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A crashworthiness test for the government’s star safety rating system for new model cars and trucks, formally known as the New Car Assessment Program. (U.S. Department of Transportation/NHTSA photo)

By Eric Kulisch, FairWarning

Grade inflation in school makes it difficult to distinguish who is actually achieving in the classroom. The federal government’s vehicle safety rating system suffers the same problem.

Today, 98 percent of all vehicles tested receive four or five stars for crashworthiness. Consumer advocates and safety experts say it’s time to raise the bar for the New Car Assessment Program, which hasn’t been updated in nearly 10 years.

By Christopher Jensen, FairWarning 

 

Three years ago, General Motors chief executive Mary Barra admitted that for years the automaker had concealed an ignition-switch defect, which has now been linked to at least 124 deaths. And she assured federal regulators that there would be a new pro-safety and pro-consumer attitude at the company.But federal safety regulators are now investigating whether GM has been adequately handling a recall of about 429,000 vehicles in the United States for the sudden failure of both low-beam headlights.

The investigation comes after 128 GM owners complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a report posted on the agency’s website.

By Rick Schmitt and Paul Feldman, FairWarning 

After a long downward trend, U.S. traffic deaths are on the rise again, and a key factor is the stubbornly high fatality toll among some of the most exposed people on the road: motorcyclists.

Nevertheless, federal regulators have balked at requiring a safety measure that, many experts say, could save hundreds of bikers’ lives every year.

By Brian Joseph, FairWarning 

Many of the self-driving cars in Google’s fleet are converted Lexus SUVs.

Many of the self-driving cars in Google’s fleet are converted Lexus SUVs.

On Valentine’s Day in Silicon Valley, one of Google’s experimental, self-driving cars sideswiped a city bus at 2 miles an hour. The incident marked the first time an autonomous car contributed to an accident on a public road, but did nothing to diminish the Obama administration’s enthusiasm for driverless vehicles.

A month after the crash, at an autonomous car conference in Dearborn, Mich., Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, said his agency and the federal Department of Transportation “are using all the tools we have available to advance what see as a revolution in technology,” according to his prepared remarks. “Our goal is to hasten this revolution.”

By Paul Feldman, FairWarning cyclecrash

Last year was a bad one for motorcyclists, with a new estimate showing that 5,010 bikers were killed in crashes nationwide, the worst death toll in seven years.

Florida led the nation with an estimated 550 motorcyclist fatalities in 2015 amid the largest year-to-year surge in such deaths of any state, according to an analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The grim new count pushed the Sunshine State well past last year’s leader, California.