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CADILLAC INTRODUCES A FREEWAY SELF DRIVING SYSTEM

Posted on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 at 2:45 pm    

According to a recent article in USA Today, Cadillac is offering a self-driving system for freeway driving on its 2018 Cadillac CT6 sedans. The technology, which is called “Super Cruise”, allows you to take your hands off the wheel and feet off the accelerator and brakes while on highways or freeways with limited access.

The USA Today article reports that Super Cruise is designed as an interim step towards fully autonomous driving. The article describes Cadillac Super Cruise system as being similar to Tesla’s auto plot system. Both of which require the driver stay alert and occasionally take part in guiding the car.

The Super Cruise system works using advanced GPS, cameras, and sensors and based on a test drive, Nathan Bomey of USA Today said that once the system is activated “…the car stays dead center in the lane, deftly handling curves and staying a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead of it.”

Cadillac’s system offers a new feature to make sure that the driver is paying attention that is not currently on the Tesla autopilot system. That is a driver facing camera that monitors your eye movements to ensure you are still watching the road. At night time, the camera uses infrared technology to monitor your attentiveness. This is a feature that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated that they wanted automakers to adopt following its investigation of a recent Tesla Model S crash that killed an Ohio driver who wasn’t paying attention while the vehicle was on autopilot. Instead of a camera system, Tesla’s autopilot system currently requires the driver to grip the steering wheel so that it knows the driver is still monitoring the road.

In the Cadillac Super Cruise system, if the camera detects that the driver is not paying attention, it will initially provide a visual warning followed by a chime sounding and then the car will begin coasting to a stop if the driver fails to take the wheel.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on September 25, 2017 entitled “This Cadillac Drives Itself on the Freeway, But Don’t Look Away” by Nathan Bomey.

DEALING WITH ROAD RAGE

Posted on Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 2:29 pm    

The term road rage was coined in the late 1980’s following a series of shootings on the freeways in Florida and California over what drivers perceived as slights – such as being cut off. Carinsurancecomparison.com states that road rage occurs when a person acts on that feeling of rage and does something at best, rude, at worst, homicidal.

Here are some examples of actions taken when a driver is overcome by fury:

– Speeding
– Improper turns
– Tailgating
– Cutting other cars off

Generally, road rage is caused by an actual or perceived slight done by another driver. It is an overreaction to your life being put at risk.

Typically road rage involves a seemingly normal driver who blows a fuse and tries to get revenge on another driver who slighted him and then the situation spins out of control, typically resulting in an injury to other people.

We can do our part to try to help prevent road rage by being better drivers. Be sure to use your turn signals, respect other drivers, abide by the speed limit and give your fellow drivers enough space to feel free.

However, if you do run into another driver who acts like they feel slighted and are going over the edge, here are some techniques recommended by carinsurancecomparison.com to help prevent the situation from spiraling out of control:

– Don’t engage – Avoid eye contact and don’t reply to any screaming or gestures. Engaging may just enrage the other person more and involve you in a more dangerous way.

– Get out of the way – If the other person wants to pass you or otherwise hog the road, get out of their way and let them to do so within the limits of your own safety.

– Leave your ego out of it – If another driver engages in rude conduct, don’t try to teach them a lesson or pass them. Let it go.

– Report dangerous driving to the police as quickly as possible.

– Support enforcement programs- Properly executed enforcement programs against aggressive driving can help curb road rage.

Source: An article appearing at carinsurancecomparison.com entitled How can I help stop road rage?

A WINTER WEATHER CHECKLIST FOR YOUR AUTOMOBILE

Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2018 at 3:07 pm    

Here are some tips offered by USA Today to help you prepare and make your wintertime travels safer.

USA Today recommends that you have the following items in your car in case of an emergency or in case you might become stranded in winter weather:

• A cellphone and a portable charger or extra batteries
• Jumper cables
• Blankets
• Extra layers of clothing, such as hats, coats, and mittens
• A flashlight with extra batteries
• First-Aid kit
• Water and non-perishable snacks/food
• Windshield scraper
• Shovel

In addition to keeping the above items in your car, you also want to make sure that your car is ready for bad weather travel too. So remember to do the following:

• Keep a full gas tank
• Make sure your anti-freeze levels are sufficient
• Ensure the heater and defroster work properly
• Make sure your fluid levels are checked and that your brakes are in good condition

The Center for Disease Control also recommends a few additional items for winter weather travel:

• Blankets
• Chains, tow chain or rope
• Tire chains
• Canned/compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
• Sand or road salt to help tires get traction
• Booster cables
• Emergency flares
• Bright-colored flags or help signs
• Road maps and compass
• Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
• Hazard reflectors/emergency flares/emergency distress flags
• Any necessary medications

Sources: An article appearing at usatoday.com on 01/14/17 entitled “11 things to keep in your car this winter” by Amanda Hardy and a winter weather checklist found at www.cdc.gov/disaster/winter/beforestorms/supplylist.html#car

FEDERAL REGULATORS INVESTIGATING FORD F-150 PICKUPS FOR TRANSMISSION DEFECT

Posted on Thursday, January 11th, 2018 at 3:48 pm    

According to an AP article, NHTSA is investigating Ford Motor Company’s F-150 pickups regarding a possible transmission defect that could allow the vehicle to unexpectedly shift into first gear, thereby causing drivers to lose control. In 2016, Ford recalled 153,000 vehicles including its popular F-150 pickups, Ford Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators SUVs and Ford Mustangs from model years 2011-2012 for such a transmission defect.

Federal Regulators state that they are continuing to receive complaints from owners, including some who say Ford’s recall repair work did not solve the problem. Thus, NHTSA is now investigating whether or not Ford’s recall should have included up to an additional 1.4 million F-150s, Navigators, and Expeditions from the 2011-2013 model years.

In April of 2017, Ford recalled 52,000 of its Ford F-250 pickup trucks over concerns that the vehicle could move while in park. Ford Motors says that this problem is apparently related to a damaged park rod actuating plate which may result in the vehicle not actually achieving a mechanical park within the automatic transmission when the driver has shifted the shift lever to park. Ford stated that they are not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this defect.

An AP article appearing at USAToday.com on December 31, 2017 entitled, “Federal Regulator Examining Ford Transmission Recall Involving F-150 Pickups”.

TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING

Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2018 at 3:02 am    

NPR’s popular radio talk show Car Talk offers some tips for winter driving that I thought would be worth passing on to you. With the recent snow, it is a good time to take stock of the car talk tips. Here are some of the tips offered by Car Talk:

1. IF YOUR CAR NEEDS ROUTINE SERVICES, GET IT NOW

While a break down in the summer can be inconvenient, breaking down in the winter when it is freezing outside can be a terrible experience.

2. MAKE SURE YOUR BATTERY AND COOLING SYSTEM ARE IN GOOD ORDER

Have your mechanic check your battery, the belts, and related systems to make sure that everything is in good working order. Remember, you need more power to start your engine in the winter. Also, have the mechanic check that your cooling system and anti-freeze are up to snuff.

3. CHECK YOUR WINDSHIELD WIPERS AND WINDSHIELD WASHER RESERVE

It is important to have good windshield wipers and plenty of washer fluid to help keep your windshield clear in the snowy weather so that you can see where you are going.

4. KEEP YOUR GAS TANK CLOSE TO FULL

If you do get stuck in the winter, you want to make sure that you have enough extra fuel to be able to run the engine to keep warm. And, remember to be careful of carbon monoxide poisoning. So, if you are going to be idling the engine for a while, it is a good idea to crack your window open a little bit even though it is cold outside.

5. HOW ABOUT CARRYING EXTRA WEIGHT IN THE BACK OF THE CAR

Car Talk says that if you have a rear wheel drive vehicle, a bag or two of sand behind the rear axle can help increase traction. However, you need to be careful not to overload the car. It is probably best to start by adding a 20-pound bag and seeing how your car handles with the additional weight.

6. IF YOU MUST DRIVE IN THE SNOW

If you are living in an area where it snows a fair amount, Car Talk recommends that you get 4 good snow tires. Car Talk recommends this even if you have a front wheel drive or all-wheel drive car. According to Car Talk, 4 high quality snow tires are important if you really need to get around in snowy streets.

7. SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR FOR WINTER DRIVING
Be sure to keep a snow brush, ice scraper, shovel and bag of sand to help with traction in your car. It is also a good idea to keep a blanket and winter clothing in your car during the winter driving season. Another good idea is to carry your cellphone charger with you.

8. BEFORE YOU GO, MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS:
Make sure you clean off your entire car including your headlights, taillights, and your side view mirrors. It is important that you are able to see where you are going and that you are visible to other motorists.

9. WHEN DRIVING IN THE SNOW, DO EVERYTHING SLOWLY

Good snow tires, stability control, all-wheel drive, etc. traction is greatly reduced by snow and winter conditions. Therefore, you should slow down and leave plenty of distance between you and the other cars. Spending some time practicing in an empty parking lot in snowy conditions is a good idea if you have limited experience with winter weather conditions.

Source: An article appearing at Cartalk.com entitled “Winter Driving Tips”.

CAR FEATURES THAT CAN HELP YOU SURVIVE WINTER DRIVING

Posted on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 at 2:35 pm    

Edmund’s recently released a list of 10 car features that it recommends to help you survive winter driving. Here are the highlights of that list:

1. Advanced Safety Feature
Automobiles come with many automated safety features that can help with winter driving such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, adaptive headlights, forward collision avoidance/automatic emergency braking and lane departure prevention.

2. All-Wheel Drive
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive help deliver power to all of the vehicle’s wheels to help it maintain better traction on slick surfaces. Today you can find all wheel drive on all types of vehicles.

3. Engine Block Heater
An engine block heater can help a vehicle start and warm up faster in extreme frigid temperatures.

4. Headlight Washers and Wiper
Headlight washers and wipers help clear snow and ice to help provide good visibility during winter driving.

5. Heated Side Mirrors
Modern cars feature electrical heating elements to help keep the outside mirrors free from fogging with ice.

6. Windshield Wiper Deicer
Some cars now offer electrical heating elements in the lower part of the windshield to help the wipers deice themselves quicker in winter conditions.

7. Winter Tires
Tire manufactured with specially formulated rubber that remains soft in cold temperatures to help maintain traction in ice and snow.

8. Heated Seats
Heated seats can help keep the driver warm, enabling the driver to maintain their focus on driving.

9. Heated Steering Wheel
This feature can help keep the steering wheel comfortable no matter how frigid it is outside.

10. Remote Start
The remote start feature will allow you to start the engine from the comfort of your home, making sure that your car will be warm before you head out.

Sources: An article appearing at usatoday.com on December 9, 2017 entitled, “Edmund’s Recommends Ten Car Features to Help Survive Winter Driving.” By Peter Gareffa of Edmund’s via AP

POTENTIALLY DEFECTIVE STEERING WHEELS CAUSE MORE HEADACHES FOR FORD

Posted on Thursday, December 14th, 2017 at 2:49 pm    

The Associated Press recently reported that federal regulators are investigating complaints that steering wheels on Ford Fusions can come lose or even fall off. According to the AP article NHTSA recently opened an investigation into the complaints related to the steering wheel on the Ford Fusions coming lose or falling off. One person from Georgia told the NHTSA that the steering wheel on her 2015 Ford Fusion fell off and into her lap while she was turning into a gas station.

According to the article, two other individuals reported that the bolt holding their steering wheel in place came lose while they were driving and had to be tightened up at a repair shop. Thus far, NHTSA does not have any reports of crashes or injuries related to this issue. It appears that the investigation covers about 841,000 Ford Fusions, model years 2014 through 2016. Ford stated that it is cooperating with NHTSA’s investigations and that any owners who have concerns should contact their local dealers.

Although NHTSA is investigating the complaints, no recall has been issued at this point.

Recently, Ford has seemed to experience a number of defects which have led to recalls, including recalls for defective door latches on Ford Mustangs and Ford F-150 pick-ups and issues related to carbon monoxide getting into the passenger compartment of Ford Explorers.

Source: An AP article appearing at usatoday.com on October 27, 2017 entitled “{Probe of Ford Fusion Steering Wheels That May Loosen, Detach”.

FORD TO ADDRESS EXPLORER EXHAUST FUMES ISSUES WITH FREE REPAIRS

Posted on Thursday, November 30th, 2017 at 2:52 pm    

Ford says it is taking action to give piece of mind to the more than 1.35 million owners of Ford Explorers SUVs concerned about exhaust fumes. According to a recent article in the Detroit free Press, Ford announced that it will inspect, and if needed, repair vehicles for free.

A spokesman for Ford said the company is taking the action voluntarily, although it has notified NHTSA. NHTSA has an ongoing investigation into the complaints which involve Ford Explorer SUVs from 2011 – 2017.

While Ford maintains that it’s vehicles are safe, Ford stated that it realizes customers are concerned about the issue and is taking this step to address the concerns of their customers. Ford also stated that its investigation did not find carbon monoxide levels in excess of what people experience in their everyday lives.

The problem first surfaced when Ford redesigned its Explorer SUVs with the 2011 model year. Many of the complaints involved Ford Explorer police Interceptors and several police departments pulled their vehicles off the road because of complaints from their officers about fumes and carbo monoxide inside the vehicle. In some cases, officers even had to be hospitalized.

Ford has stated that its investigation into the police vehicles, showed that the problems were the result of improperly installed aftermarket equipment. Ford explained that non-factory outfitters drilled holes into the police SUVs to install extra equipment which allowed the fumes to enter the interior passenger compartment of the vehicle.

The Detroit Free Press article notes that Ford is addressing this issue through a service campaign and not a recall. However, NHTSA is still investigating and the agency has said that “NHTSA will take appropriate action as warranted, and any future decisions will be based upon the findings of the investigation.” Thus, a recall still remains a possibility if NHTSA determines that a recall is warranted.

Source: A Detroit Free Press article appearing at usatoday.com on October 13, 2017 entitled “Ford Offers Free Repairs to Address Explorer Exhaust Gas Concerns” by Eric D. Lawrence.

ARTIFICIAL INTELIGENCE (AI) MAY SOON BE USED TO CHECK IF YOU ARE DRIVING WHILE SLEEPY OR STRESSED

Posted on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 at 2:55 pm    

According to a recent AP article, Toyota is working on technology which will use AI to detect when drivers are getting sleepy, drowsy or driving while stressed. Makoto Okabe of Toyota Motor Corporation explains that Toyota is experimenting with technology which uses artificial intelligence as a means where by cars may get to know drivers as human beings by analyzing their facial expressions, driving habits and social media use. Using cameras to analyze the driver’s face, the car can deduce if they are feeling happy, irritated or drowsy. The car might then respond by jiggling the seat for a drowsy driver.

In the case of a stressed driver, the car might expand and contract the seat to simulate the rhythm of deep breathing to calm the driver.
Toyota will be showing off an experimental vehicle using such technology at the Toyota Motor Show in late October 2017. Toyota says that it plans to have the technology ready for road tests by the year 2020.

Honda Motor Company is also working on several concept models which use similar technology.

The AP article notes that while such technology is interesting, it is likely to be sometime before it is available to the general public on new vehicles.

Source: An AP article appearing at usatoday.com on October 16, 2017 entitled “Toyota’s AI Could Soon Check Your Face to See if You’re Sleepy or Stressed” by Yuri Kageyama.

WHY PITTSBURGH IS A TESTING GROUND FOR SELF-DRIVING VEHCILES

Posted on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017 at 3:22 pm    

According to an article appearing at LPN,, Uber’s fleet of more than 200 vehicles have logged more than one million miles in Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona. A spokesman for Uber said that, Uber’s self-driving vehicles have given rides to 30,000 people since August of 2016.

Uber is not the only company doing research and testing in Pittsburgh. Ford’s artificial intelligence division has set up in Pittsburgh with a one-billion-dollar investment from Ford. Delphia and Aurora Innovation are also conducting research in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Pittsburgh has been chose by Uber and others for testing of self-driving vehicles is that according to Roger Cohen at PennDOT, “Its currently legal to drive an autonomous vehicle in Pennsylvania because the law is silent on it.” Cohen stated that “All that needs to be done is to have a licensed driver in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t even have to have his hands on the steering wheel.”

Testing has not been without problems however. Uber has twice grounded its fleet in Pittsburgh. Once following a crash in Tempe in March of 2017 and again on September 18 after crash in Pittsburgh. Police, however, determined that the non-Uber driver caused the Tempe crash and that a human was driving during the Pittsburgh crash.

However, according to LPN, bicyclists in Pittsburgh have reported that a self-driving Uber vehicle failed to recognize a bike lane.

According to the LPN article, Craig Ewer of Uber stated that “Our vehicles are programmed to follow local passing laws. If a vehicle is unable to abide by the law due to the challenging road conditions – narrow alleyways, for example – the vehicle operator will take over to keep the vehicle operating in a safe, law abiding fashion. Respecting bike lanes is something we continue to work on.”

The LPN article also pointed out that legislation was reintroduced earlier this year by Senator Randy Vulakovich of Allegheny County, who sets out exactly how the state will regulate self-driving vehicles. As a result of criticism from the industry, the committee is currently working on an amendment to overhaul the bill in an effort to win more industry support.

Perhaps one of the biggest pushes for the development of autonomous vehicles is the recognition that vehicle crashes, which are largely a result of human error,led to more than 4 million Emergency Room visits in 2014 according to the CDC. This represented about 1 in every 10 trips to the ER in 2014.

Source: An article appearing in the LNP on October 6, 2017 entitled “Driving Disruption” by Mike Wereschagin.