Print 33 comment(s) - last by MrBlastman.. on Jun 2 at 9:47 AM

Proposed fire standards are not likely to make it to final law

Toyota has had record recalls on its vehicles for safety concerns that stemmed from unintended acceleration. The recalls were some of the largest automotive recalls in history, cost the company huge amounts of money, and considerably tarnished its image.

As a result of the recalls and the difficulty that investigators had determining what was causing the sticking accelerator pedals in Toyota vehicles, new safety features are currently being written that will apply to all vehicles starting in the 2015 model year. More safety in vehicles is something that many drivers will appreciate, but the cost of one of the biggest features -- the black box -- may add significantly to the price of a new car.

Automotive News reports that the safety bill could triple the cost of the data recording black boxes used in vehicles today. Some estimates predict that if all the requirements that the NHTSA are proposing make it to be written into law, the cost of the black boxes could swell to $4,000 to $5,000 per unit. That cost would be passed on to the consumer, directly adding to the cost of new vehicles. The massive cost increase feared by automakers and consumer associations is mainly attributed to the proposed regulations that would make the data recorders in automobiles more like those in aircraft with standards for water resistance, fire resistance, and the amount of data the device can record.

Neil De Koker, CEO of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association is, "Any time you add complexity to the vehicle, you're adding a level of cost that will remove a certain number of people that are able to buy a new vehicle."  He added, "For the person that has that technology to make the event recorders, it's a great business opportunity."

Data recorders are already in about half the vehicles on the road according to estimates. The data recorders currently in vehicles are connected to the airbag circuit and can record about five seconds of data before a crash and a second after. Regulators are expected to extend that recording time before and after a crash, adding to the cost of the recorders.

Another issue that will add cost is that many vehicles on the road automatically disconnect the battery in an accident, which would mean that the data recorders would need their own power source to continue to record data.

Andy Whydell from TRW automotive Holdings Corp said, "Within the current airbag control unit design, with some limited modifications, current units could be adapted to meet water resistance and mechanical crash requirements." 

The fire resistance standards would likely be the most costly of the new proposed requirements. The box would have to gain bulk and would require a redesign in where the box is mounted in the car. Whydell said that a fire resistant recorder would probably be about the size of a shoebox.

The fire resistance proposals are the least likely to make it to the final law says Whydell. “The likelihood of really needing this extreme fireproof requirement is one that may not make financial sense for NHTSA,” Whydell said. He expects that in the end the data records in vehicles today will only gain modest updates to record more data and to record that data in a standardized format.

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RE: My plan is better:
By Anubis on 6/1/2010 11:07:35 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, Ive thought this for years. Honestly we need to make it as hard/expensive to get a DL here as it in in Germany.

RE: My plan is better:
By MrBlastman on 6/1/2010 11:18:39 AM , Rating: 2
A good start would be requiring drivers to pass their tests using a manual transmission. It is amazing how many people out there don't know how to drive manual transmission and those I know that _do_ know how to are typically better drivers.

Overwhelm the applicant during their test with as much stimuli possible to make them break down and fail. Manual transmissions require something important--called concentration (unless you drive like a tool and don't downshift). Force the applicants to not only participate in the test but also do complex things such as double clutching and heel-toeing.

Now, how practical is it nowadays to know manual transmissions? Not so much with all the automatics on the road. The point is, make the tests hard, difficult and seemingly insurmountable by giving them the information overload that is neccessary for them to prove they are ready to be responsible enough to be behind the wheel.

The military uses this concept with fighter pilots. They don't learn how to fly an F-22 in an F-16/15/or F-22, no, they first learn how to fly in crappy prop-driven aircraft, "trainers" before graduating to smaller jet driven trainers and gradually move up. They might not need to know how to dump flaps and control takeoffs and landings completely with the throttle, nor control descent and ascent rates to prevent airframe damage, but, they learn it anyways because it makes them a better, more cognicent and proficient pilot.

The same concept should apply in automobiles. Manual transmissions is one example of how we do it.

RE: My plan is better:
By kattanna on 6/1/2010 11:35:22 AM , Rating: 5
the issue isnt if the car is a manual or automatic transmission

its people who feel they dont need to be paying attention to the road and area around them while driving

how do you plan on changing that?

RE: My plan is better:
By Iaiken on 6/1/2010 12:31:33 PM , Rating: 3
How do you plan on changing that?

I don't know, he does have a somewhat valid point in that one of the reasons people don't pay attention is that they just don't have to.

However, I don't really blame the point'n'squirt automagics, I blame people having a fundamental lack of appreciation for what they are actually doing. Piloting a ton of metal, plastic, glass and rubber down a straight road is so "easy" that people don't even think about it. However, the amount of energy and the physics that are involved are simply astounding.

The other day here, a distracted driver on the 410 resulted in a motorcycle sticking out of the front of an SUV and a vehicular manslaughter charge. They were both going the same direction and the driver of the SUV simply wasn't keeping a safe following when the bike had to make an emergency stop to avoid a driver with a flat who was in a hurry to get over to the right while losing speed and tossing chunks of rubber.

It was Clear day on a straight road in mild traffic and yet that young man is dead because the driver of the SUV was distracted and was not being prudent about being in control of his vehicle and aware of the situation around of him. Had he been paying attention and following a safe distance at a prudent speed and reacted to the situation before the car that was trying to reach the shoulder had even entered his lane, let alone before it became a collision avoidance situation. Even in that event he could have (and should have) chosen to swerve to avoid the biker and hit the car on the shoulder instead.

Driving a car requires you to be constantly evaluating the situation around you and knowing your space so that you can make good choices when an emergency arises.

Unfortunately, most people feel that they are so entitled to drive that they are absolved of their responsibilities to the other people that they share the road with.

RE: My plan is better:
By GreenEnvt on 6/1/2010 11:43:07 AM , Rating: 4
This concept is done in many countries for motorcycles. Outside North America, you often have to start on a sub 200cc bike and ride that for a year or two before you can move up.

Here in NA, you can take a written test at 9am, pickup your Kawasaki ZX-10R (1000cc superbike capable of 100mph in first gear, can go 0-60 and stop faster then a corvette gets to 60) at 10am, and be dead by 10:15am.

I tried to be somewhat sensible when I started riding. I got a 16 year old beat up bike, learned how to ride it for a few months, then got a 600cc supersport.

RE: My plan is better:
By EasyC on 6/1/2010 12:10:37 PM , Rating: 4
They call that natural selection.

RE: My plan is better:
By YashBudini on 6/1/2010 8:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
Ever see a drunk kill a family and simply stagger away?

RE: My plan is better:
By Murloc on 6/1/2010 12:17:39 PM , Rating: 3
the problem is that someone has a car with automatic transmission he won't really learn to use the manual.
Anyway not having to concentrate too much on the shift is a good thing, you concentrate more on the road (this only if you're not good at it).
Problem is that people wastes the new concentration bonus on SMS and that sort of stuff.

RE: My plan is better:
By mcnabney on 6/1/2010 12:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
Who even thinks about changing gears when driving a standard?

I have never even owned a car with an automatic transmission and have been driving for 22 years. Being able to row your own gears doesn't necessarily make you a better driver. It either means that you are cheap or that you enjoy driving and being involved with the engine. It is both in my case. I have owned five cars in my life and never spent a penny on repairing any part of a transmission. Manuals just work. Yes, I heel-toe, downshift as needed, and frequently coast out of gear. Never saw much need in doubleclutching on cars that I have owned.

/next car, Ford Fiesta
//Loaded, but with the manual
///drives dealers nuts because they never stock standards

RE: My plan is better:
By funkyd99 on 6/1/2010 2:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
The military uses this concept with fighter pilots. They don't learn how to fly an F-22 in an F-16/15/or F-22, no, they first learn how to fly in crappy prop-driven aircraft...

A "crappy" little Cessna is a lot easier to fly than an F-22. Your logic is a bit reversed... it makes more sense to start someone out on the easiest (and slowest) to drive cars, so they can focus all of their attention on paying attention to the road.

It would be easier to overwhelm applicants on an obstacle course or in a driving simulator. The driver's ed program offered through my high school required completion of a defensive driving course. This should be required for a license (or perhaps to get good rates on auto insurance).

In flight training, you train for stalls and engine failure. There's no emergency training required to get a drivers license, even though the odds of an emergency are much much higher. The books teach to turn the wheel the opposite direction when skidding sideways, but you have no idea how you will react to that situation unless you're faced with it in the real world.

RE: My plan is better:
By MrBlastman on 6/2/2010 8:18:38 AM , Rating: 2
The people that voted me down are pissed because they don't either know how to drive a manual transmission or they suck so bad at driving they know they wouldn't be able to pass the test if somehow it was made "challenging."

RE: My plan is better:
By inperfectdarkness on 6/2/2010 8:43:19 AM , Rating: 2
...or because it's irrevelant to the discussion at hand.

driving a standard doesn't make you "a god among men". anyone can drive distracted. it's not like you're going to be shifting a manual when you're chugging along in top gear on the highway; which creates an opportunity for complacency just the same.

no, the issue here isn't one of learning to drive stick. the issue is clearly one involving a lack of driver attention, care, and responsibility.

if you REALLY wanted to "regulate" something, how about allowing all new drivers to drive vehicles only weighing less than 2500 lbs? only experienced, proven drivers get to drive 5000+ vehicles. pure physics tells us that the 5000lbs suv is far, far deadlier from a sheer "force" perspective. it's the same reason why hitting something with a forklift at 5-10 mph is as forceful as hitting the same object with a car at 30 mph.

granted, that's a rather extreme idea (and borderline retarded) but it still makes more sense than blindly decreeing everyone should have to drive stick to pass a license test.

RE: My plan is better:
By MrBlastman on 6/2/2010 9:47:36 AM , Rating: 2
Annnnnnnnnd you fell for the bait. You obviously didn't read my original post at all and failed to comprehend the point I was trying to get across here.

My point was that driving manual transmission is ONE of many examples of what we could do to make the driving test harder. If you re-read what I posted, you will see that I mentioned it isn't a perfect example, but exemplifies what I'd like to see happen--to make the test much harder and stress the participants to the breaking point thus encouraging them to make mistakes.

Mistakes in the driving test leads to failure. If you overload them with enough stimuli, only those who are truly prepared for the challenges of the road will eventually pass, those who aren't, won't. A side effect of this process will be a reduction in those on the road due to the increased failure rate.

Manual Transmissions are one of several ways this can be done, not the only, nor is it perfect due to very few cars being driven with it these days. You must agree though, knowing how to drive it (properly) will make you a better and more versatile driver due to the lessons you will learn in throttle control and less reliance on the brake pedal. It doesn't make you best you can be, but, it does make you "more skilled" at driving.

As for limiting car size--this is America, not a gestapo or communist regime. Forcing people to drive small cars is un-American. If you pass the test, you qualify to drive. Just make the test a lot harder instead. :)

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