Self-Driving and Driver-Assist Technology Linked to Hundreds of Car Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released data on 10 months of crashes involving systems like Tesla’s Autopilot. A handful of accidents turned deadly.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Auto Safety Agency Expands Tesla Investigation

NHTSA will take a broad look at whether the electric carmaker’s driver-assistance system can increase the risk of crashes.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #automobiles, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

How Safe Are Systems Like Tesla’s Autopilot? No One Knows.

Automakers and technology companies say they are making driving safer, but verifying these claims is difficult.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #ford-motor-co, #general-motors, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #roads-and-traffic, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #transportation-department-us

Tesla’s radar-less cars investigated by NHTSA after complaints spike

Tesla's camera-only approach to driver assistance keeps landing it in trouble.

Enlarge / Tesla’s camera-only approach to driver assistance keeps landing it in trouble. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Tesla)

Tesla is facing a new headache this week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into a “phantom braking” problem after receiving hundreds of complaints from owners of recent Models 3 and Y. In total, the NHTSA says that about 416,000 cars are affected.

In May 2021, Tesla decided to remove the forward-looking radar sensor from the Model 3 and Model Y EVs. This sensor was used by some of the cars’ advanced driver-assistance systems, like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Instead, new Teslas built for the North American market rely entirely on cameras. At the time of the removal, Tesla noted that the change meant the cars’ forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking functions were no longer rated by the NHTSA but that the company expected that rating to happen “in the coming weeks.”

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#adas, #cars, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #nhtsa, #policy, #tesla, #tesla-autopilot

The US will finally allow adaptive beam headlights on new cars

An Audi e-tron prototype on the highway in Europe lights its way ahead with adaptive beam headlights.

Enlarge / An Audi e-tron prototype on the highway in Europe lights its way ahead with adaptive beam headlights. (credit: Audi)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is finally poised to legalize adaptive beam headlights in the US. On Tuesday, the NHTSA announced that it has issued a final rule that will update the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which currently only allow for “dumb” high- and low-beam lights.

Adaptive beam lights use a matrix of projectors, some of which can be turned off to shape the beam so the lights illuminate the road and not an oncoming driver. (These are an advancement over the auto-high beam technology that you may have fitted to your current car.) The technology has been around for nearly two decades in Europe and Japan.

Automakers have been asking the NHTSA to update its headlamp rules for some time now. In 2013, Toyota first petitioned the agency to allow for adaptive beam lights, and the NHTSA agreed to begin the laborious and lengthy federal government rulemaking procedure.

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#adaptive-beam-headlights, #cars, #headlights, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #nhtsa, #policy

America Is Falling Apart at the Seams

Why are so many of us behaving so badly?

#anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #education-k-12, #firearms, #hate-crimes, #loneliness, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #philanthropy, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #united-states, #yglesias-matthew

Tesla Recalls More Than 475,000 Cars Over Two Safety Defects

The recalls, which Tesla initiated on Dec. 21, affect about 350,000 Model 3s and 120,000 Model S cars.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #recalls-and-bans-of-products, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Crash Test Dummies Made Cars Safer (for Average-Size Men)

Designers and researchers are now trying to leverage cutting-edge technology to create a system that better protects every body, women’s included.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #future-of-transportation, #law-and-legislation, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #research, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #women-and-girls

Tesla Agrees to Stop Letting Drivers Play Video Games in Moving Cars

A federal regulator said the electric vehicle maker agreed to disable the feature after an investigation was opened.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #computer-and-video-games, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #tesla-motors-inc

Public Streets Are the Lab for Self-Driving Experiments

When the U.S. ordered companies to report accidents involving driver-assistance tech, Tesla was thought to be the motivation. But 108 companies were listed, showing how widespread the testing may be.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #national-transportation-safety-board, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

U.S. Regulator Investigating Tesla Over a Video Game Feature

Drivers can be distracted playing games while the vehicle is in motion, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, following a New York Times report earlier this month.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #tesla-motors-inc

Tesla Drivers Can Now Play Video Games Even With Car Moving

The feature raises fresh questions about whether Tesla is compromising safety as it rushes to add new technologies.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #computer-and-video-games, #driver-distraction-and-fatigue, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #national-transportation-safety-board, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Drunken-Driving Warning Systems Would Be Required for New Cars Under U.S. Bill

Congress attached the mandate to the $1 trillion infrastructure package that President Biden is expected to sign soon. It would take effect as early as 2026.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #deaths-fatalities, #drunken-and-reckless-driving, #law-and-legislation, #mothers-against-drunk-driving, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #roads-and-traffic, #tests-sobriety, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Tesla recalls 11,706 vehicles over Full Self-Driving Beta software bug

Tesla is issuing a recall over phantom collision warnings and brake activations.

Enlarge / Tesla is issuing a recall over phantom collision warnings and brake activations. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Tesla)

Tesla’s controversial “Full Self-Driving” feature took another hit on Tuesday. The Texan automaker issued a recall for nearly 12,000 vehicles after an over-the-air software update introduced a new bug that can cause false activations of the cars’ forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems.

According to the safety recall report, the problem affects Models S, X, and 3 vehicles built between 2017 and 2021 and Model Y vehicles built between 2020 and 2021 that are running firmware release 2021.36.5.2. The updated firmware was rolled out to drivers in its beta testing program on October 23 and, once installed, caused a pair of chips to stop talking to each other when the vehicle wakes up from “sentry mode” or “summon standby mode.”

That error prevents the neural networks that operate on one of the chips from running consistently, causing it to throw false-positive collision warnings and—more seriously—false-positive AEB activations.

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#cars, #full-self-driving, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #national-transportation-safety-board, #nhtsa, #ntsb, #recall, #tesla

More than 20,000 people died on US roads in the first half of 2021

Anecdotally, I have never seen as much lawless driving as I have in the past year.

Enlarge / Anecdotally, I have never seen as much lawless driving as I have in the past year. (credit: Getty Images)

The United States registered its greatest-ever six-month rise in traffic deaths for the first half of 2021. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just published its early estimate for the months of January-June for this year, and the numbers are grim reading. During the first half of the year, 20,160 people died on US roads, an increase of 18.4 percent compared to the same six months of (an already very deadly) 2020.

As we’ve noted previously, Americans started driving more riskily during 2020 than ever. Although the pandemic resulted in a decrease in the total number of vehicle miles traveled in 2020, the total number of deaths actually increased.

The mass availability of highly effective vaccines and nationwide loosening of public health restrictions saw a big rise in vehicle miles traveled for the first half of 2021—an increase of 173.1 billion miles (278.6 billion km) versus the same six months of 2020.

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#cars, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #nhtsa, #road-deaths, #traffic-deaths, #traffic-safety

How to Escape Your Car in a Flood

Only a foot or two of water can sweep away everything from sedans to trucks. Experts urge drivers to avoid flooded crossings, and to remember a few steps in a crisis.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #drownings, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #rescues, #roads-and-traffic, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #windows

Inside a Fatal Tesla Autopilot Accident: ‘It Happened So Fast’

A 2019 crash in Florida highlights how gaps in Tesla’s driver-assistance system and distractions can have tragic consequences.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #brakes, #deaths-fatalities, #driver-distraction-and-fatigue, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #largo-fla, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #roads-and-traffic, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Why regulators love Nuro’s self-driving delivery vehicles

Nuro’s delivery autonomous vehicles (AVs) don’t have a human driver on board. The company’s founders Dave Ferguson (president) and Jiajun Zhu’s (CEO) vision of a driverless delivery vehicle sought to do away with a lot of the stuff that is essential for a normal car to have, like doors and airbags and even a steering wheel. They built an AV that spared no room in the narrow chassis for a driver’s seat, and had no need for an accelerator, windshield or brake pedals.

So when the company petitioned the U.S. government in 2018 for a minor exemption from rules requiring a rearview mirror, backup camera and a windshield, Nuro might have assumed the process wouldn’t be very arduous.

They were wrong.

If Nuro is to become the generation-defining company its founders desire, it will be due as much to innovation in regulation as advances in the technology it develops.

In a 2019 letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) “[wondered] about the description of pedestrian ‘crumple zones,’ and whether this may impact the vehicle’s crash-worthiness in the event of a vehicle-to-vehicle crash. Even in the absence of passengers, AAMVA has concerns about cargo ejection from the vehicle and how Nuro envisions protections from loose loads affecting the driving public.”

The National Society of Professional Engineers similarly complained that Nuro’s request lacked information about the detection of moving objects. “How would the R2X function if a small child darts onto the road from the passenger side of the vehicle as a school bus is approaching from the driver’s side?” it asked. It also recommended the petition be denied until Nuro could provide a more detailed cybersecurity plan against its bots being hacked or hijacked. (R2X is now referred to as R2)

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (now the Alliance Automotive Innovation), which represents most U.S. carmakers, wrote that the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) should not use Nuro’s kind of petition to “introduce new safety requirements for [AVs] that have not gone through the rigorous rule-making process.”

“What you can see is that many comments came from entrenched interests,” said David Estrada, Nuro’s chief legal and policy officer. “And that’s understandable. There are multibillion dollar industries that can be disrupted if autonomous vehicles become successful.”

To be fair, critical comments also came from nonprofit organizations genuinely concerned about unleashing robots on city streets. The Center for Auto Safety, an independent consumer group, thought that Nuro did not provide enough information on its development and testing, nor any meaningful comparison with the safety of similar, human-driven vehicles. “Indeed, the planned reliance on ‘early on-road tests … with human-manned professional safety drivers’ suggests that Nuro has limited confidence in R2X’s safe operation,” it wrote.


Nuro’s R2 delivery autonomous vehicle. Image Credits: Nuro

Despite such concerns, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted Nuro the exemptions it sought in February last year. Up to 5,000 R2 vehicles could be produced for a limited period of two years and subject to Nuro reporting any incidents, without a windshield, rearview mirror or backup camera. Although only a small concession, it was the first — and so far, only — time the U.S. government had relaxed vehicle safety requirements for an AV.

Now Estrada and Nuro hope to use that momentum to chip away at a mountain of regulations that never envisaged vehicles controlled by on-board robots or distant humans, extending from the foothills of local and state government to the peaks of federal and international safety rules.

If Nuro is to become the generation-defining company its founders desire, it will be due as much to innovation in regulation as advances in the technology it develops.

Regulate for success

“I don’t think any of the credible, big AV players want this to be a free-for-all,” said Dave Ferguson, Nuro’s co-founder and president. “We need the confidence of a clear regulatory framework to invest the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars necessary to manufacture vehicles at scale. Otherwise, it’s really going to limit our ability to deploy.”

#alliance-of-automobile-manufacturers, #auto-safety, #automation, #automotive, #autonomous-vehicles, #av, #california, #dave-ferguson, #department-of-defense, #ec-1, #extra-crunch, #extra-crunch-ec-1, #google, #government, #lyft, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #national-science-foundation, #nuro, #nuro-ec-1, #robotics, #self-driving-car, #startups, #transport, #transportation, #u-s-department-of-transportation, #united-states

Biden reveals lackluster new EV policy, no plans to phase out gasoline

Electric vehicle charging only spaces in a car park

Enlarge / The Biden plan does not include a requirement that all new vehicles be zero-emissions at any point in the future. (credit: Richard Newstead/Getty Images)

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that by 2030, half of all new cars and light trucks should be zero-emissions vehicles—a mix of battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid EVs, and hydrogen fuel cell EVs. But the White House still sees a future for burning hydrocarbons, as the executive order will also develop new long-term fuel-efficiency standards, and there is no mention of phasing out internal combustion engines for new vehicles at any point in the future.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are expected to announce new fuel-efficiency rules through model year 2026. The US had a relatively ambitious target of reaching a corporate average fuel economy target of 54 mpg (4.3 l/100 km) in 2025 under President Obama, but President Trump took a wrecking ball to that plan in 2020.

The EPA and NHTSA will likely adopt the framework recently put together by California’s Air Resources Board and BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo. The plan would reduce emissions from new vehicles by 17 percent by MY2026.

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#biden-administration, #california-air-resources-board, #cars, #climate-change, #electric-cars, #environmental-protection-agency, #epa, #fuel-efficiency, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #nhtsa, #president-joseph-biden, #zero-emissions-vehicle

Tesla Says Autopilot Makes Its Cars Safer. Crash Victims Say It Kills.

A California family that lost a 15-year-old boy when a Tesla hit its pickup truck is suing the company, claiming its Autopilot system was partly responsible.

#accidents-and-safety, #automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #roads-and-traffic, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Crashes involving Tesla Autopilot and other driver-assistance systems get new scrutiny.

Federal safety regulators told automakers to provide more information about accidents involving cars and trucks with automation technology.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #general-motors, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Odometer Rollbacks: A Hard-to-Spot Nuisance for Car Shoppers

Nearly half a million vehicles with illegally altered mileage are sold each year, according to federal estimates.

#automobile-service-and-charging-stations, #automobiles, #computers-and-the-internet, #frauds-and-swindling, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #used-cars

What to Do If Your Car is Recalled

Recalls are common, but receiving a notice can still be unnerving. Here’s what to expect.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #recalls-and-bans-of-products, #takata-corp

2 Killed in Driverless Tesla Car Crash, Officials Say

“No one was driving the vehicle” when the car crashed and burst into flames, killing two men, a constable said.

#deaths-fatalities, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #harris-county-tex, #musk-elon, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #woodlands-the-tex

EV makers oppose delay to automotive emissions penalty increase

Electric vehicle manufacturers are pushing back against a decision to delay penalty increases for automakers who fail to meet fuel efficiency standards.

A lobbying group representing legacy automakers – many of whom are now making substantial investments in zero-emissions vehicles – said the increase would have a significant economic impact during a time when the industry is facing mass disruption from the COVID pandemic. But new EV entrants say the penalty mechanism is a powerful performance incentive to decrease tailpipe emissions and encourage investment in lower- or zero-emissions technology.  

The decision, issued in January by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), postpones imposing a penalty increase from the beginning of model year 2019 to model year 2022. Tesla is petitioning the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review the ruling, saying that the delay “inflicts ongoing, irreparable injury” on the company and creates an “uneven playing field” by reducing the consequences of non-adherence.

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) penalty has been increased just once – from $5 to $5.50 for every 0.1 mile per gallon that doesn’t meet the standard – since its instatement in 1975. Congress acted to rectify the effects of inflation on the penalty by raising it to $14 in 2015, but NHTSA and the courts have ping-ponged about the increase ever since. A decision from the Second Circuit last August seemed to settle the issue in favor of instating the higher penalty starting with model year 2019, but automakers last October successfully petitioned that the increase be delayed.

The CAFE penalty can be a huge boon for zero emissions automakers, who receive credits that they can then sell to other OEMs who fail to meet the fuel efficiency target. In a recent report to regulators, Tesla said it earned $1.58 billion from selling regulatory credits to other automakers in 2020, up from $594 million in 2019. Delaying the increase harms companies that have made economic decisions on the basis of an increase to the credit, Tesla said.  

EV start-ups Rivian and Lucid Motors told TechCrunch they also oppose any delay to increasing the CAFE penalty.

“The credit market is very beneficial for the entire EV industry, so every company that is looking to start building EVs, either as a startup or the existing manufacturers, when they build EVs it’s to their benefit to have robust credits,” Kevin Vincent, Lucid Motor’s Associate General Counsel, told TechCrunch. “A lot of existing manufacturers end up selling credits themselves, so it benefits the forward-thinking companies that are improving fuel economy.”

James Chen, Rivian’s VP of Public Policy and Chief Regulatory Counsel, said in a statement to TechCrunch that any rollback of the CAFE or other emission standard “only sets the U.S. backwards in terms of emission reductions ([greenhouse gas] and criteria pollutants), increased fuel efficiency, reduction of dependence on foreign oil, technology leadership and EV proliferation.” He added that the company “strongly supports efforts to bolster EV adoption that includes more stringent emission standards and higher penalties for failure to meet those standards.”

NHTSA postponed the increase on the grounds that the penalty should not be retroactively applied to model years that had already been manufactured. As manufacturers have no way to increase the fuel economy level in these vehicles, “it would be inappropriate to apply the adjustment to model years that could have no deterrence effect and promote no additional compliance with the law,” NHTSA said.

Automakers, in a petition filed by the lobbying group Alliance for Automotive Innovation and in supplemental comments, also cited economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mercedes-Benz told NHTSA that the pandemic caused disruptions to its supply chain, workforce and production.

“We believe that retroactively applying an increased penalty rate in such a tenuous financial climate is unconscionable and inconsistent with this Administration’s efforts to promote regulatory relief in light of the economic consequences of COVID-19,” the automaker said.

Tesla maintained in its court filing that relying on the COVID pandemic “falls flat” in the absence of specific evidence as to why it warrants the delay.  

Attorney generals from 16 states, including California and New York, as well as environmental groups Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have also objected to the delay.

The NHTSA decision was issued in docket no. NHTSA-2021-0001. Tesla filed with the second circuit under case no. 21-593.

#automotive, #electric-cars, #electric-vehicles, #ev, #lucid-motors, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #rivian, #tesla, #transportation

Tesla’s Autopilot Technology Faces Fresh Scrutiny

Federal regulators are investigating 23 recent accidents in which drivers were, or may have been, using the automatic steering and braking system.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #center-for-auto-safety, #driverless-and-semiautonomous-vehicles, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #roads-and-traffic, #tesla-motors-inc, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Carmakers Strive to Stay Ahead of Hackers

The effects of a breach of a car, or fleet, could be devastating. Auto manufacturers and suppliers have aggressive plans, and a lot of firewalls.

#automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #computer-security, #computers-and-the-internet, #continental-ag, #jeep-division-of-fiat-chrysler, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

Auto Safety Agency Faces Calls for Overhaul as Biden Presidency Begins

The new administration can “restart” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which “should be leading the world when it comes to vehicle safety,” the head of an advocacy group said.

#advocates-for-highway-and-auto-safety, #automobile-safety-features-and-defects, #automotive-safety-research-institute, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #center-for-auto-safety, #center-for-study-of-responsive-law, #consumer-federation-of-america, #kidsandcars-org, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #presidential-transition-us, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #united-states-politics-and-government

Why Emptier Streets Meant an Especially Deadly Year for Traffic Deaths

In New York City, at least 243 people died in crashes in 2020 — the most since Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced his signature street safety plan in 2014.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #de-blasio-bill, #deaths-fatalities, #drag-racing, #forgione-margaret, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #new-york-city, #roads-and-traffic, #speed-limits-and-speeding, #traffic-accidents-and-safety, #transportation-alternatives

Truck Driver Crashes Into Cyclists, Killing 5 Outside Las Vegas

The crash happened on Thursday morning as a group of about 20 bicyclists were riding on the shoulder of U.S. 95 in Clark County, just north of Searchlight, N.V.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #clark-county-nev, #deaths-fatalities, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

In Fights Over Face Masks, Echoes of the American Seatbelt Wars

Seatbelt laws were a hard sell in state capitals as opponents argued they were uncomfortable or an imposition on personal liberty. Sound familiar?

#coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #law-and-legislation, #massachusetts, #michigan, #national-highway-traffic-safety-administration, #new-hampshire, #politics-and-government, #seatbelts, #states-us