Monday, December 25, 2017

Study: 298 lives could have been saved with speed control technology

Study: 298 lives could have been saved with speed control technology

By Michael Balsamo and Michael Sisak | Associated Press
Nearly 300 people have died in train crashes that could have been prevented if railroads across the U.S. implemented critical speed-control technology that federal safety investigators have been pushing for close to five decades, according to rail crash data obtained by The Associated Press.
But despite overwhelming evidence it could save lives, Congress extended the deadlines for railroads to implement positive train control for years.
All the while, new high-speed train routes continue to spring into operation without the technology, including the new route involved in Monday’s Amtrak crash south of Seattle that killed three people and one in Florida that’s expected to start service in the coming weeks.
Data the NTSB provided to AP on Wednesday shows the crashes the NTSB says could’ve been prevented by positive train control have caused 298 deaths, 6,763 injuries and nearly $385 million in property damage. The records list crashes though May 2015 — when an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people — and do not include Monday’s wreck outside of Seattle, which experts say likely could have been prevented by the technology.
The board first recommending using “automatic train control” after two Penn Central commuter trains collided in Darien, Connecticut on Aug, 20, 1969, killing four and injuring 43.
The GPS-based technology is designed to automatically slow or stop trains that are going too fast and can take over control of a train when an engineer is distracted or incapacitated.
“We have recommended PTC for decades,” Bella Dinh-Zarr, a member of the NTSB, said Tuesday. “Unfortunately the deadline was moved farther into the future, and every year that we wait to implement PTC to its fullest extent means that more people will be killed and injured.”
A 2008 Metrolink crash in California that killed 25 people pushed PTC to become a hot-button issue on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers mandated railroad companies install the GPS-based PTC technology by 2015, but rail agencies said they didn’t have enough time to install the expensive, complicated system.
Despite rebukes from the federal agency that regulates train travel, congress extended the deadline until the end of 2018 and now, in some circumstances, railroads can apply for an extension until 2020.
Positive train control was installed on 24 percent of the nation’s passenger route miles and 45 percent of freight route miles as of September 30, the date of the Federal Railroad Administration’s most recent quarterly update to its online tracker for the technology.
“Railroads need to stop the foot-dragging and implement Positive Train Control without delay – inaction puts lives at risk,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Thursday on Twitter.
Still, railroads are opening new lines without positive train control.
When Amtrak officially launched its new, faster route near Seattle without the technology on Monday, it came at a deadly cost. Experts say it is likely the technology would’ve prevented the derailment that killed three people when the train — speeding at 50 mph over the limit — went off the rails, sending several cars flying off a bridge onto the highway below. Work to install positive train control isn’t expected to be completed until next spring on the newly opened 15-mile span where the train derailed, according to Sound Transit, the public agency that owns the tracks.
“Should they have just waited to inaugurate service? In hindsight, maybe yes,” said David B. Clarke, who runs the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Clearly, if PTC was active, this would not have happened.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Amtrak had committed to trying to ensuring the technology will be in place statewide before the Dec. 31, 2018 deadline. Amtrak also offered to pay all costs associated with deadly train derailment, as well as medical and other expenses of the victims, Inslee, a Democrat, said.
Positive train control is activated on the tracks Amtrak owns along the Northeast Corridor, from Boston to Washington, D.C., and on Amtrak’s Michigan line. Many of its locomotives are equipped for positive train control. Throughout the rest of the country, Amtrak operates on track owned by freight carriers and other entities that have made varying progress on installing the technology.
In Florida, a higher-speed passenger rail service known as Brightline is expected to launch in the next few weeks. But positive train control will not be operational when the trains roll out on those lines, drawing the ire of some local officials and community groups.
Ali Soule, a spokeswoman for Brightline, said in a statement that the trains have automatic train control, which can sound an alert in the train’s cab to alert the engineer if the train is going too fast and full positive train control is expected to be implemented by the federal deadline at the end of 2018.

My Gas Pedal Got Stuck Today..

My Gas Pedal Got Stuck Today...

I was merging on the freeway today and pressed hard on the pedal to pass a semi-truck with one of those "not responsible for broken windshields" signs.

Suddenly I felt the truck accelerating by itself with my foot off the pedal. It was accelerating like I was flooring it. Extremely hard acceleration!

Traffic was a little heavy so I was concerned I could rear-end someone. I got confused for 1 second trying to engage neutral. I know my shifter is not on the steering column, but somehow I thought it was for a second or two. I haven't driven a car with a shifter in the column for at least 20 years!

Finally I put the truck in neutral and the engine kept revving until it hit the red area on the tach and the limiter kicked in. I then engaged drive again and everything appeared to be normal and drove home. Scary stuff!

The truck is a 2006 access cab with the 2.7 four cylinder and 4 speed automatic that I purchased new. It has 146K miles now.

It has been a reliable truck with predictable acceleration.

I took it to the dealer and they suggested mat interference. I never did that recall. And yes I'm using an aftermarket all weather mat.

However, if the mat was the culprit then once I engaged drive again the engine should have kept accelerating. So I am thinking this could be a problem with the accelerator itself or the software.

I briefly looked at the pedal area when it was accelerating and the mat was placed correctly. This is a heavy mat that doesn't easily move...

I'm taking the truck in next week to do this and a couple of other recalls.

Vehicle Speed Control Problem on the 2006 TOYOTA TACOMA

File a Vehicle Safety Complaint

2006 Toyota Tacoma Vehicle Speed Control Service Bulletin 336678
Action Number: 10045140
Service Bulletin Number: 336678 Report Date: Jun 13, 2012
Component: Vehicle Speed Control
Summary: Toyota: accelerator pedal sensor assembly information regarding the inspection,
removal, and installation, if lubrication or oil, is applied. *pe

2006 Toyota Tacoma Recalls

2006 Toyota Tacoma Vehicle Speed Control Recall 09V388000
Action Number: N/A
Service Bulletin Number: 09V388000
Report Date: Oct 05, 2009 Component: Vehicle Speed Control
Potential Units Affected: 4445056
Manufacturer: Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
Summary: Toyota is recalling certain model year 2004-2010 passenger vehicles. The accelerator pedal can get stuck in the wide open position due to
its being trapped by an unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat.
Consequence: A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a
crash, serious injury or death.
Remedy: Toyota filed an amended defect report on november 25, 2009, stating that dealers will modify the accelerator pedal and, on certain vehicles,
alter the shape of the floor surface under the pedal. These changes address the risk of pedal entrapment due to interference with the floor mat.
Redesigned accelerator pedals will become available beginning in april 2010 and dealers will replace any modified pedal with the new pedal if
desired. Also, dealers will replace any genuine toyota or lexus all-weather floor mats with redesigned all-weather mats, or repurchase the previous
mats from owners who do not want the new ones. Additionally, software modifications will be installed on camry, avalon and lexus es 350, is 350 and
is 250 models that will ensure that the brake overrides the accelerator in the event both brake and accelerator pedals are applied. Toyota will begin
mailing letters to owners on december 31, 2009. Owners may contact toyota at 1-800-331-4331, lexus at 1-800-255-3987.
Notes: Toyota recall no. 90l/90lg. Owners may also contact the national highway traffic safety administration's vehicle safety hotline at 1-888-327-
4236 (tty 1-800-424-9153), or go to <a href=http://www. Safercar. Gov>http://www. Safercar. Gov</a>

BMW of North America, LLC

Robert – 12-09-2017
Just wanted to let you know that my daughter was almost killed on December
6, 2017 at 4:30pm due to her 2006 BMW 325i catching fire. She was driving to
work and the engine busted into flames. She was lucky to pull over do to the
car shutting off. Smart thinking on her part to roll down the window because
the door locks failed to allow her to open the door and get out. The problem is
we received no recall notice and had the bmw worked on at two different bmw
dealers. How could someone at bmw not know about these issues. I have
owned several BMWs but no more. The value of these cars are horrible now. I
guess with insurance I will take a 10,000 dollar loss and have a daughter with
no vehicle. I thank God she got out, but would like to hear from BMW

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas? VW fires 'dieselgate' executive in his US jail cell

The US government put a VW Exec in prison for the emission scandal, yet the FORECLOSURE KING, Steven Mnuchin who put Americans on the street gets appointed TREASURY SECRETARY? 

Hold on to your wallets! 

VW fires 'dieselgate' executive in his US jail cell

VW fires 'dieselgate' executive in his US jail cell

Photo: DPA

Volkswagen has sacked an executive who was jailed for his role in the German automaker's "dieselgate" scandal - by sending a letter of dismissal to his US prison cell.
German newspaper Bild am Sonntag said it learned from sources close to the firm that Oliver Schmidt, who was this month sentenced to seven years in jail, was summarily dismissed in a letter sent to his prison in Milan, Michigan.
"His employer is leaving him in the lurch," the daily wrote, accusing Volkswagen of turning Schmidt into a "global scapegoat" for the emissions cheating scam.
The 48-year-old, who led Volkswagen's US regulatory compliance office from 2012 to March 2015, was arrested while on holiday in Miami in January.
In August, he pleaded guilty to charges he had conspired to commit fraud and violate the US Clean Air Act.
He was also ordered to pay a $400,000 fine.
Seven other current and former VW executives have been charged by US prosecutors, while several investigations into the cheating are ongoing in Germany.
VW admitted in 2015 to equipping about 11 million cars worldwide with defeat devices, including about 600,000 vehicles in the United States.
The scam allowed the cars to dupe emissions tests while emitting up to 40 times the permissible levels of harmful nitrogen oxide during actual driving.
The scandal has so far cost the auto giant over € 25 billion in fines, settlements and remediation.
In arguing for the seven-year sentence, prosecutors said Schmidt had participated in "one of the largest corporate fraud schemes in American history" and led efforts to cover up the company's misconduct in the summer of 2015.
But Bild said Schmidt was far from alone in knowing about the scheme, and accused Volkswagen of trying to pin the blame "on a single engineer".
"Dozens, if not hundreds of employees were aware of the emissions fraud," it wrote.


Trump Picks Foreclosure King Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary

Five years ago, foreclosed homeowners protested on the lawn of Steve Mnuchin’s Bel-Air mansion for his company’s ‘repulsive’ practices. Now he’ll be Trump’s secretary of the Treasury.


After an effort to purge lobbyists from his quickly arranged transition team, President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on a “drain the swamp” message, is set to promote another swamp-dweller to a high-ranking position in his administration.
Trump is set to announce that Steven Mnuchin will be his Treasury secretary, per a recommendation from his own transition team, the Associated Press reports.
Mnuchin served as Trump’s national finance chairman during the campaign after a long history in private investment banking and on Wall Street. Like Trump himself, Mnuchin was a donor to Hillary Clinton in prior campaigns. According to filings from the Federal Election Commission, he has contributed more than $8,000 to Clinton since 2000.
Prior to joining the team, Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years and OneWest Bank, which got into hot water for a series of attempted home foreclosures after the 2008 housing bubble burst. He also founded RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a movie-production company that bankrolled Avatar, as well as other films. After OneWest was sold to CIT Group in 2015, Mnuchin went on to serve on its board and became the chairman and chief executive of the private investment firm Dune Capital Management.
During his tenure at OneWest, the bank was responsible for attempting to remove families from their homes against the families’ wills.
A New York judge erased $525,000 in mortgage debt owed by a Long Island couple to OneWest Bank in 2009 because the institution was harassing them. Suffolk County Judge Jeffrey Spinner blasted the bank’s “harsh, repugnant and repulsive” acts as they attempted to toss the family out on the street around Thanksgiving.

Spinner wrote that the bank refused to work out a deal with the couple to help make mortgage payments they owed and called the bank’s conduct “inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious, and opprobrious,” according to a report by the New York Post.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Honda says ruptured Takata airbag led to death in Louisiana not original

Honda says ruptured Takata airbag led to death in Louisiana

Inflator in the Civic was not the original one installed

December 19, 2017 @ 7:22 pm

Honda Motor Co.'s North American unit and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday that a ruptured airbag inflator of Takata Corp. used in a Honda Civic caused the death of the driver on July 10.
The 2004 model car involved in the crash in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was under recall but had not received the repair, the company said, adding that the ruptured inflator in the vehicle was not the original one installed.
Takata airbag inflators have been linked to at least 18 deaths and 180 injuries around the world.
Honda has so far removed over 100,000 inflators from salvage yards and has requested that major online auction sites prohibit and stop the sale of affected airbags.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Did State Farm pressure lead to $42 million verdict?

Did insurer pressure lead to $42 million verdict?

December 18, 2017 @ 12:01 am

A Texas jury concluded that substandard roof repairs to this used 2010 Honda Fit aggravated the effects of a collision in December 2013. Red arrows show where the roof detached during the crash.

To Dallas lawyer Todd Tracy, a $42 million jury verdict for substandard repair work on a 2010 Honda Fit should sound a clarion call to dealerships, insurers and automakers.

"That's going to cause alarms to go off and red flags to go off," says Tracy, whose firm represents plaintiffs in vehicle safety and crashworthiness cases, including the owners of the Fit.

John Eagle Collision Center, a body shop associated with John Eagle Auto Group in Dallas, used glue instead of welds to fix hailstorm damage to the Fit's roof, although Honda's repair manual calls for 108 roof welds.

The shop took the cheaper (by $3,000) but unsafe route under pressure from State Farm Insurance Co., the vehicle's insurer, Tracy told Fixed Ops Journal. John Eagle's publicist declined to answer questions about the case.
If the allegation can be proved in court, State Farm could be found liable, says Tom Baker, a tort and insurance law expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
"The elements of a tort action are having a duty of care and then breaching it by action that's unreasonable," Baker said. "From a tort law perspective, if you got an automobile insurer that's pressuring dealers to cut corners in doing repairs in ways that make the cars unsafe, I'd take that case."
Insurer sued

Tracy's clients, Marcia and Matthew Seebachan, were injured in December 2013, when a Toyota Tundra struck their Fit head-on, trapping them inside the burning wreckage when the roof collapsed. They had bought the used car four months earlier, and the roof repair wasn't included in the vehicle history report, according to legal documents.

The Seebachans filed a federal lawsuit in October that accuses State Farm of negligence, deceptive trade practices and breach of warranty for allegedly demanding that the shop not follow more expensive manufacturer repair standards.

The suit cites Honda's 2008-13 Fit Body Repair Manual, which says: "Any person who intends to use a replacement part, a repair procedure or a tool that is not recommended by Honda must determine the risks to their personal safety and the safe operation of the vehicle."

State Farm hasn't filed an answer in the case. A company spokesman said in a statement: "The comments made about State Farm cited in the lawsuit (against the repair facility) are not supported by the facts. Additionally, they are not in line with State Farm's mission to serve the needs of our customers and our long, proud history of advancing vehicle safety."
In October, a Dallas County jury decided the Seebachans' injuries were worth about $42 million and held John Eagle Collision Center 75 percent liable. The jury attributed the remaining liability to the Tundra's driver.
After the verdict, the body shop and the Seebachans reached a confidential settlement for "a lot of money" says Tracy, who made a presentation about the case at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show last month in Las Vegas.
Repair shops 'bullied'
Insurer pressure on repair shops is widespread, affecting "millions of vehicles," Tracy says. "It happens in every shop across the country numerous times a day."
His firm is handling six similar cases in Texas, three of them wrongful-death suits and three involving "unbelievably bad catastrophic injury cases," he says.
"I'm trying to get them to trial as quickly as possible," Tracy says. "Juries don't like repair facilities getting bullied by the insurance companies."
Repair facilities that don't follow automakers' specifications under pressure from cost-conscious insurers and claims adjusters put themselves at risk of liability, Tracy says, but adds that shops are vulnerable to such demands if they want to do work covered by insurance.
In a joint statement, John Eagle and Tracy said the dealership is "making a commitment to encourage the collision repair industry across the nation to follow OEM bulletins instead of insurance companies' mandates when they repair vehicles."
The statement also said the dealership wanted to settle the case before trial, but State Farm "elected to proceed with the trial."
Tracy argues that automakers should make their repair specs available online without charge to every shop that wants them.
"They are the true experts in design and engineering, and they know best how to comply with all the regulations and be crashworthy," he says.
But insurers remain "the big elephant in the room," Tracy says.
"They're holding a gun to the repair shops' heads: 'If you don't kowtow, we're not going to send you any business.'
"That's extortion."

Monday, December 18, 2017



By Paul Tassin 

An Oregon man says GEICO needs to cover the cost of electronic vehicle scans to verify the repair of collision damage.
According to plaintiff Leif Hansen, defendant Government Employees Insurance Company has been denying insurance coverage for vehicle scans that are required or recommended by the manufacturer.
“Without the electronic scans, damage to the policyholders’ vehicles goes undetected; system problems go unexplained; and GEICO puts unsafe cars back on the roads,” the complaint reads.
According to this GEICO class action lawsuit, pre- and post-repair scans are a computerized check for diagnostic trouble codes. They can help identify necessary repairs before work begins, and afterward they can help confirm the repairs were successful. These scans cost about $100 each, Hansen claims.
Manufacturers like General Motors, Nissan, Honda and Toyota either require or recommend electronic scanning before and after repairs, Hansen says. He quotes a statement from General Motors insisting that vehicles be scanned, since even seemingly minor or cosmetic damage can impair some of the vehicle’s safety-related systems.
Hansen argues that by denying coverage for electronic scans, GEICO is violating the terms of its own vehicle insurance policies. These policies require GEICO to cover the cost of restoring the vehicle to its pre-loss condition, Hansen claims.
Hansen says his GEICO-insured 2017 GMC Sierra 3500 pickup truck suffered damage to its rear bumper in a November 2017 collision. He filed a claim with GEICO, brought the truck to a shop for repairs, and asked the repair shop to perform pre- and post-electronic scans on the truck.
But GEICO’s representative allegedly refused to authorize coverage of the scans, saying the company would not cover scanning unless a maintenance light was illuminated on the truck’s dashboard.
Hansen, as the owner of a group of auto repair shops, says he has seen GEICO deny coverage for scanning on several other occasions. He describes one occasion on which GEICO refused to cover scanning for one of his customers whose vehicle had problems with its airbag and steering systems.
GEICO has issued a written statement on the matter, saying it will cover scanning only if the vehicle’s manufacturer has issued its own written requirement for scanning for a particular make, model and year of a vehicle. Hansen counters that GEICO’s position will result in no coverage of scanning at all, as manufacturers don’t specify makes, models or years in such statements.
Hansen seeks to represent a nationwide Class of current and former GEICO vehicle insurance policyholders who suffered losses caused by collisions within six years prior to the filing of this GEICO class action lawsuit.
He seeks an award of actual damages, litigation costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, and any other relief the court sees fit to grant.
Hansen is represented by attorneys Steven D. Olson and Paul Conable of Tonkon Torp LLP.
The GEICO Electronic Scanning Coverage Denial Class Action Lawsuit is Hansen v. Government Employees Insurance Company, Case No. 3:17-cv-01986, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

This matters: Ford Asks for Takata Recall Pass


Ford Asks for Takata Recall Pass

On July 10, 2017, Takata recalled PSDI-5 driver air bag inflators containing phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate (PSAN) as a generant and calcium sulfate as a desiccant, which were used in vehicles sold in the United States as original equipment in frontal driver airbag modules. Recall 17E034 affected 2.7 million Ford, Mazda and Nissan vehicles produced between 2005 and 2012.

The price of delay:

Lancaster County man’s death prompts lawsuit, national recall over airbags


JANUARY 29, 2016 08:16 PM

A Lancaster County man who was killed when his pickup struck a cow last month would still be alive had it not been for the truck’s defective airbag deploying violently, shooting a piece of shrapnel through his neck and spine, his family says in a lawsuit filed this week.

Joel Knight, 52, died Dec. 22 after his 2006 Ford Ranger hit a cow on S.C. 522 as he was driving to work, authorities have said. He was wearing a seatbelt, but an attorney representing Knight’s family says the truck’s airbag – the manufacturer of which is accused in multiple cases of injury and death resulting from defective products – ruptured violently. A piece of shrapnel from the exploding device pierced Knight’s neck and spine.

“They’ve been having problems, known defects and deaths since 2003 – for more than a decade,” said Drew Creech of Elrod Pope Law Firm in Rock Hill, which is representing the family. “It’s a problem they’ve known about and they made a deliberate decision not to recall.”

The lawsuit claims Ford and Takata knew of multiple cases of people being injured or killed by exploding airbags, including a pregnant Malaysian woman who died in July 2014 after a wreck and fatal airbag rupture similar to the one that killed Knight. And yet, the suit alleges, Takata and Ford still “put profits ahead of safety” by continuing to produce and install the defective airbags.

The inflator devices in question were developed by Takata in the late 1990s to make airbags more compact, reduce the toxic fumes earlier airbag models emitted and to save costs and maximize profit for Takata, the complaint states. The redesigned airbags are inflated by an ammonium nitrate-based explosive encased in a metal canister.

“Over time, it becomes highly volatile and it causes an explosion much greater than normally anticipated,” Creech said. When the airbag deploys, the metal cylinder inside the canister ruptures in half and shoots out of the canister “like a bullet coming out of a rifle barrel.”

Creech said Ford and Takata recalled only a handful of vehicles despite knowing of many such cases, including the crash that killed the Malaysian woman, whose Honda had the same airbag and inflator model as Knight’s Ford Ranger.

“Ford was certainly aware of her death, aware of the massive (Takata airbag) recall, yet Ford chose not to recall the Ford Rangers,” Creech said. “They eventually did a very limited recall in a very select few states for the 2004 and 2005 Ford Ranger. They never recalled the 2006 Ford Ranger at all, even though they knew the same inflator model was in the Ranger.”

Knight is believed to be the ninth person killed in the United States as a result of the defective airbags, federal regulators say. His death last month prompted Takata and Ford to expand a recall this week to include trucks made from 2004 through 2006 in the U.S. and Canada. Ford alone is recalling 391,000 Rangers made during that time.

Federal regulators say this latest recall will affect about 5 million vehicles, including those made by Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Saab and Volkswagen. Visit to see if your vehicle is included in the recall.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the driver’s family,” Takata has said in statements to multiple outlets. “We are cooperating fully with regulators and our automotive customers and continue to take aggressive action to advance vehicle safety, including through our ongoing testing efforts, replacement kit production and raising consumer awareness of recalled vehicles.”