Friday, January 29, 2010

Consumer Reports Suspends Recommendations for Recalled Toyotas

/PRNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports has temporarily suspended its "recommended" status for eight Toyota vehicle models and one Pontiac model that may have accelerator pedals that can stick and cause unintended acceleration.

Consumer Reports are also advising used-car buyers to avoid purchasing any of the affected vehicles until this issue is resolved.

"Although incidents of sudden acceleration are rare, we are taking this action because the vehicles have been identified as potentially unsafe without a fix yet being available to consumers, and in general our position is that you shouldn't compromise on safety," said Jim Guest, President of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

Toyota said Friday it is working to get new parts to its factories and is finalizing a fix for dealers.

Consumer Reports recommends that owners of the estimated 2.3 million vehicles involved in the recall become familiar with the warning signs of trouble, which may include the accelerator pedal being harder to depress, slower to return to its upper position, or simply not operating smoothly. It adds that all drivers should know what to do if their car suffers sudden unintended acceleration, and has posted specific steps for safely regaining control of a runaway vehicle at www.ConsumerReports.org/acceleration.

The affected models include:



2005-2010 Avalon
2007-2010 Camry (excluding the Hybrid and some other models)
2009-2010 Corolla
2010 Highlander (excluding the Hybrid model)
2009-2010 Matrix
2009-2010 RAV4
2007-2010 Tundra
2008-2010 Sequoia
2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe



Toyota told dealers earlier this week to stop selling new vehicles on this list. Under federal law, dealers cannot deliver affected new cars to customers until the problem is corrected. Separately, GM halted sales of the Pontiac Vibe, which was included in the recall because it is nearly identical to the Toyota Matrix.

All nine of the models involved in this recall had performed well in Consumer Reports' road tests and reliability Ratings, and had earned our "recommended" designation as a result. In view of that fact, and the fact that the vehicles have also done well on government and insurance industry safety tests, we expect to be able to reinstate the "recommended" tag once we are satisfied the problem has been resolved.

"We continue to feel these are fundamentally good cars," explained David Champion, director of the group's Auto Test Center. "The instances of sticking accelerator pedals appear to be few compared to the millions of affected vehicles that have been sold. We took this step simply because we did not feel comfortable continuing to recommend them until the accelerator problem is fixed."

The ConsumerReports.org website is being updated to remove the "recommended" tag on the affected models and replace it with a note saying the designation has been temporarily suspended. That update is expected to be complete sometime over the weekend.

While the Toyota problem is at the center of public attention at this moment, Consumer Reports also noted that unintended acceleration has been reported in other brands of vehicles. That underscores the need for all drivers to be aware of how to deal with this risk, however small it may be. See "How to cope with sudden unintended acceleration" for more information.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NADA Statement on the Toyota Recall

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) issued the following statement today on the Toyota recall:

"Toyota is doing the right thing. The safety of the customer is of paramount concern. Toyota has a reputation for resolving problems quickly. We certainly hope that's the case in this situation as well.

"This is creating a very difficult situation for dealers, in an already tough market. NADA is working with Toyota to identify a plan to help get dealers through this. In the meantime, we are encouraging Toyota dealers to check to see if they have business interruption insurance that might help them weather this crisis.

"For the consumer, Toyota has set up a toll-free number to answer customer's questions. That number is 1-800-331-4331."

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coweta: Lane Closures for I-85 Northbound, SR 34 & SR 14

Contractors for the Georgia Department of Transportation are performing major reconstruction of I-85 at different locations between mile marker 39 (near Exit 41; SR 14/US 27 Alt) and mile marker 48 (near Exit 47; SR 34). To ensure motorists and contractor safety, this work will warrant lane closures along this section of I-85, which could cause delays.

Georgia DOT reports the following construction activities are tentatively planned for the period of Monday, January 25 through Friday, January 29:

I-85 NORTHBOUND: Northbound lane closures will be in place between mile markers 39 – 41 and 46 - 48 during the daytime hours of 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily, Monday, January 25 through Thursday, January 28.

I-85 SOUTHBOUND: Southbound lane closures will be in place between mile markers 48 - 46 during the daytime hours of 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily, Tuesday, January 26 through Thursday, January 28.

SR 34 NEAR I-85: East and westbound lane closures will be in place between mile markers 15 and 16 during the evening hours of 7 p.m. through 5 a.m., Monday, January 25 through Friday, January 29.

SR 14 NEAR I-85: East and westbound lane closures will be in place between mile markers 10 and 11 during the evening hours of 7 p.m. through 5 a.m., Monday, January 25 through Thursday, January 28.

Details will be provided by message boards throughout the corridor.

The Georgia DOT notes that the above construction schedules are proposed activities planned by the contractors and may change due to weather conditions or other factors.
As in any work zone, motorists are reminded to pay special attention to traffic control devices, signs and posted speed limits to ensure safe passage through the work zone.

Muscogee County: North & Southbound Lane Closure I-85 near Fort Benning

WHEN: 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Monday, January 25 through Friday, January 29

WHERE: I-185 north and southbound between mile markers 0.0 (Victory Drive/SR 520) and 3.0 (Saint Mary’s Road).

WHAT: The Georgia DOT has scheduled single lane closures on I-185 north and southbound in order for the contractor to continue work on widening lanes on I-185.

This is a WORK ZONE and extreme caution is necessary. Motorists are advised to reduce speeds as they travel through this construction work zone. Message signs, barrels and cones will be utilized to alert the public of the upcoming changes. Drivers should be aware that personnel and equipment will be operating in close proximity to travel lanes.
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Coweta County: Lane Closures on SR 16 Continue

WHEN: 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday, January 25, daily through Friday, January 29, 2010

WHERE: The intersection of SR 16/Wells Street, Broad and Luther Bailey Road in the City of Senoia.

WHAT: The Georgia DOT has scheduled periodic right lane closures and will be utilizing a flag man as crews work to improve this intersection. Delays are expected in the area as work occurs.

This is a WORK ZONE and extreme caution is necessary. Motorists are advised to reduce speeds as they travel through this construction work zone. Message signs, barrels and cones will be utilized to alert the public of the upcoming changes. Drivers should be aware that personnel and equipment will be operating in close proximity to travel lanes.
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Harris County: Northbound Lane Closures on SR 85

WHEN: 10:15 a.m. until 5:15 p.m., daily, beginning Monday, January 25 and continuing through Friday, January 29.

WHERE: State Route 85 northbound beginning south of Ellerslie, GA near State Route 315 and continuing to the Talbot County line.

WHAT: The Georgia Department of Transportation advises motorists traveling northbound on SR 85; one right lane will be closed in order to resurface this section of roadway. Motorists are advised to reduce speeds and expect congestion as they travel through this construction work zone.

Speed limits have been reduced and will be strictly enforced. Message boards, signs, barrels and cones will be utilized to alert and channel motorists through the area.
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Henry County: Shoulder Closure on I-75 Southbound Near Hudson Bridge Rd

WHEN: 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., Friday, January 22, and daily, Monday, January 25 through Friday, January 29.

WHERE: The right shoulder on I-75 southbound between mile markers 227 (I-675) and 224 (Hudson Bridge Road/Eagles Landing Parkway).

WHAT: The Georgia DOT has scheduled for the right shoulder on I-75 southbound to be closed in order for the contractor to safely paint the sound barrier wall. Motorist delays are expected in the area as work occurs.

This is a WORK ZONE and extreme caution is necessary. Motorists are advised to reduce speeds as they travel through this work zone. Message signs, barrels and cones will be utilized to alert the public of the upcoming changes. Drivers should be aware that personnel and equipment will be operating in close proximity to travel lanes.
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

National Safety Council Estimates That At Least 1.6 Million Crashes Are Caused Each Year by Drivers Using Cell Phones and Texting

/PRNewswire/ -- The National Safety Council announced today that it estimates at least 28% of all traffic crashes -- or at least 1.6 million crashes each year -- are caused by drivers using cell phones and texting. NSC estimates that 1.4 million crashes each year are caused by drivers using cell phones and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting. The announcement came on the one-year anniversary of NSC's call for a ban on all cell phone use and texting while driving.

"We now know that at least 1.6 million crashes are caused by drivers using cell phones and texting," said Janet Froetscher, president & CEO of the National Safety Council. "We know that cell phone use is a very risky distraction and texting is even higher risk. We now know that cell phone use causes many more crashes than texting. The main reason is that millions more drivers use cell phones than text," she said. "That is why we need to address both texting and cell phone use on our roads."

"This new estimate provides critical data for legislators, business leaders and individuals to evaluate the threat and need for legislation, business policies and personal actions to prevent cell phone use and texting while driving," Froetscher said. "There was great progress made in 2009, particularly regarding a broad recognition that texting is dangerous. We now need the same broad consensus that recognizes cell phone use while driving causes even more crashes."

Froetscher said public support for laws banning cell phone use while driving is gaining momentum.

"Public opinion research conducted in 2009 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Nationwide Insurance show public support for total bans on cell phones at 43 and 57 percent respectively," Froetscher said. "With public support now around 50 percent, we will continue to educate people about the risks of cell phone use while driving and the value of effectively-enforced laws in changing behavior and reducing crashes."

In constructing its estimates, NSC used widely-accepted statistical methods and analysis based on data of driver cell phone use from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and from peer-reviewed research that quantifies the risk of using a cell phone and texting while driving. NSC's statistical model and estimates were peer-reviewed by academic researchers in traffic safety and biostatistics.

The estimate of 25% of all crashes -- or 1.4 million crashes -- caused by cell phone use was derived from NHTSA data showing 11% of drivers at any one time are using cell phones and from peer-reviewed research reporting cell phone use increases crash risk by four times. The estimate of an additional minimum 3% of crashes -- or 200,000 crashes -- caused by texting was derived by NHTSA data showing 1% of drivers at any one time are manipulating their device in ways that include texting and from research reporting texting increases crash risk by 8 times. Using the highest risk for texting reported by research of 23 times results in a maximum of 1 million crashes due to texting; still less than the 1.4 million crashes caused by other cell phone use.

The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weather affecting roads in Heard & Coweta

Georgia Department of Transportation crews have made winter weather preparations and are fully operational equipped with tandem plow trucks and gravel/salt hopper spreaders in case roads become covered with snow or ice. Georgia DOT will continue to provide updates.

Currently icing has occurred in the following counties/locations:

Heard County
SR 219 North
SR 34 (beginning at the Alabama/Georgia State line and continuing east)
SR 100 North
SR 1 North

Coweta County
SR 34 East

Motorists are STRONGLY encouraged to remain indoors and use extreme caution when driving.

Georgia DOT urges travelers to call 511 for updated information about this or any other construction project on interstates and state routes. Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides real-time traffic and travel information statewide, such as traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures, and delays due to inclement weather. Callers also can transfer to operators to request assistance or report incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information is available at www.511ga.org.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Obama Administration Sends Strong Message Against Texting While Driving

24/7 - President Obama's administration is taking aggressive steps to curb dangerous distracted driving, especially texting at the wheel. In the spectrum of activities that can sidetrack a driver while driving, texting is particularly worrisome because it requires the combined use of eyes, hands and thought. The administration is actively responding to a concerned public, alarming scientific findings and troubling statistics.

The Virginia Tech Study

In July, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) -- based on sophisticated monitoring of over six million actual driving miles -- released the results of comprehensive studies on cell-phone impact on driving distraction. The study found texting the most dangerous of cell phone activities. In a heavy truck, text messaging while driving increased the risk of a crash or near-crash event by staggering 23.2 times.

Logically, texting takes a driver's eyes off the road for much longer stretches than listening or talking on a mobile phone. VTTI reported that texting at 55 mph can take a driver's eyes off the road for the length of a football field. Based on its findings, the VTTI recommends a total ban on texting in all types of moving vehicles and a prohibition on all types of cell phone use by inexperienced drivers.

The Distracted Driving Summit

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted a two-day high-profile national conference in September that brought together 250 national experts from industry, science and government to put a microscope to the problem of distracted driving and to raise public awareness of the severity of the problem. In conjunction, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood revealed new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics that in 2008 almost 6,000 people were killed and over 500,000 injured in distracted-driving crashes.

Secretary LaHood also announced that the administration will work to ban texting by truckers, train operators and bus drivers -- both school and interstate.

The Executive Order

President Obama underscored his commitment to fighting distracted drivers when at the conclusion of the conference on October 1 he signed an Executive Order 13513, which prohibits millions of federal employees from texting while driving when using government equipment or conducting official business.

Congressional Action

Two major bills were recently introduced in Congress and are being studied in committee -- the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act of 2009 (ALERT Drivers Act) and the Distracted Driving Prevention Act of 2009. The bills would, respectively, require DOT to withhold 25 percent of federal highway funding from any state that did not ban texting while driving and give a monetary grant to a state that bans texting and other cell-phone use.

Cautious Optimism

Safety advocates are watching developments in our nation's capital with keen interest. Just as firmer government regulation of drunk driving, seat-belt and motorcycle-helmet use started at the grass roots, it appears that the federal government is poised to take meaningful action to curb death and injury caused by drivers distracted by texting.

Article provided by The McClellan Law Firm

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