On the off chance that someday you might walk into your local Ford dealership in Kalamazoo and buy a Brazilian-built Ford EcoSport, at least you now get the ease of mind that it got five stars from Latin NCAP, the institution that tests cars sold in Latin America, in Germany, using pretty much Euro NCAP standards. So it would seem that, as TTAC has previously reported, Brazilian cars may not all be deathtraps.
A tailgater is a bully par excellence and his weapon is the “I’m not touching you” game. You remember that game, don’t you? It’s the one where your older brother tries to hit you as hard as he can but always manages to miss by a fraction of an inch. When you flinch or complain to your mom the refrain is always the same: “I never even touched you.” Of course, to keep things interesting, sometimes he does actually hit you – if he always missed you’d have nothing to fear, right? On the road the game is almost exactly the same and nine times out of ten the bully never hits you. But once in a while – once in a great while – it’s “metal up your ass.” Read More >
I’m not sure why a generation or two ago municipalities replaced the old Walk / Don’t Walk crossing signals with lights using pictograms instead. Perhaps someone thought they were more easily understood, or perhaps it was part of general trend towards using international symbols, like the little fuel pump by your gas gauge instead of the word “Fuel”. Either way, Walk / Don’t Walk was considered obsolete. Now, it seems as though the pictograms just weren’t that easily understood, as we apparently have to explain to people that a red hand means “don’t walk” and that a white pictogram of a person walking means “walk”. Read More >
My dad freaked out. We weren’t going that fast when the old dump truck struggled out onto the road some distance ahead of us and it was a simple matter to just let off the gas and coast for a bit while the old truck worked its way up through the gears to the posted 35mph limit. The road in front of the construction site was a mess of mud and gravel and although I am sure my father didn’t appreciate the muddy spray on the otherwise clean flanks of his Delta 88, he seemed rather unbothered about the whole event – at least until we finally closed the distance and drew up behind the big truck. It was then he read the scene in front of him and jumped hard on the brakes. As the old truck rumbled away he turned to me and asked “Did you see that?” Read More >
I’ve let myself go over the years. No, I’m not talking about the almost 100 pounds I have gained since I left hallowed halls of Snohomish High School almost 30 years ago, I’m talking about my driving habits. 10 and 2 has slipped to 7 and crotch, with crotch occasionally slipping to 6 to steady the wheel while 7 moves around for added leverage. Know what I mean? I know you do… Read More >
Some time ago, TTAC published a guest post on the topic of driving under the influence of cannabis that more or less discounted the dangers of puffing while puttering around, at least for experienced potheads. Needless to say that post provoked some heated discussion. Now that Colorado has legalized marijuana for general use, the legislature there has decided that it was necessary to officially define “too high to drive”. It’s not clear if the reason was traffic safety or revenue since instead of using a behavioral standard for impairment, the new law creates an arbitrary blood level of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, that would define a driver as illegally impaired, whether or not they were measurably impaired in their driving. Critics of the way impaired driving is enforced already say that the drive to lower legal blood alcohol content limits was intended to catch people who weren’t actually impaired, driving safely but drunk according to the law, a classic case of malum prohibitum rather than malum in se. Setting an arbitrary limit for THC would allow DUID, driving under the influence of drugs, to join DUI as a cash cow for city, county and state governments.
The new law in Colorado allows juries to convict someone of DUID if blood tests show a THC level of at least 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. That level is the same as enacted in Washington following that state’s marijuana legalization initiative. It’s not entirely clear why the five nanogram limit was chosen. While some novice pot smokers may actually be impaired enough to affect their driving with 5ng/mL of THC in their blood, Reason, the libertarian publication, reports that many drivers are perfectly competent at many times that level of cannabinoids in their system. Read More >
One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take another swig of that mermaid-branded caffeinated goodness.
In cities where owning a car can be a pain (New York, Boston, Seattle), drivers are opting instead to share vehicles with other drivers, with companies such as ZipCar, Car2Go, RelayRides et al offering their services to help the public get around. All anyone needs beyond the basics is a subscription to the car-sharing service, a reservation, and a drop-off location when they are finished with their errands. Even big-name rental car companies like Enterprise and Hertz are jumping into the new business model for a test drive, Avis having gone the farthest by purchasing ZipCar in January of 2013.
However, the insurance offered by these peer-to-peer rental companies might not all that it’s cracked up to be, with severe consequences should anything remotely catastrophic occur.
A Califonia jury ruled that Toyota Motor Corp was not at fault in a 2009 accident in which 66 year old Noriko Uno was killed when her 2006 Camry ran into a tree after being hit by another car. Uno’s survivors blamed the accident and her death on unintended acceleration and Toyota’s failure to incorporate a brake-override system in Uno’s car. This was the first wrongful death lawsuit over accusations that Toyota products could uncontrollably accelerate. The jury found that Uno’s Camry was not defective, instead placing full liability for her death on the driver of the car that hit Uno before she sped the wrong way down a one-way street and into the tree. Uno’s survivors were awarded $10 million.
Sorry for the tease but to get the full effect of this post you’re going to have to click on Read More. It’s not that we want the additional clicks, it’s just that I’m using a graphic to illustrate this post that is so eye-searing that the layout and graphic designer in me just couldn’t put it on the front page above the break.
Once you do make the jump, you may have trouble focusing on the text in the image below. That’s because of a phenomenon known as chromostereopsis, which the American National Standard Institute (ANSI/HFES-200, Part 5) defines as “the perception of depth resulting from the close proximity of two colors of disparate wavelengths”. There’s a good explanation of chromostereopsis here. Because of where in our eyes the receptors for different colors are, and how our eyes focus, we perceive different colors as being at different distances. Printers and others who do graphic layout have long known that because they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s not a good idea to use blue letters on red backgrounds and vice versa. Most people perceive blue as closer than red, and as a result the human eye cannot focus on both red and blue at the same time, causing the optical illusion of blurry letters in the graphic below. Read More >
Issues about fire safety continue to affect the Jeep brand as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that it is opening an investigation into 146,000 2012 model year Grand Cherokees, after receiving reports from three consumers who say that the headliners of their cars caught fire near the passenger side sun visor.
“The customers reported a burning odor and visible smoke coming from the headliner while the vehicle was being driven. This was followed by flames from the headliner itself. Customers lowered the windows in an effort to clear the smoke but this increased the fire’s intensity. All three vehicles had to be extinguished with a fire extinguisher or by the fire department as they continued to burn after the vehicle was turned off . The fire also caused the sunroof to shatter in one incident, and in another, the fire spread to the passenger seat when the burning sun visor fell onto the seat. In each case, the incident resulted in the vehicle being inoperable requiring it to be towed to the dealership.”
While General Motors is thumping its chest because the new fullsize pickups from Chevrolet and GMC are the first to earn an overall 5 star crash test rating since the standards were upgraded two years ago, Tesla is trumpeting the NHTSA crash testing results for their Model S, saying that the luxury EV achieved the best safety rating ever of any car tested by the highway safety agency. Not only did the Model S earn an overall five-star rating, but the Model S earned 5 stars in every testing category. While 5 is the maximum rating that NHTSA publishes, manufacturers are provided with the overall Vehicle Safety Score, whose scale goes higher, and Teslas says that the Model S’ VSS was 5.4 stars, the highest ever achieved.
As I slipped the clutch and rolled on the throttle, the big GSXR1100 bucked and growled like a wild beast between my knees. I took the little wiggle and the bucking in stride and cracked the throttle even wider to shift the bike’s weight onto the rear tire. The bike responded instantly, the sound of its anger pouring out the back as a prolonged shriek of pure rage. The toll plaza fell quickly away as I hit third gear and leaned into the gentle, sweeping left hander that would bring me up onto the Yokohama-Yokosuka Expressway and there, in the final few meters before the merge, I drove the tachometer towards redline and shot past a pair of slow moving cars before shifting into the higher gears and settling onto the highway ahead of them. Read More >
Saturday was a day of reckoning for my Ford Freestar. As detailed in an article I wrote last week, my Freestar required a trip to the dealer to repair rust related issues that affected the rear wheel wells and the third row seat latches and the cost of the repairs were covered by Ford under a recall issued earlier this year. I promised then that, once the repair was completed, I would report back to you on how everything turned out. Read More >
Last week I wrote a pithy little article about my experience driving a Suzuki Cappuccino, a 660 CC kei car, when I was teaching in Japan. I followed the discussion that resulted with some interest and one of my favorite contributors and fellow motorcycle enthusiast, Syke, raised and interesting issue when he wrote: “I’d happily sign whatever paperwork necessary exempting myself (and my heirs) from personal injury lawsuits, or whatever other crap the lawyers can come up with, to own one. The impossibility of getting such cars is just another example of what a country full of cringing wimps we’ve become.” It’s something I have thought a lot about over the last few days and to me it comes down to a simple question: Should the government have a role in setting safety standards?