Drunk Driving Solution

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Op-Ed by A.R. Bunch

It’s holiday season 2019 and it’s time to talk about the number one driving mistake people make.

Some topics in our society don’t get the real attention they deserve because of the negative emotions surrounding them. To a degree this makes sense. Back in the day no one really thought twice about driving when they were tipsy. Alcohol related incidents were hardly tracked as a separate thing, and the thinking was simply, “vehicles are dangerous.” MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) waged a campaign to change that.

By singling out alcohol related accidents and constantly bringing attention to it as a source of danger, and the high price paid by innocent victims, MADD paved the way to lower legal limits, harsher penalties and expanded responsible parties. For example, most states hold bartenders liable for over serving clients turning them from enablers to the first line of defense advocating for their customers whose judgement may be impaired to seek a better way home.

This is all great, but in order to truly combat the issue, it’s always more impactful to stay grounded. The reality is that a legal limit that’s functionally zero, BUT not really zero, begs the question, “are we inviting people to think they might be okay,” when the reality is they’re gambling with fines and jail time.

If government really intended to end drunk driving wouldn’t they drop the limit to zero and require bar tenders to insist that a ride is arranged before selling a patron one drink. The Kicker Blog is not advocating for these laws, merely pointing out that 0.08 blood alcohol level is a cloudy thing to communicate to people going out for a fun evening.

drunk-driving-40574_1280Government makes a bit of coin doing a catch and release with people who make a mistake. By setting the limit at a point when the average person could probably still operate a vehicle safer than they can when driving tire or emotional, the government is almost tempting people to chance it.

To their credit MADD has shifted there marketing away from condemnation to target people who don’t see themselves as career alcoholics. The idea is to get otherwise responsible people to think responsibly and have a plan before they cut loose.

Bottom line: the goal is to raise awareness, have stiff penalties to act as a deterrent but not destroy the life of an otherwise productive member of society. That’s probable the goal of the current system, but it’s created an unofficial catch and release program. How do we as a society build in clemency without created an official free pass for the first offense?

Currently, one DUI and you’ll never obtain a CDL, NEVER. It will also deter your ability to obtain work in other fields with high standards, like law enforcement, insurance agents, financial advisers.

You slam one beer at a football game when you’re 21 and drive your inebriated friend home and you could lose access to roughly one in three fields of employment. That’s a high and lasting price to pay for a mistake that only mildly endangered people. The goal again, is to get people to make better choices. In the case above, the 21-year-old was attempting to make a good choice. Misguided though that decision was, he/she may have prevented an accident.car-accident-1538175_1920.jpg

The Kicker Blog would like to advocate for a path to glory. The price for driving above the legal limit needs to be set apart from driving while intoxicated. The penalties for both need to be clear and applied consistently. The penalty for driving above the limit should be geared toward deterring and redemption. It could include a mandatory night in jail, fines, a vehicle breathalyzer installation, mandatory AA meetings, and a multiyear probation. However, after successful completion and a few years, the DUI should leave a person’s record.

The penalty for drunken endangerment should be punishment. It should reflect the severity of someone’s lack of judgement. After all, driving intoxicated is reckless endangerment, and one step of away from attempted manslaughter. Obviously your second offense at driving above the legal limit should be treated as a compound offense and raises to the level of driving while intoxicated.

Until these changes are made you need to know this:

You can get a DUI for as little as one drink, the penalty is far worse than you imagine, and special patrols are actively hunting for it.

If you get a DUI this holiday season, you are entitled to an attorney and you are a complete idiot if you don’t get one.

The answer, far simpler than changing that laws, is to make plans to drink OR drive. Simply don’t mix them at all. There are so many options from taxi to ride-share, carpooling, call a friend, even tow trucks that are sponsored by MADD to get your car home from the bar.

Quick TIP #1:

Don’t take a ride from a “sober stranger!” Take a friend out with you, and if for any reason you are alone at a bar, ask the bar tender to arrange a ride for you. Most bars are happy to avoid the fine they’ll pay if you leave them and get in an accident.

 

What’s News: new car seat law in WA State

OLYMPIA — In less than a week, some kids may need to remain in booster seats well into middle school.
Governor Jay Inslee approved updated regulations on car and booster seat use, which go into effect Jan. 1.
KOMO-TV reports the new rules require children older than 4 years old but shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches and who have outgrown their child harness seat to use a booster seat. That means most kids will need a booster seat until 10 to 12 years old.

Too much? Comment and let us know!

Story Link

Cars and Music

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Why do we listen to music in the car?

Firstly, we are hemmed in, we feel trapped by the circumstances. Secondly, we need to keep awake so we need to feel alive and simulated in some way to focus on the job of driving. Thirdly, people just love music and enjoy listening to it.

This doesn’t mean that we should neglect our nostalgia for special tunes and streaming services have made the process much simpler.

Radio

When it comes to the radio the most common practise with 44% is to keep changing channels to find the best music, similar to the way that people channel hop on the TV at home to find the best dramas and comedies.

The reason why we chose to listen to radio is that most of us don’t like constantly listening to the same song. 60% of us find this distracting. It seems that 75% or 3 out of 4 want a song to finish when it starts.

Satellite Radio?

In terms of which type of radio channel, it appears that a satellite station is better quality than FM. For the true audiophiles, nothing will do but the best which is HD radio.

It seems that we let Uber drivers get away with murder as far as song choices go. Uber passengers, it is found, never complain about any awful music chosen and seem to want to listen to new types of music. As above, it’s 75% who don’t complain.

Most drivers feel that they have to sing along with the music, about 84%. There was a tiny group, 15% who felt they could only sing with the radio if they were alone.

Either drivers feel they are not distracted by the music or have convinced themselves they are not distracted. 80% say they aren’t distracted by green lights or so on.

The Survey Said

Edgy music is more popular, and according to Quora channels such as NPR are listened to more than the conservative talk radio or even sports radio. One person surveyed expressed a preference for the local community college jazz station. The feedback to Quora referenced the need for happy lyrics rather than sad ones.

CDs?

Because the CD is now out of date it is probably best to listen to music through your mobile by connecting it to your auxiliary input jack (also called aux). There’s a slight difficulty in that you need to convert the sound to make it transmittable, turning it into analog signal which suits headphones.

USB may be taking over from aux connections. In this method the data transmitted is more unprocessed. You can store music in a flash drive for up to 512GB.

Bluetooth might be seen as an ideal way to listen to music in a vehicle but this could be a sales pitch? The audio compression used in Bluetooth is not as good as that employed by USB. Also Bluetooth enabled files will fill your phone up quicker.

The conclusion might be to stick with radio stations just for convenience. But remember, don’t get distracted.

Sources:

https://rainnews.com/survey-digital-listening-is-growing-in-the-car-as-radio-still-leads/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224774282_An_exploratory_survey_of_in-vehicle_music_listening

http://www.insideradio.com/free/infinite-dial-am-fm-owns-of-in-car-listening/article_8187904c-236c-11e8-b328-a3358a083fe1.html

Merry Christmas Part 3

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Christmas in the Car

With all the hassle of Christmas, trying to get everything cooked in the kitchen and making sure that you have all the presents correct, spending Christmas in a car certainly has some appeal. It’s evidently an old troupe in films and TV shows that you don’t spend Christmas at home with your folks, but spend it miles from anywhere, whether in your car or old shack. Why this is so common a theme that you almost think it’s preferable.

Generally, we decorate our houses, but lately decorating the car is a trend. It starts with the little things like reindeer antlers on the side windows, or bumper stickers with a holiday theme. Santa is my co-pilot or I brake for reindeer. But more and more you’ll see clever use of LEDs to mimic house holiday lighting. That’s not even including decorating for a big event like a parade or tailgate party.

A word of warning to add lights to your car without an additional power pack is probably not a good idea and will drain your battery. In most states, sticking lights on your car is technically illegal, although the police tend to turn a blind eye at Christmas if you refrain from anything blue and flashing. And if you are using your car on private land and not entering a public road it is completely legal.

ba327f52c97b66a7273a8bed456a82adIf you use lights with their own battery pack it prevents a drain on the car’s resources. The more lights you use obviously the bigger power pack that you require.

As well as using zip ties, you might also use magnets to attach decorations to the car (the car being mostly made of magnetic metals). You should only use lights which are suitable for outdoor use. It’s important that anything attached to the car is completely secure and cannot fall off.

When it comes to the aesthetics of the vehicle a holly wreath at the front creates a nice picture. If you have a spare tire on the front of back sometimes you might find a cover for it with a picture of a wreath on it already.

christmas-car-decorations-e1570768937901An inflatable Santa tied the hood doesn’t look very classy but is certainly original. Then there are those who have a complete tree on the roof of the car. It takes all sorts out there.

You can still choose to decorate a car that is stuck in the garage, by wrapping up in crepe paper for instance.

Lights inside the car also work but remember to take them down after Christmas as they are considered a distraction.

Link to Pics of Crazy Christmas Cars

If you are going to use lights on your car and drive the public roads you have two strategies for not being pulled over: use tiny lights or use all white lights. Either way don’t have them flash. Blue, as already mentioned, are reserved for police. Red, Yellow and Green lights can be mistaken for traffic signals.

The final thought on spending the holidays in your car is this: Do not drive if you’ve been drinking. Most people know this, but it is worth repeating.

 

Merry Christmas part 2

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Buying a car for Christmas

Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett (from the British Desk)

It seems that all retailers are obsessed with making sure that items arrive in time for Christmas, which shines a light on the number one concern of Christmas giving—having a gift appear at just the right time, not early or late. From a PR standpoint its smart to address the more concerning factor for online shoppers; will my gift arrive in time to give it away. Perhaps the only thing better would be not calling attention the chance, no matter how slim, that your gift might be delayed at all.

If you’ve been watching ads this year, you’ve been urged to buy a car for your loved ones…but when? The practical thing to do is to buy the car in early December so you can use it to do your other Christmas shopping. Or, to drive to and from relative’s houses for holiday parties. Can’t you just drive it off the forecourt in any case?

Factor #1 Timing

But no, people want a car to be delivered in order to give a shock value. It might be that you have already left it too late if you want it to happen, the 11th or 12th December if you search online for the two recommended dates to buy for a Christmas Day arrival. That’s assuming you don’t want to get a custom color. Now all you have to do is find someone willing to drive it to your house on Christmas day.

Factor #2 Price

The other difficulty with buying a car at the end of the year is that prices tend to go up at this period in order to meet sales targets. Most dealerships don’t run sales—technically they run end of year sales in early fall to make room for the next years models. Generally, it’s a quiet month for car sales and the forecourts are on the quiet side.

Factor #3 Weather

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…well not always, but car shopping isn’t fun in the rain either. You have to go outside to look at car lots. Sure, these days you can shop online, which would keep you warmer, but statistically most people who car shop use a mix of online and offline methods. It is always possible to haggle as the salespeople are probably yearning after more money, but recall dealerships aren’t desperate, so be realistic with your haggling.

Factor #4 Peace of Mind

So, you choose the cosy alternative, or maybe you do want to see what the local car sales offices have on their books, just for peace of mind? But it’s worth backing up a step and asking if you even want to take on the hassle of car shopping during an already hectic season. If you’ve got the bandwidth or you’re one of those individuals that likes car shopping then go for it, just don’t rush. Your spending a chunk of money and rushing will cost you. Take time to test drive. Have the car inspected by someone who works for you, like TireKickers.

And don’t forget to arrange financing. Banks can be slow this time of year.

Factor #5 The Extras

Just because you get the car to show up and surprise your loved one, doesn’t mean you’ve got it insured and good luck calling your agent on Christmas so you can legally drive it. Be sure to make these arrangements ahead of time and set them to take effect on the date of delivery.

Then you have all the other bills for this period, office parties, presents, heating bills, it might just be best to leave it? If you can live with your old one, that is.

 

Safety Season: Drive Alert

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The Holiday Season at The Kicker is Safety Season. Every Monday we’ll post about safety and include helpful information and tips to keep you and you’re family as safe as possible on the roads. If you’d like to find helpful links to all this information and more please check out our Safety Tab on thekickerblog.com (Drive Safe, Buying a Safe Car, After Accident Action Steps).

Advice to Young Drivers

Young drivers are perhaps more likely to push their luck, but they are certainly not alone in taking chances driving when they probably shouldn’t. The first reason is likely that we feel comfortable driving. We often drive the roads our routes we’re going to take and its not convenient to not drive home.

This time of year, in particular, people are driving tired. The days are short and we’re busy. People don’t sleep well with the sudden shift in temperature. Then add in the time change. The roads are filled with people who would probably admit that they’re not at their best…if they thought about it, which they aren’t.

Driving makes you drowsy.

The expanse of the open road. Mile after mile of nearly identical stretches of highway. The same song on the radio, again. Driving can make you tired for many reasons. Let’s examine a few:

Driving at night

This time of year we’re driving in the dark to and from work. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to feel well-rested and function at their fullest. Even if you get that, if you got it at a time you’re not used to sleeping it’s not quality sleep. If you’re driving at a time you’d normally be asleep your circadian rhythms will try to put you to sleep when it’s dark out.1

Long drives across different time zones

We notice jet lag with air travel, but holiday road trips still drive across time zones which is what it takes to knock your body clock out of sync. This sort of tiredness is extra dangerous because we might guard against driving on no sleep, or driving more than ten hours in a day, but it’s possible to wake up fresh and be jet lagged a few hours later. i-am-954818_1920

Driving alone

If there’s a chance you’ll get drowsy its a good idea to have another person their. Ideally this is someone you can trade off driving with, but even a non-driver can keep you engaged and help your brain stay active.

Good (or bad) vibrations

Some people generally get drowsy when driving, which is likely due to steady vibrations at low frequencies (according to RMIT in Australia2 ). If you are susceptible to this it can lull you into a state of relaxation within 15 minutes of steady driving. If you’re not normally cursed with this problem, you may experience it when other factors are present, like lack of sleep, or when taking a long road trip.

To combat the potential for drowsy driving, here are a few tips to share with your truck drivers to help them stay alert and focused on the road ahead.

Ways to stay awake while driving

1.  Stay hydrated – don’t only drink caffeine

While downing a cup of coffee or an energy drink may help you stay awake while driving for a short distance, over long trips, drinking plenty of water helps keep your body temperature cool and prevent you from feeling sluggish and drowsy.

2.  Pack healthy snacks

We’re not just being picky, candy bars, fast food and convenience store chips can make you spike and crash. Instead, think protein. (Almonds, sunflower seeds, and fruit.) Or pull over occasionally for a healthy meal that includes complex carbohydrates.

3.  Chew gum

Studies show chewing gum can help keep your brain active, although the exact mechanism for this is not clear. A study in 2012 noted that chewing gum heightened subjects’ heart rates and showed noticeable improvements in vigilance.3 Grab the sugarless variety and you can even help prevent cavities.

4.  Laugh

Listening to stand-up comedy may help keep your brain focused and eyes on the road. Plus laughing can’t hurt. Can’t stand stand stand-up comedy? Try an audiobook or a podcast to keep your mind engaged during a long drive.

5.  Smell essential oils

While this may sound out of the ordinary, a quick sniff of an invigorating oil like peppermint, grapefruit or even eucalyptus will help stimulate the brain’s nervous system to keep you alert without the caffeine or sugar rush & and it won’t make you need to stop and pee.

6.  Turn on that AC or roll down your window

Keeping the cold air flowing in your vehicle can help you from becoming too comfortable and nodding off.

7.  Moisturize those eyes

Staring at the road for long periods of time causes you to forget to blink! Keep eye drops on hand for when your eyes start to feel even the slightest bit dry. If you’re a contact lens wearer, always pack an extra pair in case you need to make a quick change.

8.  Sing!

This is where a great playlist comes in handy. Don’t just include songs that pump you up. Include ones you know you can karaoke to.   Here’s a link to a road trip mix the Kicker compiled.

9.  Catch your Zs

It may seem obvious but get 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep the night before a holiday road trip.4 With all the planning for a trip its a discipline to get to bed on time the night before. It’s better to arrive late than not arrive at all. This gives your body and mind a chance to repair itself and unwind so you fall into a deep, peaceful sleep.

10.  Practice positivism

Studies have shown that people who approach life with a ‘glass half full’ mentality often run down slower than pessimists.5 A podcast from a motivational speaker might get you back on track.

When all else fails – see a doctor!

If you often find yourself nodding off at the wheel, see a doctor. You could have a condition that requires attention. Micro-napping can be a symptom of sleep apnea which is a condition the severely impacts your health when not treated. Narcolepsy is another concern.

Sources

1 http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

2 https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2018/jul/vibrations-cars-drivers-sleepy

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22061430 (2011) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938414002868?via%3Dihub (2012)

4 http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf

5 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12831914_A_Neuropsychological_Theory_of_Positive_Affect_and_Its_Influence_on_Cognition

Can the Solar Car Take Off?

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Credit Lightyear

Op-Ed by P. Wimsett

In a recent Wired article, the point was made that solar powered cars are a bit of a romantic fantasy. You can’t be rid of trips to the charger (or petrol pumps). There is just a limit to amount of energy you can get from the Sun.

The use of solar power roofs (such as those introduced by Hyandai, for instance) seem like an obvious idea, but for now it’s just this season’s fad? They can help the battery, but you don’t as yet get enough juice from the sun to power an electric car for as much use as an average driver needs.

Toyota is claiming 1.15 horsepower from their car-mounted panels, which is all very well and good, but when the amount needed is 122 horsepower…1.15 (less than 1%) feels like a drop in the ocean. The only alternative is to park your car in the son for a week or two between uses.

Sex Appeal

Another problem is that you need to streamline the car to put solar panels on it. There is how a car should look, and there is what the car buyer expects an electric vehicle to look like—and then there’s having to radically modify the design to accommodate solar panels. Some of these designs achieve an eccentric look and despite a certain novelty the design doesn’t improve the car in any other way, like safety, comfort, durability and so on.

Looking at the sales copy for the solar car, “Lightyear One,” what comes through is their mission to create clean mobility. The allude to the idea that they believe a solar car really work as efficiently as a normal car, while also reducing emissions, but it’s not long on any other the other benefits a normal car add includes.

According to the same add copy it doesn’t follow convention, but “only the Laws of Physics.” Except:

  1. The law of physics aren’t a convention or cultural construct
  2. A car that succeeds at physics but fails at transportation isn’t a car.

The brochure sounds good but just won’t sell. Thus, solar cars are marketed to the militant environmentalist and virtually no one else.

We can give them the benefit of the doubt and choose to believe the advertisement is meant to indicate that they started from scratch?

The heart of the Lightyear “solution” can be summed up in two words–bigger battery packs. Unfortunately, it’s still hard to get a good result. Lightyear One boasts a range between 500 and 800 kilometres, which isn’t that far at all. Consumers are right to be skeptical.Lightyear_One-01@2x

As well as solar power the Lightyear One has been designed to operate aerodynamically, which makes it use less energy. Perhaps that helps to compensate for all the weight of those extra batteries.

There must be a great deal of common sense applied when you create a new car and the designers should remember this. To be successful the car must be eco-friendly AND user friendly.

The argument is this, consumer tastes must change (read lower your expectations). At least for the short run, consumers want green products, but we don’t want them changed in any major way.

You can applause-worthy their ideals Lightyear has fallen a bit short of the dream product—an “off-grid” vehicle—and for the time being consumer sentiment is clear; novelty is great but takes a back seat to utility. When a solar generator makes a more sizable contribution to how the car runs it will be an adequate selling point.