Friday, February 24th, 2012
In 2004, Cally Houck faced the unthinkable when her two daughters–Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20–were both killed in a car accident involving a rental car that was under recall. Now, this mother has rallied more than 135,000 consumers to call on the rental car industry to improve its safety standards, and the federal government to regulate those standards.
Houck is gathering support with an online petition on Change.org that calls out Enterprise Rent-a-Car (the company her daughters rented a PT Cruiser from in 2004) for opposing a law that would prohibit companies from renting cars that are under recall.
“The PT Cruiser they were driving had been recalled a month before for a defective steering component that was prone to catching fire. Enterprise rented it to three other customers before renting it to my daughters, without bothering to fix it first. It was a ticking time bomb,” Houck says in her petition.
Meanwhile Hertz, an Enterprise competitor, announced this week it had reached an agreement with Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety to call on Congress to allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to regulate its safety standards. From USA Today:
The agreement adds momentum to an amendment with the same provisions backed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The senators hope to include the amendment in a massive surface transportation bill that the Senate expects to address after it reconvenes Feb. 27.
According to data provided by rental companies to USA TODAY, hundreds of thousands of the 1.6 million vehicles in their U.S. fleets are recalled annually for safety problems. Hertz and Enterprise had nearly 184,000 vehicles under recall last year. In 2010, when Toyota announced a massive recall of vehicles with accelerators that could stick, Hertz and Enterprise had 350,000 vehicles — about 22% of the industry’s entire fleet — under recall.
Toyota’s recall prompted auto-rental companies to develop strict practices to address recalls, says the American Car Rental Association trade group, which represents 105 rental companies.
Image: Car key, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has unveiled a new crash test dummy meant to test child booster seats and restraints for children weighing more than 65 pounds. The move comes in advance of the 2014 implementation of new car safety guidelines, and with the introduction of a number of new booster seats and other safety devices aimed at children from ages 8-12.
“It’s good news that manufacturers are making more car seats and boosters than ever before designed to keep older and heavier children safer on our roadways,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
“As the marketplace evolves to accommodate changing consumer needs, it’s important that safety regulators also have the best tools possible for evaluating how well these products work. The new test dummy breaks new ground for the department’s crash test program and is a significant step forward for evaluating child seat performance.”
The test dummy, known in government speak as the “Hybrid III 10-year-old child test dummy (HIII-10C),” weighs 35 kilograms (78 pounds) and will be used to check child seats and safety restraint systems, for children weighing between 66 and 80 pounds, in crash tests.
The government began requiring tests of child seats in 1979 with a 6-month-old child and a 3-year-old child, and has expanded the number and sizes of crash test dummies as new state-of-the-art models have become available, NHTSA said. But previous child dummies were limited to dummies representing 6-year-olds.
Image: Tween girl about to get into a car, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
A vast majority of parents follow the recommended rules about safety seats, including booster seats for children who have outgrown car seats, but in carpool situations, many provide rides to kids without providing them with booster seats, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found.
The research, conducted by the University of Michigan, found more than 30% of parents do not enforce the rule of booster seats when their kids are with another driver. Investigators also found 45% of parents do not require their little ones to use a booster when they’re driving other children who don’t have booster seats.
“The majority of parents reported that their children between the ages of four and eight use a safety seat when riding in the family car,” says Dr. Michelle Macy, a clinical lecturer of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and a pediatrician at U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “However, it’s alarming to know that close to 70% of parents carpool, and when they do, they’re often failing to use life-saving booster seats.”
Researchers believe car overcrowding and lack of time to coordinate booster seat switch offs are to blame for the lack of safety for kids in carpooling situations. Some parents seem to look the other way. But it’s against the law, and many don’t understand that.
Image: Girl in a booster seat, via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment
Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
The Journal of the American Medical Association has released new data suggesting that some restrictions on teenage drivers–including limiting night driving–lowers the rate of fatal car crashes, but other restrictions, such as requiring teens to “graduate” from an interim license to a full one, can actually increase the fatal crash rate.
From a Health.com article published on CNN.com:
Between 1986 and 2007, the rate of fatal accidents involving 16-year-old drivers was 26% lower in states that prohibited teens from driving at night and carrying certain passengers, compared to states with neither restriction.
Among 18-year-olds, however, strong graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs were associated with a 12% increase in the fatal crash rate, which effectively cancelled out the benefits among younger drivers. When teen drivers of all ages were pooled together, the link between these programs and the rate of fatal crashes was statistically negligible.
[The study's lead author, Scott V.] Masten and his colleagues can’t explain the increase in traffic deaths among 18-year-olds, but they suggest that it may be a form of “payback” for the restrictions on younger drivers. By limiting teen driving, they explain, graduated-license laws may deprive younger teens of valuable driving experience, and in some cases may lead teens to delay getting a license altogether.
“They’re saying, ‘Forget it. I’ll wait till I’m 18,’” Masten says. “We have, at least in California, more novice 18- and 19-year-olds with no driving experience.”
All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have some form of graduated drivers’ licensing program.
(image via: http://www.garagefly.com/)
Add a Comment