We’ve all been there: January 1st nears, excitement builds, and you set a lofty goal for yourself. Eat healthier. Hit the gym 5 days a week. Engage friends and family in conversations that are not exclusively about cars. You know, your typical New Year’s resolution. In the following weeks, Whole Foods will record record sales and gym memberships will spike. But by mid-February or so, we’ll return to our old habits, and my loved ones will still be trying to remember which seemingly random collection of letters and numbers is made by Cadillac and which by Mercedes-Benz. Our resolutions—promises we made and agreed to stand behind—have become more akin to suggestions. They’re now goals to strive for and be congratulated on, not requirements by which to live. Don’t feel too bad: as it turns out, the auto industry isn’t too different.
The news is full of gloomy stories these days when it comes to automobiles. It might even be enough to make make you think driving an automobile is becoming more dangerous.
There is, for instance, the recent fatal collision between a Tesla Model S and a semi trailer. And the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said last year was the deadliest on the nation’s highways since 2008.
It’s enough to make you want to swathe yourself in plastic bubble wrap and never leave the house.
But new cars are getting safer, thanks to a host of new technologies. The best part is you’ll probably never have to consciously use most of them, but you’ll nevertheless be glad they’re there.
Remember all the recall-related headlines of the past two years? Those manufacturer errors account for only about 2% of deaths on the road. Conversely, 94% of lives lost in motor-vehicle accidents are due to human error. These are startling numbers, which lead to sobering realizations. Back in 1970, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed to study our highways and roads in an effort to minimize the risks associated with driving. As technology has advanced, this administration’s scope and responsibilities have advanced as well. Dr. Mark Rosekind, the current NHTSA Administrator, spoke with Bryan Reimer, of the New England University Transportation Center and MIT’s AgeLab, regarding the NHTSA’s role in the current and future state of autonomous driving technology.
The average driver drives drunk 87 times before his or her first arrest.
So for the people out there who believe they simply have good luck when driving after a few too many, please remember that your time could be about up and an arrest looms just around the next corner.
With celebrations carrying on into today, please remember that New Year’s Day is one of the deadliest on American roads. Avoid a DUI arrest, or worse, by simply not driving. While an arrest could mean a lot of things, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends ignition interlocks for all people convicted of a DUI. That means every first-time offender couldn’t start his or her car until completing a breathalyzer test attached to the ignition.
Try impressing a date with that little process hanging over your head.
There are already 17 states that mandate ignition interlock devices for those convicted of DUI, and the NTSB has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up research into manufacturer-installed interlock devices.
Ideally, individual drivers would control their own destiny by not drinking and driving, but once judgment is clouded an on-board breathalyzer is probably a good idea.
For me, I don’t want the indignity of having an interlock device on my car, so I choose to celebrate in a spot that doesn’t require car keys.
Happy 2013, fellow CarGurus!
Should breathalyzer interlock devices be mandated on all new cars?
When shopping for used cars, people often look to a certain brand and take comfort in knowing the brand’s reputation for quality and reliability will mean a trouble-free ownership experience.
Honda certainly qualifies as one of those brands.
Smart car buyers know that any used car, regardless of brand, should never be brought home without a thorough history check. That research should include a close look at recalls issued for the model getting considered.
In the last week or so, Honda has reminded us that no brand is immune from a potentially dangerous fault that could result in an accident, with two separate recalls on three of its most popular vehicles.
Mention the most dangerous vehicles on the road today, and the Ram 1500 pickup truck isn’t likely to make many people’s list. Dangerous to others, perhaps, but certainly not the most dangerous vehicle to ride in.
The smart fortwo? That would make sense.
But, once again, we have proof that we live in a world that doesn’t make much sense. Because, according to the website 24/7 Wall St, which compiled information from Consumer Reports ratings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash safety results, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety vehicle scores and J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, the most dangerous vehicle on the road today is indeed the Ram pickup truck. And the smart’s not even on the list.
“Lane ends. Merge right.”
The sign gave plenty of notice that the two-lane arterial merged into a single lane ahead. The speed limit was 35 miles per hour. I travelled in the right lane, doing about 40. My girlfriend sat in the passenger seat. To my left, I could tell the driver of a car behind me wanted to pass before his lane ended.
I stepped on the gas, speeding up to force the other driver to switch lanes behind me. But he sped up too, intent on getting in front of me before the lane ended. I pushed my right foot deeper into the accelerator, hitting 50-mph. The 4-cylinder engine of my ’84 Accord whined loudly, but was drowned out by my girlfriend’s screams to slow down.
But I didn’t slow down. There was no way I was getting passed. No way I’d let him have the satisfaction of cutting me off. Our cars were neck-and-neck as the lane ended. 55-mph. My girlfriend’s screaming turned to outright yelling, but I’d won. The other driver slowed and pulled in behind me.
RIGHT behind me. In my rear-view mirror I could see a fuming driver, probably 40-years-old. I turned into the driveway of my destination, a drugstore parking lot. He followed. I parked. He parked next to me. I wasn’t scared, though. I mean, I was 16. I just got my license. I was king of the world and he was an old man. Against my girlfriend’s pleas, I got out of the car and approached him.