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Automobile Safety

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NEWS
December 24, 1996 | RALPH VARTABEDIAN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
When Ralph Nader thrust auto safety into a national issue in the 1960s with his book "Unsafe at Any Speed," it looked like political pressure had reach such a level that the federal government would never dare retreat on improving automobile safety equipment. But Nader, who ran for president this year, is charging that the Clinton administration has seriously backtracked on auto safety--caving in to the interests of auto makers and commercial truckers.
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BUSINESS
May 5, 2010 | Michael Hiltzik
Every time I hear a big industry crab about how some new set of government regulations will mean the end to life as we know it, bring the economy crashing down around our heads, or burden the consumer with more passed-on costs, I think of the smartest words Ronald Reagan ever spoke. They were: "There you go again." Reagan and I wouldn't have seen eye to eye on much, but this phrase sums up my exact reaction to the arguments by the financial industry and its chums in Washington against the financial regulation bill now before Congress.
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AUTOS
May 17, 2006 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
When it comes to auto safety, the most basic and seemingly simple issues are sometimes the least understood. The auto industry invests billions of dollars each year in technology to make cars safer. Laws are passed by legislators every year with the intent to make roads safer. And experts debate endlessly about whether teens or older people should be denied some or all driving privileges. But all this ignores some rudimentary matters, such as which foot you brake with.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2010 | By Carol J. Williams
On a summer day in 1911, Donald MacPherson was driving his Buick runabout to Sarasota Springs, N.Y., when the wooden spokes snapped on a rear wheel, flipping the open car and trapping him under the rear axle. MacPherson suffered a badly lacerated eye and a broken wrist so painful he couldn't grip the tools he needed to ply his craft as a stone cutter. He sued Buick Motor Co., alleging negligence in failing to ensure the wheel was roadworthy. In what would become a landmark ruling in product liability law, the New York Court of Appeals in 1916 awarded MacPherson $5,025 in compensation -- about $115,000 in today's dollars -- and established the automaker's "duty of care" to ensure customers are sold a safe product.
SPORTS
February 11, 2001 | ED HINTON, TRIBUNE MOTOR SPORTS WRITER
About the Project This is the result of six months of research and reporting by Tribune Auto Race Writer Ed Hinton, with help from staffers at other Tribune papers, among them Darin Esper of the Los Angeles Times. It sheds new light on the decline of traditional fatalism among race drivers and the need for more research and action to prevent the violent deaths the sport has come to accept.
AUTOS
December 12, 2001 | JEANNE WRIGHT, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
We all know the drill. The first thing you do when you slide behind the wheel is buckle up for safety. If you don't, you risk getting a ticket that could cost you as much as $271. So what's up with all these vintage car owners who cruise around Southern California sans seat belts? How safe is that? Not a day goes by that I don't see someone zipping around in a vintage automobile--a '50s-era Cadillac or a dilapidated Volkswagen Beetle from the '60s.
NEWS
November 25, 1993 | TYLER MARSHALL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Accusations of unethical auto safety tests Wednesday engulfed the respected Heidelberg University, one of Germany's oldest institutions of higher learning. Senior officials at the university's Institute for Forensic Medicine found themselves scrambling to defend a series of auto crash tests, carried out over a period of nearly two decades, in which human cadavers were used instead of the customary plastic manikins.
AUTOS
August 23, 2006 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
More and more motorists seem to be driving around in cars sitting atop what look like rubber bands: low profile tires on giant alloy wheels. Those "rubber bands" are actually high performance or touring tires, and they're wildly popular among consumers who like a muscular, sporty look. But like an injury-prone star athlete, the buff body disguises some weaknesses. If you don't think so, just ask Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito.
NEWS
March 10, 1994 | SONIA NAZARIO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Although a new state law went into effect this year barring pickup truck passengers from riding without seat belts in the bed of the vehicles, an exemption for trucks with camper shells has allowed accidents involving pickups to remain nearly as dangerous as ever, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. Such camper shells routinely snap off in accidents, often hurling their victims to their deaths, the officials said.
AUTOS
January 31, 2007 | Ralph Vartabedian, Times Staff Writer
Nothing looks hotter on a new car than oversized alloy wheels and low-profile tires, the look of a black rubber band around a sleek, highly polished aluminum rim. Unfortunately, nothing is more vulnerable to the cruelties of the roadway than this combination, which has less protection from the pounding of potholes, road debris and occasional curbs.
BUSINESS
February 4, 2010 | By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
And now, the Lexus hybrid. Toyota Motor Corp.'s investigation into brake problems with its Prius hybrid bled over to the Prius' upscale cousin, the Lexus HS 250h hybrid, on Thursday. The mechanical parts that make up the brake system in the Lexus model are identical to those in Toyota's 2010 Prius, but the two gas-electric hybrid cars use different software systems to control the way the brakes are used, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman. Still, he said, the Lexus is now part of Toyota's investigation.
BUSINESS
April 17, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
A California judge approved a settlement for a class-action lawsuit that will compensate about 800,000 Ford Explorer owners whose vehicles lost value because of a perceived rollover danger. The settlement ends suits against Ford Motor Co. in California, Connecticut, Illinois and Texas that claimed that Explorers lost about $1,000 in resale value because of publicity from rollover accidents. Under the settlement, those who bought Explorers in model years 1991 through 2001 are eligible for $500 vouchers to buy new Explorers or $300 vouchers to buy other Ford or Lincoln Mercury vehicles.
BUSINESS
April 16, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest automaker, is recalling Sonata sedans in the U.S. because the front passenger air bag may not deploy when the seat is occupied by a small adult. Some 2006 to 2008 models are affected, Hyundai said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hyundai expects only about 1% of those vehicles will need to have the seat sensor reprogrammed.
BUSINESS
March 11, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Ford Motor Co. lost a bid to reduce an $82.6-million verdict stemming from a rollover crash after a state appeals court in San Diego said that amount was justified based on a review ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford said it would appeal the ruling.
BUSINESS
February 12, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Ford Motor Co. is recalling 123,632 Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles to fix door handles that might allow latches to open in a side-impact crash. The housing for springs in the interior handles of 2006 and 2007 models can break during normal use and not return the handles to their locked position, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. No accidents or injuries from the condition have been reported, Ford said. Separately, Ford told NHTSA it's recalling 57,199 SUVs and vans for possible fuel-line leaks in the engine compartment.
BUSINESS
February 12, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
U.S. officials have launched a preliminary investigation of reported engine compartment fires in General Motors Corp. full-size Tahoe and GMC Yukon sport utility vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received two complaints alleging fires in 2007 models. An estimated 423,000 pickups could be affected, General Motors said. Both complaints said the fires occurred when the vehicles were parked in garages with the engine off, and caused significant property damage.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2010 | By Carol J. Williams
On a summer day in 1911, Donald MacPherson was driving his Buick runabout to Sarasota Springs, N.Y., when the wooden spokes snapped on a rear wheel, flipping the open car and trapping him under the rear axle. MacPherson suffered a badly lacerated eye and a broken wrist so painful he couldn't grip the tools he needed to ply his craft as a stone cutter. He sued Buick Motor Co., alleging negligence in failing to ensure the wheel was roadworthy. In what would become a landmark ruling in product liability law, the New York Court of Appeals in 1916 awarded MacPherson $5,025 in compensation -- about $115,000 in today's dollars -- and established the automaker's "duty of care" to ensure customers are sold a safe product.
NEWS
April 30, 1991 | TYLER MARSHALL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
For anyone familiar with the purr and comfort of a Western-style automobile, the east German Trabant had little to offer. It was small, ugly, slow, obsolete, uneconomical, unsafe, uncomfortable and such a polluter that it quickly earned the nickname "Little Stinker" in the West. The Trabant--or "Trabi," as it became known--may have survived in the heavily protected environs of Communist Eastern Europe, but in a free market, it was simply uncompetitive.
BUSINESS
February 5, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Ford Motor Co. must pay $6.5 million to a 41-year-old man who was brain-damaged in a 2004 rollover accident involving an Explorer sport utility vehicle, a Texas jury said. Ruben Zamora lost control of the 1993 Explorer when a tire lost its tread and he was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled over. His mother, suing on his behalf, said the tread separation set off vibrations in the rear of the vehicle that made it skate sideways because of a defect in the SUV's suspension.
BUSINESS
December 27, 2007 | From Times Wire Services
Ford Motor Co. is developing a high-tech insert for crash test dummies that is similar in size and shape to a 6-year-old's abdomen, aiming to improve tests for children's vehicle safety. The prototype is part of an effort by the Dearborn, Mich., company to make the dummies and tests more realistic. Crash tests mainly focus on head and chest injuries, said Steve Rouhana, a technical leader in Ford's crash testing.
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