QOTD: To Turn, or Not to Turn?
Many press programs allow us keyboard warriors to wheel whatever car we're testing on some twisty two-lane road that has almost nothing in the way of passing zones. Today's drive of the new Dodge Hornet was no exception.
These roads do, however, often have turnouts.
QOTD: What Makes You Nervous?
Yesterday, I had to haul a bathroom vanity from my folks' house to mine, a drive of about 50 miles. This vanity is a new one, still in the box, and that box partially blocked my view when looking in the rearview mirror of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV I am testing.
QOTD: What's Your Biggest Weakness As A Driver?
It’s a safe bet that most car enthusiasts are good drivers — or at least, generally speaking, better than the average member of the general public.
Even though we all occasionally run into trouble.
As a former co-worker once told me: “Podody’s nerfect.”
The Oddly Simple Joy of the Pandemic Drive
Like a lot of people, I’ve been driving less on average since the pandemic began. This presents a problem when part of your job requires testing cars.
You're All Driving Quite a Bit These Days
Without getting into the thick, tangled weeds of various coronavirus-related controversies, let it be known that, in some states, the streets and highways have returned to traffic levels seen before “lockdown” became common verbiage.
Yes, a good many of you are really putting miles under your belt (and tires). It’s summer, it’s hot, and lockdown measures are mainly a thing of the past, despite the rising levels of COVID-19 reported in regions that initially escaped the worst of the initial wave. But just how much are you driving?
Chalk Up Another Benefit to the Big Lockdown…
Barring low gas prices you couldn’t take advantage of and your author’s adventures in cooking with curry, the past two months didn’t bring much in the way of benefits. Millions are out of work, nerves are frayed, hospital ICUs remain crowded with COVID-19 patients, and bad takes still run rampant on Twitter. Daily!
Anyone who did venture outdoors this spring, however, may have noticed one specific change for the better, and science now backs it up.
Roads Aren't Nearly As Empty As You'd Think, Which Shouldn't Come As a Surprise
Following two weeks of unseasonably cold weather that seemed to put spring on hold, Saturday was a gorgeous day in this writer’s city. Warm temps, endless sunshine, and a pandemic that compelled public health officials to tell everyone to stay indoors for the fifth weekend in a row. Or was it the sixth? Time feels more fluid than it once was.
Anyway, yours truly was on the road, seeking an escape from humanity. With too many potential walking or running spaces overrun with people or, oddly, closed off for public safety, I realized I needed to go further afield to distance myself from this constrained, antsy populace. And so I hopped on the highway… and found myself driving in a near-normal level of traffic for the first time since this all began.
Was everyone being an asshole? Was I?
QOTD: Is There an App for That?
At the risk of sounding like any number of insufferable site fully staffed with dough heads who spend way too much time extolling the virtues of kale (is kale still a thing?), our question today is about driving and car-related apps.
While backing up his phone this weekend (I can’t bear to lose those all important notes about used cars that have been long sold, don’tcha know), your author was struck by the amount of space on his phone being consumed by items relating to cars.
Japanese Driving Schools Benefit From Coronavirus Fears; Public Transit Now Terrifying
Driving schools in Japan are reporting an increase in attendance from individuals who already possess a driver’s license. According to The Japan Times, the new trend is epitomized by Paper Driver School Kitakanto in Maebashi. The school has seen influx of already licensed drivers this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Roughly 10 percent of new students are said to have signed up as a direct result of COVID-19. As Japan’s population has a lower percentage of drivers than in North America, many are dependent upon public transportation to move about — a mobility type that’s become problematic overnight, what with fears of contagion spreading as quickly as the virus itself. To avoid sharing space, some Japanese drivers are attempting to brush up on their skills in order to feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
Stranger Danger: When Driving Goes Viral
As the resident germophobe here (and everywhere else, now and in the past), spotting bacteria and viruses is no difficult task for this writer. It’s easy — they’re everywhere. The outer layer of your average human surpasses the dirtiness of an adolescent mind.
And it’s with this mindset in tow that your author enters a pandemic. Just freakin’ great. Like most normal, well-adjusted people, I like going to bars and public places every once in a while, and try and stop me from picking the best-looking Roma tomatoes out of that grocery store bin that everyone stands over, pawing at them with their filthy hands. I also put a fair number of miles on my luxurious sedan — a once-innocent practice that now carries its own viral danger.
How can a driver stay safe?
Driving Joy Rekindled, High Above L.A.
There are many things I don’t like about Los Angeles. The traffic, the cost of doing just about anything, the traffic, the sprawl, the traffic, the oversaturation of chain fast-food restaurants and billboards, the traffic.
However, there is one thing that makes me rethink my living situation. One thing that tempts me to move to the West Coast.
It’s not the weather, or the beach, or the chance at Hollywood stardom. It’s the roads.
Waymo's First Commercial Self-driving Service Launches in Phoenix
We’ve arrived. It’s officially #TheFuture.
After years of talk within the auto industry, Waymo says it will become the first company to offer a commercial taxi service using autonomous vehicles when the program launches in Arizona today. Called Waymo One, the Google subsidiary plans to offer the first batch of rides to the 400 individuals who participated in the firm’s pilot program. Afterwards, the service will be expanded to more riders in a broader area.
As with the company’s early rider program, Waymo wants to keep the launch small to assess demand while continuing the company’s testing in an environment it feels comfortable with. Based on the growing assumption that autonomous vehicles can’t handle inclement weather, Arizona seems like the perfect place to keep working out the bugs.
Similarly, public complaints have indicated Waymo’s fleet of Chrysler Pacificas may not yet be perfected.
Waymo Spins Tragedy Into Triumph for Autonomous Vehicles
Last month, a motorcyclist was injured by one of Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacificas. According to the accident report, a car in the left lane attempted to merge into the same middle lane as the Pacifica test platform, which was operating in autonomous mode. The safety driver then “took manual control of the Pacifica out of an abundance of caution, disengaged from self-driving mode, and began changing lanes into
Considering the AV wasn’t traveling above 25 mph, it’s a little curious the driver took evasive action, unless the second car attempted to merge directly into it. Regardless, the Pacifica’s lane change placed it into direct contact with a motorcycle that was moving slightly faster. Waymo said that, had the autonomous system been left in play, the vehicle would have assuredly avoided the accident.
QOTD: Fear Takes the Wheel?
Just rest comfortably on the couch here. That’s good. Now, what seems to be the problem?
We’re giving everyone a chance to talk it out today, as each and every one of us harbors some type of anxiety, insecurity, or deeply rooted fear. Oh, you don’t? Sounds like you’re lying to yourself.
The inspiration for this QOTD lies in a tragedy. Earlier this week, a bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, killed 39 people, with some motorists surviving a plunge of up to 180 feet. Others braked in time to avoid tumbling off the edge of the crumbling span.
For many, perhaps even yourself, this exact scenario (or something like it) takes top billing on the “worst driving fear” list. However, other worries — both rational and irrational — cloud our time behind the wheel, watering down the pure, unadulterated joy of driving. What’s your greatest driving fear?
QOTD: Is the Road Your Prescription?
Yesterday’s questionable study regarding self-driving cars — in which the authors foresee a veritable utopia brought on by ultra-efficient, humanless robot cars — inspired the usual twinge of nausea in this author. Beware of any study that gleefully brushes aside massive job losses in certain sectors in order to tout increases in others. It’s usually the work of a zealot or someone who stands to bolster their personal wealth.
In this case, it also stands to separate you from the tactile experience of driving. Yes, there’s plenty of people who would gladly turn over their commute duties to an array of sensors and a digital brain — I think we’d all prefer that in stop-and-go situations — but if future roadways require a complete absence of human drivers in order to hit peak efficiency, we’d also be giving up the ability to de-stress. Driving means different things to different people. For some, it’s therapy.
Just how much of your driving is non-essential?