State Transportation and Safety Agencies Warn that Many At-risk Airbag Inflators Remain on Cars in California

California State departments that oversee vehicle and driver safety are warning that owners of tens of thousands of vehicles, particularly Hondas and Acuras, may not have received or have overlooked the recall notices urging replacement of potentially deadly Takata airbag inflators.  Recall repairs are free of charge to all vehicle owners.

The California Office of Traffic Safety, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Motor Vehicles and Bureau of Automotive Repair are working together to urge Californians who own certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles to immediately take their cars to an authorized dealer for repair of potentially deadly Takata airbag inflators.

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Recall notices have already been sent to registered owners of affected vehicles who have not yet taken action on the required recall repair. These vehicles are at high risk of an airbag inflator rupture. When a recalled airbag inflator ruptures, pieces of metal could shoot through the airbag cushion and hit the driver or passengers, resulting in serious injuries or death.

While all areas of the state are affected, certain regions have the greatest concentrations of recalled vehicles with owners who have not been heard from.  These include east and south Bay Area regions, northern Monterey County, the Central Valley, northern and central Los Angeles County, western Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and San Diego County along the border.  However, not being in one of these areas does not mean your vehicle’s airbag is safe.

The following are the 2001-2003 Honda/Acura vehicles that may be equipped with recalled Takata driver airbag inflators, and are the subject of this statewide call to action:

  • 2001-2002 Honda Accord
  • 2001-2002 Honda Civic
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2003 Honda Pilot
  • 2002-2003 Acura 3.2TL
  • 2003 Acura 3.2CL

Honda and Acura owners should check for recalls by locating their vehicle identification number (VIN) – found in the top left corner of the vehicle’s dashboard through the windshield – and enter the number into the VIN check on www.recalls.honda.com, www.recalls.acura.com or www.safercar.gov.

Honda/Acura urges affected drivers to immediately call 1-888-234-2138 for repair information. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends that these vehicles only be driven to an authorized dealer in order to have the Takata airbag inflators replaced as quickly as possible. To search for an authorized dealer, consumers can visit www.recalls.honda.com or www.recalls.acura.com depending on the make of their vehicle.

Consumers can also find answers to general questions about the Takata airbag inflator recalls, including about the higher risk inflators in these vehicles, at the following site: http://hondaairbaginfo.com/faq/. Any concerned customer can also contact Honda/Acura’s Automobile Customer Service at 888-234-2138.

The replacement of the Takata airbag inflator is free of charge for all customers. Customers are not obligated to have unrelated maintenance or other vehicle issues fixed at the same time as the recall repair. Honda/Acura will provide a loaner car, if necessary, while a customer’s car is being repaired and a Honda/Acura dealer can also arrange to tow a vehicle to and from the desired location at no cost.

CA DMV Seeks Public Comment on New Rules for Autonomous Vehicles

Sacramento – Continuing progress toward operation of fully autonomous vehicles on California roads, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) released revised draft regulations for public comment.   These draft rules are intended to encourage public dialogue and gather input prior to the DMV formally submitting the regulations for consideration and adoption.

The recently released Federal Automated Vehicles Policy sets a direction for addressing vehicle safety at the federal level, and California’s revised draft regulations take this new policy into account and focus on rules for California public roads,  including testing requirements, enforcement of traffic laws, driver licensing, and vehicle registration.

In addition to carefully reviewing all public feedback on previous draft regulations, the DMV actively collaborated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators on the state’s role in regulating autonomous vehicles.

The revised draft regulations continue to ensure that the safety of the motoring public remains the DMV’s top priority and recognizes the potential of autonomous technology to improve safety, enhance mobility and encourage innovation.  Some highlights include:

  1. Prior to testing or deploying an autonomous vehicle, manufactures will certify that they meet NHTSA vehicle performance guidance for automated vehicles, which uses a 15-point safety assessment.
  2. A regulatory framework for driverless vehicles that provides a path for fully autonomous vehicles to first be tested and operated on California roads.
  3. A licensed driver is required for vehicles capable of autonomous operation in some instances, but a human driver must be ready to take control when requested by the autonomous system, these are also known as “SAE Level 3 vehicles.”
  4. Prohibits the advertisement of lower levels of automated systems, where the human driver is still responsible for monitoring or control of the vehicle, as “autonomous”, “self-driving” or other similar terms.

These revised draft regulations represent the next step in the process to encourage public dialogue and collect feedback prior to the DMV formally submitting the regulations for consideration and adoption. To gather additional public input on the proposed changes, the Department is holding a public workshop Wednesday, October 19 in Sacramento.  In addition, representatives from NHTSA will discuss the recently released Federal Automated Vehicles Policy.  The DMV invites all interested parties to attend the upcoming public workshop.

Autonomous Vehicle Public Workshop

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
9:30 a.m.
California State Capitol
Senate Committee Room 4203
1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Written comments may be submitted to: LADRegulations@dmv.ca.gov.  The event will also be open to credentialed media.

The revised draft autonomous vehicle deployment regulations and workshop notice are available on the DMV Autonomous Vehicles webpage at: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/auto.

CA welcomes Federal Automated Vehicle Policy

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly issued this statement on Federal Automated Vehicle Policy:

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the State of California share the common objective of seeing driverless vehicle technology developed, tested and deployed safely and efficiently on our public streets and roads.  NHTSA’s policy guidance unveiled today is a leap forward in this process, enabling California to advance vehicle safety, innovation and sustainability in the Golden State.  With more than 3,200 traffic-related fatalities and more than 90% of accidents attributed to human error in this state, it is time to unleash the promise of autonomous vehicles to improve public safety. Within the next 30 days, the Department of Motor Vehicles will host a public workshop to gather input from industry, consumer and public interest groups, and the public on revised draft state regulations for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles in California.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicles also issued a statement, below:

“The DMV welcomes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) release of the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy. The DMV worked closely with NHTSA and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) on the model state policy contained within the document. The DMV supports NHTSA’s goal of creating a consistent approach and national framework for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The DMV is currently reviewing NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicle Policy and is planning to release revised draft California regulations in the coming weeks. The department will hold a public workshop to solicit input on those revised draft regulations on October 19, 2016.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
9:30 a.m.
Capitol Room 4203
1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

 Read the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy here: www.transportation.gov/av

For more information on the California DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations, visit: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/bkgd

 

CalSTA goes on a reality ride to highlight the dangers of distracted driving

On Tuesday, California Highway Patrol Captain Josh Ehlers and Department of Motor Vehicles Director Jean Shiomoto participated in Allstate’s Reality Rides event along with Assembly Member Jim Frazier to encourage drivers to practice safe driving habits.

Distracted driving results in over 3,000 deaths and causes over 400,000 injuries each year. It is the number one cause of death in Americans between the ages of 11 and 27. DMV researchers have found that drivers with multiple cell phone violations on their records experience almost twice as many subsequent crashes as drivers with no violations. Research has also shown that receiving a text or phone call, even if you do not answer or look at the phone, can be a significant distraction while driving.

CHP Captain Josh Elhers asked that drivers with more experience lead by example for teenagers and inexperienced drivers by putting away their phones and practicing safe driving behaviors behind the wheel.

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DMV Director Jean Shiomoto shared the important statistics on the dangers of distracted driving and reminded the community that DMV is committed to educating the public on these dangers through their handbooks and Fast Facts. “Distracted driving could put you, and anyone you know, in danger,” Shiomoto said.

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Allstate is touring the country with its distracted driving simulator with the goal of preventing avoidable collisions and building awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.  The stationary car is equipped with virtual-reality technology that displays a responsive animated environment on a LED television embedded in the windshield.  Using the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, participants attempted to drive while they tried to text.


DMV’s Deputy Director of Communications, Jessica Gonzalez went on a test drive of the simulator to show us just how dangerous distracted driving can be. After the simulation was over, she received an example citation which showed all the infractions she had committed. Participants also took a pledge to “X the Text” and commit to putting away their phone while behind the wheel.

In addition to the simulator, DMV and CHP staff were on hand at informational booths to hand out materials on safe driving and answer questions from the community.

September is California Pedestrian Safety Month

The California State Senate along with the Office of Traffic Safety have declared September “Pedestrian Safety Month” to raise awareness and combat the rising number of pedestrian fatalities in our state.

California has seen a sharp rise in pedestrian fatalities over the last 10 years, 815 pedestrians were killed in 2015 alone according to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows pedestrians and bicyclists account for nearly 30 percent of roadway deaths in California and 7,000 have died in the last 10 years. Our pedestrian fatality rate is almost 70 percent higher than other states, according to SWITRS. In addition, almost 12,000 pedestrians are seriously injured each year.

As part of our continuing efforts to address the issue, the Office of Traffic Safety has launched a statewide campaign to promote safe practices by motorists and pedestrians to reduce these high numbers.

 

The campaign features characters, clad in body armor made from car parts, that represent everyday pedestrians. These characters remind everyone that in real life, pedestrians don’t have armor and always lose when hit by a vehicle, no matter who is at fault.

Ped Safety BillboardCampaign billboard

The campaign also reminds Californians of safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians:

Ped Safety BookmarkCampaign bookmark

TIPS FOR DRIVERS:

  • The most dangerous driving behaviors around pedestrians: speeding, distractions (especially cell phones), and failure to yield. Slow down, put down the phone, and look around you.
  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Any pedestrian at a crosswalk or intersection, marked or unmarked, has the right of way. When you see them at the corner, slow and stop.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up – pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

TIPS FOR PEDESTRIANS:

  • The most dangerous behaviors of pedestrians near roadways: jay walking, distractions (especially cell phones), and assuming you can be seen.
  • Cross at crosswalks or intersections, obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
  • Stop staring at the phone. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night. Drivers usually can’t see you on a dark street until they are about 100 feet from you.
  • Look left-right-left before crossing a street.

This campaign is part of a concentrated effort by the State Transportation Agency and our departments to address the issue of pedestrian fatalities head on as we continue to promote walking as a greener alternative to driving.

As part of this effort, Caltrans is developing the first-ever California State Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (CSBPP), which will be a visionary and comprehensive policy plan to support active modes of transportation aimed at improving safety and access for everyone across all transportation modes, particularly bicycle and pedestrian. The plan is anticipated to be complete by February of next year.

In addition, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is emphasizing safe walking through its international award-winning California Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Enforcement and Education Project, and provides educational resources on their website.

For more information and resources on pedestrian safety:

NHTSA: http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyoneisapedestrian/index.html

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/features/pedestriansafety/

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center:  http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/community/tips_pedestrian.cfm

Safe Kids: https://www.safekids.org/walkingsafelytips

Safe Routes to School: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/

 

Governor Brown, Legislators announce sweeping reforms to California Public Utilities Commission

In case you missed it, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today released the following:

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) and Senators Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) today announced a sweeping package of reforms to bolster governance, accountability, transparency and oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

“These reforms will change how this commission does business,” said Governor Brown. “Public access to meetings and records will be expanded, new safety and oversight positions will be created and ex parte communication rules will be strengthened.”

“These reforms mark a new beginning for the CPUC. The commission will become transparent and accountable to Californians and focused on the safety of our communities,” said Assemblymember Gatto, chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. “I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Brown for their support of these key reforms.”

“It’s been a long road, and we still have much work to do if we are to build the CPUC that the state deserves,” said Senator Hill, whose district includes the City of San Bruno. “Today we take a strong step forward with principles that underscore our shared commitment to an organization that will better serve Californians, ensure their safety and merit their trust.”

“The principles are a blueprint for a CPUC that is focused, efficient, working in the public interest, and most notably, transparent and accountable,” said Senator Leno. “The changes agreed to by the Commission and the Governor in SB 215 apply enhanced ex parte communication rules targeting the abuses of the past and ensure independent prosecution and stiff penalties for those who would violate the public trust. I offer my thanks to Governor Brown, the Commission, my joint author Senator Hueso, all my legislative colleagues and The Utility Reform Network for their commitment to reforming our Public Utilities Commission.”

The Governor’s Office will work closely with the Legislature and impacted entities in the administration to move forward with these reforms in the months ahead. Complete details of the reform package are below.

Principles for Reform: Governance, Accountability, Transparency and Oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission

Governance
Increasing the CPUC’s focus and expertise by relocating responsibilities and making logistical changes that improve the commission’s ability to function.

–Transfer the implementation and enforcement of the following CPUC transportation responsibilities to departments within the California State Transportation Agency (e.g., California Department of Motor Vehicles primarily for licensing, registration, evidence of insurance and select investigations and the California Highway Patrol primarily for enforcement and select investigations) through the Governor’s Reorganization Plan process:
>Passenger Stage Corporations
>Charter-Party Carriers (including Transportation Network Companies)
>Household Goods Carriers
>Other carriers subject to CPUC registration requirements (for-hire vessel carriers, commercial air operators, private carriers of passengers and interstate carriers)

–Assess State Telecommunications governance by January 1, 2018.

–Establish cross-agency secondments (for example, with the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, California Air Resources Board, etc.) to foster coordinated actions and exchange of information and facilitate cultural change.

–Work with state colleges and universities to develop and offer curricula specific to the regulation and oversight of utilities.

–Authorize the CPUC to hire and locate employees in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

–Require CPUC voting meetings to be held in various regions of the state.

–Provide statutory authority to consider outside reports from state, federal and academic sources.

–Allow a commissioner to issue an Alternate Proposed Decision (APD) at any time before the Commission votes (current law requires issuance of the APD simultaneous to the issuance of the Presiding Administrative Law Judges issuance of their Proposed Decision.).

Accountability
Enacting reforms to make it easier for the public and watchdog groups to participate in CPUC proceedings.

–Prohibit former regulated utility executives from serving on the Commission for 2 years.

–Allow any California agency to participate in CPUC proceedings without official party status.

–Authorize the California Attorney General to bring an enforcement action in superior court against a decisionmaker or employee of the commission who violates the ex parte communication requirements.

Transparency
Reforming the ex parte rules to establish a more ethical environment that is fair to all parties, while providing flexibility for entities to contact their appointed officials.

–Ex Parte:
>Adjudicatory proceedings: maintain the current prohibition on ex parte communications.
>Quasi-legislative proceedings: allow commissioners to meet freely, particularly with members of the public, to gain perspective and become more educated on the subject area.
>Ratesetting proceedings: require commissioners and interested persons to disclose and promptly log and post the content of ex parte communications online. Failure to timely report shall result in penalties enforced by either the CPUC or the California Attorney General.
>The CPUC may apply additional limits on ex parte communication in ratesetting or quasi-legislative proceedings as circumstances may warrant.

–Allow intervenor compensation for substantial contribution including when a party does not participate in a settlement.

–Subject the CPUC to the judicial review provisions of the California Public Records Act and revisions to improve the CPUC public records and confidentiality statute (§ 583) to retain confidentiality with a more timely release of public information.

–Require documents distributed to service lists be docketed.

–Require transcripts to be made publicly available promptly.

–Require representatives of organizations that lobby the CPUC to register, much like the rules followed in the Legislature.

–Allow commissioners to deliberate on ratesetting proceedings if no hearing has been held. Current law allows commissioners to meet and deliberate only when a hearing is required for resolution of the proceeding.

–Make administrative record more open in quasi-legislative proceeding by not applying the formal rules of evidence.

–Allow commissioners to discuss administrative and managerial issues in closed meetings.

–Enter public comments into the record and develop an e-comment system to make commenting more accessible.

–Establish thresholds for the reasonable and timely resolution of proceedings with enhanced CPUC authority to conclude proceedings in cases exceeding those thresholds.

–Ensure the CPUC appoints all senior executive staff who report directly to the CPUC, including the Executive Director, the General Counsel, the Internal Auditor and the Chief Administrative Law Judge.

Oversight and Safety
Enacting sweeping ethics reforms, which have been elusive or are completely unprecedented.

–Create an Ethics Ombudsperson who any CPUC employee or member of the public can contact at any time with any concern and who is responsible for enhanced ethics training for all CPUC staff and commissioners, on everything from gift and travel ethics to ex parte compliance.

–Codify the creation of the Deputy Director for Safety with plenipotentiary power to “red tag” any unsafe facility, process or activity.

–Require the CPUC to work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to expedite relocation of spent fuel currently stored at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station to an independent spent fuel storage installation.

–Increase oversight of excavation and improve enforcement of dig-in safety laws.

For the original post, visit https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19461.