Last Week in Car Safety News – the week ending 26 October

Safecar.org will be giving you latest car industry news surrounding safety issues around the world in a weekly wrap up, published the beginning of the week. This wrap up provides the largest stories across the globe in automotive news.

Hands-free does NOT mean Risk-free

AAA Foundation for Traffic SafetyThe AAA foundation in concert with the University of Utah released a report on distracted driving and the use of hands-free and infotainment systems in cars with a somewhat shocking result. In fact, the distracted driver can remain distracted for up to 27 seconds after finishing using these tools. During this time researchers noticed that drivers can miss a number of critical issues in concerns to driving. They can miss stop signs, other vehicles and even pedestrians as the mind takes time to adjust back to driving activities.

The two different systems, hands-free phones and infotainment systems were rated separately on a 5 point mental distraction scale, with a lower score representing less mental distraction. On the infotainment systems the Mazda6 fared the worst with a distraction rating of 4.6 while the Chevrolet Equinox crossover was the best with a 2.4 rating. Mazda has already responded that its 2016 system was already changed in light of the ‘lessons learned’ from the 2015 model that was tested. Google Now voice activated voice calling fared the best of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana with a 3, 3.4 and 3.8 respectively. The report however stated that anything over a 2.0 score at 25 mph results in a possible 27 second distraction period. Distracted driving is being seen as the number one dangerous driving activity today.

Hackers Disable Safety Bags

In the world of Car Safety some of the worst nightmares are those considering hackers disabling new tech cars that affect driving and safety. This past summer it was shown possible and caused one massive recall and another quick system wide patch by two manufacturers.

Now according to a group of researchers from CrySyS Lab in association with another hacker from Budapest University have showed how it is possible to disable an entire cars safety bag system by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in the software of the vehicle. The group hacked a Volkswagen Audi TT and was able to completely disable the safety bags. Auto manufacturers were given the last hack and any vehicles completely controlled by electronics may need overhauling.

NHTSA’s Chief advocates for Talking Cars

Talking CarsAlthough it sounds cool, this story actually refers to having vehicle radar and safety systems communicate to each other in order to avoid or lessen collisions, not the act of speaking like a Disney movie. Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling for a massive in-pouring of investment into the area in light of the number of safety failures and scandals this year from the VW Emission scandal which is still in investigation to GM’s failure to fix a deadly ignition switch failure to Fiat Chrysler’s lack of urgency in its recall responses.

Rosekind was referring to a recent testing by the Virginia DOT and Transurban that tested this technology to have vehicles detect the presence of staged construction workers on a highway that were embedded with short-wave communication systems. This was to prove that their systems could detect the person and possibly slow down or avoid them. Whether law makers enforce the same urgency on automakers is yet to be seen.

These are largest stories in car safety for the week ending 26 October 2015.

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