Drivers afraid to be behind the wheel are a misunderstood threat to road safety. Fearful driving often leads to excessive caution masquerading as politeness. Resulting behaviors may appear benign, when in fact they can be grave.
Every other year or so, the same site/email/thread/rumor goes around:
“Did you know that your car’s ABS system actually makes driving in snow WORSE?! And the worser part is, you can’t even turn it off! Automakers and the government are the worstest!”
Except that’s not true.
In addition to advice about the long-term benefits of wearing sunscreen, the world’s most famous commencement address included this bit of wisdom: “The real troubles in your life are apt to be the things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.” And so it was, true to the author of that essay’s own meandering experience, that I found myself on a sunny, if not entirely idle, afternoon this past June tossing a small rucksack into the back of my well-worn Shelby Charger setting out for Seattle, some 1800 miles away.
That my mother was ill was a fact I had long known. Just how serious the situation truly was, however, took everyone by surprise. One day the doctors were telling my brothers and sisters that our mother had as much as a year left to live and then, almost the next day, were coming back to say that she might have just a few weeks. By the time the news reached me in Leavenworth, the prognosis had been shortened to just days. After an hour or two of hand wringing, I decided I should probably go.
The number of fatal traffic crashes has risen 14 percent over last year, and deaths on the road could top 40,000 — the first time since 2007 — the National Safety Council is reporting (via Autoblog).
The council points to lower gas prices and a better economy as reasons why people are driving more and crashing more.
The estimated economic impact of the crashes through the first six months of 2015 was $125 billion according to the council, up 24 percent from last year.
Max Verstappen. He’s the youngest competitor to ever pilot a Formula 1 car around a track. At the age of 17, the young Dutchman would likely have a restricted driving licence in many countries. But, here he is, racing wheel to wheel with World Champions as he waves his FIA Super Licence in the air.
Sexist comments about women being too scared to drive in competitive racing aside, Verstappen has made a phenomenal debut in the top rung of motorsports. That should be expected. He’s been driving karts since the age of four and a half. He’s also likely been driving road cars long before he could do so legally, something a lot of us car folk probably have in common.
From “Commuting in America 2013” via AASHTO. Lots of growth in private transportation, but public transit, telecommuting and walking to work have stayed fairly flat. Despite prognostications of a newly urbanized populace that’s hungry for public transportation, the statistics seem to tell a different story.
H/T Glenn Mercer
My daughter Tova usually rides to her job with a co-worker. She’d noticed the car they were using had been getting louder and already had mentioned to her friend that something might be amiss with the exhaust system. On the way to work today, it started to get even louder, and then there was a grinding noise. Tova suggested they stop and check things out, but the driver said it was “only a couple of miles” to the school where they teach, so they continued. Tova said that there was a banging noise and then most of the grinding seem to have stopped. Other drivers were honking and pointing. (Read More…)
There’s really no way to lead into this, so I’ll just come out and say it: the 2015 Honda Fit is a fantastic car. Around town, at speed on Southern California’s twisty canyon roads, on the highway, stuck in traffic- there wasn’t a single situation we put our EX and EX-L testers into that it didn’t handle with aplomb. Even some light off-roading didn’t twist up the Fit’s rigid frame.
I love to smoke. That’s not a cool thing to admit; in fact it’s socially irresponsible. But there is something very satisfying about lighting up, and the sensation of that first drag. For me it’s not about nicotine. No I enjoy the act of smoking. Fortunately I also love to run and the two habits are rarely complementary. Save the occasional relapse, I quit some 16 years ago. But if smokes were only as bad for me as coffee, I would still light up, social pressures be dammed.
Is the American love affair with the automobile over? Total miles driven in the United States peaked in August of 2007, then dropped during the recession and has leveled off since then, though the economy is growing slightly and the population is increasing. According to the Detroit News, the Federal Highway Administration just reported that miles traveled during the first six months of 2013 continued the trend, being down slightly from 2012.
Individual miles traveled actually peaked in 2004, at about 900 miles per driver per month. By mid 2012, that had dropped to 820 miles per month. Per capita automobile use is now about where it was in the late 1990s. Until then, driving mileage generally tracked economic growth, according to U.S. Transportation Department economists Don Pickrell and David Pace (PDF presentation here). Since the late 1990s, though, the when the economy has grown, it has grown more rapidly than car use.