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Britain insurance companies on self-driving vehicles

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by Nick Carey, Paul Lienert and Tina Bellon of Reuters from https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Britain’s driverless car ambitions hit speed bump with insurers

Insurers are key players in the shift to automated driving, with some investing in a technology they believe will slash accidents and deaths, and save them billions in payouts. But they are worried drivers might equate today’s lower levels of automation with fully self-driving vehicles, potentially causing more accidents in the short term and permanently damaging public confidence in the technology.

Britain’s goal to be a leader in adopting self-driving cars could backfire unless automakers and government regulators spell out the current limitations of the technology, insurance companies warn.

“What you describe things as is incredibly important, so people don’t use them inappropriately,” said David Williams, managing director of underwriting at AXA Insurance, whose parent AXA SA made 17 billion euros in revenues from property and casualty insurance, including motor insurance, in 2020.

“I genuinely believe the world will be a safer place with autonomous vehicles and I really don’t want that derailed.”

In what would be a world first, Britain is considering regulating the use of Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) on its roads, possibly even on motorways at speeds of up to 70 miles (113 km) per hour. It is also deciding whether to describe them to the general public as “automated” systems.

It is that one word – automated – that has stirred controversy and put the country at the centre of a global debate about self-driving terminology at a sensitive moment in its evolution.

The technology is evolving rapidly and there is no consensus on how to deploy it or what to call some features. Regulations in the Americas, Europe and Asia lag far behind technical developments and issues over accident liability are unresolved.

ALKS use sensors and software to keep cars within a lane, accelerating and braking without driver input. They are “Level 3” technology on the auto industry’s five point scale towards fully autonomous “Level 5” driving – meaning they can operate under specific conditions, but require driver intervention.

However, some experts say ALKS should be called “assisted-driving technology” to avoid potentially misleading consumers into believing they can let their attention wander at the wheel.

The dangers of drivers apparently misunderstanding the limits of technology has already become an issue in the United States, where regulators have been looking into about 20 crashes involving Tesla’s driver assistance tools, such as its “Autopilot” system – a “Level 2” technology that requires the driver’s constant attention.

Britain’s Thatcham Research said it had tested cars with the technologies underpinning ALKS and found they cannot swerve out of lane to avoid obstacles, see pedestrians emerging from cars at roadside, or read road signs. The car can alert the driver to resume control, but with a potentially fatal lag at high speeds.

“If this technology was really automated and could do what you or I could do, insurers would welcome it,” said Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s research director.

“But this will lead to confusion, it’s going to lead to unnecessary crashes, and potentially injuries or fatalities” if ALKS are not marketed accurately, he added.

Britain’s transport ministry said its primary concern was public safety and it hadn’t decided to permit the use of ALKS at high speeds or whether to call the technology “automated.” Its decisions are expected later this year.

The World Health Organization estimates road accidents globally kill around 1.35 million people a year.

With human error estimated to cause around 90% of accidents, that has attracted considerable interest in automated driving technologies from insurers.

AXA, for instance, has used UK research projects to gather data to create insurance products for autonomous vehicles and owns a stake in self-driving software startup Oxbotica, which also has funding from Chinese tech giant Tencent.

There is potentially a big economic boost too from embracing the new technology.

Britain’s transport ministry forecasts by 2035 around 40% of new UK cars could have self-driving capabilities, creating up to 38,000 new skilled jobs.

“The UK’s adoption of ALKS … is essential for Britain to remain a world leader in vehicle technology while ensuring our roads remain amongst the safest on the planet,” Mike Hawes, CEO of UK car industry lobby group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited, said, noting the United Nations has approved ALKS in slow moving motorway traffic under 37 miles per hour (60 kph).

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz has been a pioneer of self-driving technology and is seeking global regulatory approval for its “Level 3” Drive Pilot system.

In an email, Daimler called the system “conditional automated driving”

“This is a paradigm change, because the vehicle takes control,” Daimler said. “The driver can turn away from what is happening on the road” to surf the internet, or enjoy “a relaxing seat massage.”

AXA’s Williams attended a presentation of Drive Pilot to the Association of British Insurers last year.

“It is absolutely amazing, but it is driver assistance,” he said, and not full automation.

Neil Ingram, insurer Direct Line’s head of motor product management, said it was vital “Level 3” technologies were described clearly and accurately.

“We’ve known for years the path to full automation was a tricky one and Level 3 has always been the problem child,” he said. “If the government decides to designate ALKS systems as automated then that makes it very, very real.”

With proper consumer education, ALKS “could help in slow moving traffic”, said Anthony Smith, CEO of independent UK consumer watchdog Transport Focus.

“But the word ‘automated’ needs careful testing on a few focus groups and we need a better name,” he said.

Some in the car industry favour a cautious approach.

Glen De Vos, chief technology officer at Aptiv, a supplier developing self-driving technology, said automakers should be “very sensitive” when describing their systems’ capabilities “because what we don’t want to do is oversell.”

Even marketed properly, he said some drivers would abuse the technology. So Aptiv advocates using cameras and sensors inside vehicles to keep drivers engaged.

“If the driver’s behaviour doesn’t change, you have to lock them out of the system,” De Vos said.

The Taxing Bikernet Weekly News for April 15, 2021

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News from Wheels Through Time Museum, Four Corners Motorcycle Rally, Goodyear buys Avon tires company, Fandango event coverage, Tucker Powersports offers over 200 new products for e-bikes to help dealers, David Uhl Art in Florida, CARB Certification Fees, major Motorcycle Events List for 2021 from Twisted Road, the ever-growing Cantina Bad Joke Library, Laconia Bike Week Charity Raffle, NMA readers comment on EV,

There’s way more coming to Bikernet. We need to keep riding free into the future.

–Bandit

The Bikernet Weekly News is sponsored in part by companies who also dig Freedom including: Cycle Source Magazine, the MRF, Las Vegas Bikefest, Iron Trader News, ChopperTown, BorntoRide.com and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.

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Harmful E15 Fuel Labeling Changes that Could Hurt Engines

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MIC Tackles Harmful E15 Fuel Labeling Changes that Could Hurt Engines

The MIC is opposing proposed changes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to modify and remove E15 fuel labeling requirements at gas pumps nationwide. This fuel includes high levels of ethanol, between 10.5 and 15 percent, which can harm powersports engines, degrade performance, increase emissions, cause fuel leaks and even engine failures – as well as voiding manufacturer warranties.

The proposed labeling changes will make it more difficult for consumers to distinguish the difference between E15 and the less harmful E10 fuel, and will fail to communicate the risks of improper E15 use.

“While we appreciate the addition of the word ‘motorcycles’ in the proposed label, we are concerned that the other significant changes to the label minimize its effect and make it look like just another sticker, rather than an alert that people need to pay attention to,” said Scott Schloegel, senior vice president at the MIC Government Relations Office.

“The proposed warning label does not adequately notify consumers about the improper use of E15,” he said. “To the contrary, the proposed changes stress ‘Safe for use in’ rather than drawing ‘ATTENTION’ to the label and instructing them to ‘Use only in’ certain products. The proposed label also removes other critical alert language and replaces it with more matter-of-fact language as outlined in the comparisons below.”

The MIC’s GRO has written to the new EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, stating that the proposed labeling changes will result in adverse environmental, safety, and economic consequences, and deny consumers basic information about engine compatibility. Under the proposed labeling requirements, the words “ATTENTION” and “E15 Up to 15% Ethanol” and “Use Only In” would be replaced with “Contains Up to 15% Ethanol” and “Safe for Use In.”

“The labeling changes do not adequately alert tens of millions of powersports consumers,” Schloegel said. “Fuel dispensers should absolutely be equipped with clear and direct signage.”

A Harris Poll conducted in February 2020, on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, found that an increasing number of Americans, nearly two in five last year, mistakenly believe that high-ethanol gasoline blends are safe for use in lawn equipment or other small-engine products. The poll found that more than three in five Americans assume that any fuel sold at pumps nationwide is safe for all of their gas-powered products. Further, many consumers said that E15 labeling was ineffective in communicating the danger of using that fuel type in small engines found in motorcycles, ATVs, side-by-sides, and other gasoline-powered machines.

Motorcycle advocates blast proposed new Alabama helmet law

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by Chris Best from https://www.wkrg.com

“Singling out of one specific group is profiling and we, as motorcyclist, are well aware of this fact,” says Matthew Schroeder, State Director, Dixie ABATE of Alabama, Alabama’s only state motorcycle rights organization. He’s talking about Alabama Senate Bill-357 which would require motorcycle helmets to have reflective features for high visibility.

Part of the complaint is that this only adds to the expense of already costly safety gear. Decent helmets aren’t cheap, and those with reflective features tend to cost even more. State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R) sponsored the bill. You can read it in full here – click this.

“Mandating a requirement to add reflective material to helmets is counter productive to making riders more visible. Many riders already wear high visibility shirts and reflective jackets when riding. Many riders also having additional lighting for visibility,” said Schroeder. The Director of the Department of Public Safety would determine what qualifies as “reflective features.” The Director would then publish a list of those that qualify.

The legislation also targets feet. It would make riding or being a passenger on a bike while not wearing shoes illegal. That may present another issue, what qualifies as shoes? Does that mean it’s illegal to ride in flip flops or sandals? Or do those qualify as shoes? The law also makes it illegal for anyone to allow a child to ride without a helmet or shoes. Riding a motorcycle in Alabama without a helmet is already illegal.

The law would also make it illegal for dealers and other retailers to sell helmets in Alabama without the reflective features. That would mean riders could not buy a cheaper helmet, then add their own reflective materials. “We feel that the Senators and Representatives would be a lot more productive in regards to motorcycling , if they would pass legislation requiring a motorcycle skills test and teach motorcycle awareness in drivers education,” said Schroeder.

The Fools Bikernet News for April 1st, 2021

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This news is completely whacked, so hang on.

The Bikernet Weekly News is sponsored in part by companies who also dig Freedom including: Cycle Source Magazine, the MRF, Las Vegas Bikefest, Iron Trader News, ChopperTown, BorntoRide.com and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.

Ride fast and free forever,

–Bandit

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Bikers inside the Beltway Meeting for May 2021

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BIKERS INSIDE THE BELTWAY 2021
FLEXIBLE & MOVING FORWARD

The pandemic and the events of January 6 brought changes to meetings with members of Congress and large gatherings. The MRF has restructured Bikers inside the Beltway to comply with pandemic mandates and directives for assemblies. The 2021 Bikers inside the Beltway will take place in Washington, D.C., May 18.

“It is our right to address Congress” said MRF President Kirk Willard. “While attendees will need to take a flexible approach to scheduling meetings with their members of Congress, Bikers Inside the Beltway will take place as scheduled.”

New security restrictions necessitate that visitors to Congress establish appointments before arriving in D.C. The MRF will provide members with contact information to begin the process of setting your D.C. agenda.

Flexibility with appointments and expectations is a must. Some congressional offices will welcome in person meetings within the Capitol Complex. Other offices may seek meetings outside the official government buildings. Still others may only do a meeting over the phone or via zoom.

Bikers inside the Beltway will be dual-faceted to accommodate in-person visits to Congress plus visits to local offices.

To ensure that the mission of getting our message to Congress does not fail, here are a few items to consider:

Once infrastructure funding legislation is assigned a Senate and House number, that information will be shared.

  • Make your appointments locally or in Washington.
  • Familiarize yourself with the briefing points.
  • Confirm your appointment locally or in Washington.
  • Virtual or in person, make notes on your meeting.
  • Share your meeting notes with the MRF.

Although bill numbers have not been assigned to the infrastructure funding legislation, Congress has classified it as a high priority. Language that the MRF amended into the 2020 highway funding legislation has not changed. The MRF’s 2021 High Priority Objectives are on track to be included in the upcoming highway funding legislation.

A meeting of the MRF Board of Directors will take place on May 17 at the Embassy Suites, 1900 Diagonal Road, Alexandria, VA 22314. Rooms are available through the hotel direct line 703-684-5900 and use reference code MRF when making reservations. Hotel cut-off date May 13. Updated Flyer here.

A pre-event briefing and Q&A for visits to Congress is at 7:00 p.m., May 17, and is required for all attendees. Briefing packets and “leave behinds” will be available during the briefing.

Make appointments with your members of Congress, attend the MRF board meeting, briefing session, and Bikers inside the Beltway. Bikers inside the Beltway 2021 – flexible and moving forward.

The Doomed Bikernet Weekly News for March 25th, 2021

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There are two premises at play here. Threats of doom and control freaks. Some folks are constantly hunting for more control over you.

At one time bikers made up one of the largest activist groups in the country. We were right up there with the NRA. We fought hard for freedom to choose to wear a helmet or not. We won until a control freak (Joan Claybrook) took over the DOT and came up with the public burden theory, so she could take our freedom again. We faced an uphill battle gallantly and in many states succeeded.

I never understood the media. They supported helmet laws and taking our freedoms. But the media relies on freedom or there would be no media just government propaganda. Hell, you might also read a book I wrote in 1999, Sam Chopper Orwell. It explains what’s happing in biker style. Hang on.

You’ll see this topic pop-up numerous times in the news. It’s not about exhaust smoke and plastic containers. It’s about honesty, freedom and good times. Let’s hit the news.

It just bothers me, because we are actually living in the best of times. Sure, there’s stuff to do and improve. But we are not doomed. Let’s party or as the brothers say, “Support Good Times.”

Ride Fast and Free Forever.

–Bandit

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NCOM Biker Newsbytes for March 2021

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Industry news from National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish

THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester.

The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services.

Click Here to Read the NCOM News at Bikernet.

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