By on November 3, 2015

Yesterday, TTAC’s daily news editor Aaron Cole wrote an editorial calling for a new Ralph Nader to arise and save us from our own refusal to make appropriate safety-related automotive choices. I found the article fascinating, not least because one of my first editorials for TTAC was a skeptical look at the benefits of so-called “advanced driver training”. In that editorial, I argued that the decision to purchase a safe car was far more critical to crash survivability than any amount of special training would be. I then proceeded to prove my own point by selling my Phaetons, buying a Lincoln Town Car, and experiencing an incident (direct, high-speed perpendicular impact to my passenger door) that would have been trivial in said Phaetons but which was crippling in the aforementioned Town Car.

Since then, my thoughts on road safety have primarily centered around the idea of risk reduction. I believe that if you cancel or modify your riskiest trips, you’ll see tangible benefits from doing so. I don’t put my son in the car with me unless I have a specific agenda in mind to minimize risk from that trip. My goal is to reduce his exposure, which means no unnecessary trips, no bad-weather trips, and no trips without a plan.

On the other hand, this past year I put about half of my commuting mileage on motorcycles. That tilts my overall risk profile pretty far away from “safe”. It has, however, allowed me a front-row seat for all sorts of traffic incidents and accidents, playing out in full widescreen all around me.

For those reasons, I’m inclined to disagree with Aaron a little bit when it comes to the role of the government and/or quasi-governmental activists to improve vehicle safety. I’ll explain.

(Read More…)

By on October 22, 2015

texting behind the wheel of death

Drivers may take nearly 30 seconds to regain their focus back on the road after using a car’s infotainment or hands-free smartphone systems, researchers announced Wednesday.

The two studies, which were conducted by the University of Utah (Go Utes!) for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, concluded that even modern assist programs could dangerously distract drivers for up to 27 seconds after they’re done using them. Researchers noted that vehicles traveled more than 300 yards for 27 seconds at 25 mph. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2015

It’s the kind of thing that could only happen in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Or maybe it’s the kind of thing that could happen anywhere but which is most likely to happen in the ABQ: a bus driver rams a line of cars because he’s distracted. One of the victims of the crash sues the city, claiming that the driver was OMG DISTRACTED BY HIS CELLPHONE THE MOST EVIL DEVICE OF ALL TIME, THE TOUCHING OF WHICH WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE ALWAYS LEADS TO FATALITIES.

Well, distracted driving was the cause of this crash. But the distraction had nothing to do with texting.

(Read More…)

By on August 25, 2015

manual characteristics

J.D. Power and Associates on Tuesday released its study of in-car technology that showed many new car buyers either don’t use features available on their car or aren’t aware they exist.

According to the study, at least 20 percent of buyers haven’t used 16 of 33 features targeted by the study, including in-vehicle concierge services such as OnStar (43 percent); mobile Internet connectivity (38 percent); automatic parking aids (35 percent); heads-up displays (33 percent); and apps (32 percent).

Owners said their smartphones probably do all those things better, and who has time to learn systems when you have to text and drive anyway?

(Read More…)

By on July 31, 2015


I am utterly convinced that our descendants will look on the aggressive prosecution of “distracted driving” the way hipster kids today look at the “Reefer Madness” scare of the Thirties. As police departments across the nation weigh the relative rates at which smartphone owners and career drunk drivers pay their court fines in a timely fashion (hint: it’s heavily weighed in favor of the former category), the shrill call to take additional action against people holding phones for any reason including navigation will reach a fever pitch not seen among American law enforcement since an idiot named Jack Anderson told them the Glock 17 could sneak through a metal detector. A claim, by the way, that Rachel Maddow repeated a few years ago, presumably because Maddow is either a deliberate liar or an unknowing dupe.

American drivers with more than a few days’ experience will note that the police tend to choose their speedtrap locations not by the risk that speeding in a given location poses to public safety but rather by ease of access and proximity to well-heeled drivers who are likely to quickly pay their tickets. In my hometown of Columbus, for example, speed enforcement on Route 315, which runs from the wealthy suburbs to the downtown offices, is constant and vigilant. Speed enforcement on Route 71, which runs parallel through the city but has exits leading to the ghetto and the truck stops instead of the ‘burbs, is nonexistent with the exception of the short stretch that connects the outerbelt to the upscale mall. As a consequence, Route 315 is an orderly low-speed commuter parade every day and Route 71 looks like a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road.

This cash-directed approach to safety has reached a new nadir, however, with a distracted-driving program that targets drivers who are incapable of doing any harm whatsoever.
(Read More…)

By on April 16, 2015

Hyundai Driver Cell Phone Blocking Patent

Can’t put down the smartphone while driving? Hyundai has a patent for technology that can render it as dumb as a Motorola DynaTAC.

(Read More…)

By on September 4, 2014

Distracted Driving Canadian Style

Until the overlords at Google bestow their technocratic utopia of automation to every new vehicle leaving the factory, distracted driving will remain a problem in need of a solution, such as the one General Motors has in mind.

(Read More…)

By on August 4, 2014

Capital Hill Interstate

Aside from funding issues with the U.S. Highway Trust Fund, state governments are having a difficult time applying — and receiving — federal grants to make their part of the system safer.

(Read More…)

By on July 24, 2014

texting behind the wheel of death

If any legislators were hoping banning cell phone use behind the wheel would cut down on accidents and fatalities linked to distracted driving, it may have been all for naught according to a handful of studies on the matter.

(Read More…)

By on February 7, 2014



Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, told officials of companies including General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Google Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., AT&T Inc. and Apple Inc. to move faster on implementing standards to reduce driver distractions caused infotainment systems, or he will introduce legislation to regulate Internet connectivity for in-car use.

(Read More…)

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