Toyota Wins New York Lawsuit

Posted in auto industry, Legal, News, Safety, Scion, Toyota by Kurt Ernst | April 4th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

Last week, Toyota faced their first jury trial for unintended acceleration of a Toyota product. The plaintiff, Amir Sitafalwalla, claimed that his 2005 Scion accelerated out of control when he attempted to shift the car into park, ultimately getting up close and personal with a tree. His attorney tried to argue that an unsecured floor mat was to blame, despite the fact that the Scion in question was excluded from the floor mat entrapment recall. His attorney also unsuccessfully tried to blame the Scion’s Electronic Throttle Control System, despite having no evidence to back up his allegations. In a rare display of courtroom sanity, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a verdict that favored the defendant, Toyota. Read More…

Imported From Detroit, Right Into The Courtroom

Posted in auto industry, Chrysler, Legal, News by Kurt Ernst | March 17th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Chrysler's latest "Imported From Detroit" logo.

Here’s a free piece of advice: if you’re a boutique clothing retailer, it’s best to not rip-off the slogan from a major automaker, especially when that slogan has brought them unexpected success and media attention. When they ask you nicely to “cease and desist”, and to donate proceeds from merchandise sales to charity, your best response is to say “yes” and act quickly. When it comes to taking on the juggernaut that is Chrysler’s legal department, you have no hope of winning. In fact, I’ll wager a bet that they have more lawyers on staff than you have employees, and they’ll bleed you dry of resources before you can say “trademark infringement.” What’s this about? Read on to find out. Read More…

Don’t Plan On Speeding In South Carolina

Posted in Legal, News, Police, Politics by Kurt Ernst | March 10th, 2011 | 11 Responses |

Not too long ago, getting a speeding ticket was the kiss of death for your car insurance. Rates were jacked up, through the roof if you had the misfortune of being a single male under the age of 30. If you had a company car, you usually got a threatening letter telling you that even one more ticket would result in you taking the bus, since you were obviously too high-risk to be trusted with company property. Things aren’t quite that bad today, since insurance companies look at a lot more things than just points on your license; in fact, today your credit rating is probably looked at with more focus than any minor offenses on your driving record. Still, points add up and no one wants to pay a dime more for car insurance than they need to. The state of South Carolina knows this, and they’ve got a plan to boost revenue at your expense. Read More…

State Farm Study: 19% Of Drivers Surf The Net

Posted in FAIL, Legal, Police, Safety by Kurt Ernst | March 8th, 2011 | 9 Responses |

According to an unscientific pole conducted by State Farm insurance last November, 19% of drivers, nearly one in five, admit to surfing websites while driving. Worse, they admit to doing at least once per week, and even recognize that it isn’t a good idea. Even more sobering is the 35% who admit to texting while driving, or the 74% who make and receive cell phone calls behind the wheel. State Farm suspects the numbers aren’t accurate, since the drivers surveyed were mostly in their 30s; opening up the survey to a larger demographic is planned for this year. If the respondents are accurate, prepare to be alarmed at the results. Read More…

Supreme Court: Automakers Not Immune To Seat Belt Lawsuits

Posted in auto industry, Legal, News, Safety by Kurt Ernst | February 24th, 2011 | 1 Response |

In a move that won’t sit well with automakers, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that car manufacturers can be sued even if their vehicles meet all applicable safety standards. The case in question was brought against Mazda by the family of Thanh Williamson, who was killed when their 1993 Mazda MPV was involved in a head on collision with another vehicle. Williamson’s husband and daughter, who were in the front seats and were restrained by lap and shoulder belts, survived the crash. Williamson was in a rear seat, which provided a lap belt only, and died of severe abdominal injuries and internal bleeding. The NHTSA did not require shoulder belts for all rear seat occupants in 1993 model year vehicles, and stated in the 1980s that the cost of requiring shoulder belts for rear seat passengers wasn’t justified by the benefits. Read More…

America’s Worst Speed Trap Cities

Posted in driving, Legal, Lists, Police by Kurt Ernst | February 23rd, 2011 | 4 Responses |

Image: Agência Brasil

Ask a dozen drivers which city and state has the worst speed traps, and I’ll guarantee that you get a dozen different answers. All of them will probably relate to the last place they got pulled over, which isn’t exactly a scientific methodology. Luckily for us, the National Motorists Association keeps track of stuff like this, and they’ve just released their latest study. Per the NMA’s Chad Dornsife, “Speed limits are supposed to be based on factual studies of traffic and what the majority of motorists deem as a safe speed. Now, the posted limit has become a revenue generator—not a safety device.” Dornsife’s group estimates that speeding tickets generate up to $6 billion in revenue in the United States, and chances are better than average that you’ve contributed to that amount throughout the years. Read on to find out which cities are the worst offenders. Read More…

Seat Belts Must Be Attached To The Car: Who Knew?

Posted in FAIL, Legal, Police, Politics by Kurt Ernst | February 19th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

Paul Weigand doesn’t like to be told what to do by authorities. The Wichita man, who claims to have a fear of “being trapped in a burning car”, refuses to wear a seat belt, at least in a conventional manner. To comply with the letter, if not the intent of the law, Weigand fashioned a belt from an old automotive seat belt and buckle. While the device may have been effective at holding his pants up, it offered no protection in the event of a crash. His interpretation of the law was put to the test when he was recently ticketed for failing to wear a seat belt. Read More…

Ford F-150 vs. Ferrari F150: What’s In A Name?

Posted in auto industry, Ferrari, Ford, Legal, News by Kurt Ernst | February 10th, 2011 | 8 Responses |

Even in race trim, this will NOT be on pole in Monaco. Image: Ford Motor Company

Just in case you have any confusion on the matter, allow me to clear it up: Ford’s F-150 is the best selling pickup truck in America, renown for its durability and value. Ferrari’s F150 (note the difference in spelling) is the latest F1 race car from Maranello, and it probably won’t be famous for durability or value. On the other hand, the Ferrari F150 will get around an FIA-approved road course in a whole lot less time than a Ford F-150 pickup, but won’t do you any good if you need to haul sheets of plywood. You can’t even tow a small trailer with the Ferrari, which makes it useless for weekend runs to Home Depot (not that it’s street legal in any country, anyway). Read More…

EPA Approves E15 Fuel

Posted in Car Tech, Legal, News, Oil Industry by Kurt Ernst | January 24th, 2011 | 5 Responses |

Buried deep in the bottom of the news last week was the fact that the EPA gave its approval for E15 fuel to be sold alongside current gasoline and gasoline / ethanol blends. If you own a motorcycle, use gas-powered lawn equipment and drive cars older than the 2007 model year, this is potentially bad news. Why the concern? There are several reasons, but the big one is that fuel formulated with 15% ethanol may damage plastic and rubber components used in automotive fuel systems prior to 2007. In motorcycles using plastic fuel tanks, there is already significant evidence that E10 formulations cause the plastic to distort, creating the potential of a fuel leak and associated fire. If you’re the owner of a small gas station or convenience store, the news gets even bleaker. Read More…

New California Law Requires Rider Training Under Age 21

Posted in Legal, Motorcycle, Newsworthy, Safety by Kurt Ernst | January 6th, 2011 | 1 Response |

Participants in a rider safety course.

In years past, California teens could legally operate a motorcycle, with a learner’s permit, at the age of 15 years and 6 months. There were no requirements for training and no limits to the horsepower of the bike ridden: in other words, prior to your 16th birthday, you could get your permit and then go plunk down cash on a BMW S1000 RR or a Suzuki Hayabusa. Motorcycle dealers, reeling from the virtual collapse of the powersports market, certainly weren’t going to say “no” to a new rider with cash in hand.

Read More…