Automated Driving Technology Standards Needed

Posted by Anapol Weiss on May 19, 2016 2:05:43 PM

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With the number of automated driving technologies on the rise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sought input regarding the development of guidelines for the safe deployment and operation of these technologies. The request comes at a critical juncture as millions of cars and trucks manufactured with automatic braking controls, obstacle detection and wheel slip assistance are already on the road.

As a national leader in product liability and crashworthiness issues, Anapol Weiss Shareholder Larry Coben is uniquely equipped to offer insights on the steps the NHTSA should take to ensure the safety of the motoring public.

In a letter to the organization, Coben argues that the NHTSA must issue minimum performance standards for these technologies instead of guidelines. He writes, “Because the issuance of ‘guidelines’ may not have the same imprimatur as ‘standards’, the NHTSA may find its hands tied when a ‘guideline’ is not met.” Coben also issues concern about how an automaker may choose to use proposed guidelines as a shield against possible common law liability in the event that an AV system leads to serious injury or death.

Moreover, Coben addressed specific questions raised by the NHTSA including the evaluation and testing of AV system scenarios, crash avoidance capability and the operation of an AV system with an open safety recall. To read his recommendations to the Agency in their entirety, please click the download button.


Topics: Crashworthiness

Crash Safety: New and Proposed Auto Safety Standards

Posted by Anapol Weiss on Mar 11, 2016 11:30:00 AM

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are once again raising the standards for motor vehicle safety. Among the changes to improve crashworthiness are tougher requirements for achieving the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation, as well as an improved safety rating system proposed by the NHTSA to begin with 2019 model year vehicles.


How has Top Safety Pick+ Changed?

Requirements for both Top Safety Pick and TSP+ “… are good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, as well as a standard or optional front crash prevention system,” according to the IIHS. The winners of TSP+ have a superior- or advanced-rated front crash prevention system with automatic braking capabilities; these models must stop or slow down without driver intervention before hitting a target at designated speeds. Vehicles qualify for Top Safety Pick (but not TSP+) if they have a basic-rated front crash prevention system, which typically doesn’t brake on its own and issues a warning.

It is becoming increasingly challenging for automakers to receive top crash safety ratings. This year’s award for the highest rating requires a “good” rating in the small overlap front crash as well as an available front crash prevention system. As this requirement sets the bar even higher for automakers to receive TSP+, consumers may notice certain popular domestic makes and models did not qualify for TSP+ this go-around.

What is the Proposed Safety Rating System?

The proposed new safety ratings for the NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) will further inform and enable consumers to choose vehicles that will better protect drivers and passengers in automobile accidents, while encouraging car companies to provide better crash protection and more advanced safety technology. The NCAP will use a new five-star safety rating system to assess technology for crash avoidance, vehicle occupant protection, pedestrian protection, and more. The NHTSA’s new system will dynamically update with emerging safety technologies, and it will use half-stars to provide more discriminating safety information. There’s a 60-day period for public comment on the proposed changes, which will be followed by a decision made by the end of 2016.

What Happens when a Vehicle Defect Hurts Someone?

Improved safety assessments only protect consumers to the point of an automaker’s design and manufacture of a vehicle – safety features must work properly every time without failure. Unfortunately, automotive defects continue to occur, and they result in death and catastrophic injury.

Contact our firm for assistance if you suspect your vehicle failed to properly protect you in an auto collision. Our team has a track record of success representing victims hurt by automotive defects.


Topics: Crashworthiness, Crash Safety

Possible Factors Contributing to Seat Belt Failure

Posted by Anapol Weiss on Mar 7, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Seat_Belt_Failure.pngWearing a seat belt is the most effective thing vehicle occupants can do to protect themselves in the event of a collision. Seat belts save thousands of lives every year – in fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that buckling up saved more than 62,000 lives between 2008 and 2012. It’s no wonder seat belt use in the United States reached 88.5 percent in 2015.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of a seat belt in protecting a vehicle occupant substantially decreases when a component is defectively designed. Below are a few possible ways a defective seat belt can fail during a collision and lead to death or serious injuries.

  • Buckle releases from latch
  • False latching
  • Seat belt detaches from anchor
  • Belt webbing material tears
  • Retractor fails, causing excessive slack

Lap belts – those without a shoulder restraint component – are common in older vehicle models and are known to severely injure people in a motor vehicle accident. In addition, automatic front seat belt systems are not always used properly, as the lap belt component requires manual buckling. Without the lap restraint in use, the vehicle occupant can slide under the shoulder belt during a crash and collide with the interior of the vehicle.

It’s often difficult to determine whether a seat belt failed in a collision, especially if the vehicle occupants were killed. This complex investigation process requires the skill and knowledge of an experienced product defect attorney.

Contact Anapol Weiss for assistance if you suspect a seat belt failed in a motor vehicle crash. We can investigate the accident and determine if a seat belt failed to provide adequate protection.


Topics: Crashworthiness, Crash Safety

What is Vehicle Crashworthiness?

Posted by Anapol Weiss on Jan 29, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Crashworthiness refers to the level of vehicle occupant protection intended to reduce the risk of death and serious injury in the event of an automobile accident.

Crashworthy.jpgTo continually enhance driver and passenger safety, research programs develop and upgrade test procedures for vehicle design, safety countermeasures and equipment. Below are a few important aspects of vehicle safety that are involved in crashworthiness development and research.

Front and Rear Seat Safety

Recent developments in front restraints and vehicle crashworthiness have greatly increased driver and front passenger protection. However, rear-seat passengers have not received the same benefits, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Administration is currently investigating technologies to improve safety for those in the back seat when a crash occurs.

Preventing Rollovers

The NHTSA has found that vehicle rollovers have a higher fatality rate than other types of crashes. While all vehicles can roll, SUVs, pickups, and vans – which are taller and narrower – are more susceptible to a rollover. Car manufacturers can reduce rollover risk by making important design changes to lower a vehicle’s center of gravity.

Child Safety

Data have shown that vehicle crashes are the primary cause of death for children aged four and older. As a result, child vehicle safety has been a huge concern for many years. Research continues to develop and improve the protection of child occupants, particularly through child restraint systems.

Seatbelts and Airbags

When a vehicle is involved in a crash, airbags and seatbelts play a major role in protecting drivers and passengers against serious injury. Many newer cars come equipped with airbags for front-seat and rear-seat occupants as well as airbags for side protection. Seatbelts have also been greatly improved in order to better restrain vehicle occupants during a collision.

Design Defects that Lead to Death and Injury

Breakthroughs in crashworthiness research only go as far as a vehicle’s design and manufacture – safety features must work properly and consistently in order to protect drivers and passengers. A design or manufacturing defect can result in occupant deaths and catastrophic injuries.

Contact our firm for assistance if you suspect your vehicle failed to protect you in an auto accident. Our team has decades of experience and success obtaining justice for victims injured as a result of automotive defects.

Topics: Crashworthiness, Crash Safety

Safety Factors to Consider when Shopping for a New Vehicle

Posted by Anapol Weiss on Dec 16, 2015 3:30:00 PM

When shopping for a new vehicle, bearing in mind safety performance is important for individuals and families alike. Below are a few factors to consider when selecting a new vehicle.

Weight Matters

buying_a_new_vehicle.jpgTypically, a heavier vehicle will provide more protection. The most important safety features are those that reduce forces imposed on the body in the event of a collision. These components can be the structure of the vehicle itself – if it is designed to resist intrusion into driver and passenger areas in all modes of impact, including frontal, side, rear and rollover.

Not All Restraints are Created Equal

Also important are the vehicle's restraints, which include:

  • Seat belts
  • Airbags
  • Seats
  • Headrests
  • Doors

These features should be designed to keep the occupant close to the seat in a crash. Not all seat belts are created equal. Some belt systems are integrated into the seats, while others are anchored to the vehicle's floor. How closely the belt is to the occupant has an effect on how quickly and safely it restrains the occupant in certain crashes. Some belt systems contain retractors which simply lock in place when an accident occurs.

Crash Test Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates vehicles each year based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests in addition to evaluations of seat and head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

To qualify for a 2016 Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn good ratings in five tests: small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints – in addition to a basic rating for front crash prevention. Checking out the IIHS Top Safety Picks can give a buyer good insights into which vehicles have the best design with safety in mind.

When Design Defects Cause Death or Injury

Contact Anapol Weiss for assistance if you suspect a safety feature in your vehicle failed during a collision. Our experienced lawyers can investigate the situation and get the answers you need.

Topics: Crashworthiness, Crash Safety

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