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The latest news, reviews and commentary about cars, trucks, and more, automotive technology and car culture

Back to basics

Certain basic driving behaviors most affect our safety. A periodic assessment of how well you know and practice these behaviors is a worthy endeavor. Always be aware of the speed limit and operate your vehicle near or at the posted speed. Differential of speed among… Read more

Signal your intentions

Failure to indicate one’s turning intentions via use of turn signals is a perpetual driver grievance. But it isn’t just non-use that’s an issue. Absent mindedly leaving them on is also unsafe, and rules of the road even specify certain improper use that is illegal…. Read more

Trucks for the memories

My column of May 13th explored America’s love affair with trucks, a condition made evident by the top sales spot held by pickups. I suggested the motivation for truck ownership goes beyond utility, including undetermined factors. Whatever intangible cues may be in play, their mix… Read more

Seeing the light

Whether that yellow-orange light reads, “CHECK ENGINE,” or depicts a side-view image of an engine block, when it’s illuminated on your instrument panel, take note. The warning means your vehicle’s on-board computer has detected a fault in one of many engine control systems. That fault… Read more

Our love of trucks

Why drive a truck when you can drive a car? I’ve often pondered that query, especially since a pickup, the Ford F150, is America’s top selling vehicle. In fact, it’s been the best seller of all vehicles for over 30 years. Given the available vehicle… Read more

Score your drives

Good drivers constantly look for ways to assess and improve their driving. Lack of citations and crashes are noteworthy standards to seek, but one entity has identified a few other behaviors to monitor. The entity is EverDrive, a company offering a smartphone app that evaluates… Read more

Bad drivers: incompetent or indifferent?

Evidently, there are drivers operating motor vehicles who lack the understanding to properly do so. Based on behaviors I observe, if it’s not incompetence, then it’s simply indifference to afford due diligence to the task. The only explanations for seemingly unexplainable driver actions are that… Read more

Driving while impaired

Humans make many mistakes as drivers even when they are alert and attentive. When they are impaired, however, mayhem regularly ensues. And there’s a wide array of impairment-induced influences. The commonly heard expression, “Driving while intoxicated,” is most associated with alcoholic beverages, but such intoxication… Read more

Give left foot a rest

For decades, cars with manual transmissions were the norm. Whether it was with a three-on-the-tree, four-on-the floor, or a five-speed gearbox popularized in Japanese imports, mastering the friction point of a clutch and selecting an appropriate gear was every driver’s past quest. During the manual… Read more

Risky reality for young drivers

For youthful drivers, especially teens, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death. Admittedly, part of that reality is that the older driving populace succumbs to an ever-growing list of maladies (heart disease and cancer among them) as they age. Those causes of death… Read more

Spring’s annual onslaught

Marking spring, every year, an onslaught of bicycles, motorcycles, children and other pedestrians begin mixing with traffic. An “onslaught” implies an event of overwhelming nature, so maybe it’s more of an emergence, since dealing with these entities should not be that daunting. The annual emergence… Read more

Hacking back in news

I’ve previously reported of a “vehicle takeover” performed by a couple of expert computer hackers with a laptop and a Jeep. In 2015, Charlie Miller and Chris Valacek took partial control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee (could have been any modern vehicle), messing with its… Read more

Unintended consequences

Sometimes, policies in placed do not achieve their intended goals. Instead of simply having no effect, a policy intended to make things better might make things even worse. For example, late Dutch traffic engineer, Hans Monderman, famously maintained that many of our road regulations, designs… Read more

Safety checks unpopular with locals

After my recent column exploring vehicle safety inspections, many readers “voiced” opinions on the topic via email. The tally of those comments revealed 70% of the responders saying “no” to mandatory checks, 20% thinking “maybe” and only 10% in favor of them. In support of… Read more

Worsening driver distraction

Other than individual reform, there is no way to substantially end driver distraction caused by behavior like roadside rubbernecking, fiddling with vehicle controls, or daydreaming. We’ve been doing those things for years, along with disciplining children, grooming, changing CDs, et cetera. Drivers may have even… Read more

Do we want inspections?

Where do you stand on mandatory, periodic safety inspections for vehicles registered to operate on pubic roadways? It’s yet another level of government involvement and increased regulation, but given the operating condition of certain automobiles, inspections might have merit. As for one concerned driver, reader… Read more

A noteworthy trend

Automobiles were barely invented when the death toll resulting from vehicle crashes was tallied for 1899. 26 individuals lost their life that year in a trend that would move markedly upward. For each successive year, U.S. fatalities increased to the point where nearly 100 motorists… Read more

When to use the left lane

Periodically, the topic of left-lane louts arises. Those are drivers who perpetually occupy the left lane of multi-lane roadways without due cause. This time it came up when a young driver told me that he has a right to drive in that lane if he… Read more

Dashcam consideratiions

Driver use of dashcams (dashboard cameras) is rising worldwide, including popularity gains in the United States. They were first widely employed in Russia as a defense against police corruption and insurance fraud. Mounted via suction cup, adhesive or Velcro to the dashboard or windshield, they… Read more

Do cars still matter?

Yesterday, I conducted an informal survey, noting the vehicles that were passing through my residential neighborhood for about 20 minutes. The traffic consisted of fathers, mothers and others who were picking up picking up kids from school. Maybe the survey results are skewed with this… Read more