Defect Investigations

  1. "NHTSA Lauches Probe into Timeliness of Three Recalls," USDOT, February 16, 2010.
  2. "Toyota Provides Response to Chairman Towns' Inquiry," Oversight Committee Hearings, February 12, 2010.
  3. "Before Your Toyota Is Fixed, Should You Drive It?," AOL Autos - An Interview with Don Friedman for CfIR, February 11, 2010.
  4. "Toyota Recalls May Not Solve Problem, Experts Say," CNN US, February 10, 2010.
  5. "This Car Runs on Code," Discovery News February 5, 2010.
  6. "Toyota: Owners Can Still Drive, but Watch for Warning Signs," USA Today - Comment by CfIR, January 27, 2010.

CfIR Identified Electronic Vehicle Control Defects Resulting in Recalls in 2013: Any crash is related to a combination of roadway factors, vehicle defects, and/or driver errors. The ever-increasing electronic control of vehicles has its benefits and limitations. Modern vehicle drive-by-wire (DBW) systems can have lifesaving outcomes because they can identify and take action (e.g., deploy airbag) based on potentially-dangerous roadway factors and vehicle and/or driver errors. Most of the time, the DBW systems save lives. However, some DBW commands can be fatal (e.g., misinterpreted data causing a crash or preventing airbag deployment causing injury). Since about 1990, all motor vehicles are equipped with Collision Data Recorders (CDR). These devices initially provided impact and status data, as well as deployment commands for occupant protection systems. More recently, vehicles are equipped with DBW systems with electronically-aided driver controls derived from more than 40 control modules interconnected by communication networks. A vast amount of additional data is collected and stored by these control modules. Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) identify, describe and store events, faults, limitations exceeded and corrective actions made by each control module. The functioning of a control module, access, and storage location codes are defined in its Product Definition Description manual.

    "Electronic Crash, Defect and Causation Analyses", ESV, May 2013: Download

    "Electronic Crash and Injury Causation Analyses", AAFS, February 2014: Download

    "Potential Effects of Automatic (Emergency) Braking on Accident Fatalities and Serious Injuries", ESV, June 2017: Download

CfIR Identified Airbag System Defects Resulting in Recalls in 2014: In November 2013, Don Friedman discovered a defective algorithm in advanced airbag vehicles before NHTSA did. He filed a defect petition with NHTSA on a defective algorithm in vehicles that can suppress airbag deployment by erroneously classifying the occupant weight as being too low to deploy the airbag. The defect in the algorithm is fairly simple. This is a design defect in every GM vehicle with the flawed algorithm. In its analysis of airbags failing to deploy in crashes. After 2000, when GM could have introduced advanced airbag vehicles with the flawed algorithm just through 2010, there were 143 frontal impact fatalities in model year 2000 to 2010 Chevrolet Impalas where the airbags failed to deploy; 98 of the fatalities being occupants were lap/shoulder belted. Mr. Friedman studied deployment crashes. Specifically, "The algorithm for the weight of the passenger used the instantaneous weight to determine whether to inhibit the airbag deployment. [A vehicle] lift and bounce [can] momentarily reduce[d] the weight of the passenger to that of a small adult. Using a weight averaged over a few tens of seconds would have avoided suppressing the airbag and the resulting serious injury and fatality. Since the control module is field reprogrammable a simple recall and modifying a few lines of code can avoid repeat occurrences."

    "NHTSA Looks Into Another Airbag Problem with GM Chevy Impalas"  By Eric T. Chaffin, September 4, 2014. Don Friedman submits results to NHTSA regarding 2008 Chevrolet Impala crash that occurred in April 2011 in Texas. Download

    "Chevy Impala has Airbag Software Flaw, Safety Advocate Claims in U.S. Petition"  By Auto News, April 7, 2014. Don Friedman petitioned NHTSA to open a probe into whether GM’s electronic algorithms can inhibit airbag deployment, and whether faulty data can be produced if passengers are bumped out of their seats. Download

    "NHTSA Asked to Investigate More GM Air-Bag Failures" By Jeff Green and Jeff Plungis, April 7, 2014. Don Friedman petitioned the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open a defect investigation into 2003-2010 model-year Impalas. Download

CfIR investigated seat track and seat back failures in rear impact crashes.

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