Monday, March 27, 2017

The latest in advanced car safety features

Safety remains a top concern for new-car shoppers, and fortunately, today’s modern cars offer more occupant protection and accident avoidance technologies than the typical model being traded in. But not all cars are equal; there are clearly those models that perform better in  dynamic tests, as well as crash tests conducted by the government and insurance industry. Test results on car model pages reveal the differences, though there is more to safety.

New technologies offer potential benefits, such as blind-spot detection and forward-collision warning systems. But ultimately, the driver is a critical factor, especially among teens and older drivers. 

Need a new car? Then consider one with active safety systems. Manufacturers are building cars with systems that can help you avoid or mitigate a crash in all sorts of situations, such as closing in on another car too quickly, changing lanes into an unseen car in a blind spot, or simply backing out in a busy parking lot.

The latest in Key active safety systems include:

Forward-collision warning (FCW) - Visual and/or audible warning intended alert the driver and prevent a collision.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) - Brakes are automatically applied to prevent a collision or reduce collision speed.

Lane-departure warning (LDW) - Visual, audible, or haptic warning to alert the driver when they are crossing lane markings.

Blind-spot warning (BSW) - Visual and/or audible notification of vehicle in blind spot. The system may provide an additional warning if you use your turn signal when there is a car next to you in another lane.

Lane-keeping assist (LKA) - Automatic corrective steering input or braking provided by the vehicle when crossing lane markings.

Rear cross-traffic alert - Visual, audible, or haptic notification of object or vehicle out of rear camera range, but could be moving into it.

Once sold on the concept of these active safety systems, there remains the challenge in interpreting each manufacturer’s offerings, each with their own unique name, and then figuring out which trim and/or option is necessary to get the gear.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dangerous Distracted Driving Habits

The car has become a favorite spot to place calls and send texts -- all too often with deadly consequences.

Distractions inside our vehicles abound. For many professionals, their car, truck or SUV is truly their office on wheels. For younger drivers, the car continues to serve as a social hub as it has for decades. 

Every day, distracted driving kills scores of people and injures thousands. Here we look at distractions which may not appear dangerous but could end in a disaster.

Eating and Drinking
Compared to some of the other distracted driving habits , this one might seem relatively tame. 

But consider some of the things that could go wrong:

·  You could spill scalding coffee on your lap
·  That idli or burger could collapse in your hands, sending crumbs, sauce and patty pieces all over your work outfit
·  Greasy hands or one-handed driving means less control of the steering wheel and shifter
·  In each of these cases, drivers face a potential domino effect where impaired attention plus an unexpected event lead to loss of control.

Solution: Eat before or after you get behind the wheel; to chow down during your drive places you and others at risk.

Applying Makeup or Grooming

We treat it almost as a joke: the harried office worker who slogs through morning rush hour while painting her face; the road warrior who uses drive time as shaving time. There's even a conveniently placed "vanity mirror" in the fold-down visor right above the windscreen to facilitate this morning ritual. As usual, the blamed culprit is shortage of time. With our schedules more compressed than ever, the car or SUV might seem like the perfect place to take care of less mentally taxing tasks such as personal grooming.

But there's little arguing with the science on distracted driving. All but a small percentage (between 2 and 3 percent) of the population experience a noticeable decline in performance when they try to do two or more things at once 

You may have gotten away with eyebrow plucking on the highway up until now, but just remember that it's always a gamble.

Tending to your pets

The last thing you need is an animal roaming around inside your vehicle while you drive. Pets should be secured. It's safer for them, you and others outside your vehicle.

Fortunately, there are carriers for cats and other small pets. For larger dogs, you can try vehicle partitions or even doggy harnesses that strap your canine securely into a seat. That way he can enjoy the wind in his face without getting fur and slobber in yours.

The proper securing device, coupled with your reassuring words and caresses, should make riding in the car a tolerable and perhaps downright enjoyable experience for your pet. And unlike our next subject, pets don't require expensive video games or other electronics to remain settled. Continue to the next page to confirm what you already knew our next distraction would be.

Keeping an Eye on the Kids

The little bundles of joy can be anything but if they don't have distractions of their own to while away time in the car. Whether it's two or more young ones squabbling or a lone infant protesting to be released from a restrictive child safety seat, you do not want to divert your attention from the road to indulge them.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, passengers are ranked by drivers as among the most frequent causes of distraction. Young children are four times as distracting as adults, while infants can be a whopping eight times more distracting, the AAA Foundation reports. Think carefully, though, about stealing a few seconds' glance to investigate while at cruising speed.

It takes only a fraction of a second for a road-borne hazard to enter your vehicle's collision zone and precipitate a disaster.

For the sake of everyone involved, if the little ones' screaming is about to force you to turn around and go back there -- pull over first.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How do driverless cars work?

Driverless cars used to be confined to the realm of science fiction, but now they are coming to a road near you, with the likes of Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Google and Audi among the companies with systems ready to deploy.

From reducing the number of accidents, to improving emissions compliance and easing congestion, the driverless revolution has begun, and that includes trials in various locations around the world.

In the UK, Bristol and Greenwich are examining the challenges of bringing fully automated vehicles on to the UK’s roads, whilst Coventry and Milton Keynes will also host tests involving Lutz podcars. In addition, very soon Volvo will be testing driverless cars in London in what it describes as its "most ambitious" trial ever.
Lasting for 18 to 36 months, these tests will also analyse the legal and insurance implications of driverless cars.

The driverless technology industry is expected to be worth £900 billion globally by 2025 and is currently growing by 16 per cent a year.

Plus machines are much better at following rules than humans; motorway signs advising drivers to slow down or not change lane to avoid creating jams are often ignored by motorists – not so a computer.

So how do driverless cars work? There are several systems that work in conjunction with each other to control a driverless car.

1. Radar sensors dotted around the car monitor the position of vehicles nearby.

2. Video cameras detect traffic lights, read road signs and keep track of other vehicles, while also looking out for pedestrians and other obstacles.

3. Lidar sensors help to detect the edges of roads and identify lane markings by bouncing pulses of light off the car’s surroundings.
Ultrasonic sensors in the wheels can detect the position of curbs and other vehicles when parking.

Finally, a central computer analyses all of the data from the various sensors to manipulate the steering, acceleration and braking.

This is just the start. It’ll be five years from now before fully autonomous driving starts to become a reality and you can take your hands off the wheel to, for example, watch a YouTube video or, if you’re feeling quaint, read a book. It’s not only legislation that needs to change to allow this; cars will have to adopt what Thatcham describes as a “full sensor pack”, including radars, cameras and laser scanners, which will allow them to “build up a complete picture of the immediate road and traffic environment and to use lateral steering adjustments and longitudinal braking and acceleration inputs to navigate safely within it.”

Fast forward to 2025. Welcome to the future, where cars drive themselves, not only on motorways, but from your house to the office or shops, to see friends or just to escape the kids for some peace and quiet. All typical driving environments will be covered, says Thatcham, and cars will be able to negotiate not only traffic lights, but junctions and roundabouts as well.

In addition to sensors and radars, vehicles will feature full connectivity with each other and the road infrastructure, allowing them to take traffic conditions into account when planning your route.

It is expected that the driver will not need to touch the controls for the entirety of their journey.

Driverless cars are not purely about technological progression. There is sound economics behind it too. In fact, on an average cars sit idle for 95 per cent of the time and considering that the world has 1,200,000,000 cars this is a mind boggling level of inefficiency. Also, cars amount for 22 per cent of all emissions globally, so there is a strong environmental reason in being able to reduce their numbers. Another small detail, is that the world has more parking space than cars. As the number of cars go up there is a huge capital cost incurred in increasing the parking slots available. Reducing the number of cars helps cut this investment in the long run.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What to Do in a Roadside Emergency

Safety should be your main concern

If a flat tire, mechanical breakdown, or empty fuel tank forces you to stop driving, the most important thing is to take actions that ensure your safety. Here are some tips from  auto experts.

Get off the road
Pull your vehicle as far off of the road as safely possible. If your vehicle is in or near traffic and you can safely walk to another location, do it. If the vehicle is parked on the shoulder of a busy highway, exit on the passenger side. Lock the door and leave a note on the windshield with your mobile phone number in case roadside assistance or the police stop by the vehicle.

Make your vehicle as visible as possible
At the minimum, turn on the hazard lights as soon as you realize that your vehicle has problems. Once stopped, use any warning signals that you have—flares, hazard triangle, or a warning light—to alert other motorists of your vehicle's presence. Place the warning device as far behind your car as practical to give other motorists as much notice as possible.

Display a distress signal
If you need police help, raise the hood or tie a white cloth to the radio antenna or door handle, or hang the cloth out of the top of the door and close it on the cloth.

Keep the doors locked
If the vehicle is in a safe location, you should wait inside. Keep the doors locked and the safety belts fastened.

Exercise caution
Use good judgment in accepting help from strangers. If someone of whom you're suspicious stops, lower the window only enough to talk. If you're waiting for help, thank them for stopping but tell them you're OK. If you need help, ask them to make a call for you.

Inform your friends/colleagues/family