Archive for the ‘Car Politics’ Category

Should Modifying Your Car Be Illegal?

April 22nd, 2015

working on own car

Driveway tinkerers and shop-bound weekend racers could be a dying breed.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. People who work on their own cars are stymied by the sheer amount of technology and custom tools needed to do the job.
  2. A new law could make it illegal to work on your own car.

The first reason is a natural consequence of technology. Open the hood of a modern car, and instead of seeing headers and valve covers, we’re greeted with a plastic cover emblematized with the vehicle’s logo and engine size.

Aside from having easy access to refill the windshield-wiper fluid, modern cars are basically untouchable for the average weekend do-it-yourselfer.

That in itself isn’t so bad, but a law that would outlaw us from even trying is very scary. And very real.

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Will Self-Driving Cars Take Away Your Driving Freedom?

February 18th, 2015

Uber self-driving car

Read this quote, and then we’ll discuss:

Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.

The author goes into a great deal of predictions on what is to come for the future of cars that drive themselves, even going so far as to say the majority of car purchases won’t be by individuals, but by car-sharing and transport services like Uber and Zipcar.

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Beyond Traffic: The Future of Transportation

February 5th, 2015


Thinking about the future can be an exciting prospect.

It can also be terrifying.

The United States Department of Transportation has just released a study, called “Beyond Traffic,” that looks into the next 30 years of transportation in the U.S.

It doesn’t look good, folks.

An article at The Verge said,

As far as USDOT secretary Anthony Foxx is concerned, pretty much everything is in bad shape and getting worse: roadways, railways, waterways, the whole nine yards.

The problems are endless: ancient infrastructure is crumbling without the money to repair or replace it. Renewable energy strategies aren’t materializing quickly enough. Rapidly growing urban centers are buckling under the weight of the commuting residents that occupy them.

Surely the USDOT has the solutions to save us from impending peril, right?

Nope. They are asking us for help.

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GM’s Solution to Recall: Just Buy a New Car

May 6th, 2014
2014 Buick Regal

Sorry for the trouble. Buy one of these as compensation!

Let’s say you bought a car only to find out later it has a defect that could potentially kill you.

Would your first response be heading to your nearest dealer and buying a new version of the same brand to replace your defective car?

Of course not. That’s a silly question, right? Most people would simply want the car fixed, if possible. Others might have a more extreme response and sue the carmaker in question and vow to never own said brand again.

General Motors is still in the middle of its ignition recall and has made those affected by it a very strange offer.

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Speed Limit: 80. Who’s Ready?

March 31st, 2014


We all do it anyway. With many Interstate speed limits at 70 miles per hour, it’s easy to push that to 75 or even 80 when cruising the vast spaces between cities.

On a recent trip from Washington to Oregon, I had my cruise set at 75 and still got passed by cars that had to be going 85. Upon entering Oregon I experienced the pain of a sudden decrease to 65 and wondered why the law there required me to go so painfully slow.

Modern cars are capable of easily cruising at 80 or more, especially with the advent of 8- and 9-speed automatic transmissions that are built for efficiency at high speeds.

With the advancement of technology and the ability to go faster, the Interstate highway system needs to start keeping pace.

In some places, that is happening.

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Subaru Dealer Wins Union Fight

March 26th, 2014


Kill ‘em with love and humor.

What better way to combat a hostile situation than by offering up some comedy. Maybe we could avoid everything from wars to domestic disputes by simply opening our arms and asking for a hug, then telling a joke.

I know it sounds like I’ve gone all hippie, but when we all just get along, things are so much happier. For the latest proof of this concept, I direct your attention to a Subaru dealership in Wichita, which has effectively diffused a union protest.

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Drugged Driving: America’s New Problem

March 4th, 2014

Driving High

The first time you try it is the last time you can ever say you’ve never done it.

I try to avoid topics here that aren’t specifically car related, but we’ve reached the point where recreational drug use and cars have collided into a seriously important point of discussion. I live in Washington, where marijuana use is now legal, and people wonder how much their bodies can handle before driving becomes impaired.

It’s hard to avoid the distinct musky smell of the drug here—it fills everything from concert halls to hotel halls.

While I choose not to partake, because I don’t want to artificially alter my mind or endanger myself behind the wheel, plenty of Washingtonians are taking advantage of the new legislation.

I’ve heard two arguments in the Driving While High debate:

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Flashing While Driving: Now Legal!

February 7th, 2014

speed trap

There’s big, big news in the world of cars today. It’s not often that a piece of news or legislation or automotive awesomeness comes along that completely lights up my days and nights.

When it happens, though, it needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.

The news I discovered yesterday has not only caused me to rest easier while driving, it will save me (and you) money while adding another level of protection and camaraderie on the streets of these great United States.

What could have such a big influence on the state of driving?

The answer, as briefly as possible, is:

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Smart Ways to Ease Traffic Congestion

September 19th, 2013

smallest car in the world

Yesterday I brought up the topic of congestion in cities and Scotland’s proposal to ban gas-powered vehicles in city centers.

I don’t meant to dwell on a topic that remains decades away, but it brings up some interesting questions about the problems of transportation in busy areas. A couple of commenters on that post got me wondering if the solution to urban congestion lies in bigger roads, smaller cars, or no cars at all.

The implications of whatever happens will directly influence the cars we buy in the future. Maybe that great bargain on a used Suburban won’t be as great when it can’t be driven to the office parking garage downtown.

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Should Our Cars Record Our Every Move?

August 29th, 2013

google self-driving-car

Ninety-six percent of passenger cars and light-duty vehicles from the 2013 model year have electronic data recorders.

Yup, like the black boxes in airplanes, our vehicles’ actions are constantly being recorded, and the only way to avoid it is to buy used.

The statistic comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, by way of the Huffington Post, in an article about self-driving cars.

The U.S. government would like all self-driving vehicles to have data recorders that would log all events leading up to an accident. The data, in theory, would allow investigators to determine what went wrong in the unfortunate event there are no survivors to recap their versions of things.

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