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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

SELF DRIVING TRUCKS RAISE CONCERN OF CONSUMER GROUP

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 at 2:48 pm    

Among Uber’s recent ventures into the self-driving arenas was its purchase of Otto, a self-driving truck company, last year for approximately $670 million. And, last October, Otto made headlines when it completed a 120 mile “beer run” with a large semi-tractor trailer in Colorado.

However, recently a California non-profit group asserted in a letter to a California DMV that Otto was testing self-driving trucks in California in violation of that state’s regulations. In support of its allegations, the Consumer Watchdog group cited documents which Otto had submitted to the California officials that described a process where the driver hit a button and let the truck do the work. According to an article appearing in USA Today, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is looking into the allegations.

This is apparently not the first time that Uber has run afoul of California law Not too long ago, Uber had announced that it would start testing its self-driving Volvo SUVs in San Francisco, but shortly after the announcement, halted that process after the California DMV said Uber had not applied for the proper permits. In response, Uber moved its fleet of self-driving vehicles to Arizona.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on February 8, 2017 entitled “Watchdog Group Wants Uber’s Self-Driving Trucks Off the Road” by Marco Della Cava.

CITIES WITH THE WORST TRAFFIC JAMS IN AMERICA

Posted on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 at 1:55 pm    

According to a recent study by transportations analytic firm, Inrix, United States is the most congested developed country in the world. It is estimated that congested roads cost U.S. motorists almost 300 billion dollars in wasted time and fuel in 2016. A recent article in USA Today says, based on postings on Instagram, Santa Monica came out as the city with the worst traffic jams in the country.

Rounding out the top five are:

Miami/Miami Beach:
Atlanta:
San Francisco;
New York.

The Inrix study on INRIX named Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco and Miami as the top five. And the worst day of the week was Friday. Sunday was reported to be the most relaxed day with respect to traffic.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on May 20, 2017 entitled “Top 5 Cities with the Worst #TrafficJams in America” by David Carrig.

24/7 WALL STREET LISTS THE MOST DANGEROUS CARS IN AMERICA

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm    

24/7wallst.com recently published the list of the 12 “most dangerous” cars currently on American roads. 24/7wallst.com compiled this list by reviewing the crash worthiness evaluation results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and only considered generations of cars from the model year 2005 to the present. To be considered a “most dangerous” car, the model had to have received a poor or “marginal” rating in either the frontal crash impact or side crash impact safety test and also have received a “poor” rating on either the roof strength test, which simulates a vehicle rollover or the head restraint and seat test which simulates a rear-end collision.

In general, the safest cars tend to be the largest. In 2014, there were 55 driver deaths in subcompacts per million cars registered versus only 19 in large cars per million registered.

Here is the list of the most dangerous cars compiled by 24/7wallst.com:

1. 2000-2005 Dodge Neon
2. 1996-2005 GMC Safari van
3. 2001-2006 GMC Sierra 1500 pick-up
4. 2006-2011 Hyundai Accent
5. 2001-2005 Kia Optima
6. 2006-2009 Kia Rio
7. 2000-2006 Mazda MPV (van)
8. 2000-2006 Nissan Centra
9. 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
10. 2002-2005 Saturn L Series
11. 2005-2008 Suzuki Forenza
12. 2003-2005 Suzuki Gran Vitara (SUV)

While many of the models listed above have been discontinued or redesigned, there are unfortunately many of these vehicles still on our highways today.

Source: An article appearing at 247wallst.com on October 11, 2016 entitled The most dangerous cars in America by Evan Comen and Michael B. Sauter.