GM’s Faulty Ignition Switches Are The Cause Of Multiple Fatalities, And Now They May Have To Pay For It

DETROIT – When you are late for work, have to pick up a coffee and run some errands the last thing you want to worry about is if the new car you bought is perfectly put together.

A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled that people suing General Motors over faulty ignition switches can seek punitive damages that could cost the company millions of dollars or more.

When General Motors emerged from a 2009 bankruptcy, it became known as “New GM.” The new company essentially was shielded from liabilities of the old company that was left behind.

But Judge Robert Gerber in New York ruled Monday that employees and knowledge transferred from the “Old GM” to the new company. Plaintiffs, he ruled, can seek punitive damages if they can show that “New GM” knew of the faulty switches but covered it up.

The ruling has the potential to open GM to large jury verdicts, because the company has admitted knowing about the faulty switches for a decade or more but failed to recall the cars until February of 2014. Many of the engineers, attorneys and safety investigators who had knowledge of the switches went from the old company to the new one.

But in a statement, GM said the ruling was not a victory for those suing the company. Although the court ruled that New GM could be liable for punitive damages for claims based solely on its conduct, “plaintiffs to date have not established any such independent claims against New GM,” the statement said.

The ignition switches can slip out of the run position and shut off the engine, knocking out the power steering, power brakes and air bags. They are responsible for crashes that killed at least 169 people and injured hundreds of others.

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New Safety Technologies In Vehicles Baffle Drivers

WASHINGTON – There are so many new types of new technology when it comes to car safety, however the rapid change can take some time to settle with car buyers.

Some features will automatically turn a car back into its lane if it begins to drift, or hit the brakes if sensors detect that it’s about to rear-end someone else. There are lane-change and blind-spot monitors, drowsiness alerts and cars that can park themselves. Technologies once limited to high-end models like adaptive cruise control, tire-pressure indicators and rear-view cameras have become more common.

The features hold tremendous potential to reduce deaths and injuries by eliminating collisions or mitigating their severity, safety advocates say.

But there’s one problem: Education on how to use them doesn’t come standard. Bewildered drivers sometimes just turn them off, defeating the safety potential.

“If people don’t understand how that works or what the car is doing, it may startle them or make them uncomfortable,” said Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council. “We want to make sure we’re explaining things to people so that the technology that can make them safer is actually taken advantage of.”

The council and the University of Iowa, along with the Department of Transportation, are kicking off an education campaign Wednesday to inform drivers on how the safety features work. The effort includes a website, MyCarDoesWhat.org, with video demonstrations.

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Watch Out For Speed Cameras, They Will Catch You, But Can Also Save You

When you speed through a stop sign or a crosswalk, were you caught on camera. Safety is a huge issue for drivers and the cameras are hopefully going to change the amount of accidents that occur by watching, catching and handing out consequences to dangerous drivers.

Speed cameras can substantially reduce the likelihood of deadly collisions and result in long-term changes in driver behavior. If all U.S. communities had speed-camera programs like the one recently studied, some 21,000 deaths or serious injuries would have been prevented in 2013.

Those are the main findings of a report released earlier this week by theInsurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit financed by the insurance industry.

“We hope this research will help energize the discussion around speed,” Adrian Lund, president of the institute, said in a statement. “We’re all accustomed to seeing posted limits ignored, but it’s a mistake to think nothing can be done about it. Automated enforcement is one of the tools we have at our disposal.”

The study was based in Montgomery County, Md., a large community near Washington, D.C., where speed cameras were introduced in 2007 and used on residential streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less and in school zones. After seven years, cameras reduced the likelihood of a driver exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph by 59 percent, compared with similar roads in two nearby Virginia counties that did not have speed cameras, according to the study.

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The Older Demographic Is Majorly Profitable To Automakers

Usually retirees are the demographic that purchases a luxury vehicle, more often than not because that is when they can actually afford it.

Richard Emmons, 83, likes to spend his weekends cruising around in a 1995 Jaguar convertible with a big 12-cylinder engine. His weekday drive is either a 2009 Volkswagen Eos or the $82,000 Audi A8 sedan he bought in November. After all, this octogenarian needs something reliable for his 10-mile commute to the Pratt & Whitney plant in Windsor, Conn., where he works full-time as a jet engineer. “I’m bad at retiring,” Emmons says. “I don’t really have a lot of hobbies anymore. I just like cars and investing.”

American seniors have never been healthier or wealthier. At the same time, cars have never been crammed with more features to safeguard drivers with fuzzier vision, slower reactions, and stiffer necks. Those forces have created a powerful economic engine for car manufacturers. This might just be the first time ever that one of the most promising demographics for the auto industry is represented by Social Security recipients.

“Honestly,” says Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark Hans-Richer, “we sell new bikes to guys in their 80s all the time.”

The roads in America are going gray. From 2003 to 2013, the number of licensed drivers over the age of 65 surged by 8.2 million, a 29 percent increase, according to U.S. Census data. The very old were particularly stubborn about pulling over for good. There are now about 3.5 million U.S. drivers over 84, a staggering 43 percent increase over a decade ago.

On the other end of the age spectrum, teenagers no longer have the income or inclination to own a car. Over that same 10- year period, the ranks of drivers under age 20 declined by 3 percent.

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New Tech Assessment Shows If New Drivers Are Able To Function In An Accident Situation

Driving is said to come with practice and time therefore new drivers are at more of risk when handling dangerous situations on the road.

Passing the state driver’s licensing test does not always mean new drivers have the critical skills they need to drive safely, but researchers said they developed a simulator-based assessment that can evaluate performance, licensure readiness and identify specific skills new drivers lack.

“We’re providing the science behind the answer to why teens – and some adults – don’t drive well,” Flaura K. Winston, principal investigator for the research, said in a statement.

The assessment offers the opportunity for the first time to safely assess novice teen drivers’ skills in high-risk driving scenarios that commonly lead to crashes, The Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania said when they announced the news last month.

“Now we are able to ‘diagnose driving’ in order to ensure that we are training and putting skilled drivers on the road,” said Dr. Winston, who is the Center’s scientific director.

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