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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 14, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
Federal regulators in 2007 asked Toyota Motor Corp. to consider installing software to prevent sudden acceleration in its vehicles after receiving complaints that vehicles could race out of control, company documents show. Yet the automaker began installing the safety feature, known as brake override, only this January after a widely publicized accident involving a runaway Lexus ES that killed four people near San Diego. Safety regulators acknowledged late last week that they pressured Toyota anew last fall to consider the override software in the wake of that crash, which set off a chain of events leading the company to issue nearly 10 million recall notices worldwide.
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
March 14, 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.
BUSINESS
March 11, 2010 | By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Federal inspection of the runaway Toyota Prius that took a wild ride on a San Diego County freeway was delayed several hours Wednesday when a California congressman insisted that someone from his office witness the examination. A team of inspectors from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was already at Toyota of El Cajon examining the car -- which reportedly had a stuck accelerator, causing it to speed for half an hour before the driver got it stopped -- when a staffer from the office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
BUSINESS
February 28, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Carol J. Williams and Robert Faturechi
One car barreled through a stop sign, struck a tree and landed upside down in a Texas lake, drowning four people. Another tore across an Indiana street and crashed into a jewelry store. A third raced at an estimated 100 mph on a San Bernardino County street before striking a phone pole, killing the owner of a sushi restaurant. At least 56 people have died in U.S. traffic accidents in which sudden unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles has been alleged, according to a Times review of public records and interviews with authorities.
BUSINESS
February 18, 2010 | By Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian
When some of the world's best-known companies faced disputes over secondhand smoke, toxic waste in the jungle and asbestos, they all turned to the same source for a staunch defense: Exponent Inc. Now that same engineering and consulting firm has been hired by Toyota Motor Corp. as it seeks to fend off claims that sudden acceleration in its vehicles could be caused by problems in its electronic throttle systems. A 56-page report that Menlo Park, Calif.-based Exponent sent to Congress on Feb. 9 found that the system behaved as intended and that Exponent was "unable to induce . . . unintended acceleration or behavior that might be a precursor to such an event."
SPORTS
February 10, 2010 | By Jim Peltz
In mid-2008 when the NHRA indefinitely shortened its top-fuel and funny car races for safety reasons, it raised a question: Should there be record speeds and times kept for that distance? The National Hot Rod Assn. initially decided no. But starting last September, the sanctioning body started allowing records for the shorter distance, partly because the records earn their drivers championship bonus points in the sport's top-level Full Throttle Series. The distance for NHRA drag racing always had been one-quarter mile, or 1,320 feet.
BUSINESS
February 5, 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
November 18, 2002 | Myron Levin, Times Staff Writer
Ali Warsome is blind. This is how it happened: In April, he was riding in a car that hit a divider on a roadway in Washington, D.C. It wasn't much of a wreck; the '94 Nissan Altima didn't even need a tow. But the air bag struck his face with such force that Warsome's battered left eye had to be removed. Surgeons were unable to restore the vision in his right eye because "the retina was completely shredded," according to his medical records.
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.
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