehicle. Although they prevent things like hot-wiring, they make hacking just as easy. The weaknesses highlighted in the paper are not something that can be easily fixed overnight. Fixing them will also come with great expense to the automakers as well.

Originally, the researchers took their findings to manufacturer of the chip in February 2012 giving them nine months to fix the flaw. Then they took the findings to Volkswagen in May 2013. Instead of remedying the issue, Volkswagen responded by filing a lawsuit to prevent the publication of the paper, with the argument that vehicles would be placed at risk of theft. After a long process of negotiations the paper is available with only one sentence redacted – the sentence which explains the description of a component of the calculations on the chip. You can read the redacted paper here.

Although car theft doesn’t put anyone’s life in danger, it does beg the question of what other technology Volkwagen has that could be easily hacked. Things like shutting the vehicle on or off, brakes, or acceleration could all cause serious accidents and injuries. Let’s hope automakers won’t continue to cover up a flaw that could cost them severely, and then say they are covering it up for safety.

The Hack and the Sack: VW Litigates To Hide Security Flaws In Its Cars

0 Comments
Ignition Switch Attorney - Lance Cooper

The Hack and the Sack: VW Litigates To Hide Security Flaws In Its Cars

Technology is a wonderful. Until someone uses it against you. Many modern cars, especially expensive ones with extensive electronics packages, use electronic keys with transponders. They permit drivers to start their cars remotely or with the key fob in their pocket.  The new keys rely on microchips and computers. Gone is the old metal key. Gone in some cars is the key slot.

In 2012, a group of ethical hackers (those that hack to improve product safety)  found that many cars could be hacked, and their key fobs compromised. In fact, they found they could hack Alfa Romeo, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, Isuzu, Kia, Maserati, Opel, Volvo and Volkswagen. You can see the complete list of makes and models here

These cars used a Megamos Crypto chip. It validates the signal from the key fob to the car. They system was intended to be immune from hacking. It uses a 96-bit code encryption. According to the researchers, that means there are billions of code combinations that the key and chip could generate, allegedly creating a secure connection. The hackers, however, found they could eavesdrop on the key and car radio communication just twice, and narrow the signals down.  That allowed them to make 196,607 attempts to hack the car.   Sound like a bunch? Using the right software and hardware, however, it only took hackers 30 minutes to crack the code. Using what they found, they easily made a copy of the key.

But there’s more to this than just the hack.

The ethical hackers found the security flaw in 2012. Yet, the news of their efforts was not publicized until August 2015. Why? Because one of the car makers, Volkswagen, sued the hackers (and their sponsoring universities) to censor their findings and restrain them from publishing the data. This was after the hackers had gone to Megamos with their findings and offered to keep the discovery secret for nine months, so that the chip company could find a fix.

VW apparently wanted more: a complete block on publication. After two years of litigation, VW relented (kind of) and settled the case. The settlement still required the hackers to omit from their paper information that would permit even a non-technical person to hack the car. So, was VW trying to keep this hidden for good?  Was it acting to save its money? Was it acting to protect its customers? We can’t know all that without digging into VW corporate files. But we know that the news of the hack, which could have put property and lives at risk, was kept hidden for so long because of VW.

The affected car makers now say they have fixed the old cars, and their new cars are not susceptible to the hack.

For other references, see:

http://blog.caranddriver.com/hackers-crack-key-fob-encryption-used-by-more-than-25-automakers/

https://twitter.com/popmech/status/634994688731295744

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/volkswagen-and-other-keyless-ignitions-easy-to-hack-vw-spent-two-years-suppressing-this-in-court-081415.html

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/08/scientists_bann.html

 


Contact Us

Contact Us