Tag: laws

By on May 16, 2019

As part of its push to eliminate the scourge of distracted driving, the UK has given the country’s notoriously rigid police force a new tool to help eliminate road deaths: the ability to levy $256 fines and six penalty points to motorists paying via Apple Pay at the drive-thru.

Thanks to new laws that went into effect this spring, the police, some of which take great pride in ridding the country of tools that fell off an electrician’s belt, now have the power to turn that late-night McDouble run into a costly nightmare. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2019

2016 Toyota RAV4 Interior steering wheel

Your author failed his first driver’s test, but the blame falls not on an overall lack of precision and orientation on the part of the driver, but General Motors’ atrocious first-generation anti-lock braking system. “Stop” pedal bending to the floor, the sedan rolled sedately through the snowy intersection at a glacial 5 mph, happily confident in the knowledge that preventing even a millimeter of tire slide was a better outcome than actually stopping within a reasonable distance.

Opening the door and dragging my foot on the ground, Flintstones-style, may have proved more effective in slowing the car.

Michigan drivers might still face such a scenario when the time comes to secure their license, but proposed legislation might ensure they never have to take the dreaded parallel parking test. (Read More…)

By on May 6, 2019

Last week, San Jose became subject to borderline draconian street-racing laws after city council (unanimously) voted to pass legislation effectively making it illegal to even watch impromptu automotive exhibitions. However, “spectating” is loosely defined in the new law, as parties don’t have to know a race is going on to get into trouble.

Even milling around a car show before shenanigans break out is enough to earn someone a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

The new laws give police plenty of power to break up late-night car events, plus the ability  to arrest whomever they want — creating a pretty good incentive to just stay home, rather than risk getting into trouble. It also feels like overkill, and it sets an ugly precedent for punishing Californians who aren’t actively contributing to a crime.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2019

us-capitol, public domain

With the United States’ government shutdown now over, lawmakers have an opportunity to work together as promised. Interestingly, one of the first pieces of bipartisan legislation to emerge after the federal bureaucracy resumed operations involves a plan to severely limit presidential authority to impose tariffs for national security reasons.

The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, introduced by Senators Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), along with House Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ron Kind (D-WI), would require the president to get approval from Congress before taking any trade actions based on national security threats. If passed into law, the bill would let the Legislative Branch effectively block the tariffs being proposed by the Trump administration on automobiles and automotive parts.  (Read More…)

By on January 11, 2019

Michael/Flickr

Can you be pulled over and ordered to blow into a breathalyzer, under threat of arrest, for the simple act of returning empty liquor bottles in the middle of the day? Sure can, at least if you’re living north of the border. It happened to a 70-year-old man in Mississauga, Ontario last weekend.

As part of a massive package of laws enacted in mid-December, Canadian drivers are waking up to the knowledge that the legal standard of “reasonable suspicion” no longer exists when it comes to interactions with the police — at least when pertaining to the combination of alcohol and motor vehicles.

This week, they’re learning it’s possible to face a drunk driving charge, even if you only started drinking after you got home. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2018

It looks like Congress’ new self-driving bill might have to wait until a new batch of unmentionables plant their collective rear ends in the seats populating Capitol Hill. Already passed in the House, the SELF DRIVE Act has managed to garner bipartisan support — a true miracle in these troubled times.

However, it’ll have to spread wings if it wants to be signed into law before year’s end. The midterm elections could stymie everything and force Congress to start all over again. A likely prospect, considering the Senate is still going over the bill.

“This entire process has been an incredible feat of bipartisanship,” Greg Rogers, director of government affairs at Securing America’s Future Energy, told Bloomberg. “Attempting to recreate a bill that’s this ambitious and this significant would be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle all over again.”  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2018

Marijuana seems to be a reoccurring theme this month. Canada, which legalized recreational use of the drug on Wednesday, has already had an opportunity to remind its citizenry that there are still some ground rules that must be followed. Literally one hour after weed received the green light, Winnipeg police issued a citation for consumption of cannabis inside a motor vehicle.

Last week, we described the difficulties Canuck police will face when attempting to prove someone is driving under the influence of the herb. However, the country’s updated rules mean cops don’t actually need to prove you were driving at all. Simply having it in the cabin is enough to get you slapped with a minor infraction.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2018

Last week’s QOTD post about states and their respective license plates generated a few comments about a particular plate issued by the state of Ohio. In today’s question, we dive a little deeper and focus solely on this Ohio plate, which just happens to be more unique than every other license plate in use today.

(Read More…)

By on July 12, 2018

autonomous hardware

Autonomous vehicles have created an endless series of unanswerable questions. As the technology continues to advance, decisions on how best to implement it have not. We’ve yet to discern who is liable in the event of an accident, how insurance rules would change, if they can coexist effectively with traditional automobiles, how they will impact vehicle ownership in the long term, and the infrastructure necessary to ensure they’ll function as intended.

There’s also a myriad of security concerns involving everything from the very real prospect of vehicle hacking to automakers selling the personal information of drivers. Both of those topics are about to come to a head as automakers continue shifting toward connected vehicles.

In March, the U.S. Transportation Department met with auto industry leaders, consumer advocacy groups, labor unions, and others in an attempt to navigate the minefield that is autonomous integration. The department previously hosted similar roundtable discussions in December after releasing the new federal guidance for automated driving systems, called “A Vision for Safety 2.0.” That guidance freed up automakers and tech firms to test self-driving vehicles with fewer regulatory hurdles to cope with.

However, the December report seemed to focus mainly on how little everyone outside the industry understands the new technology. (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2018

us-capitol, public domain

Bipartisan legislation to “promote the safe development of autonomous vehicles” is currently being held up by a trio of Democrats, according to U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune. While much of Congress is hoping to push the AV START Act through, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and two colleagues have blocked unanimous consent — stalling the bill’s swift progress by forcing a floor vote.

Thune, who sponsors Senate Bill 1,885, told reporters he hoped Feinstein and the other Democrats would see the light. “We could save a lot of lives,” Thune said, adding that 94 percent of car crashes are caused by human error. “It is cutting-edge technology, transformational in terms of the economy.”

However, the opposition isn’t convinced autonomous vehicles are at a point where it’s safe to roll them out en masse on public roads. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

car crime theft

Florida lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would make it illegal to have your car stolen if you haven’t bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. While accidentally prepping a car for prospective thieves is easily one of the dumbest things you can do, making it illegal to leave it running while you pop in to buy a pack of gum sets us up for a nice slippery slope argument.

Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2017

driving with dog
There are few things that offer the same kind of trivial gratification as a photograph of a dog behind the wheel of an automobile. Assaulting several different pleasure centers of the brain simultaneously, the image of a dog driving a car is objectively perfect. Even thinking about it just now probably caused a positive reaction in your mind.

It’s as endearing as it is hilarious. Subaru developed an entire ad campaign around the concept and other groups have used similar tactics — resulting in viral videos and critical acclaim. However, as great as a dog pretending to drive a car is, there are few things less infuriating than when someone allows their dog to sit on their lap whilst operating a motor vehicle.

Apparently, I’m not alone in this opinion, as a bill has been introduced to crack down on this highly specific form of distracted driving.  (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2017

Ariel atom

In 2013, Texas’ Department of Motor Vehicles began revoking titles on newly built dune buggies. While that was already a bit of a dick move, the state was at least good enough to grandfather-in existing vehicles. However, that has changed in recent months now that the state’s DMV seems keen on enforcing Texas Administrative Rule 217.3 (Section 6).

The mandate, which appears only to exist to make automotive hobbyists sad, came into rule in March of 2015. But it has picked up lot of steam since then, denying titles on dune buggies and kit cars that had previously received them without trouble. As a result, enthusiasts are starting to organize in the hopes of lobbying the state to re-legalize the vehicles as others sell off their beloved rides — fearful that nobody would buy them in Texas since they aren’t street-legal anymore.  (Read More…)

By on November 3, 2017

jaywalking vaper

A report released this week suggests that if self-driving cars become our new normal, it may mean you can jaywalk with impunity again. As if New Yorkers, Chicagoans, and residents of other major cities don’t do so already.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials, a non-profit with represents cities on issues related to transportation, put out a report this week suggesting cities should allow pedestrians to cross streets anywhere, instead of just crosswalks. The report also says self-driving cars would usually be limited to 20 mph and would be able to use pedestrian-detection technology to slow down or stop in order to avoid hitting folks crossing the road. (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2017

rowboat, Image: Wikimedia Commons

Some might quibble over where “the limit” should be when we’re talking drunk driving — 0.05, 0.08, 0.10 — but few responsible people would argue against the need for impaired driving legislation. Until smartphones and other distracting electronic accoutrements came along, boozy drivers were the leading cause of carnage on the roads.

Now, many of us our personal vehicle to drive to the lake, the seaside, or perhaps a nearby river, where our boat, be it large or small, awaits. Maybe it’s a canoe or kayak. Maybe — because cabin cruiser dollars are hard to come by — it’s an inflatable mattress or inner tube where you can use your feet for propulsion.

Well, if you reside north of the border and were thinking of popping a few beers and paddling about in your human-powered floatation device (after hearing Canada’s recent announcement that drunk driving laws would no longer apply to unmotorized boats), think again. Special interest groups have intervened, and that law will remain on the books.

Drunk paddling? There goes your Chevrolet. (Read More…)

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