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Archive for the ‘Car Safety’ Category

Can New Technology End Distracted and Drowsy Driving?

September 8th, 2014

driving while tired

How far should an automaker go to make sure the drivers of its cars stay safe by limiting the amount of distractions behind the wheel?

The latest news on battling distracted driving falls under the category of either creepy or cool, depending on your take on in-car technology. After my experience this weekend, though, I wouldn’t just call it cool, I’d call it potentially life-saving.

Lexus was one of the first to use technology to sound an alarm when it sensed a driver was not paying attention.

GM plans to step up the technology in a big way.

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Audi S4 Goes for Joy Ride: Would It Bother You?

August 20th, 2014

2013 Audi S4

Remember the joyride scene in the 1963 Ferrari California Spyder from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”?

In the movie, a valet takes the classic Ferrari for an afternoon spin but has the car back in the garage before anyone notices it’s gone. The scene was a lesson in how to properly take a car that isn’t yours for the ride of your life.

Doing so in real life is wildly irresponsible, dangerous and illegal. But it happens, probably more than we know. Leaving your car and keys with a valet, mechanic or anyone else who doesn’t own it is an open invitation to “borrow” the car until you return.

One of the safest places to leave your car is with the dealer from whom you made the purchase, but a Canadian couple have found out even that can be risky.

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Driving a Large Truck? Read This First

August 13th, 2014

2003 Freightliner Fl70 24_ft_box_truck_4_lgw

I began life as a delivery boy.

Well, after actually being delivered at the hospital, I basically went right to work as a delivery boy for my dad’s business.

I didn’t deliver pizzas like most young people; I delivered mattresses, because my dad owned a mattress company.

My point in mentioning this is that I became more familiar with driving a 24-foot box truck than I did with the ’84 Accord I used to get to and from work.

I quickly learned that right turns need to be as wide as possible and low-hanging branches can punch right through the box.

These are things that people who have never driven a large truck might not think about, yet every day moving companies happily hand out keys to people who have never driven anything bigger than a Miata.

This topic came to mind because of a Facebook meme that made me laugh, but makes a very good point.

IMG_5461

That said, here are tips for driving a large truck:

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How to Solve This Smelly Problem?

July 21st, 2014

mouse in car

It started with a smell.

The terribly awful odor of death is unmistakable, and it came from somewhere inside my car.

After throwing a small tantrum, I emptied everything out of our Legacy, hooked up the vacuum and told myself I wouldn’t stop until I found “the problem.” I vacuumed every nook and cranny, under the seats, in the glovebox… and found nothing.

The scent didn’t go away, so I dug deeper and did some research.

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The Problem with a Teen’s First Car

July 17th, 2014

2005 Volvo XC90 V8

I’m lucky I survived into adulthood.

I was like a baby sea turtle as a teenager. On their long journey from the nest to the ocean, seagulls snatch many little turtles up before they ever get a chance to thrive in the water. Baby sea turtles aren’t familiar with their surroundings and don’t know to be afraid. All they see is a flat beach and water on the horizon, and they try to get there as fast as they can.

Same with teenagers. Unleashed on the world with the ability to freely travel wherever they choose, they often forget, or don’t realize, that danger resides around every corner. I was reckless and aggressive as a teen driver, a truth I’m not proud of, but something that’s made me a better driver today.

With experience and technology, I hope we can greatly reduce the number of teen deaths on our roads. The problem is that safety costs a lot of money.

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The Harsh Reminders of Traffic School

June 23rd, 2014

driving safety

Don is about to kill his wife.

Not on purpose, of course, because he loves her. Talking with her and laughing with her are two of the only things in his life that bring Don blissful joy.

Don’s other love is his car. He loves the thrill of pushing its limits and accelerating quickly, even on city streets. By combining those two loves, Don will tragically lose them both within a couple of seconds.

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When Car Technology Gets Creepy

June 18th, 2014
Bad idea...

Bad idea…

Sometimes the “thank-you wave” just isn’t good enough.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve wished I could contact another driver with whom I’m sharing the road to convey a piece of information that a wave simply cannot.

Sometimes I wish I could apologize for a dumb move on my part or tell another motorist that I’ll stop and let him or her into traffic. Waving is good for a thank you, but not much else.

I’ve wondered what it would be like to type the license plate of the car I want to contact into some kind of device, then have access to the driver so I can convey my message.

Naturally, there would be a downside to such technology, because unfortunately, people like to use good inventions for evil. Road rage would become more personal, and the ability to curse out other drivers would rarely end well.

A new app could make the possibility of car-to-car communication a very real, and very scary, reality.

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GM Failing Recall Test?

June 17th, 2014

2014 Chevrolet Impala

Multiple-choice question:

When there’s a safety problem with a car, it’s best to fix it:

A) As cheaply and easily as possible.

B) As thoroughly as possible to make sure the faulty part performs as required.

The answer will be revealed later in this blog.

First, keep in mind that General Motors has had an extraordinarily tough year as it has dealt with the ramifications of waiting more than a decade to recall cars affected by an ignition-switch problem. That problem has proven fatal in a number of instances and is still in the process of being fixed.

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2014 NEMPA Technology Conference

June 6th, 2014
2014 NEMPA Technology Panel

Panelists John Bozzella, Jeff Ruel, John Capp and Danny Shapiro listen as Dr. Bryan Reimer answers a question posed by moderator John Paul of AAA.

Last week we were lucky enough to attend the New England Motor Press Association’s Technology Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. The conference has become an annual event put on by NEMPA, with strong support from MIT (particularly from Paul Parravano, Co-Director of MIT’s Office of Government and Community Relations).

Each year, the conference aims to shine a spotlight on a particular area of technology and show how that technology is changing the cars we know and love. This year, the conference featured panelists from diverse corners of the auto industry, all seeking to explain how modern technology is “engineering safer drivers” (this year’s theme).

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Personal Vendetta: Red Light Cameras

June 2nd, 2014

red light camera

I never thought it would happen to me.

I’ve seen the bright flashes of light when people run red lights and chuckled to myself as I silently mocked them for being dumb enough to run a red light at an intersection monitored by cameras.

I never saw the flash.

Other schmucks run red lights. Not me. How hard is it to stop when the light turns red at an intersection known to have cameras installed?

I don’t run red lights. I’m very careful to obey traffic laws and, occasionally, even the speed limit. I’m a defensive driver, not an aggressive one. So when I opened my mailbox on Friday and found an official-looking envelope from the Red Light Enforcement Program, my heart sank.

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