Some advocates are concerned that America’s top automotive safety watchdog may not be so watchful these days – and that the highways may become less safe as a result.
According to Consumer Reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched only 13 defect investigations in 2017, the fewest in its 47-year history. In previous years, the federal organization had conducted many more – 204 at its peak in 1989.
“The American public is relying on this agency to be a cop on the beat,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a Washington watchdog group, told Consumer Reports. “People expect the federal government to protect them. … Absent that, there’s going to be a tremendous void in motorist safety.”
But the agency, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), says that fewer investigations are …
Doing laundry is an uneventful, if not mundane, household chore for most Americans. Or at least that’s what one Irving family thought when Faisal Nuree’s wife put a mattress pad in her washing machine. Just minutes later she heard a loud boom.
It turns out their washing machine had exploded with such force that it pushed away from the wall and the top had blown off, becoming a potentially deadly projectile.
Doing a simple load of laundry shouldn’t be dangerous.
Only after the incident did the Nuree family learn that their washer was one of 2.8 million Samsung washing machines recalled. Nuree said he didn’t know his washer was unsafe and never received notice of the recall from the manufacturer.
And the Nuree family isn’t the only one to have their Samsung top-loading washing machine explode. There has been a …
In December 2017, Honda and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration confirmed that, in July, a faulty Takata air bag inflator had caused another death. The victim was driving a 2004 Honda Civic, and the air bag ruptured during a crash, releasing deadly shrapnel into the vehicle’s interior cabin.
The death last year was the 20th linked to the faulty inflators since Honda issued the first recall 15 years ago. What began as a relatively small recall of Honda vehicles has gradually grown to be the largest U.S. automotive recall on record. And in January 2018, another 3.3 million vehicles from 14 automakers joined the list of recalled vehicles, bringing the total number of recalled vehicles in the U.S. to about 40 million.
What’s especially frightening about this recall is that as of November 2017, no automaker had completed …
If you’re the proud owner of a 2018 vehicle, you might assume that it comes with the best safety features available. But that’s not necessarily true.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 15 of the 2018-model-year vehicles it tested qualified for its highest safety rating. IIHS has been conducting crash tests on new cars since 2006, but last fall’s test of 2018 models was the first that considered passenger–side overlap-crash safety, and headlight safety.
Overlap crashes are frontal impacts that affect just one corner of the vehicle. IIHS notes that manufacturers have long looked at improving overlap-crash safety for the driver’s side, but the passenger’s side hasn’t been a high priority. IIHS said it hopes that overlap-crash safety will soon be symmetric, protecting drivers and passengers equally.
And The Winners Are…
To qualify for the best …
Every 10 or 11 days, a lithium-ion battery causes a fire on an airplane in the United States. Flight crews are trained on how to handle these fires, but questions remain about the safety of devices powered by Li-ion batteries.
These batteries can malfunction when their thin internal separator is damaged and the anode and cathode make contact. When that happens, the battery short-circuits and begins to overheat, reaching temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees, at which point it may catch fire or explode.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires all spare Li-ion batteries to be carried on-board, not stowed in luggage. Battery terminals must be covered with tape, or stored in packaging that prevents the terminals from making contact with metal objects that could trigger a short-circuit. But it’s often batteries inside devices – not spare batteries – that catch …
Consumer Reports’ latest Consumer Voices Survey found that, since January, consumer confidence has dropped 5 percentage points regarding healthcare, data privacy, and government regulation of the automobile industry.
In January, 38 percent of respondents said they weren’t confident the government will hold automakers accountable for safety standards, but the April survey found 45 percent of respondents lacked confidence about this issue. Other notable changes from January to April include:
- Privacy and security of online information: In April, 70 percent lacked confidence about this issue, up from 65 percent in January.
- Access to quality healthcare: 41 percent of April respondents lacked confidence about their own healthcare access, up from 35 percent in January.
- Loved ones’ access to healthcare: 42 percent of Republicans lacked confidence about this issue in January, but the number rose to 47 percent in April.
The April survey …
In November 2016, a manufacturer expanded an existing recall to apply to 2.5 million of its dehumidifiers sold in the United States. Gree Electric Appliances, which is based in China, initially recalled dehumidifiers in 2013, after reports of the devices catching fire and causing property damage. The recall was subsequently updated, then expanded in 2014, and as of the November reannouncement, Gree dehumidifiers had caused 450 fires and $19 million in property damage.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Gree knew about its product defects in July 2012 – 15 months before issuing the first recall. A CPSC investigation found Gree:
- Knew it was obligated to report the defect to the CPSC within 24 hours of its discovery, but failed to do so
- Deliberately deceived CPSC investigators
- Sold products bearing the UL safety mark, despite knowing its products
In February, a Houston TV station reported the story of a man who was driving when an e-cigarette battery exploded in his pocket. The battery melted a section of his pants and severely burned his leg before it fell to the floor and ignited the floorboard. Luckily, he was able to pull off the road and get out of the car.
That frightening incident is one of many involving e-cigarette batteries. The U.S. Fire Administration released a report in October 2014 stating 25 e-cigarette battery fires or explosions had occurred since 2009. At the time, the USFA estimated about 2.5 million people were e-cigarette users and predicted the number of users – and battery failures – would likely grow. That prediction seems to be correct. A doctor at the Harborview Medical Center’s trauma and burn unit in Seattle said in …
On October 13, Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a second recall for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. When the first recall was announced in September, the CPSC advised customers that the phones’ lithium-ion batteries posed a risk of overheating and fire, and since then, more battery-related fires have been reported.
On the date of the second recall, the CPSC had received a total of 96 reports that phones had overheated, along with 13 reports of burn injuries and 47 reports of property damage. The recall applies to 1.9 million phones, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s, which Samsung had given customers as a replacement for phones covered under the initial recall.
The Dangers of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries contain a highly flammable liquid. When they short-circuit, they generate enough heat to ignite that liquid, causing the …