Six Recent Car Technologies Everybody Should Try

Let’s be honest, not every piece of new technology that arrives in the automotive world is strictly necessary (heated cupholders, anybody?). However, that is also not to say we should dismiss the arrival of all new gadgets with murmurings of how cars were so much better when there were fewer things to go wrong. Take the six features listed below as proof, each of which brings a tangible benefit to the driving or ownership experience, whether it’s related to safety, entertainment, or simply having warm hands.

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5 Essentials for the Perfect Spring Break Road Trip

The snow has begun to melt, the sun is sticking around longer each day, and for thousands upon thousands of college students, the next few weeks will be some of the year’s best. For many, Spring Break means precious days away from school and the opportunity to hit the road and get out of town. Every road-trip car needs plenty of space for food and snacks, a couple of pillows, and enough room to make sure the travelers on board don’t murder each other. But there are a few other essentials, without which an interstate odyssey could easily become a terrible long haul. Continue reading >>>

10 NHTSA 5-Star Safety Picks for Any Lifestyle

2016 Volvo XC90

Cars and safety have had a long and difficult relationship, but it became way more complex with the arrival of the smartphone. A Pew survey last year determined that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and anyone who’s spent any time on American roads within the last couple of years knows many people use those phones while driving. In fact, we’re just concluding April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.

We strongly urge everyone reading this post to take NHTSA’s recommended steps to minimize their distractions while behind the wheel and avoid getting pulled over–and not just in April, but year-round. Unfortunately, there’s very little any driver can do about to prevent other drivers from getting distracted. So here are ten 2016 cars that should meet the needs and budgets of a wide variety of drivers, all with 5-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA. We hope none of you will ever have to test your car’s safety features, but just in case….

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A Scary Reminder to Perform Some Basic Maintenance

Wildfire Ash-Covered Car, Spokane

If this is on the car, imagine what’s in the car

As you might have heard, the state of Washington is currently on fire. As it so happens, the state of Washington is also where I currently live.

While flames have not directly threatened my family, countless others have been evacuated from their homes or lost them altogether.

The resulting smoke in the air has been suffocating. Even in cities miles from the fires, smoke chokes out residents as embers from burned trees fall from the sky. Flecks of white ash cover cars.

My family and I, desperate to escape the heavy blanket of smoke, packed up the car and left the state to find a place where we could breathe some clean, crisp air. We ended up at Priest Lake, deep in the forests of North Idaho. The first day was perfect. On the second day, though, we discovered that Idaho is on fire, too.

I only tell this story because there’s an important lesson to remember here about cars:

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Don’t Roll Your Car This Summer

rollover1

The white Tahoe sat in the median between the north and south lanes of the freeway. Personal belongings were scattered for dozens of feet in all directions. The rear window was broken out, and about 10 people milled around inspecting the damage.

This could have been any of the accidents that are unfortunately all too familiar on American Interstates, except this particular vehicle had come to rest on its roof.

Yesterday was clear and warm with nothing but blue skies, dry pavement, and light traffic. I don’t know how the Tahoe rolled over or what circumstances led to the accident, but it appeared that it happened just moments before I passed. No other vehicles were involved.

How can a single-vehicle rollover happen on such a perfect day for driving?

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The Problem with a Teen’s First Car

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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When Car Technology Gets Creepy

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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