Speed thrills and speed kills
Over a quarter or all motor vehicle deaths are due to excessive speed. Why are we in such a rush and where are we going? No idea. This week we dig into Intelligent Speed Assist and ponder the question if it’s the consumer preventing solutions or the auto makers? If regulators got involved then we could save over 10,000 lives per year.
Plus San Francisco sues the CPUC over self driving cars, taller cars are deadlier cars, Fred explains why we don’t need cars that can go over 100mph and we cover a few recalls.
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note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.
Anthony: You’re listening to their auto be a law, the center for auto safety podcast with executive director, Michael Brooks, chief engineer, Fred Perkins, and hosted by me, Anthony seminar for over 50 years. The center for auto safety has worked to make cars safer. Yeah, it
Michael: doesn’t start until
Anthony: Fred, until you say good morning. And that, I don’t even know if we have a show. Alright, so hey this week let’s kick off on speed. Everybody loves speed. You know, that’s how I start my day. Wait, what? No, that’s not it at all. I, in fact, on this show, I think I complain a lot about people speeding. I mean, the speed limit says 55 and everyone’s just like, ha, that’s just a suggestion.
And they keep going 75, 80, honking their horn at me. I feel like a really old, like, you know, get off my lawn type person when I have this conversation. But anyway, let’s talk we’ve got a bunch of articles to link to. Start off with one NPR talking about speed related crashes accounted for roughly 12, 000 deaths in 2021.
That’s the last year there’s complete statistics for and there’s some possible solutions from the technology point of view that we’ve talked about in the past called intelligent speed assist that will say, Hey, we know what the speed limit is. Let’s make sure you don’t drive above that. But I think I think the American public has some complaints about that because you know, like Sammy Hagar, they can’t drive 55.
Oh my God, I’m dating myself. And someone saved me,
Michael: it’s, you know, it’s a huge problem when you’re talking about almost a third of the fatalities that occur in the United States every year, as well as 300, 000 or so injuries that are occurring related to these. Problems and, you know, we’ve even seen an increase in speed related issues and reckless type driving issues since coven began since we’ve seen a lot less enforcement in terms of speeding enforcement, direct speeding enforcement through police.
So it’s a problem that’s not going anywhere. It doesn’t look like people are slowing down. And I think it doesn’t take anyone very long to look through the paper and they’re in their local area and find deaths related to speeding. They’re happening all the time. So. What we are really excited about coming into cars in the future is what they call intelligent speed assistance.
What that basically is, there are two basic types there. There’s a passive intelligent speed assistance, which essentially, you know, monitors, understands what the speed limit is in any given area through either maps. You know, other types of data through cameras that recognize speed limit signs.
There’s many different ways to do that and, you know, when the driver’s exceeding the speed is going to, you know, annoy the driver in certain ways, suggest that the driver slow down do things like that to, you know, where the driver has to acknowledge the warning and slow the vehicle down. Now,
Anthony: couldn’t we have it that, that as soon as you start going over the speed limit for a certain period of time, the car just gives you a ticket.
That would be funny, right? Like you, that’s,
Michael: that would probably piss people off more than the other type of intelligent speed assistance, which I think we’re more firmly in the camp over, at least I am which is active intelligent speed assistance. And that’s the system that instead of just giving a driver a warning, or maybe there’s a lot of little things you can do.
You could do haptic alerts. You could, you know, Temporarily push back against the driver’s accelerator pedal. I’ve seen some systems that do that kind of thing. But wait,
Anthony: really? So like you’re trying to press down on the accelerator.
Michael: It’s pushing back. Yes, man, which is creepy in many ways, it could save a life.
Who knows? But I, it doesn’t, it’s not, none of those passive systems are going to obviously save as many people as active. Intelligence speed assistance, they call it assistance. I would just call it active intelligence speed speeding prevention. I mean, it essentially would prevent vehicles from exceeding the speed limit, whether that’s by, you know, I’m not sure what kind of parameters they put around that.
If you know, there’s a 3 or 4 mile per hour. Zone where you can get over the speed limit. Every system is different at this point. There are no regulations in the United States, so it could be anything at this point, but what would you know, what you find and what I think they’re going to find with the passive speed assistance is that the people who really want to speed, the people who are always really.
Freaking late to everything they do. The people who haven’t planned properly, the people who want to drive aggressively and speed are going to do it regardless of the presence of these systems in their vehicles, because they’re completely optional. You can turn it off. And I don’t I mean, while I think there will be some positive effects from passive intelligence speed assistance installed in vehicles, it’s not the ultimate life saving you know, technology that could really have an impact this area.
And that would be the type that they have installed in New York City. And a lot of the. public vehicles there where if you hit the speed limit you’re not getting far above it and you’re going to be slowed down and you don’t have a choice in the matter as a driver as to whether it’s to exceed the speed limit.
Americans don’t like this idea. Auto manufacturers don’t like this idea probably more to do with because Americans don’t like this idea. They know that if you know, the first automaker that introduces. A, an active intelligent speed assistance system into its vehicles is going to lose sales because people aren’t going to want to buy cars that prevent them from speeding.
Anthony: The two questions on that then is. So you’re right, auto manufacturers won’t do this because no one’s going to buy the slow car, but what what if insurance companies, I mean, they monitor your driving right now, insurance rates keep raising so much, why not they just have, you know, some monitoring here, hey, if you guys are speeding too much, we’re going to jack up your rates, where if You know, you’re more of a safe driver or do they already have that?
Michael: you have to submit to, that’s another thing that I’ve found that Americans, at least a segment of them don’t particularly like, is their insurance companies monitoring their speed. So it’s the folks who are driving safe all the time and who have their little progressive app open in their car aren’t the problem really in this area.
It’s the people who are willfully violating speed limits know it and don’t care.
Anthony: How much of a discount do insurance companies give you? I don’t know. I
Michael: don’t assume it’s fairly significant because if they have, you know, a way to track your vehicle and some of your vehicle activities, you know, they know a lot of really important things like what time you’re driving, which is, you know, certain crashes.
I mean, a lot of crashes are going to happen at night. They know, they basically know your exposure to risk in many ways. They know, you know, how fast you’re going, if they’re hard breaking events. How far you’re going and lots of little data points that their actuaries can use to, you know, peg you into a certain place on the chart and figure out what your charge is going to be.
So it’s. You know, that, that type of thing is growing and, you know, people who are responsible drivers who know it’s going to result in a discount are taking advantage of it. People who are not responsible drivers aren’t putting that in their cars. And that’s really the issue here. I don’t think we’re going to see a significant reduction through the intelligent speed assistance because the only people who are going to obey the system are the ones who really didn’t want to speed in the first place.
So while you might see situations where, you know, intelligent speed assistance kicks in and you know, some, a certain percentage of the drivers is going to say, Oh, wow, I’m going too fast. Let me slow down. Another very large chunk of drivers who was planning on exceeding that speed in the 1st place is going to completely ignore it and turn it off.
So. It’s the first iteration of it that’s gone out in Europe is the passive version. And I would expect that the first, you know, type that we’re going to see in America, if it’s mandated at some point will be the passive version, but my plea, I guess, and the center’s plea would be to go ahead and.
Think about the active version, because that’s, what’s going to get us to where we want to be. You know, you keep seeing all these people scrambling around the idea of, oh, let’s all build robo taxis. Let’s hop into robo taxis. Let’s let these cars drive us. Well, those robo taxis are all going at the speed limit.
They’re not exceeding the speed limit. So we see this odd thing in America where some people have no problem jumping into a car with a robot or someone else who’s going to go the speed limit, but then at the same time resist. The idea of having to stay at the speed limit while they’re operating a vehicle.
So it’s just an, you know, the odd American freedom thing that comes into a lot of the issues.
Anthony: I, while you were talking, I was just checking my insurance company and they have an app where apparently they’ll monitor my driving and give me a discount. And they don’t, but they don’t have speed as one of the things they’re checking.
They’re checking time of day. They’re checking how distracted driving if I’m playing with my phone. Which is interesting. I mean, I don’t do that while I’m driving. They’re like, if you can do hands free, we’re not going to ding you, which is great and I can do that. And speed around cornering.
It checks that, which was interesting. It’s how you, yeah, and smoothness of operation, like if you’re doing hard braking. And frequency of hard braking. So I’m like, what? So I can get this app and I can still speed and drive drunk. Okay, only one of those things is true, because driving is stressful.
Fred: A couple of data points. Nevada is a small state. In 2020, they, the police there issued 5,137 speeding. Tickets for cars going over 100 miles per hour. Wait,
Anthony: over a hundred,
Fred: geez, over 105,137. There was a Tesla there, coral Gables, Florida, that exceeded 90 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone.
That two people were killed. In North Las Vegas, there was a Dodge Challenger, which was clocked at 109 miles per hour, ran a red light, caused six fatalities when it hit a Toyota Sienna Broadside. In that case, the driver had driver’s blood showed cocaine and PCB and had eight previous convictions for speeding in the previous five years.
So, it’s a huge problem. There was also a statistic that said And actually that my marker just popped off the page that reducing speed is about the same magnitude of hazard as alcohol. And distracted driving the growth up in a range of tens of thousands of lives lost per year. In the United States.
I had this. Yeah, alcohol impairment. 12, 600 deaths in 2021. Distraction 12, 400 in 2021. Drowsiness 648 and speeding 12, 330 deaths in 2021, according to NHTSA. So yeah, speeding is a huge problem. My, my hope is that even with the Intelligent speed assistant does nothing more than warn people that they’re driving at excessive speeds.
Eventually, people will get annoyed by it enough, like the seatbelt warning system, so that they’ll slow down, or, you know, in the same way that we are inclined to buckle our seatbelts, if the chime keeps going off and gets really annoying. Hopefully the same thing will hold for the intelligent speed assist, but yeah there’s a lot of mythology and I think America is primed for thrills and people like to step on the accelerator and, you know, it’s like winning the lottery, I guess, except you can do it over and over again.
Anthony: So the seatbelt warning chime, that’s a federal regulation? Yes. Okay.
Michael: That is and that’s what we are, that’s what we’re still trying to get into the back seats.
Anthony: Okay. Because I think, yeah, with speed assist, that chime warning would have to be a federal regulation because I think there’s no way people would be like, I want to buy that car.
Michael: Right. And it all has to happen at once. And even then, you know, you’re going to see probably a significant reduction in the number of people buying. Those vehicles that first few model years and you’re going to see a resistance to this problem. Or to this solution so But you’re talking about an area where You know say we have very large chunks of people who are killed every year by basically three Problematic things.
We’ve got speeding, reckless driving, alcohol, or impaired driving of some form, and then distraction, you know, distraction since, you know, there’s very little authority for NHTSA to regulate how people are using their phones in the car. Not at all, really. That’s really kind of out of the purview or something that can be fixed.
through federal regulation at least by NHTSA. The alcohol and other impaired driving has started to be addressed through we see, we’ve talked about the DADS technology or the active and passive alcohol detection technology. I mean NHTSA’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking, advanced notice of proposed rulemaking really Didn’t give me the feeling that we’re going to be seeing a rule on that or that be coming into cars in the next, you know, 5 to 10 years, but, you know, when it comes to being able to detect whether or not a vehicle is speeding and slow it down there, you know, that’s something you could do right now and in every car on the road for the most part.
I mean, I think the only challenges here, the challenge isn’t, you Restricting how fast a vehicle can go. I mean, I think you could write a little code that could do that pretty simply. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t think it takes really giant new vehicle systems to restrict how fast the car can go. The problem there, I think, is detecting and responding to changes in speed limits on the road.
You either have to have a connected vehicle that’s. Plugged into a mapping system that is updated with the most current speed limits and areas, which is a challenge. And we’re probably not quite there yet. Or you have a system, I believe, like, how Tesla operates their speed limit system, which is the vehicle.
Detects the signs through its cameras and can adjust the vehicle speed based on that. So that’s those are all very doable. When you look at some of the other things that are killing people in the roads. I think limiting speeds is something that’s eminently doable, but it’s also most likely the most controversial.
Proposal because people see their ability to speed in America as a freedom and not necessarily something they’re doing to violate the law. And then something that, you know, should have resulted in the revocation of privileges from some of these drivers we’re talking about. You know, there’s a lot of.
There’s a lot of enforcement problems in cities and states where people are racking up massive amounts of speeding and other traffic tickets and are never being pulled into court to answer for them. And so they continue to speed until someone dies. That actually happened last year, I believe, in D. C. in an event on the Rock Creek Parkway where you had a vehicle with, I think, 18, 000 worth of traffic fines and the driver was never being paid.
Punished for that are pulled off the road. So there was a, you know, when you don’t get problem speeders and problem drivers off the road using enforcement there’s not a lot that the rest of us can do to stop them from creating that type of carnage. So. Hopefully one day this happens we aren’t really, I guess, positive in our outlook on the timing here simply because there’s so much, there’s no zero demand here from consumers for the most part other than the ones who recognize just how fast people are going on the roads and how dangerous that is.
I mean, we’d probably see, you know, May, I would guess it might be a minority of Americans who would actively support the active intelligence speed systems, but that’s a tough one to get through politically. And I’m not sure. You know, I’m not sure what the outlook is. Well,
Fred: sure, it’s tough to get through, but I think people are largely unaware of what.
The systems could do and Anthony, like you mentioned that list of parameters that the insurance company is interested in monitoring, those would all go into a system that would eventually be able to warn the driver when they’re exceeding the safe limits of operation of the vehicle. I think, you know, the larger context of warning people when they’re about to lose control of the vehicle due to excessive speed due to excessive corners or an upcoming tight corner.
I think that would probably reinforce people’s idea that this was all a really good idea because, you know, they’d be able to anticipate much better what the hazards were that were coming up on a road and be able to jab on their brakes a lot less frequently because they’d be able to anticipate these hazardous problems.
But the intelligent speed assistance, I think moves in that direction. And I think I remember there was a lot of resistance to seat belt warnings at first, but over time. People have gotten used to them and have seen the utility of them. One of the statistics that came up at the SAE conference last week is that 90 percent of drivers or seatbelt, excuse me, 90 percent of occupants in the front seat are now using seatbelts.
That’s way up from what it was 50 years ago, certainly, probably up from what it was 10 years ago. So people do become used to these things, and even if not perfect, we shouldn’t let Better be the enemy of good. We should start somewhere and, you know, get these warnings in as quickly as possible.
Anthony: Alright, you heard it first, listeners. Slow the hell down, okay? If you slow down, get out of my way and I can speed past you. No, don’t do that. I’m actually curious, listeners. Write in and tell us how often are you speeding? We’re not going to report you, but I’m actually curious. And this is this is something I’ve asked before, and our friends at The Guardian asked the same thing, is you know, if the speed limit is 70, 80 miles per hour, why can I buy a car that goes 140 miles per hour?
I don’t understand. What’s that about? And with that, let’s start with the Tao of Threat.
Michael: You’ve now
Fred: entered the Tao of Threat. Good morning again, folks. So, it’s a good question. You know, my little car has this pedometer that goes up to 150 miles an hour. Seems odd. I guess it’s just a sales feature. But the Guardian, which is a British publication, asked their readers to respond to that, and the readers have replied, and so I’m going to reply to the readers.
So, for example, one person says a car that can reach 100 miles per hour is going to perform better at 70 than a car that can only reach 70. Does this make sense to you,
Anthony: Anthony? No, I don’t I mean, is there some sort of thermodynamic reason why I need that extra headroom?
Fred: No, I mean, it’s a, it’s just nonsense.
The writer, the reader also goes on to say, Also, an engine that can only achieve 70 miles per hour on the level may struggle on hills. Well, that’s a consequence of its being designed to struggle on hills. I mean, People generally don’t understand how hybrid systems work. And what they do is they put a small engine in the car.
You may recall that it takes about 20 to 25 horsepower to move your car from your house to the pick of the wiggly at a reasonable rate of speed, right? But there are hills, there are things that happen. So, what the hybrid engine does is it generates, we’ll say, Three horsepower on a continued basis, and that extra horsepower goes to charge a battery kind of like winding up a spring, but it charges up the battery so that it can be used in those cases where it does have to go up a hill or does have to maintain speed for a short amount of time, and it runs down the battery.
But then car starts going downhill again to recharge the battery. So that in a hybrid car, the battery acts like a reserve spring just gives you a little bump when you need it. Overall, it reduced the weight of the vehicle quite a lot, because if you have a big engine in your car that can drive the car at 100 plus miles per hour, most of the time you’re just driving around a big expensive anchor because you don’t need all that extra weight.
You don’t need all that extra horsepower. It’s just idling along. And If your car is designed to run efficiently at 100 miles per hour, it’s not going to run efficiently at 70 miles per hour. The off design peak is not necessarily more efficient for off design operation, excuse me, off peak design operation is not necessarily more efficient than the operation at the peak.
So again, getting back to the hybrids, they designed the engine so that it runs very efficiently at a single speed to generate electricity that charges up the battery and then uses a surplus power to actually drive the car. Does it,
Anthony: with an EV, with an electric motor, is the operating parameters different?
Is it kind of efficient? Well, they are,
Fred: because it’s not recharging in any meaningful way. It might have regenerative braking, so it recovers some of the energy when it goes downhill. But the amount of energy it’s going to recover is, of course, much less than the amount expended to go up the hill in the first place.
Anthony: with an electric motor, like right now, you know, we see these ridiculous stats, zero to 60 in a half a second, or whatever. They obviously don’t need to do that to be operating efficiently. Right. Or do they?
Fred: No, they do not need that. This is completely unrelated to efficiency. And if you’ve got the capacity of accelerating your
That means you’ve got motors that are way too big for your trip to the Piggly Wiggly. You don’t, you simply don’t need that. And when you’ve got big motors, it’s extra weight. And when you got extra weight, that means less efficiency. It’s
Anthony: This ties everything we’ve been talking about together, so, okay, so I don’t need my, I have an electric car, we’ll pretend, and it will go 0 to 60 in, let’s say, 8 seconds, reasonable time, that’s plenty quick for me to get the on ramp up to highway speeds, but I don’t, I can get smaller engines in there, and I can get, reduce my vehicle weight, and that makes my tires last longer, and it makes it safer for pedestrians and other cars.
Fred: Yes, and it also cuts down the mining waste cuts down all of the hazardous materials that go into it. It has nothing but good consequences. So if people are willing to merely accelerate at a reasonable speeds, it’s good for everybody.
Anthony: That’s insane, that’s the answer to everything right there, oh my god, like, how, what douchebag needs a car that goes 0 seconds?
Like seriously, does he need
Fred: problems? Apparently there are thousands of them, but yeah, nobody needs that. Well the other thing that happens when you’ve got that car that goes 0 seconds is you’re going out of control. And I’ve seen movies of drag, dragsters. And I was surprised to see that the sidewalls of the tires buckle when the car is accelerating hard, which makes sense if you think about it, but I guess if people don’t think about tires a lot, and most people don’t think about tires a lot, I think it’s just this kind of impervious soft thing that wonderfully attaches the vehicle to the road, but it has its own set of dynamics.
And if you overpower it, it starts to spin, it starts to buckle. So, yeah, The tread leaves the road, a lot of things can happen, almost all of them bad. This is a consequence of having too much power. And so the car goes out of control. So that’s the trade off. You’re having a thrill by accelerating your car from zero to 60 in a couple of nanoseconds.
You’re also sacrificing control. You are having a worse environmental footprint. You’re wearing your tires out more quickly and. I guess you can impress your friends and neighbors with your acceleration experience. A couple other points that people brought up when they were talking about that excess horsepower and why you have so much speed available in your car compared to the speed limits.
Because it sells them. Well, yes, it does. People like to think about that. The journalists like to talk about that. They’re handy parameters that people can use to compare cars and if you accept that more acceleration is better. That’s great. But again, you know, you’re going to the Piggly Wiggly and you’re using 20 horsepower, so most of the time you’re only lugging around the 480 horsepower that you’re never going to use.
Seems like an odd way of doing things. What else do we got in here? So another one, another reader. Rights it to say the best part is that despite engine size, it’s literally ticking over 70 miles per hour. He’s talking about his own car that has 155 mile an hour top speed. It’s literally ticking over 70 miles per hour at 1600 rpm.
And that means it will get over 50 mile per gallon on long runs. I, there is no logic that goes from A to B on that but that’s the person’s belief.
Anthony: There, there’s one
Fred: So if, ideally, if the car would be designed for maximum efficiency At the speed limit. And that’s the way a lot of cars are more or less designed.
So once you exceed the speed limit, you’re moving away from the torque peak of the engine, which means you’re moving to a less less efficient way of running the engine. You’re also increasing the air resistance. You’re also increasing the hazard of running into another car, another vehicle. So there’s simply No engineering basis behind the assumptions people make about these engines and running them off peak.
Anthony: So, I’ve owned two cars in my life and both of them relatively small engines. And I noticed that they get the best gas mileage when they’re doing like 72 miles per hour. Is that, does that sound reasonable? It does. And not reasonable, it sounds accurate.
Fred: Yeah, because they’re designed, what you’re saying, it’s giving support to the idea that they’re designed to be most efficient at the speed people are likely to
Okay. Neither of them could go 130.
Fred: You will not get good efficiency at 130, and you don’t get good efficiency at zero miles per hour either, right? Your mileage at zero miles per hour is zero. So there’s somewhere between zero and 150 where you’re going to get the peak efficiency. A reasonable car designer would say, well, let’s put that peak efficiency point at the speed people are likely to drive.
Now you’ve got wind resistance, you’ve got parasitic losses, you’ve got friction inside the engine, you’ve got electric generation, all those kind of parasitic losses. So there’s a lot of things going on that reduce the efficiency of the vehicle, but ideally the car is going to be designed to run very efficiently at the speed you’re likely to use.
That’s a reasonable, that’s a reasonable approach. If your car is designed, if you’re in your Tesla Rossa and you’re rolling down the street at 120 miles per hour, and you’re trying to get a ticket in Nevada. You’re not concerned about efficiency. I’m not sure what you are concerned about. But this is probably not the way to go if you’re going to be a safe driver.
Anthony: All right. This is fascinating. There was a, so there was one in there just related to what I said on the Guardian articles. Someone said, fuel efficiency. If the car is capable of going 240 kph while redlining in fifth. It probably hits 120 kph, revving much lower and burning less fuel. Yes.
Fred: That’s a true statement.
Right. Okay. It, of course, depends on the design. But, you know, this actually conflates many different design features. The endurance, the valve timing spark timing, lubrication, wind resistance, et cetera. There’s an awful lot of parameters that go into the car. Most cars are designed. To never have their peak efficiency available because they want to have a flat torque peak range so that, you know, you don’t notice that your car jumps away from you suddenly when you go from 30 to 35 miles per hour, right?
If you had a racing cam in there, you’d find that it runs very efficiently at a very narrow speed range. Like a highway truck, right? The reason they have all those gears is because they’re designed to run in a very narrow speed range. Very efficiently because of that, you have to match the speed of the truck to the speed of the engine.
And in order to do that, you need to have lots of different gear ratios that you can use. So that’s why the truck drivers are always shifting, but that’s really annoying for a human being who’s driving a car to the piggly wiggly. You don’t want to have to drive, you know, I have to shift 27 times. Three times?
Is that where we are? Okay.
Anthony: I don’t know, Michael muted himself. I’m sure he had a very good comment in there about that you don’t get extra pay for mentioning Piggly
Fred: Wiggly. Anyway, so, so, it’s just a long way of saying that if you have a car engine that’s designed to run as efficiently as possible, you will also have a very narrow torque peak, and it really won’t be suitable for just normal, Driving because there’s too much human maintenance involved with the speed and relationship with the car.
You’re shifting all the time. So the rational design for average human being use of the car as a detuned engine. That allows you to operate over a fairly wide range of engine speeds with reasonable efficiency. And that’s what we see in all the passenger vehicles that we’ve got. As you get into the Testarossas and the, you know, the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris and all those, they tend to move away from that.
They tend to move towards the idea that you’re going to have that maximum performance at a very narrow speed range. So you’ve got paddles in there, you’ve got a lot of easy ways to shift, and people don’t mind doing that for those high performance vehicles. Their numbers are so few that they don’t really impact the overall fatality statistics in the country associated with excess speed.
They do, however, pick up a lot of speeding tickets.
Anthony: And most of them are just driving at city speeds, just cruising outside of a restaurant, trying to pick up
Fred: inappropriate people. Well, yeah, you make a good impression when you pull up in front of the restaurant and rev your engine, but
Anthony: When I drive my Ferrari to the Burger King, you know, I’m hot stuff.
It’s exciting for
Fred: the kid who goes to park the
Anthony: car. Well, that kid is located in a remote location because he’s remotely parked. He’s my remote valet as we learned last week. Maybe we’ll get to that later on. But listeners, write in after you donate, because I don’t want your questions before you donate.
Okay. I’ll take them at a time. But seriously, how often are you going over 100 miles per hour? How often are you going over 90 miles per hour? I don’t, I mean, I could probably get my car up to 95 miles per hour. I’m not going to try it because the wheels are so tiny and really, like, I don’t have to be anywhere that quickly.
I’m never that late. So write in, let us know, contact at autosafety. org, but first go to autosafety. org, click on the red donate button, then click it again and again. Wait, no, don’t click that button again. Just donate again and again. Hey, let’s Jump to my favorite third world country.
Ah, that’s dumb. Why don’t I say that? Let’s jump to California. It’s not a third world country. I used to live there. So, it’s a weird little dictatorship happening with the California Public Utilities Commission. The, as we’ve talked about in the past, the residents of the city of San Francisco said, Hey!
We don’t want these self driving vehicles crashing everywhere on our streets. And the California Public Utility Commission said nah, tough tooties. One of our members used to be on the, you know, the general counsel for GM Cruise. So, we’re going to do what we want. You know, GM Cruise, whatever happened to them?
Anyway, the the city of San Francisco is now Suing the California Public Utilities Commission to review whether its its August decision, which allowed Waymo to operate 24 7 paid taxi service around the city, was compliant with the law. So, this is, you know, this is fascinating. The city of San Francisco is like, we don’t like this, we’re gonna sue you.
At the same time, Waymo is like, hey! We want to expand our taxi service all throughout the state, so who’s going to win? The people or the power?
Fred: It’s an interesting situation because here you’ve got two taxpayer funded entities suing each other at enormous expense over whether or not a hazardous technology will be deployed on their highways.
It’s it, I don’t know, it’s wonderful. This is like a self licking ice cream cone, and all at taxpayer expense. I love it.
Michael: It’s, you know, it’s inevitable that this is going to happen and a lot of states that have passed legislation that vests all regulation of driverless cars. To the state and not to localities doesn’t allow cities to get involved in determining, you know, whether or not these vehicles are going to be able to drive on city streets.
This has been a you know, a conflict kind of for a while now, and this is a new legal attempt by the city of San Francisco to go after the California public utilities commission, which is right now trying to decide whether or not Waymo can expand their. Area of operation in San Francisco, as well as move to Los Angeles and begin operating all over downtown Los Angeles.
So it’s, you know, the, I’m not sure how strong the legal case is for San Francisco here, because. There is a you know, the state has passed legislation vesting regulation of the technology in the state authorities, and that’s the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Public Utilities Commission. So it’s going to be a tough case for San Francisco, but I’m glad they’re doing it, if for anything, but to show that.
You know, the states have problems with the way that some of these experiments have been carried out. I mean, one of the things that we’ve seen are, you know, the autonomous vehicle companies go to the state legislatures and lobby them to have a law passed that vests authority in the state specifically.
So that’s. When they deploy in cities and start having all the kind of problems that we saw with crews in San Francisco that this local authorities will be powerless, and we’ve never liked that system. We, you know, we think we need to start from you think you would want to start from the ground up and, you know, have these manufacturers work with cities to make sure that we don’t see the kind of disruption that we had in San Francisco that helps everyone.
I mean, that helps the citizens on the street feel safer and. It helps them accept the fact that these vehicles will be operating in their neighborhoods. But if they’re not operating away where they’re blocking fire trucks and running over fire hoses and dragging people behind the vehicle after they’ve already been hit and all the other things we saw in San Francisco, then it’s not going to work.
The experiment won’t work because you know, the citizens and the residents won’t accept it. So, an interesting. article and an issue that’s not going away. Cruz has, you know, suspended a lot of their operations, but Waymo has continued to chug along and I guess we’re going to see California is kind of the test case for a lot of these issues.
We’re going to see what happens in the next month or so as you know, Waymo attempts to go to Los Angeles.
Anthony: Well, you know what Waymo did wrong here. They don’t have their own corporate shill on the California Public Utilities Commission. See, smart people, they should, you know, they got to know they got to stack the odds in their favor.
But speaking of GM Cruise this is an article we’ve been trying to get to for weeks now. So remember G, GM Cruise is being investigated for its accident in December. Well, GM Cruise offered 75, 000 to settle and wrap up their regulatory probe. San Francisco. They’re like, here’s 75 grand. Leave us alone.
Have a nice day. Bye bye. Which is, you know, it’s a. Pretty light fine, you know, pretty light offer considering they dragged a human underneath one of their cars and then lied about it and edited footage saying, Yeah, we gave you the right stuff. But hey, self driving cars, who’s on board? Anyone? Anyone?
Michael: Well, you know, the original fine The maximum they were looking at is two and a half, 2.
25 million, somewhere around that 1. 5 million, somewhere way up there. Cruz is trying to get off on a 75, 000 fine, which is, you know, maybe they don’t have any money left in the kitty over there after all the cuts, but that’s absurd to, to think that you’re going to lie to state investigators about a crash and get off for an amount that, you know, is nothing.
To a company with the investments that Cruz has received, you know, from not only GM, but Microsoft and others who are trying to get into the autonomous game in some form Honda as well.
Anthony: 75, 000. I’m pretty sure Kyle just spent that on hoodies alone. That was a pretty good one. Yeah. So we’ll keep you updated when we find out more as this lawsuit progresses.
Go San Francisco. I don’t know. I can root for people, why not? I’ll root for an entire city. Hey, here’s an article in Ars Technica. I think they’re listening to the podcast. Titled, Higher Vehicle Hoods Significantly Increase Pedestrian Death Studies Finds. From the article, For decades, urban planners have prioritized car traffic above everything else and built our environment, and our built environment favors speeding vehicles at the cost of people trying to cross the roads or cycle.
But it’s not all the fault of just those planners, as the vehicles we drive play a large role too. And we’ve talked about this numerous times with front over issues, with these massive high vehicles that no one can see, easy to run over children, pets, dogs, cats, squirrels. So yeah, pickups and SUVs are more dangerous to pedestrians.
There was 1, 079 unique. Oh, wait, that’s not the number I want to quote.
Michael: No, you want the, so the author, if you look in the there’s a study that’s linked to the article and I went through as much of it as I could fit time for, but the. Basically, it boils down to one sentence, and the sentence is from the author, and it says, I estimate that if all light trucks, which are SUVs, pickups were replaced with cars in 2021, 1179 fewer pedestrians would have died.
And that’s just pedestrians, and that’s a I think that’s about one fifth. I think we had around 7, 000 pedestrians that were killed that year. So you’re talking about, you know, eliminating one fifth of the death simply by changing the height of the vehicle hood and not having these massive hoods and these high hoods we’ve talked about a lot in past episodes.
Anthony: Yeah, we’ve mentioned there’s no regulations on where bumper heights should be and other things like that. We’ve seen, you know, smaller cars get stuck under bigger cars. You know,
Fred: Well, the bumper height’s not, there’s really just part of it. Look at the Cybertruck from our friends at Tesla. They have a, designed literally a wedge in the front of the car, which is right at the height of a person’s pelvis.
And, most of these cars, however egregious, have a flat front end. So at least if they do hit a pedestrian, they’ll hit the pedestrian all at once. They’re incredibly lethal. While doing that, but if you have a wedge in there that’s going to impact the person in the middle part of them is going to go up.
Part of them is going to go down. It’s just insanity that there are no design standards related to pedestrian safety associated with vehicles that are freely available on the road. Now, I think once again, it’s just a question of thrill seeking Americans. You know, you get in these cars and you know, you feel like you’re You’re a big trucker and you’re sitting high above the road and you can’t see anything, but that’s okay because you’ve got 500 horsepower and, you know, by God, a four by four and you can go through anything.
People need to relax. I think maybe it’s just too much coffee in our system. Everybody needs, everybody gets pumped up and they really need to kind of get the serotonin flowing. It’s gotta be
Anthony: a better way. You’ve just convinced me I’m getting rid of my tiny little car and I’m getting a truck o vich.
I’m getting some giant thing, like Freightliner’s gonna make an SUV, something. I’m getting on board! Come on! Sounds like a plan. I like it. Speaking of sounds like a plan, here’s something that sounds like a plan. It’s something that sounds cool until you go, huh? There’s an article we’re linking to from MSN.
Titled, German Firm Starts Remote Driving Car Service in Las Vegas. And I think we kind of talked about this last week, where BMW had a demo of this. At CES it was their remote valet service. Where as you have your car there and someone remotely drives it and parks it for you and it’s speed limited.
Well this is takes that idea and just says, hey, let’s make it dumber. This is happening in Las Vegas right now. It’s limited around the University of Las Vegas and the city’s art district. And they rent out electric cars by the minute, which, you know, sounds great. So instead of an autonomous vehicle, what you’re doing is you’re getting inside a car, and someone remotely in some location is sitting behind a fancy video game rig, and they’re going to drive the car for you.
And You know, you hope they’re there. You hope they’re not distracted driving. You know, you hope they’re not got one of their screens open looking at a movie. Because they’re controlling your car now. And we don’t know where they’re located and there’s a thing, what’s it called, Fred? What are they called?
Fred: Latency is an issue. What could possibly go
Michael: wrong? Everything. It’s weird, the article doesn’t The article doesn’t specify just how far away the people who are controlling the vehicle. They say they have a teledrive station, but At least twice, the article says, that station is located miles away.
Not sure how many miles away that is, but just miles away.
Anthony: Yeah, I mean, like autonomous vehicles, the deal is, hey, we don’t want humans driving these cars anymore because, you know, humans need healthcare, blah, blah, blah. But this is just, hey, we’re putting humans in a different location driving your car. I mean, I guess if they’re set up in the Philippines, we don’t have to give them healthcare.
Michael: I mean, if look, if there’s not a latency issue here, I mean, this could be, you know, a great thing. I mean, you could have a driver for, you know, a city transportation service that, that takes, you know, disabled folks around or the medical issues, people, there’s a lot of things that could be done with this to help people who don’t have driver’s license or aren’t capable of driving for whatever reason.
So it could be enormously beneficial. However, I think that the safety and the latency issues are necessary to work out before we go along this path. And I’m not sure if they can be.
Fred: Not just latency, but you’ve also got the problem that whoever is controlling this remotely doesn’t have the situational awareness of a human being that’s in the car.
Right, looking over your shoulder to make sure that the car is safe before you enter the traffic. A wide range, wide field of view associated with both forward and reverse situational awareness. You know, what’s behind the car, what’s in front of the car, what’s off to the side that your camera doesn’t show.
That’s all very important when you’re driving a car. So, I agree it could potentially have a lot of benefits for people who are mobility challenged. It’s probably better. To have a remotely driven car like that than to be drunk driving your own car. I don’t think there’s much of an argument about that, but we’ve all been on Zoom calls that have fallen apart because the connections weren’t there.
And there’s no reason to think that the connections between these remote drivers and the cars are any more robust than we’ve all experienced on our local Zoom calls.
Michael: It looks like, you know, I think they do have some redundancies built into the system. I think they’d have to even pretend they’re being safe.
But, you know, we don’t know what they are. We can always hope. Just hop in and trust
Anthony: us. I don’t see any benefit for this. I see it kind of like, why not just have the human in the car? I don’t see how that helps anybody with any sort of disability because, you know, the classic Hollywood cliché of the woman giving birth in the backseat.
How’s, you know, the remote control person, Kyle, I’m going to call him Kyle because he needs a job now, and he’s going to remotely like, you know, deliver the baby. I Or, help the person with the wheelchair get in because the ramp didn’t come down all the way, like there’s, you know, or help the person with their groceries load in, or with their luggage, or you know, you realize that, oh, the person in the backseat’s having a cardiac arrest event.
Or, you know, just eating food in my car and it has to be cleaned out. I vote humans in person. Never thought I would say that too. Yeah. Listeners, tell us what you think. I mean, sure, sometimes you get into a cab and they want to babble your ear off about something. But other times you get great recommendations on music, whatever they’re listening to from their native country.
Could just be me. We’ll find out. You let us know. You know, I like to joke a lot on the show because I’m not that smart. But hey, know who doesn’t like to joke? The Feds. The Feds are discouraging humorous electronic messages on highways. The Federal Highway Administration recently updated a 1, 100 page manual that spells out how signs and other traffic control devices are regulated.
In it, the agency strongly recommends against overhead electronic signs with obscure meanings, references to pop cultures, or those intended to be funny. I vote
Michael: boo. Yeah, I mean, I kind of get it and kind of don’t hear I mean, the feds seem to be really taking a pretty firm line on this that the messages on the highway need to be very readily apparent to everyone driving down the road.
However, you know, there is an argument that. people aren’t going to pay as much attention to something that isn’t a little entertaining or that doesn’t grab their attention in some way. And, you know, obviously there are probably bad examples of doing this that some states have done. I can see situations where states go a little too far and put up messaging that’s confusing or.
Not really that funny or really only funny if you’re in one very small demographic or there could be all sorts of ways for states to get in trouble here. So I think overall just to make things easier at the top that the feds are pursuing this action, taking away a little messaging ability from states.
I think that properly done, those states should be able to explore. Better uses of the content on the signs to attract attention. You know, you have to talk to someone who is 85 and someone who is 13 in different ways these days, there’s, there are many different phrases and language variations that have come out and people of certain ages, not to mention people of different cultures, races, languages, and other things.
So there needs to be, I think fair amount of flexibility preserved there. So that’s, you know, states can communicate with their citizens and then the people who live in their states in the manner in which those citizens are used to communicating. So we’re not all, we’re not all the same from New York all the way to California.
There are a lot of local variances and. people’s sense of humor and a lot of other things that need to be accounted for. And I think giving the state some flexibility there is a good thing in the end. So it’s, you know, the real fun police are at the federal highway administration, it seems.
I’m not over it. It’s like Elon says.
Anthony: Yeah. I mean, 1, 100 paid manual shows were lots of fun, but there’s one from Arizona that I really liked. It was hands on the wheel, not your meal. Come on, that’s
Michael: yeah. Or hold. Hold onto your butts to help prevent forest fires. Nothing wrong. I wanna get your head
I like get your head out of your apps. That
Michael: was pretty good. I like that too. See, I mean. That’s a pretty good one. That makes sense and that gets attention and that might make, might actually make someone who’s doing that think about it a little more than just a sign that says, do not use your cell phone while driving.
You know, you need to be inspired a little. Is
Fred: NHTSA should spend more time on intelligence speed assist than on regulating perhaps unintelligent slogans? I don’t know. Well, this
Anthony: is the FHA, not NHTSA. So
Michael: yeah, this is the highway administration,
Anthony: Everyone should be on intelligence, speed assist.
I think we agree. Right. Yes. Okay. Good. Hey, let’s jump into Recall Roundup. How does that feel?
Anthony: good this year. This year. Okay.
Michael: They’ve been a little slow coming out this year. We haven’t seen a lot of recalls coming out, but this week we had a few. We had one this morning that’s big.
Anthony: Well, we’ll get to that one last, because I’m only going to cover three of them.
And we’ve got to start off with, you know, rear camera failure updates. This one’s from Jaguar potentially 58, 000 plus vehicles. The 2018 to 2022 Land Rover Range Rover. And the 2018 2022 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. Concern has been identified on certain vehicles where the reversing camera will display a poor image or no image at all as a result of water ingress into the camera housing.
Oh, that’s not good. So don’t take your Range Rover out in the rain. Or on the range.
Michael: Or in the water. I mean, didn’t Range Rover build their brand by driving to streams and jungles? You know, that’s not consistent with their history, building a camera that can’t resist
Anthony: water. Yeah, well thankfully this is an easy one and it does not like affect your power steering or some other crazy thing that we’ve seen with Rear image with rear view cameras.
All right, Kia America, potentially over 100, 000 vehicles, 2023 Sportage and Carnivals. There’s a Kia Carnival? Huh. The roof molding may become loose or detach under certain circumstances. What is roof molding?
Michael: I’m assuming it’s just kind of the it could be a lot of things. I mean, really, if you, it could be something that is the outside cover on the roof, it could be part of the roof rack.
It could be a lot of things. I think even. Molding is kind of, I guess, a general term used to describe some of the outward facing portions of the vehicle. This one was basically a had retaining clips that didn’t work or weren’t strong enough. So that’s, that could cause a hazard for other vehicles.
I think, and some of these particularly we’re looking at motorcyclists and other. I don’t think that it’s necessarily a huge threat to other vehicles, but you’re talking about a roof molding flying down the road that could hit another car, maybe going through Penguin’s open window, motorcycle, that type of thing.
That’s where the problem comes in here.
Anthony: Oh, so this is the exterior. I was thinking it was kind of like the the lining inside that droops eventually on old cars. No, this is exterior. Oh boy. Okay. Get that fixed. And then let’s jump to the the big recall, little company called Ford as recalling 1.
8 million, 1. 8 million 2011 to 2019 Ford Explorers. The A pillar exterior trim may detach from vehicle. And this can cause a road hazard. This is okay. This is kind of like what you’re talking about with the, just on that Hyundai
Michael: Kia. Yeah. I mean, this isn’t moldy, but this is the trim. So it’s out basically this one is the the A pillar is the.
Part of the vehicle that’s on the right and the left side of your windshield. That is essentially there’s about a, I guess it’s about a foot and a half, two foot long piece of plastic that is snapped into that area on the Ford Explorers. And there have been, you know, hundreds of complaints of those flying off during operation.
They’re made out of plastic. They don’t, I mean, this is very similar to the Kia recall, and that the threat here is to drivers or motorcyclists who might be following the Explorers when this happens. So it, you know, it’s a lot of vehicles, and it’s a. Very large recall. And, I’m a little surprised that Ford went into this one so easily.
They have been under investigation for about a year. But, you know, I didn’t see any reports of injuries. Or crashes that have been caused by these situations. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any, that just means that NHTSA didn’t find any, or didn’t have any when they opened their investigation.
So, you know, good for Ford, continuing their, you know, leading role in the number of vehicles recalled every year from the past few years. They’re already out to a, to an early start in 2024.
Fred: Yeah. Hey, Michael, there used to be An issue associated with carbon monoxide leaking into Explorer cabins.
Was that ever fixed or has that just
Michael: been overtaken by time? It was addressed in that there were the police vehicles where it was happening were brought in for a service campaign that sealed some spots. And then I believe there was another service campaign that did something similar for passenger vehicles.
But they were never recalled, and I can’t remember, I’m not totally sure, that may, that investigation may still be opened. And it’s only been five years, yeah.
Fred: Don’t want to rush into these things.
Michael: Well, it’s a lot of that started. There was a, you know, there was at least one police officer, I believe, who was almost killed, who was just driving down the road and carbon monoxide exposure basically caused them to become unconscious and run off the road.
And, you know, we heard from dozens of consumers who were having similar problems There’s, you know, it’s kind of a different safety issue. It’s not crash related or that type of trauma. And so it seems like something was very difficult for NHTSA to get its head around. It was, you know, it wasn’t happening in every Ford Explorer.
There were simply a lot of confusion as to why consumers were worried. Getting the symptoms. They were, you know, they were, it was hard to trace it to a carbon monoxide level because most people don’t have the type of carbon monoxide detectors necessary to actively monitor the levels in their vehicle.
So there was a I still think there should have been a recall there that would have alerted everyone and filled the gaps or whatever was causing the problem. There was also some evidence that it might be connected to the HVAC system in some way. Yeah. But I don’t believe to date we’ve seen a conclusion about that from NHTSA.
Anthony: Well, hey, listeners thank you so much for everybody who submits complaints about your vehicle to us. We have up on our website, the 2023 most complained about cars. And so we use all this information to help figure out what’s going on in the world. This is very helpful, so continue submitting those complaints.
Board’s on there a bunch of times. And with that, we want to thank you for listening. Tell all your friends, give us five stars in every possible ratings, share with everybody, like, subscribe, all that kind of stuff. And thanks for your time.
Fred: Thank you. Thanks everyone.
For more information, visit www. autosafety. org.