184 – Hydroplaning, Pothole Detector, and Zoning Out Behind the Wheel


In the aftermath of Henri here in New England, I thought I’d lead off with the topic of Hydroplaning and the role tires play.

Hydroplaning happens when one or more tires are lifted from the road by a wedge of water that gets trapped in front of and under a tire as the vehicle drives through the water. Hydroplaning most frequently occurs during heavy rainstorms when water creates puddles on the highway. In addition to the accompanying splash and scaring the heck out of the driver, hydroplaning typically causes the steering wheel to jerk.

How can you recover once you start to hydroplane? Your car’s stability control might detect the condition and may be able to correct a skid by applying individual brakes or even cutting power. But once you’re skimming on the surface of the water, as on ice, even the best electronics may not save you in time.

If your tire condition and speed are both sensible, you’ll generally be able to ride out a hydroplaning event for a couple of seconds it takes to reach a section of the road without standing water. Until you regain traction, you really have no control. This is why panic is inappropriate behind the wheel; there’s a good chance you can recover enough control to avoid or minimize the consequences even when things get scary.

Flood Water

In addition to hydroplaning, drivers need to be extra careful during heavy rains and tropical storms, being wary of potential deep standing water and other road hazards. 

More than half of flood-related drownings occur when someone drives into hazardous water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Weather Service. Flood-related deaths vary significantly from year to year, based on weather conditions. For the past decade, the average has been 100 deaths per year, based on NWS data.

Simply put, turn your car around if you encounter water on the road that looks to be 6 inches or deeper—or you can’t even tell how deep it is. Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood danger.  

Even water that’s 12 inches deep can move a small car, and 2 feet of raging water can dislodge and carry most vehicles, the NWS says.

“Deep water is also a threat to trucks and SUVs, even with their increased ground clearance,” says John Ibbotson, CR’s chief mechanic. “They have the same vulnerabilities as passenger cars.”


Hydroplaning: The Roles Tires Play

Why Your Car Hydroplanes, and What to Do When It Happens

Why Flooded Roads are More Dangerous Than They Appear

Mercedes’ launches Pothole Speed Bump detection in select models.

We (ISDA) have posted about this subject – often. Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion per year, according to a study from the AAA. Some of the more common damage is a flat tire, bent or damaged rims, suspension damage, steering damage and even damage to the body of the car. Potholes can even knock your car out of alignment. 

Clearly, potholes are more than just a pain in the neck — they are a real safety hazard for drivers. According to Pothole.info, out of approximately 33,000 traffic fatalities each year, one-third involve poor road conditions. Now Mercedes-Benz is doing something to help alleviate both the dangers and the cost of damage caused by potholes. 

With the launch of a new feature on its Car-to-X Communication service, new C-Class and S-Class models as well as the EQS can now receive visual and audible alerts so drivers are forewarned that they are nearing a pothole or a speed bump. In fact, the technology is available on some 3 million Mercedes-Benz passenger cars produced in 2016 or later. 

Here’s how the technology works.

If the chassis control unit registers a pothole or speed bump, and the Car-to-X Communication service is activated, the information is sent to the Mercedes-Benz Cloud in real time via the mobile phone network, together with positional data. Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in the vicinity are informed, and the events are displayed with icons on the navigation map. About ten seconds before the relevant lane section is reached, an audible warning is given and the icon is visually highlighted.

In the new C-Class, S-Class and EQS, the audible warning is “Look out, pothole!” or “Attention, speed bump.” The new alerts are now available in selected markets worldwide, and in all 36 languages recognized by the infotainment system.


Mercedes Launches Pothole, Speed Bump Detection on Select Models


Vehicle Accidents are the Leading Cause of Workplace Fatalities

The fact is that the time an executive spends in their vehicle is without a doubt the highest risk period of their day. From a safety standpoint, this is borne out by the latest statistics on fatal vehicle crashes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

It is important express that a Security Driver is also trained to supply safe driving, at times the Principal may not understand the secure driving is also safe driving. A good security driver operating the vehicle in a manner that is proactive can prevent accidents.

The safety and security of the vehicle occupants during this most dangerous period of time has been and is the responsibility of the security driver.

The statistics that point to the need of a driver trained to avoid problems are overwhelming. The number one cause of workplace fatalities is car accidents.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than 38% of workplace fatalities are from vehicle accidents, and total motor-vehicle injury costs were estimated at $463.0 billion. Costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor-vehicle property damage, and employer costs.

Even though traffic volume decreased significantly in 2020, our roadways have been deadlier. Last year 42,060 people died in crash-related incidents—the highest in 13 years. These highway fatalities represent a 24 percent spike compared to 2019 which was noted as the highest fatality rate in 96 years since 1924.


Driving and Road Safety from State Dept.

Global Road Safety from the CDC

We (ISDA) also suggest that you take a look at the data supplied by the Association for Safe International Travel specifically their Know Before You Go documents that supply information about driving in other countries

Vehicle Crashes Remain Leading Employee Death Cause


Zoning Out Behind the Wheel

A great article on the Axiom website about the Safety Systems in Vehicles. As a Security Driver or supplier of Secure Transportation you are aware of how many driving tasks are now automated — speed control, braking, lane-keeping and even changing lanes. It seems never ending.

Carmakers keep adding more automated features in the name of safety. But now the government wants to find out if assisted-driving technology itself is dangerous by making it too easy for people to misuse.

The more sophisticated the assisted-driving system, the more complacent drivers can become, abdicating their own responsibility for operating the car.

This can lead to avoidable crashes and dangerous incidents that undermine public confidence in automated driving.
Even with the latest technology, drivers still need to watch where they’re going and be prepared to take the wheel; fully autonomous vehicles are years from widespread deployment.

Federal regulators have taken a mostly hands-off approach to automated vehicle technologies, offering only guidelines for fully driverless cars like robotaxis, which are under development and evolving.

Government Scrutiny

Now the Biden administration is stepping up its scrutiny of assisted-driving systems available today, like Tesla’s Autopilot.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said recently that companies must report serious crashes involving driver-assistance and automated-driving systems to authorities within a day of learning about them.

This week NHTSA opened a formal investigation into Tesla Autopilot after a series of crashes involving emergency vehicles.
The agency said it had identified 11 crashes since 2018 in which Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot struck emergency vehicles, despite the presence of flashing lights, flares or road cones.

At least 17 people were injured and one person died in the crashes, according to NHTSA.

While the focus on crashes with emergency vehicles is fairly narrow, NHTSA will be looking carefully at where and how Autopilot functions, including how it identifies and reacts to obstacles in the road.
Importantly, it will also examine how Autopilot monitors and assists drivers, and how it enforces the driver’s engagement while the system is operating.

NHTSA will consider whether there is a defect in Tesla’s Autopilot system due to a “foreseeable misuse” of the technology and whether all of its 765,000 affected cars should be recalled.

The bottom line is authorities are reviewing not just whether assisted-diving technology works, but also its effects on human behavior.


NHTSA Opens Investigation Into Tesla Autopilot-Related Crashes Into Emergency Vehicles

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