Expertly Speaking

NHTSA Recall Notification Regarding 2006-2007 General Motors Vehicles

Earlier this month, General Motors (GM) announced plans to recall nearly 250,000 vehicles, equipped with power windows, due to a potential electrical malfunction in the master control switch located in the driver’s door.  GM reportedly traced this condition to water intrusion into the driver’s door cavity resulting in corrosion and abnormally high electrical resistance in the power window circuit.  Excess electrical resistance creates abnormally high temperatures, which can lead to melting and burning of the affected components.

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Did Dock Leveler Installation Contribute to Accident?

Thomas Cocchiola, PE ::::

Case Synopsis: A worker was injured when she inadvertently stepped into a gap while unloading items from a truck.  She was unloading at a facility equipped with a dock leveler to bridge the gap between individual trucks and the loading dock platform.  The dock leveler platform was extended onto the truck bed before the woman began unloading.  The injured worker did not know where she placed her foot, but recalled her leg went into a gap all the way up to her thigh.  It was alleged that a deficiency in the dock leveler installation contributed to the accident.

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Drowning at Private Lake and Camp Community Leads to Major Settlement

Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D. ::::

Case Synopsis: A young, non-swimming female drowned while attending a private, lakeside camp community – a tragic event easily preventable.  The private camp community offered two different beach areas for members: one was a shallow water beach area for toddlers and young, non-swimmers, while the other was a deep water dock area reserved for swimmers only.  Although the lifeguard on duty knew that the victim in this case could not swim, she allowed the youngster, while sitting on a “noodle”, to enter the deep, dark water designated for swimmers only.

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Nissan Recalls Infinity JX35: Due To Defective Fuel Gauge Systems

Early August 2012, Nissan, in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced plans to recall approximately 7,800 model year 2013 Infinity JX35, manufactured during the first half of 2012, due to a potentially defective fuel level sensing system.  This defect can prevent the fuel level sensing system from accurately indicating fuel level and activating the low-fuel warning indicator.  

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Urban Hog Riding Risks

Johann F. Szautner, D.I.,P.E.,P.L.S. ::::

Case Synopsis: For motorcyclists, nothing beats a leisurely ride on a warm, sunny, spring day, especially after enduring a long frigid winter. On such a spring day, a group of friends went joy riding to experience the open road in the countryside, returning home to the city in the evening . They traveled back on the freeway to a part of the city where their favorite watering hole was located. By now it was late evening. Street lights, which are there to help with a driver’s visibility, were on, but they are often too dim, or broken, and provide only marginal illumination of the roadways.

At some point, the lead driver saw a manhole lid in the middle of his lane and tried to avoid it by passing to the right in the available space between the lid and the parking lane marking, which was 3 feet wide. He did not see that a chunk of pavement was missing, creating a hole of sufficient width and depth to snag the front tire, throwing him over the handle bars. As a result, he suffered multiple injuries, but his life was spared because he was wearing a helmet and protective motorcycle garb.

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Electronic Steering Defect Contributes to Collision

R. Scott King, BSME ::::

Background: Historically, automotive power steering mechanisms have been relatively simple hydraulic systems comprised of a belt-driven pump, hoses and valves.  These are time-tested systems, providing high levels of reliability and durability. Of course, steering assist is required during low speed steering maneuvers, but straight-ahead driving, and even higher speed turns, typically do not require power assistance.  Thus, if these systems have a systemic shortcoming, it is that they require power – and thus consume energy and fuel – whenever the engine is running, whether power assist is required or not.  Newer power assist systems, however, are smarter. They provide steering assist only when required.  But are they as reliable?  A recent case suggests perhaps not. 

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