Senior Drivers, Safe Roads, and Personal Rights

The great debate about senior drivers and personal rights has swirled around for years.  The issue is seniors driving beyond the age of suitable mental and physical abilities.  While many drivers can operate a vehicle safely through their retirement years, there is a small perentage who refuse to give up their key despite medical issues ranging from poor eyesight to compromised mental state.  The three factors that lead to elderly drivers becoming unsuitable on the road are: fading vision, diminishing physical dexterity and deterioration in cognitive Senior Driverabilities.  On top of those are other problems such as acute conditions and diseases; Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and arthritis.   There have been several high-profile accidents around the country in which an older driver has plowed into a crowd, and killed people.  Should there be laws to take away their licenses at a certain age?  Is it fair to risk others lives and safety while allowing possibly impaired seniors to keep driving? Does creating a law infringe on personal rights? It is a difficult and sensitive subject.  There are many approaches to finding a solution.  In any case it is best if senior drivers make their own decisions about when to leave the wheel, as forcing them can be very upsetting.  But, sometimes adult children must have a frank talk with their parent, often easing in the idea that one day soon they must stop driving.

So how does one know it is time to stop driving? There are warning signs family, or the drivers themselves, can watch for that indicate it is time to give up the keys.  These include frequent near-accidents, dents or scrapes on the vehicle or the mailbox, difficulty for the senior to see the sides of the road when looking straight ahead, and more than normal traffic stops.  This conversation should warn the seniors about their responsibility, and the idea of harming someone in an accident.   The conversation often is toughest with an elderly person who still has most of his faculties — just not enough to drive safely.   If the family makes no head-way in convincing their parent, they may want to get some help. The senior may be more willing to listen to an authority figure, especially one who he trusts deeply.  A trusted doctor could even write a prescription saying their patient cannot drive anymore.

The common reason elderly refuse to stop driving is a fear of losing their independence and mobility. To address this, map out a new transportation plan with them, there are many options, the proceeds from their vehicle could even be used for a ‘transportation budget’. Many churches, senior centers, and nonprofit groups provide ride services to the elderly.  If none of those solutions are an option, there is conventional mass transit.   You also can hire home-care agencies.senior driver

Today, one in seven licensed drivers is 65 years old or older, but within two decades that ratio will be almost one in four.  And many are perfectly able to drive, in fact, they are sometimes better drivers, because they are generally more cautious.  Older drivers are also much less likely than younger ones to be involved in crashes related to high speeds or alcohol. Today, there are even ‘drivers ed’ type classes specifically geared at the older age group.  The class addresses issues that senior drivers may face.

In this country we put an immense emphasis on driving.  It is a symbol for many of independence.  Many states have easily put into effect rules that restrict driving for teenagers, but it isn’t as simple to put the hold on drivers later in life.  While this problem will not go away, family intervention, classes targeted towards seniors, and new technology in vehicles are all worthwhile efforts at reducing the issue.

Posted by reedman on Jul 30 2009 in Lifestyle

Lincoln-Mercurys Go Hi-Tec with SYNC

SYNC System in a Navigator

2010 Lincoln and Mercury Models Featuring the new SYNC

The Sync entertainment and communication system, which is powered by Microsoft, is a bold way to listen and navigate music.  It was first included on many 2008 models, including low end vehicles.  SYNC offers many innovative features, ease of use and value and is one of the most forward-thinking systems available.  Currently the SYNC system is available on the following 2010 Lincoln models: MKS, MKT, MKX, MKZ, and Navigator.  The Mercury models that feature SYNC are the 2009 Mariner and Sable, and the 2010 Milan and Mountaineer. SYNC started out as a means of music and hands free phone calls.  It expanded to a moniter of your vehicle’s health and a connection to 911.  The latest iteration of this technology is SYNC with Traffic, Directions, and Information.  This new version of SYNC offers personalized traffic reports with text message traffic alerts, turn by turn driving directions, and news, sports, weather, and business information.

Sync LOGO

With SYNC, in place of a mouse, drivers use voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel to control a device such as a portable media player (PMP), mobile phone or PDA.  Sync is the first technology to allow a driver to control nearly any PMP using voice commands. And it’s the first to allow both receiving and replying to text messages without requiring drivers to take their hands off the wheel—or eyes off the road.   Sync gets its upper hand with its superior voice-activation technology, which is not only convenient for entertainments sake, but also critical for on-the-road communication.  Sync uses the Bluetooth wireless communications standard to connect to mobile phones. Bluetooth allows hands-free calling in a car, and has become a common feature on many vehicles. But the Sync system takes in-car communication a step further by receiving and reading aloud text messages, including emoticons.

Posted by reedman on Jul 28 2009 in Lincoln-Mercury News

Chevrolet to Add Special Transformers Edition

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Special Edition Announcedchevrolet-camaro-transformers-special-edition-02

Now GM has announced the new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Special Edition at the San Diego Comic-Con.

“When the first Transformers movie was setting box office records, we had countless customers asking to purchase the ‘Bumblebee’ Camaro,” remarked Karen Rafferty, product marketing director, Chevrolet. “Now, they can buy one with the new Camaro Transformers Special Edition. “Hasbro is thrilled to team up with Chevrolet and excited to see the Camaro Transformers Special Edition come to market for our fans to enjoy,” stated Samantha Lomow, Global Brand Leader for Transformers at Hasbro. “The yellow Camaro with the black stripes has become so iconic and closely associated with the Bumblebee character that this edition was a natural fit for both companies.”

The powerful V6 vehicle features Bluetooth phone connectivity and USB connectivity, and an XM Satellite Radio and OnStar. Rampant on the Camaro, are Transformers design cues. The vehicle is estimated to deliver 29 mpg on the highway.

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Special Edition comes with the following striking Transformers features:

An Autobot shield on the driver and passenger side panels.

An Autobot shield on each of the four wheel’s center cap.

A Transformers logo on the sill plates of the driver and passenger doors.

A Transformers logo among the rally stripes on the car’s hood.

An Autobot shield which is embroidered on interior center console.

The High-gloss black center rally stripe package.

Manufacturer’s suggested retail price of package, which is 995 USD (approx. Rs. 48,195).chevrolet-camaro-transformers-special-edition-01

The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Special Edition can now be order as either a Rally Yellow LT or SS model. The Special Edition Camaro is SAE-certified at 273 lb.-ft. of torque (370 Nm) and at 304 horsepower (227 kW). The Camaro comes standard with a six speed manual transmission, but a Hydra-Matic 6L50 electronically controlled six-speed automatic is also available and has TAPshift control.

The Chevy Camaro SS is built for high-performance and is fitted with a 6.2L powerhouse of a V8 engine. Models of the SS with manual transmission are SAE-certified at 426 horsepower (318 kW) and 420 lb.-ft. of torque (569 Nm).

chevrolet-camaro-transformers-special-edition-03The SS models equipped with automatic transmission have the new L99 V8 engine and include GM’s Active Fuel Management system which helps save fuel, giving about 25 miles per gallon. The model is SAE-certified at 410 lb.-ft. of torque (556 Nm) and 400 horsepower (298 kW).

Fan Boys be happy, you can drive BumbleBee in 2010. Nice!

Posted by reedman on Jul 26 2009 in Chevrolet News

Talking and Driving

The Danger of Cell Phone Use in Cars

Cell phones are a known distraction for drivers, yet a large majority of people admit to using a cell phone while driving. Dozens of countries have already banned the use of handheld phones while driving. In the U.S., California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Washington, D.C. and many municipalities have fully outlawed in-vehicle handheld phone use. While some say that talking on a cell phone is the same as or less of a distraction than changing your radio station, trying to control your kids or eating — none of which is regulated of course.  Many accidents, though, are caused by driver distraction, and any form of distraction that can be reduced would improve safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analyzed the results of over 120 cell phone studies. They found that nearly all of the studies reported that some aspects of driver performance were affected by the mental distraction associated with cell phone use. The IIHS reported that phone conversation tasks typically decreased reaction times, travel speeds, and increased lane deviations and steering wheel movements. It’s good to carry a cell phone in case of an emergency, but its best to use it while stopped. If you must use your phone on the road make sure you know its features and button locations, do not text or look up stored numbers, and try to avoid emotional or stressful conversations. Just remember, a split second of taking your eyes off the road can lead to a disaster.

Posted by reedman on Jul 23 2009 in Vehicle Safety

Hi Tech Family Travel

A New Age in Family Vehicles

While families vehicles of the past simply served as a means of transportation to get from one place to the other, family vans, sedans, wagons, and SUVs of today do much more than ever imagined.

01DVDEntertainment

Especially on long drives, entertaining the kids is all important. Rear-seat DVD entertainment systems now come in a variety of vehicles.  Typical entertainment systems come with a centrally located fold-down screen, a pair of headphones and auxiliary input jacks that can accommodate video-game systems. Some systems have a screen in the back of each front headrest, and Chrysler offers dual screens, one for each rear seating row. SIRIUS Backseat TV makes a rear-seat entertainment system even better. Offered exclusively by Chrysler, it comes with three child-friendly channels: Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel.

Seating01stowngo

Third row SUVs are widely available and come from a variety of automakers. There is finally an alternative to the minivan, and for some the style of an SUV is much desired compared to the minivan. Seating options in minivan, meanwhile, have become advanced.  Chrysler and Dodge offers the ‘Stow ‘n Go’ system , where the seats can be folded directly into the floor.  When the seats are up, the bins they fold into can be used for storage space. The third-row seats also fold into a well in the back of the van, leaving a flat, useful load floor.  Other companies have developed the same rear seat/rear well configuration, but nobody else has Stow ‘n Go-style second-row seats.

airbagsSafety

Safety has become one of the most advanced technologies in the auto industry.  And family vehicles, naturally, make it a priority.  Rearview cameras and/or rear park assist can prevent you from backing over items or even kids in the driveway. Other safety technologies to look for are anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC) and side-curtain airbags. Similar to the way ABS prevents a vehicle’s brakes from locking up, ESC sensors detect loss of traction. All-wheel or four-wheel drive can also be helpful in a family vehicle. Both systems will get you through the snow when front- or rear-wheel drive may not.

Posted by reedman on Jul 21 2009 in Lifestyle

The Volt is Still on Track

Chevy Aims to Roll Out Volt in 2010VOLT

Despite the economic downturn and trouble in the auto industry, the Chevy Volt remains on track to hit the market in late 2010.  Although GM lost $6 billion in the first quarter of this year and is surviving on government loans the Volt, along with other 2010 modle year vehicles, remain a top priority. GM has continued to produce eye-catching design and performance vehicles such as the Chevy Malibu, Saturn Aura, and Cadillac CTS.
Furthermore, the 2011 Chevy Volt’s extended-range technology could eventually appear throughout GM’s product lines.

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to be produced by General Motors. The Volt’s propulsion system will be based on GM’s new Voltec (formerly known as E-Flex) platform, which differs significantly from GM’s earlier BAS Hybrid and Two-Mode Hybrid systems. With fully charged batteries, enough stored electrical energy will power the Volt for 40 miles, a distance capable of satisfying the daily commute of 75% of Americans.  After 40 miles, a small 4-cylinder gasoline internal combustion engine drives a 53 kW generator effectively extending the Volt’s potential range to as much as 640 miles on a single tank of gasoline. The electrical power from the generator is sent to either the electric motor or the batteries, depending on the state of charge (SOC) of the battery pack and the power demanded at the wheels. The distribution is controlled by the electronic control unit (ECU) of the vehicle No external charging station will be required. Unlike most current commercially available electric hybrids, the actual propulsion of the Volt is accomplished exclusively by the electric motor, and the internal combustion engine is used as another charging method.

Posted by reedman on Jul 19 2009 in Chevrolet News

A New Radio Technology: HD Radio

HD Radio – Clearer Radio For Free

HD radio makes FM radio sound like CD and AM sound like FM, and offers what the HD Radio Web site calls “crystal-clear reception with no audio distortion.” The biggest benefit compared to satellite radio is it’s free. And like satellite radio, it offers alternative content that’s largely commercial-free by allowing a station to “multicast” separate programming on an adjacent sub-frequency that only an HD Radio can tune in. Another benefit to HD radio is it supplies detailed artist and song title listings, as well as info on traffic, weather, sports, stocks, emergencies and more. Although HD Radio has been around since 2005, it has yet to achieve mainstream status.

So how do you get HD Radio?  It was first available as an aftermarket product, but more recently automakers are beginning to offer it factory installed. For example, Jaguar offers HD Radio as standard in the 2009 XF and XK and will make it standard in all 2010 models. The bottom line with HD Radio is it is a free source of higher quality sound compared to traditional radio. HD Digital radio receivers are able to smooth out the sound signals to deliver crystal-clear reception. One factor that is keeping HD from becoming mainstream is that the service is not available everywhere, particularly in rural areas. While 1,800 radio stations have signed up so far, the signals from HD Radio stations in urban areas only extend about a maximum of 50 miles.

Posted by reedman on Jul 16 2009 in New Technology

A Different Way to Drive Green

Save Fuel, Save Money, Improve Emissions

We all know hybrids and clean diesels are the ultimate green machines when it comes to driving a vehicle with fuel economy and the environment in mind.  Hybrids, though, are expensive – but with today’s technologies and wide range of available models, there are alternative ways to drive green. Here are some steps to better your fuel economy and reduce emissions:

Buy Small: Buying a small car is one of the best ways to reduce your car’s environmental impact. In fact, most of today’s subcompacts aren’t the lame boxes they used to be. The newest models in the small car market are roomy and versatile on the inside despite its small overall size. Some of the subcompact cars get mileage as good as 28/35 mpg..

Tire Maintenance: If your car’s tires are underinflated, it can result in increased tire wear as well as reduced fuel economy. Plus, they adversely affect handling, increase stopping distances and increase the chance of tire failure. You also can choose tires, such as Low Rolling Resistance tires, for your vehicle that provide better fuel economy.

Lean Engines: Engine and transmission choice can make a big difference, even within the same vehicle family. A 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE with the 2.2-liter engine and a manual five-speed transmission is EPA-rated at 25/37 mpg compared with 22/30 for the Cobalt SS with the smaller but turbocharged 2.0-liter and manual five-speed. Curb weight also makes a difference. Options like four-wheel drive and third-row seats add weight to your vehicle and increase fuel consumption.

Drive to Save: It may be worth it to invest in a real-time traffic reports tied into a GPS-based navigation system to find a route that is not backed up. Idling in traffic equals zero miles per gallon.  Also, the easier you go on the gas pedal and brake, the better fuel economy you will get.  In another word, avoid regular instances of revving the gas and slamming on the brakes every time you come to a stop.

Cylinder Shut Off Technology: To improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, some automakers have created systems that deactivate half an engine’s cylinders during certain driving conditions. Chrysler introduced the second generation of its Multi-Displacement System (MDS) on the 2009 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which can improve fuel economy by up to 20 percent on models such as the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Challenger R/T.

Think about the Factories: Some automakers have made huge strides in greening up their manufacturing facilities — and you can reward them for their efforts. Subaru has received accolades for its “green” manufacturing facility in Indiana.

Posted by reedman on Jul 13 2009 in Green Vehicles

The Lowdown on Cash for Clunkers

Cash for Clunkers, which is officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) — is a federal program passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on June 24. The program is meant to encourage consumers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient vehicles for new vehicles that get better fuel economy by providing a credit worth up to $4,500. Modeled after several programs that have already been successfully implemented in Europe, the program is expected to begin on this month and end on November 1, 2009. There are many who favor this program, and are hoping for results in stimulating the auto industry and improving vehicle emmissions. however, there are many who feel as thought it is a worthless program, as vehicles must be worth less then $4500 and have an average EPA of 18 mpg or less.  Considering the standards, opponents say, there are very few vehicles that will qualify.  To get the whole story check out this article on the Cash for Clunkers program, the pros, the cons, and what it will mean for car owners and dealers alike.

Posted by reedman on Jul 13 2009 in Automotive Industry News

The Jag XJ is Here!!

The All-New 2010 Jaguar XJ has arrived! As Jaguar puts it, the 2010 XJ is “a blend of stunning design, intuitive technology, and innovative thinking that delivers a remarkable driving experience. A contemporary luxury car that is beautiful, exhilarating, and sustainable”. As expected, the new XJ’s styling is radically different and far more modern than the current car, taking a healthy dose of influence from Jaguar’s XF line. The XJ’s interior has also been seriously re-worked for the 2010 model year. Taking little in the way of influence from the smaller XF, the 2010 XJ features a unique, wrap-around dash, complete with plenty of wood and leather accents. A large LCD screen is front and center while rounded air vents give the XJ’s cabin an air of sportiness. Technical features of the 2010 XJ include an air suspension, Jaguar’s continuously variable damping Adaptive Dynamics system and Active Differential Control. The 2010 XJ is offered in three separate trim levels – XJ, Supercharged and Supersport – with each model available in long-wheelbase form. The base XJ will be powered by a 385 horsepower 5.0L V8 while the mid-level Supercharged model adds a supercharger to boost horsepower to 470. The customer order only Supersport model sits atop the XJ hierarchy, powered by a 510 horsepower version of Jaguar’s supercharged 5.0L V8. All XJ models will use a six-speed automatic transmission. Starting MSRP for the 2010 XJ is as follows: XJ 5.0 Liter V8:$72,500, XJ Supercharged: $87,500, XJ Supersport: $112,00, XJL(long wheel-base) 5.0 Liter V8: $79,500, XJL Supercharged: $90,500, and XJL Supersport:$115,000.

Posted by reedman on Jul 11 2009 in Jaguar Reviews