The Harsh Reality of Teen Drivers

When it comes to teen drivers, it’s no secret that they have a bad reputation. All one has to do is type “teen driver” into a Google search and find dozens of articles related to texting while driving, accident statistics among younger drivers, and the list goes on.

Car manufacturers and independent companies alike are creating software to be installed in new vehicle models to help combat the dangers that come with a teen behind the wheel of a car. For example, General Motors recently released their active safety technology called Teen Driver. This software allows parents to view their teen’s driving habits and use the information to continue to coach their new drivers, even when they can’t be in the car.

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What Every Tucson Driver Should Know about Checking their Seatbelts after a Collision

By now, everyone is aware how important the seat belt is towards keeping passengers safe during an accident. If you ever have the misfortune of being in a collision, it may be important to check your seat belts for damage after the repair. There are a few steps to take to ensure that your seat belts are safe and ready for your next drive:

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New Year’s Day is deadliest for alcohol-related crashes, IIHS Reminds Drivers,

As we head into 2017 and New Year’s Eve celebrations are upon us, The IIHS your local law enforcement departments and us here at O’Rielly Collision Centers wish to remind you all that New Year’s day is the deadliest day on the roads for drivers passengers bicyclists and even pedestrians. This is the holiday with the most lethal combination of alcohol and crashes. According to recent analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jan. 1 is the deadliest day on average for alcohol-related crashes involving a motor vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist.

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Top driving hazards for Arizona drivers this Fall

It’s October, and even here in Tucson, we are headed into fall. Whether you are heading home from work or heading out to the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson to peep some of the foliage, what’ do you suppose is the biggest potential hazard for drivers in Arizona this fall?

 Spoiler alert: It walks on four legs.

A major Insurance company publishes a “Seasonal Smarts Digest” every year and in this report, it covers several important statistics for drivers in all areas of the country.

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Road Debris hazzard Tucson AZ

Car crashes from road debris have nearly doubled: New study from AAA

One of the more common reasons that cars come in to be repaired here at O’Rielly Collision Centers in Tucson has to do with cars hitting something in the road.

If you have spent any amount of time behind the wheel then you have encountered some kind of hazard in the road you are driving on. A friend of mine once ran over a mattress that fell off a truck in front of him and nearly totaled his car. Objects fall off of cars, out of trucks and blow into roadways every day. New reports from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety now show that vehicle crashes involving debris are up 40 percent since the foundation first began tracking this data in 2001.

The AAA study on road debris found direct connections of debris to more than 200,000 crashes on U.S. roads between 2011 and 2014, resulting in about 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths.

You might think the crashes involve people not paying attention to what is in the road and hitting the debris directly. However,the data shows that nearly 37 percent of all deaths in road debris-related crashes occur when a driver swerves to avoid hitting an object. This is because drivers lose control of their cars leading to the nearly 40% chance of fatality the study found.

Deadliest time of day

The middle of the day, between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM is when over a third of the crashes occur. Researchers suggest that this window of time is when most people are hauling or moving heavy items such as furniture or construction materials and equipment.

Highways are the most likely place to have a collision with road debris due to traffic speeds, traffic congestion and the high volume of materials being moved on those road systems.

The Causes are Mostly Preventable

The most common cause for these debris related crashes are caused by improper maintenance or improperly secured loads and contribute to two-thirds two thirds of all crashes.

The most common types of vehicle debris are car and truck parts, such as tires, unsecured cargo, like furniture and appliances, and trailers that get loose from the tow vehicle becuase they were not hitched up properly.

So how do you decrease your chances of being involved in a road-debris crash?

 AAA has three recommendations:

  1.  Maintain Your Vehicle. For example, badly worn or underinflated tires can blow out, leaving tire pieces on roadways. Rusted exhaust systems and hardware can cause mufflers and other parts to drag or break loose.
  2. Secure Vehicle Loads- To properly secure a load, drivers should use rope, netting or straps; tie large objects direction to the vehicle, and cover the load with a tarp. Overloading a vehicle can cause problems too.
  3. Defensive Driving- Try to maintain space on at least one side of your vehicle in the event you need to steer around the object; scan at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead; and avoid tailgating.

The penalty to you for causing road debris incidents

Every state has laws that make it illegal for items to fall from a vehicle while into the roadway and carry penalties ranging from $10 – $5,000.  In sixteen states  jail time is possible depending on the level of negligence and the severity of the incident.

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July Fourth, The Deadliest Day On The Road; How Arizona Drivers Can Stay Safe

Next to Thanksgiving, July Fourth weekend is arguably the most traveled weekend in the year for America. It is also the deadliest day on the roads for Americans.


As an auto body repair shop, we are in the business of fixing cars suffering from minor to severe collision damage. But we are also in the business of keeping our customers safe. As such we want to take this moment to not only celebrate the freedom that comes from being an American but also to promote the safety of our customers this July 4th holiday and all the other calendar days.


Allstate Insurance Company, like all insurance companies, are data driven, and will often report their findings when trends emerge. One such report was recently released, data, the 2016 America’s Best Drivers Report, that measured vehicle collision frequency in America’s 200 largest cities to determine which cities have the safest drivers.


The report comes just in time for the July Fourth holiday. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently identified July fourth as the deadliest day of the year on average for drivers.


Allstate published the Best Drivers Report to highlight America’s safest cities as part of their mission to “heighten awareness around increasing roadway collisions that have unfortunate consequences, such as rising fatalities and potentially higher insurance costs.” Said one Allstate spokesman.


Staying safe on the 4th of July


The IIHS lists intoxicated driving as the primary factor in Fourth of July crash fatalities, with 42 percent of all alcohol-related fatalities between 2010 and 2014 involving at least one driver with a blood-alcohol concentration over the legal driving limit of .08.

Preventable human factors, like distracted or drowsy driving; speeding; and failure to use safety features contribute to 94 percent of all car crashes.


Fueled by a healthier economy, National safety experts say drivers are now spending more time on the road than in pre-recession years and are also suffering more fatal collisions than in recent years. The U.S. Department of Transportation says that from March 2015 to February 2016, Americans drove 3.15 trillion miles, an increase of more than 3 percent over the previous 12 months and the largest year-to-year increase in over two decades. According to the National Safety Council, more than 38,000 roadway fatalities occurred last year, the highest count since 2008.



How do American cities measure up?


The Insurance and Autobody industries both cite the average driver will experience a collision once every ten years. Allstate’s new research lists Brownsville Texas as the safest driving city in the USA12th annual America’s Best Drivers Report®. The average driver in Brownsville, Texas experiences an auto collision every 14.6 years, which is 31.4 percent less often than the national average.


Allstate Insurance publishes their list every year as a reminder to drivers who are travelling this holiday. They list the cities and the percentage compared to the national average, and the average years between collisions for drivers in that city.


The following are the top 10 safest driving cities, according to Allstate’s 2016 America’s Best Drivers Report:



City & Overall Ranking

Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

Average Years Between Collisions (National Average: 10)


  1. Brownsville, Texas

31.4% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

14.6 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Kansas City, Kansas

26.3% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

13.6 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Madison, Wisconsin

24.7% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

13.3 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Cape Coral, Florida

22.3% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.9 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Boise, Idaho

22.1% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.8 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Huntsville, Alabama

21.4% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.7 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Port Saint Lucie, Florida

20.1% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.5 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Wichita, Kansas

19.7% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.5 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Olathe, Kansas

19.6% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.4 Average Years Between Collisions


  1. Reno, Nevada

18.3% less likely Collision Likelihood Compared to National Average

12.2 Average Years Between Collisions


Allstate’s America’s Best Drivers Report® defines a collision as any auto crash resulting in a property damage claim. Allstate’s auto policies represent nearly 10 percent of all U.S. auto policies, making this report a realistic snapshot of what’s happening on America’s roadways.


How Arizona Drivers Can Stay Safe

The safest thing is to stay local, even staying home. If you must hit the road-ways, make sure that you are well rested before heading out. Enlist the help of another driver and make sure you stop and rest every two hours. Consider setting a timer on your phone to remind you.

Another way to stay safe when travelling long distance is to leave during times that are less traveled. This could mean leaving in the evening or early in the morning. Time your route to take you through the bigger cities during off-peak hours. Consider taking more back roads than you normally might. Make full use of Apps like Waze and Google maps to help plan a route with less highway travel. We wish you a happy and safe fourth of July.

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Distracted Driver

Teen Drivers At Higher Risk Of Fatality During The 100 Deadliest Days Of Summer

Teen Drivers At Higher Risk Of Fatality During The 100 Deadliest Days Of Summer

At O’Rielly Collision Centers in Tucson AZ, we love to teach car owners how to save money on their auto body repair, how to choose the right repairs for their car and generally how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. One topic that hits home for me is always teen driver information. The reason is as a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to keep your kids safe at all times. Teen drivers as novice drivers are already at a disadvantage when it comes to driver experience. Combine this lack of experience wit mobile distractions and teenagers’ natural daredevil tendencies and you have a recipe for disaster.

As we head into the summer months, crashes for teen drivers increase significantly because teens drive more during this time of year. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety just released a study confirming that nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel. The research also finds a disturbing trend showing that texting and social media use are on the rise amongst teen drivers.

Called the 100 deadliest days, the 100 days of summer are the deadliest on the roads for Teen drivers. An average of 10 people every single day die from injuries sustained from a crash involving a teen driver during the summer months. New research also shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers. By better understanding how teens are distracted on the road, we can better prevent deaths throughout the 100 Deadliest Days as well as the rest of the year.

To gather their data, the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos captured from in-car dash cameras and compared this footage to crash videos captured from 2007 -2012.

Surprisingly, the No. 1 distraction for teens is not related to their cell phone use. The AAA Foundation study found the following to be the top three distractions for teens when behind the wheel in the moments leading up to a crash:

– Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle (15% of crashes).

– Talking, texting or operating a cell phone (12% of crashes).

– Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: (11% of crashes).

Video footage collected by the AAA Foundation between 2007 and 2015 found that an average of 59% of crashes contained some type of potentially distracting behavior during the six seconds leading up to a crash.

This Data from the AAA is in contradiction to the latest government statistics that showed that in 2014, 10% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were reported to have been distracted at the time of the crash. Proportionally, this is more than any other age group. The AAA Foundation believes that the government statistics substantially underestimate the prevalence of driver distraction. Data suggests that the true proportion of crashes that can be attributed to distraction and inattention is likely much higher.

Texting while driving

In the moments leading up to a crash, teens were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone than talking on it.

Cellphones, texting and social media

Over the course of the study one phenomenon that researchers discovered was the way teens use their cellphone when behind the wheel changed significantly during the course of the study. In the moments leading up to a crash, teens were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone than talking on it. This supports findings by the Pew Research Center, which shows text messaging has become a key component in day-to-day interactions amongst teenagers.

No Matter what age you are, texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted according Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Nearly % of teen drivers admitted they had read a text message or e-mail while driving in the past 30 days. NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey also shows that from 2007 to 2014, the percentage of young drivers seen visibly manipulating a hand-held device quadrupled.

Rear End Crashes On The Rise

Statistics from Various Insurance groups show that from 2007 to 2015, there was a significant increase in the proportion of teen driver crashes in this study that were rear-end collisions. Rear-end crashes most often involve a driver who is following too closely and/or responding too slowly due to inattention or distraction.

While it’s possible that teens have started following more closely, it seems more likely that distraction has led to an increase in eyes off road time, slower reaction times and therefore, an increase in the proportion of crashes that are rear-end crashes.

A in-depth examination of rear-end crashes showed there was a significant increase in the proportion of crashes in which the driver was operating/looking at a cellphone, from 15.3% in 2008 to 27.9% in 2014.

Deaths linked to teen drivers

It is not just teenagers who die in the crashes. Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves.

Over the past five years during the summer 100 Deadliest Days:

– An average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers.
– The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16% per day compared to other days of the year.

Educational resources for parents and teens

The website offers a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. A few tips include:

– Don’t ride with teen drivers or transport other teens while a new driver. One of the most dangerous sources of distraction for teen drivers, whether due to horseplay, loud music, rowdy behavior or peer pressure, is teen passengers.

– Minimize various potential distractions, such as eating, drinking, chatting with a passenger, reading a map, personal grooming, reaching for things in the car or looking at people or objects unrelated to the driving task.

– Don’t allow a cell phone to be used in the vehicle by you or your teen.

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three factors takata air bag

Three factors to blame for Takata airbag problem; here is what AZ drivers need to know.

Three factors to blame for Takata airbag problem; here is what AZ drivers need to know.

It took a group of 10 automakers co-investigating the root cause behind exploding airbag inflators made by Takata Corporation before they could conclusively decide that the ammonium nitrate propellant was one of just three factors that turned the faulty air bags deadly.

According to the Independent Testing Coalition, the ammonium nitrate propellant used in about 23.4 million inflators that Takata declared were defective last year was contained in inflator assemblies that allowed the chemical compound to become exposed to moisture in humid conditions. The exposure to humidity and repeated temperature swings over time can cause the ammonium nitrate to combust violently and rupture the inflator when the airbags deploy in a crash, the group concluded.

In fact it was the combination of these three factors — the use of ammonium nitrate, the construction of Takata’s inflator assembly and the exposure to heat and humidity — that made the inflators vulnerable to rupture, said David Kelly of the NHTSA, but he also stated that it takes a perfect storm of all three factors to create a premature eplosion situation

This might not come as a surprise because Takata and U.S. regulators have stated for over a year that long-term exposure to hot, muggy climates was a factor in the ruptures involving ammonium nitrate inflators. However the ITC’s finding marks the first time a definitive root cause has been established.

The group, formed in early 2015, consists of representatives from Takata customers affected by inflator recalls: Toyota, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Subaru. The testing was performed by Orbital ATK, an aerospace and defense contractor with expertise in rocket propulsion systems.

NHTSA received the ITC consortium findings just today and is in the process of reviewing them. The investigation spanned roughly a year and involved testing nearly 2,000 inflators retrieved from recalled vehicles.

Unknown factors still lurk

The ITC investigated the four designs of Takata inflators used in 19 million U.S. vehicles that Takata admitted were defective last May, however the group didn’t test the type of inflators covered by the Takata recall expansions that began last month nor has it tested ammonium nitrate inflators with a desiccant — a chemical drying agent — that Takata has used in later formulations of its propellant.

When asked whether ammonium nitrate is still a safe chemical to use in airbag inflators, the ITC responded by saying that the determination was outside the scope of this phase of the ITC’s investigation, so in other words, they did not test the overall safety of the chemical.

Takata and other manufacturers have until 2019 to prove the safety of ammonium nitrate, otherwise the NHTSA will mandate a ban and recall of all airbags in the US with Ammonium Nitrate as a propellant,

Throughout the testing process, Takata supplied airbags for testing and consulted with the ITC, however they had no influence over the ITC’s findings.

Phase Two of the airbag investigation begins now.

The next step for the ITC investigation is to study the safety of the replacement airbags supplied by Takata and investigate the performance of replacement inflators and the differences between Takata inflators with and without a desiccant.

By now, the inflator recall has impacted over 25 million U.S. vehicles and suppliers straining to produce enough replacement parts, especially since the list of affected vehicles continues to grow.
It is entirely possible that if you have received a replacement airbag for your car or truck, it might need to be replaced later once investigators know more about the overall safety of ammonium nitrate. Adding to that growing list, Takata may face recall of 90 million more air bags.

U.S. auto safety regulators are determining whether 70 million to 90 million more Takata Corp. air-bag inflators should be recalled, potentially expanding the industry’s broadest ever safety crisis.

Meanwhile, Takata is cooperating fully with regulators and its customers, and continues to test inflators, build replacement air-bag kits and raise consumer awareness of recalled vehicles. However, the NHTSA said in November it no longer had confidence in the safety of ammonium nitrate propellant. The most recent expansion of recalls, announced last month and brought on by the 10th death directly related to the defective airbags, bringing the total number of inflators recalled to more than 28 million. But there
could be as many as 50 million Takata air bag inflators in cars that have yet to be called back for repairs. In all, as many as 120 million Takata inflators in U.S. vehicles contain ammonium nitrate

The former managers described “chronic” quality failures at Takata’s North American inflator plants, an assessment reflected in dozens of company emails and documents dating back to 2001. Those problems, the former managers said, make it difficult for the company and regulators to pinpoint which inflators – among tens of millions – pose a danger.

“You have no way of knowing,” said one of the former Takata managers, who has direct knowledge of the company’s history of manufacturing problems.

The former Takata managers, who still work in the industry, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Takata declined to comment when asked about the possibility of massive additional recalls and whether another 70 million to 90 million inflators still in vehicles could endanger drivers. A torrent of new recalls could cost the company billions of dollars and add years to the replacement process.

The company said in a statement that it is “cooperating fully with regulators and our automotive customers and continues to take aggressive action to advance vehicle safety.”

Takata cited its agreement with regulators in November to pay a $70 million penalty to NHTSA in a settlement that included its commitment to stop making inflators that use ammonium nitrate by 2018. It also pledged to declare all remaining ammonium nitrate inflators defective by 2019 unless it can demonstrate they are safe.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration continues to investigate all Takata inflators using ammonium nitrate, but it has not yet found sufficient evidence to direct automakers to recall the remaining inflators, said spokesman Gordon Trowbridge.

“This issue will take years to resolve,” Trowbridge said.


Takata produced between 260 million and 285 million ammonium nitrate-based inflators worldwide between 2000 and 2015, of which nearly half wound up in U.S. vehicles, one of the former Takata managers told Reuters, citing the company’s production records.

Takata supplied those inflators to more than a dozen automakers, according to company documents reviewed by Reuters. Its single largest client was Honda Motor Co (7267.T), which still owns a minority stake in Takata and has recalled more than 8 million defective Takata inflators in the U.S.

Takata produced most of the inflators that regulators are now investigating at its main inflator plant in Monclova, Mexico or at plants in Georgia and Washington state, according to company documents. The documents noted persistent quality failures at those plants, which a former Takata official said contributed to inflator ruptures.

Last month, Takata told NHTSA in a filing that “manufacturing variability” may have contributed to the ruptures.

The manufacturing problems are detailed in dozens of internal Takata emails, spreadsheets and presentations reviewed by Reuters. The records show the problems are more pervasive and continued for a longer period than those previously reported. They extended beyond the Mexican plant to the factories in Georgia and Washington state, and they continued until at least 2014, company records show.

Among the issues: metal shavings inside some inflator parts; improperly welded inflator casings; bad propellant wafers, and bent or damaged parts.

Those problems eventually could allow moisture to contaminate the ammonium nitrate propellant, which in turn could lead to an inflator rupture, one of the former Takata managers told Reuters.

A 2006 internal log of quality issues noted problems with inflators sold to Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T), Ford Motor Co (F.N), BMW AG (BMWG.DE), Honda Motor Co (7267.T), Daimler AG’s (7267.T) Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T). The log listed problems including metal shavings and contamination, broken or missing clips, and deformed or misaligned parts.

In a 2010 memo, a Takata manager expressed concern about “how to control moisture” in some inflators and worried that the company would not be able to assure the safety of the devices.

In an email the same year about pre-production quality testing of inflators built at the Monclova factory, a Takata manager expressed confusion to colleague about the causes of pervasive defects.

“I do not understand why we are failing every lot,” he wrote.

In company documents, Takata engineers referred to the failures – when exploding inflators ruptured into metal fragments – as “ED,” for “energetic disassembly.”


The long-running scandal has overwhelmed the company’s ability to furnish replacement parts as fast as automakers are forced to recall vehicles. A Takata competitor, airbag supplier Autoliv Inc (ALV.N), is also making replacements for recalled Takata inflators and recently told investors it expects to continue making those parts through 2017, one year longer than originally planned. More recalls would add more delays.

Regulators have so far tried to direct replacement inflators to older vehicles that were operated in hot, humid parts of the country, because ammonium nitrate becomes unstable when contaminated by moisture and can cause the inflators to rupture.

NHTSA officials have said the agency prioritizes recalls for the inflators it believes are most dangerous because the company has limited capacity to replace them. Customers often wait months to get the vehicles fixed after a recall notice.

The inflators already recalled are considered among the most dangerous because they do not contain a drying agent, NHTSA officials have said. All nine U.S. deaths linked to Takata airbag failures so far have involved those highest risk airbags, according to NHTSA records.

Takata Chief Executive Shigehisa Takada last year apologized to victims and claimed responsibility for the dangerous defects.

The most recent death report came on Dec. 22, when Joel Knight, 52, drove his 2006 Ford Ranger pickup into a cow on a rural road near his home in Kershaw, South Carolina. He died after shrapnel from a ruptured airbag inflator pierced his neck, the family’s attorney wrote in a filing with NHTSA.

In a regulatory filing, Takata confirmed the inflator ruptured in the crash and that it was made in Monclova in 2005, but the company did not specifically link the failure to Knight’s death.

Shortly after the crash, the company declared 5.4 million more inflators defective.

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Saftey rating changes 2016

New Crash Avoidance And Safety Ratings Changes Coming To Your Next Car

Out where I live, in the last week there have been two massive highway collisions with fatalities. In fact three people died as a result and both accidents occurred on the same 5 mile section of highway and weather was not a factor. In both collisions, driver error was to blame. In one of the collisions, a high speed police chase the suspect driver crossed the median and hit another car head on, people in both vehicles died. Automotive fatalities of any kind are tragic, but with the Holidays nearly upon us, it seems even more upsetting.

The US government wants to change that.

With all the other world news lately, you probably missed a very important announcement by the National Highway transportation safety agency to NHTSA. In fact I really had to dig to find more specifics on the announcement, but here s what I could find. On December 8, 2015, the HTSA announced a whole new round of very high tech changes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings for new vehicles. These changes aim to accomplish two main tasks: giving car buyers improved information to help them choose a safe vehicle, and to encourage manufacturers to produce vehicles with better crash protection and new technology innovations that will save lives.

The planned changes will improve on the safety ratings currently in use by adding an additional crash test, using new and more human-like crash test dummies, rating crash-avoidance advanced technologies, and assessing pedestrian protection.

The NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings, also known as the New Car Assessment Program, come from in depth crash-tests of new vehicles every year and currently rates them on how well they protect occupants in frontal, side and rollover crashes. The resulting data from these tests are then analyzed and compiled into a rating system of 1 to 5 stars, with more stars indicating a safer car. The vehicle safety ratings appear on window stickers of new cars, and searchable ratings are available on NHTSA’s website.

The current ratings program also includes a checklist of recommended advanced technology features such as rear-visibility cameras, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.

But the bigger news about these changes are the emphasis on technology and collision avoidance technologies. Each of these technologies will begin to become federal requirements of new vehicles, just as rear view cameras were added a year ago. All these systems are ultimately pushing auto makes towards a future where autonomous or driverless cars are the norm. But in getting there, the cars we will buy in the future will be increasingly safer and more technologically advanced. More semi-autonomous, in that the car we drive will start to do more crash avoidance maneuvers such as hitting the brakes or keeping us in our lanes, to keep drivers out of trouble.

The planned changes to the 5-Star Safety Ratings system include:

1. A new 5-Star Safety Ratings system, which will, for the first time, encompass assessment of crash-avoidance and advanced technologies as well as pedestrian protection;
2. New tests to assess how well vehicles protect pedestrians from head, leg and pelvic injuries that occur when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle;
3. A new frontal oblique crash test that measures how well vehicles protect occupants in an angled frontal crash;
4. An improved full frontal barrier crash test to drive safety improvements for rear seat occupants;
5. New crash test dummies, including the Test device for Human Occupant Restraint, (THOR) and WorldSID, that will provide vastly improved data on the effects a crash is likely to have on the human body;
6. An assessment of additional crash-avoidance and advanced technologies that offer drivers the most potential for avoiding or mitigating crashes;
7. Use of half-star increments to provide consumers more discriminating information about vehicle safety performance; and
8. The ability to dynamically update the program more swiftly as new safety technologies emerge.

The agency will collect public comments for the next 60 days. NHTSA intends to analyze public comments and issue a final decision notice on the planned changes by the end of 2016. Consumers are expected to begin seeing ratings under the new system by Model Year 2019 vehicles. The NHTSA intends to launch an major consumer education campaign to help vehicle shoppers understand how the new ratings can guide their new-car buying decisions, as well as briefings for industry and safety stakeholders.

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lightning hits a car

What to do if you think your car was struck by lightning.

What to do if you think your car was struck by lightning.

When I was growing up, I always heard that one of the safest places in a lightning storm is the in the safety of your car. The reason, as I was always told, is that the car’s rubber tires act as insulation from the lightening grounding out much like the rubber coating on a wire With no chance to ground, you car will not get hit.

But recently I saw the most incredible video of a car being struck by lightening while traveling through an intersection. If you want you can check it out here. In this video, the lightening strike is so powerful that it actually blows car parts off the car. But this can’t possibly be real I thought, going back to my long held belief that cars are safe from lightening. Turns out, lightening strikes to vehicles are very real, and more common that I once thought.

Are you in danger of being electrocuted in your car?

When lightening strikes a car, most often the electricity carries around the outer metal skin of the car in what is called a Faraday cage as it reaches the ground. Typically it is the Faraday effect that keeps occupants safe inside, however there are instances where someone was touching a metal part of the car such as a door handle even a gear shifter, or was talking on a phone that was plugged into the car.

However, not all cars are created equal.

In order for the Faraday effect to work, it requires a nearly completely metal car, and we all know that more and more cars are being built with materials other than metal. Also convertibles do not have metal roofs, which compromises the Faraday cage affect. In, vehicles that are manufactured out of non-metal parts such as plastic, fiberglass or even carbon fiber, the construction materials impedes electricity’s ability to flow through the car, and the occupants are more likely to be injured inside.

 Other potential lightening strike dangers inside a car

When a car is struck by lightning, some of the current can flow through the vehicle’s electrical systems and metal things attached to the car such as radios, cell phone chargers, GPS units as well as car door handles, foot pedals, the steering column and the steering wheel. These entry points into the car can cause a person to be injured while inside the vehicle.

At what point is it safe to exit the vehicle after it has been hit by lightning?

Chances are your car will not remain running very long. Most times the car continues traveling for a few seconds as all the system shuts down. The effect will be as if the car has stalled. Just like a stalled vehicle, you will have little to no steering and little to no brakes. Try to pull the car to the side of the road for safety. And note that your hazard lights will likely not work. Once the electrical current has passed through the vehicle and entered into the ground, it is technically safe to exit the vehicle. However, it is best to wait until the thunderstorm has passed before getting out of your car.

 What happens to the car when lightning strikes a vehicle?

The answer runs the gamut from nothing to completely totaled. Reported damage to vehicles includes pitting, arcing, and burning on both exterior and interior places. There have been instances where there was a complete meltdown of vehicle the wiring, and associated electrical and electronic systems. Police departments report bad burns to the hands and mouth where officers were using radio microphones when their vehicles were struck. There have also been reported instances where one to all four tires have been blown out by a lightening strike. There are also some instances where parked cars have partially caught fire as a result of lightning strikes.

lighning damage to car

 Insurance coverage of cars that are struck by lightening

In some instances, insurance adjusters might not find physical damage, however lightning can induce indirect effects to a vehicle’s electrical and electronic systems. These low-voltage components may be damaged or destroyed. Most likely though, there will be physical manifestations of the lightening strike. Wheels can show pitting and arcing, paint jobs can show burn marks or peeling with some rust induced by the strike.

lightning pittong

Electronic damage, especially with modern cars, can be expensive to repair. If you carry just a minimum liability policy, the coverage won’t be enough to fix the car in most cases, and collision coverage won’t pay for it either as the vehicle was not involved in a collision.

Comprehensive coverage, if you have it, will cover damage not caused by collision. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, comprehensive coverage will cover all non-collision damage claims including weather-related damage like lightning. Even if there’s no visible damage to your car, you may need to have a diagnostic test performed to determine electrical damage. Your insurer may then have to decide whether the damage could have been caused by anything other than lightning before compensating you.

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