December 2011 Archives

December 16, 2011

Automobile Related Fatalities Decreased in Maryland in 2010

774604_car_accident_1.jpgThe number of automobile accident related fatalities decreased by about 10 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, there were 549 automobile accident related fatalities and in 2010 there were only 493. The reason there was a decrease is because there are better air bags and anti-rollover technology in newer vehicles, drivers are using their seatbelts properly and more often and there has been an improvement in safe-driving campaigns in the state of Maryland, according to the AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Another factor for the decrease is that Maryland police officers and other law enforcement officers have been cracking down more on drunk drivers. Repeat offenders have had to install start up kits/breathalyzer machines in their vehicles that do not allow the vehicle to start/turn on if there is alcohol in their system.

Also, speed limits are followed more by drivers because of red light and speed cameras all over the state of Maryland. Therefore, drivers are respecting the speed limit in certain areas more. Another factor is that in the state of Maryland it is prohibited to use a handheld device while driving. Be it for talking on the phone, texting, viewing messages or communicating through media outlets while driving.

When you consider all these factors, one can better understand how there has been a 10 percent decrease in automobile accident related fatalities in Maryland. One can only hope that there has been a bigger decrease in 2011.

December 6, 2011

NHTSA Investigates Batteries of Chevrolet Volts

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After crash tests results show that batteries are catching fire on the Chevrolet Volts, the NHTSA will get involved and further investigate this safety problem. The fire risk of the Chevrolet Volts will be investigated by the NHTSA in the coming weeks. In the meantime, General Motors Company, has offered all Chevrolet Volt owners rental vehicles until the NHTSA's investigation is complete. If you own a Chevrolet Volt, you should contact your dealer immediately.

The investigation needs to determine whether the lithium-ion batteries have a higher risk of catching fire in certain types of automobile crashes. A recall could be issued if it is determined that this is so.

So far crash test results show that when the Volts have a side impact, that causes damage to the battery compartment and coolant line, can lead to a fire. The problem is that in some of the cases in the tests conducted showed that the fire might not ignite right away and could take a few days before actually catching on fire.

The crash test in questions was conducted by the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Three separate tests caused the batteries to either heat up or burst into flames. The first test was done in May and it was a side impact test to show how well the vehicle protects passengers. Three weeks after the test was conducted the vehicle's battery caught fire.

In November three more tests were done. One resulted in no fire or increase in battery temperature, but the other two tests resulted in batteries smoking, sparking and catching fire.

General Motors, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the NHTSA are all working together to continue testing the Chevrolet Volt's lithium-ion batteries and to determine what is causing these batteries to ignite.

While these investigations are being conducted Chevrolet Volt owners should be cautious and if you feel unsafe, contact your dealership directly and request a rental vehicle. If you are involved in a collision and the battery catches on fire, make sure and exit the vehicle quickly and safely and make sure and advise the fire department or any rescue crew that responds to the collision about the battery issue and electrical issue of your vehicle, so they can better respond to the situation, if possible disconnect the battery.