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Nissan Leaf Gets 5 Stars Rating From Euro NCAP

The Nissan Leaf is the first EV in Europe that received a five star rating from the prestigious Euro NCAP organization. The car got an 89% rating for adult safety, 83% for child protection and 84% for the on-board safety-assist systems, including the speed limited and the ESC – Electronic Stability Control.

As far as the pedestrian safety is concerned, the car got a 65% rating which is pretty good in comparison to other tested models. The Leaf was able to achieve this good score thanks to its low nose design and the comparative lack of “hard points” under the hood, at least that’s what Nissan says. The automaker added that the vehicle’s 48 lithium-ion batteries, which have been installed in a special compartment located under the rear seats, “completely withstood all the impacts.”

Besides the Nissan Leaf, other cars that managed to grab all the five stars were the Volvo V60 (obtaining 100% for its Safety Assist), Peugeot 508, Citroen DS4, Ford Focus and the Lexus CT200h.

Starting with next year, three of these cars will not be able to get the five-star rating due to the reason that Euro NCAP’s pedestrian protection scores will increase from the current 40% to 60%.

Source: Euro NCAP via AutoCar

Video: Ford reveals new airbag technology, will debut it on 2012 Focus

Ford is definitely amping up its safety technologies, and after revealing the innovative seat belt passenger air bags at the beginning of the year, it has now presented a new airbag technology.

Set to premiere on the 2012 Ford Focus, the new airbags have an array of features. The driver airbag will use a tether to pull in the lower part of it, in order to protect the driver’s rib cage and chest in case of a front impact.

The side airbags have also been improved, with the addition of air vents. While that may sound weird, the air vents are there to soften the blow in case of an impact. Taller inhabitants will naturally block those vents with their shoulders, increasing the effectiveness of the airbags on their own.

Last but not least, the front passenger airbag will have adaptive venting technology. Basically, the car monitors the weight of the person riding in front, and adjusts the amount of air that is required to be pumped into the airbag in case of a crash. This will prevent the airbag from actually hurting the passenger if it’s blown with too much power.

Overall, this new technology sounds mighty impressive. Hit the jump to see a video with it in action.

U.S. traffic deaths reach 60-year low

It seems that the struggling economy, the big number of safety campaigns and more and more safety features in new cars have had some impact in the USA.

According to a new statistic from the National High Traffic Safety Administration, the number of deaths in traffic has reached a 60-year low, with 1.13 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled.

According to the NHTSA, safer cars, more campaigns against drunk driving and in favor of seat belt usage are largely responsible for this improvement. Still, more than 30,000 people died last year in traffic accidents, while a whopping 2.4 million people were injured.

This just goes to prove that even though roads are a bit less cluttered and your car is much safer, you still need to be careful so as to not end up as just another statistic.


Toyota objects to NHTSA accusations of planting unintended acceleration driver error story

Toyota objects to NHTSA accusations of planting unintended acceleration driver error story

Toyota has officially backfired against the accusations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it planted a story with the Wall Street Journal in order to clear its name from the unintended acceleration scandal.

In case you aren’t familiar with the story, the WSJ cited inside sources that said that investigations on unintended acceleration incidents up until now cited, in most cases, driver error to be the main cause. More specifically, the drivers were pressing the gas pedal instead of the brake.

An unnamed NHTSA spokesperson immediately backfired, saying that Toyota planted that story itself, and the investigations led by the NHTSA aren’t even finished, so no information could’ve come from the federal body.

Toyota has now replied, saying that the NHTSA hasn’t revealed anything to Toyota, and that the company doesn’t have access to the findings from the NHTSA. As such, the information couldn’t have come from Toyota itself.

We still can’t say for sure who is to blame for the leak, but everything will be cleared out when the NHTSA eventually reveals its findings. Until then, you can be sure that more speculation will ensue.


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House of Representatives examines regulatory bill for black box and brake override systems

After the recent incidents with Toyota models and the unintended acceleration issues, the House of Representatives tasked one of its committees to create a new bill which will require automakers to implement even data recorders (aka black boxes), as well as other safety features in their future cars.

The bill has now been passed by the committee and is up for public debate at the House of Representatives. Besides the event data recorder part, systems like brake override, pushbutton starts and even pedal placement are also regulated by the new bill.

While such features were standard on quite a few cars, the House feels like a common regulation would help investigations in car crashes and, of course, augment the safety factor. If the bill is passed, it’s onto the Senate where it can be voted and become an actual law.



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Consumers Reports lifts ‘Do Not Buy’ warning off 2010 Lexus GX460

It’s been one heck of a month for the 2010 Lexus GX460, as after it was tested by Consumer Reports, going all tail-happy on the drivers, it received the infamous ‘Do Not Buy’ warning.

As you already know, Toyota acted quickly and revealed in just a week or so a new software update for the Vehicle Stability Control on the luxury SUV. This prevented the car from sliding out of control during corners (aka drifting), ensuring that the luxo-barge keeps it together.

Now, after the sale of the 2010 Lexus GX460 has been restarted and owners are being called in for the software fix, Consumer Reports has once again tested the SUV in its own facilities. The results should make Toyota and Lexus quite happy, as the ‘Do Not Buy’ warning has officially been lifted.

Hopefully the Japanese carmaker will be more careful with its safety tests and won’t be plagued by such problems in the future.

Video: Volvo S60 safety demonstration goes wrong

The new Volvo S60 is being hyped up pretty hard by the Swedish company not just for its new safety systems but also for its improved performance, through the Naughty Volvos campaign.

But seeing as how the Scandinavian carmaker is famous for its leading safety technology, people still expect the 2011 S60 to provide the best protection money can buy.

As such, the company organized a little demonstration for the collision warning system. Those not familiar with the technology should know that if the car detects you’re going to crash, it will alert you and, if you don’t respond, it’s going to brake the car for you.

As such, the company sent a new S60 towards a parked truck at 30 mph. What should have been a safety demonstration quickly went awfully wrong for the Swedish company, as the new sedan crashed into the back of the truck.

The company said that it was human error, as the vehicle wasn’t fully prepared for the test, but the video of the crash is still pretty intense. Thankfully, as you can see, the passenger compartment isn’t even scratched after the crash.

Hit the jump to see this failed Volvo S60 safety demonstration.

Video: Citroen Nemo flips over in ‘Moose test’, shows why stability control is important

We usually take a few systems in our new cars for granted. Among them is the electronic stability control feature, sometimes called ESC, ESP or traction control, depending on the carmaker.

We recently saw what could happen when such a system is in over its head, with the tail-happy 2010 Lexus GX460. Thankfully, Toyota acted quick and released an updated firmware for the luxury SUV that prevents it from going out of control.

But what happens when a car with a like a compact people carrier, with a high center of gravity and short wheelbase isn’t fitted with ESC?

Well British consumer magazine Which? decided to find out, and lined up three such cars, the Fiat Qubo, the Peugeot Bipper Teepee and the Citroen Nemo. The models were subjected to the famous ‘Moose Test’, when a car must swerve to avoid an impact at 50 mph.

The Fiat Qubo, which has ESC as an option for diesel variants, passed the test, just barely. The Citroen Nemo however, without any ESC, failed miserably by flipping over and landing on its roof. Seeing this, Which? decided to cancel the test for the Peugeot, as the two cars are practically identical and both don’t offer ESC.

PSA Peugeot Citroen reacted and said it will implement ESC in diesel variants but gasoline ones will get the system around 2011. Check out the video of the pretty horrific Moose test of the Citroen Nemo after the jump.

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Porsche recalls 2010 Panamera over front seatbelt issues

If you thought luxury carmakers aren’t subjected to recalls, you’re pretty wrong, as Porsche has just announced that it will be calling back to dealerships around 3,176 2010 Panamera super sedans over a potential defect to the front seatbelts.

It seems that when the front seats of the Panamera are in an extreme forward position, the seatbelt mount might become detached from its anchor, leading to a failure. Needless to say, if you’re in a crash, you want your seatbelt to be as secure as possible.

The fix for this problem consists of an additional anchor that will be added by Porsche mechanics in dealerships. Owners will be notified immediately and the repair will be free of charge. As of yet no injuries stemming from this problem have been reported.



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Subaru presents ‘New EyeSight’ collision prevention system

It seems collision prevention systems are the next big thing at least in terms of vehicle safety. After Volvo presented its own take on this technology, Subaru has now revealed the ‘New EyeSight‘ system that will appear in its future models.

The technology uses two cameras mounted behind the rear-view mirror to detect any objects in from the car, from pedestrians to other hazards. If a potential crash is detected, the driver will be notified. If he/she does nothing, the pre-collision braking control will kick in and the car will grind to a halt.

The car will only be stopped if the difference in speed between the car and the hazard is less than 18.5 mph. If it is larger than that, the car will just be slowed down by the pre-collision system.

Another new safety feature announced by Subaru is a brake assist system which, if it detects the pedal being pressed down hard, will redirect more energy to the brakes and enable a shorter braking distance. Besides this, adaptive cruise control will become standard on Subaru vehicles, enabling them to detect the speed of the car ahead and change theirs accordingly when the cruise control is active.

When will we see these new technologies? Japanese customers will be able to order them, including the New EyeSight tech, as early as next month on Legacy models, but the rest of the world hasn’t received a concrete release date.


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Video: Lexus GX460 deemed dangerous to drive by media, Toyota stops sale

Toyota is on an unfortunate roll these days with bad press, as Consumer Reports, in its yearly car tests, has found the 2010 Lexus GX460 to be extremely dangerous to drive, and placed it in its infamous “Do Not Buy” list.

It seems that the big luxury SUV has a few faults with its traction control system, or in simpler terms, is too tail-happy, causing the rear of the vehicle to slide outwards at greater speeds, as if it were drifting. Because its Toyota-badged brother, the 4Runner, had no problems with the same test, Consumer Reports indicate that either the luxury model has an issue with the traction control or because too many premium features were added, the increased weight simply overcomes the power of the system.

Toyota has immediately taken action, in an effort to save its premium SUV, and has stopped the sale of all Lexus GX460 models in the USA. It will work together with Consumer Reports and try to find a solution to the tail happy SUV. If you already own a 2010 GX460, you can take it to your local dealership where a loaner car will be supplied until a solution is found.

Hit the jump to see just a video from CR showing the test and what went wrong with the tail happy 2010 Lexus GX460.

GM to implement brake override system on all models until 2012

Seeing as how Toyota is paying dearly in terms of public opinion and consumer backlash for its unintended acceleration problems, General Motors has just announced it will be implementing a new “enhanced Smart Pedal” technology in all automatic gearbox-equipped vehicles by 2012.

Essentially, this system will work as a brake override, meaning that if the gas pedal is pressed, and the brake one is also being used, the ECU will automatically begin to cut the power of the engine, eventually halting the vehicle.

We’ve already seen other carmakers, like Kia, reveal their plans to introduce such systems, especially after Toyota went down, so GM’s decision isn’t all that surprising. Hopefully such technologies will become standard in the future, to add that extra bit of safety to our driving experiences.


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Toyota rumored to expand 2000-2003 Tundra rust recall to all of USA

At the end of 2009, amidst the controversy of unintended acceleration claims and debates, Toyota released a safety campaign aimed at owners of 2000-2003 Tundra pick-up trucks, all located in the northern states of the USA.

The issue regarded frame corrosion (as in rust) which was generated by low temperatures. While it was mainly affecting the spare tire compartment, the possibility of damaging the fuel or brake lines existed, so people flocked to get their trucks check up.

Now, Toyota revealed that it has alerted dealers about the possibility of expanding the recall to all of the US states. The company isn’t officially pegging this as a recall, saying that complete details, after a consult with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will arrive at the end of March.

Some 400,000 2000-2003 Toyota Tundra models are affected, and owners will soon be notified by Toyota to head to their local dealerships.


Mazda adding brake override system into future cars

Mazda wasn’t oblivious to the troubles of its fellow Japanese carmaker Toyota, which recalled a massive number of vehicles over unintended acceleration issues, and has revealed that it will implement brake override systems into all future cars.

The safety measure will automatically override the throttle pedal, if it and the brake pedal are simultaneously being pressed. This system won’t come at a big cost for Mazda, reportedly around $50 per car, and will definitely save it some troubles in the future.

As you may remember, Toyota vowed to implement such a technology in its future cars, but then the huge recalls hit, and nothing has been heard. Out of the other Japanese carmakers, Nissan is already fitting its cars with the brake override system, while other brands have yet to do so.

Do you think such systems are of benefit to the safety of the driver and passengers or is it too little, too late?



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Video: New seatbelt advocacy ad teaches you to “Embrace Life”

We’ve seen plenty of road safety ads and commercials over the years, but few have really awakened such a vivid feeling like this new one from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, which takes a pretty simple approach to the whole issue of buckling up before you start the car.

The whole slow motion aspect and the delicate music all paint a clear picture: wearing your seatbelt is a simple task which can save your life.

Hit the jump to see this great ad.

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