The How And Why Of Airbags

Why exactly were airbags invented? In 1952 John Hetrick suffered a crash in Pennsylvania after avoiding a deer and collided with a large rock. He wondered if cars could come with a safety cushion. He created a design on his kitchen table which sounds romantic but was probably just somewhere he went to design things.

Crash Detection

The first crash detection system was invented in 1967 by Allen K Breed, an electromechanical system which involved a ball-in-tube inflating an airbag via a magnet.


Lyndon B Johnson said in a speech that all cars should have airbags as early as 1969. Despite this, it seems that airbags have been far from top priority for driver’s safety.

When a few of them were rolled out in the 1970s they ultimately weren’t seen as customer friendly until the 1990s. This is because using an airbag was likely to lead to secondary injuries until a less rigid version was created in 1991 which was safer to use.

A 1973 Chevrolet Impala had driver side airbags. They only lasted until 1977, the manufacturers saying that hardly any consumers were interested. Ford and GM would lobby against airbags as both unfeasible and impractical for a number of years. The first brand to make airbags standard from 1988 was Chrysler but they were very much in the minority.

Another Annoying Factor: Sensor Lights

There are many reasons why the sensor light will come on, one of them is driving through a ford or a flood. Whatever the reason, it should be checked out. The light may be red or yellow and may be flashing, depending on the car make. The location of the sensor also varies.

There was a time when manufacturers insisted that airbags should be replaced after 15 years, which still seems a reasonable amount of time when you think about it, but this is no longer the case. However, it is more important to check sensors on older air bags as wrong deployment can create injury and cause accidents.

Deployment Control

Exactly when and how airbags are deployed depends on the ECU (electronic control unit) which monitors the type of collision, the angle of impact and severity. A special algorithm works out if the factors for deployment have been met and which airbags should be deployed. It works by pyrotechnics, that is a small explosion, powered by backup battery.

Modern Airbags

Up to 10 airbags can be fitted in a modern vehicle, the most common being the driver and passenger. The principle of the airbag is to absorb energy and they are considered passive restraints in that they are not activated by the passenger.

Cars don’t especially need side airbags, but many manufacturers fit them anyway. Engineers are always coming up with new types of airbags such as rear curtain airbags and far-side airbags.

They still aren’t without incident, some people have been killed by airbags, mostly shorter people as they have to sit closer to the steering wheel. Unfortunately, these problems have yet to be resolved as of time of writing.

What’s News Truck Driver Shortage

Vaccine Mandate Threatens Major Trucking Disruption, Industry Insiders Say


President Joe Biden ordered his administration to mandate vaccines for private companies with over 100 employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was charged with developing the rule, and the Office of Budget and Management is currently reviewing it. The review process can take as long as 90 days.

Most truck companies have six trucks or fewer, according to the American Trucking Associations.

For mandate-affected companies, Biden’s decision may drive away employees at a time when America needs them most. The American Trucking Associations estimates that America needs 80,000 more truckers to meet transportation needs.

Recently, supply chain crises have left many Americans in need.

Polls by trucking publications Commercial Carrier Journal and OverDrive indicate that up to 30 percent of truckers will seriously consider quitting if required to vaccinate. If they quit, the consequences for America may be massive. US Transport estimates that 70 percent of American freight goes by truck.

Link to Original Story

Robot Cars

It seems somewhat of a nerd’s dream, but how likely is it to see a robot driving a car? We have the idea of small robotic toy cars and larger self-driving cars, so you may have thought that it was about twenty or so years in the future? But let’s take it slowly.

Why are robots seen as so different from an AI self-driving car?

There’s definitely something about them not looking human despite the fact that robots can look like anything.

There are a few self-defeating aspects and somewhat silly parts about the principles here. How would you even begin to get a robot to open the door or wind down the windows? But assume that you could get a walking robot in the driving seat and driving, what happens next?

You have a unit you can transfer from car to car for one. You can also see the driver – though you could say the same with a dummy, or a hologram, or even someone on the front seat who isn’t driving? Instead of improving the car you “only” need to improve the robot, rather than the self-drive of any specific car.

It’s also something which is using the steering wheel, so you still need the “old” or conventional parts of the car, not just the steering wheel but also the clutch, the pedals, the horn, whatever.

Another helpful factor is that the robot is able to leave the car, which it is possible to utilize by getting the robot to drive in enemy territory, make the robot leave the car and then blow the car up.

Now the bad points.

Just as with a car a robot can fail, it would need replacement bits. And how many robot technicians live near you?

Could a robot even sit in a human driver’s seat? More likely you’re looking into a whole new, more expensive interior.

No one really wants to see a robot driving a car, we only think we do.

There’s also the possibility of hacking if you’re talking about driving a car from afar. It is after all a computer.

How easy is it to teach a robot to drive? Can it respond to stimuli? Can it avoid obstacles? There’s even the weight problem when the robot attempts to move from car to car.

It’s also a painstaking process; it’s just quicker to build the AI tech into the car itself. But could this be seen as old fashioned in the future as all previous ways of driving are dropped.

So it’s a Terrible Idea? Well…Not exactly

Amazingly though, the start-up company IVObility developed a robot driver which saw the road ahead in 2020. Despite being lightweight enough, resembling a kind of stick figure, it wasn’t a robot as such since it wasn’t autonomous and relied on remote control, so more of a magic trick. It should be able to build a robot which learns from demonstration, but we’re not there yet.

The robot which drives a car may unfortunately lead to life-or-death situations. This is the true worry about the whole process.

Driving Myths – Fact or Fiction?

There are a great number of myths about what is permissible behind the wheel. This piece aims to set the record straight.

To start with, it is not illegal to eat or drink at the wheel, but it is inadvisable. You need to be able to concentrate. It is also not illegal to have an interior light on while driving but it’s fairly distracting. A police officer may want you to turn it off, though they are unlikely to stop you for it.

It’s not illegal to drive with headphones or earphones on, though it may distract you from the sounds of the road.

Many drivers feel that a speed camera only catches you if it flashes. But there’s only a few types of speed cameras which work that way. The driver is merely attempting to reassure themself that things are fine, but it may not be.

It’s not so well that you will get done even if you go slightly over the speed limit. This is rather debatable, you are supposedly allowed to drive at 10% over the speed limit plus an additional 2mph. It’s best not to as you could still get a fine or penalty points.

Another speeding rule is that a learner driver can’t be charged as they only have a provisional license. In reality though points on your provisional license became points on your main license.

Because too many drivers are stuck at the lights there is a myth about these too; that you can go through a light if you let through an emergency vehicle. Sorry, no it’s too dangerous.

There’s some rule suggesting that you can’t get round a roundabout three times in a row but again it’s wrong. As long as you obey the traffic laws, you’re fine, but be sure to obey the highway rules.

As for what people feel is legal when it’s not is flashing your lights at someone to let them out. It’s possibly too distracting for other road users.

It’s not legal either to pull over to the side of an actual freeway to check a map or phone, even if it is a minor offence. It just puts you into a potentially dangerous situation.

A minor offense also is to drive a car which has snow on the roof, though on a cold day many people may be tempted to let it melt.

Many people believe that tailgating – not leaving sufficient space between themselves and the driver in front – is not an offense, though many would be annoyed if it happened to them. The actual space depends on the traffic conditions, the weather and so on. It is always best to be reasonable and observant to other road users.

Yet another thing people don’t know they are doing wrong is keeping to the middle lane. The problem here is that it can cause the traffic to seize up. Sticking to the inside lane and using the other lanes to other lanes is a better way to go, or at least more legal.

Now own up, how many of these did you believe were illegal? Or conversely thought were okay?


SSC Tualara

Hypercars are the most superior and high performance, not in one specific country, but also in the world. Very few cars can qualify as hypercars as they only make up 1% of the car market.

Presumably supreme models have always been with us, but the first one modelled as such was the Lamborghini P400.

The factors that make up the hypercar are the level of acceleration, rarity, handling, top speed, appearance and price. But there is always debate on whether a specific supercar is a hypercar.

A super car must be street legal and have a limited production run. To be a hypercar it must also have the ability to reach 300mph. It seems there was a debate on which was the first car to reach 300mph.

It is believed that SSC Tualara reached 331 mph on a highway in Nevada. But did it? Sceptics seemed to cast doubt as other sources said 316 mph. Even this record began to unravel in June 2021 when it was revealed that the car driven by Oliver Webb only reached 282.9 due to mechanical problems.


A further attempt to beat the record took place in Florida during April 2021 only to end in a crash. The damage was quoted to be “merely cosmetic”, i.e. only affected the outer bodywork. Still, it remains a powerful car thanks to its 1,750 horsepower and V8 engine.


The type of power that the hypercar uses has also changed. They have tended to be full hybrids, or part hybrids. A part hybrid is a vehicle which uses an electric motor to assist, but it doesn’t just rely on the electric motor.

SF90 Stradale


There are three models of Ferrari which can be described as hypercars: the LaFerrari, the LaFerrari Apeta and the SF90 Stradale. They are all iconic models of the Ferrari brand, so let’s take them one by one.

The LaFerrari comes equipped with a 150CV engine with a maximum power of 963CV. It originated from nine different concept designs in 2011 until finally the choices were narrowed down. The finished design was exhibited at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. In the three years of production only 499 cars were produced.

LaFerrari Aperta

The LaFerrari Aperta had a certain carbon hardtop with the radiators having a slightly changed position in order to alter the airflow and as a result the aerodynamics. When the first car was revealed in 2016 such was the demand that all the models had been bought out by private buyers.

The SF90 Stradale has a twin turbocharged engine with a maximum of 986 horsepower, including both the electric and traditional engine. You can unfortunately only drive in electric mode for 15 miles. The online sales pitch makes a big thing of the “forged wheels” (as they call them) with rotor blade hubs.

As well as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti, other hypercar makers include McLaren and Porsche. If you are a member of the elite obtaining a hypercar is surely one way to prove it to people, possibly the most visual way ever.

The Love of Three Wheeled Cars

Is a three-wheeler a car, or a bike? It depends on who you ask.

Designs of three wheeled cars vary, some are similar to motorized tricycles, some are more van-like, there are also those which are unmotorized as such.

How do cars stay upright? Why don’t they just fall to one side? They have the plus point of lower production costs, fewer parts to buy and less time to assemble, though the chassis must surely cost more than a traditional chassis.

Due to the CanAm Spider, people think three wheeled cars are a comparatively recent invention, but they have a long history.

Historically, the big reason for a three wheeled vehicle is to avoid special taxes levied on cars. And that continued to be the case for many centuries, at least in the UK.

Early Three Wheeled Cars

The first three wheeled car was powered by steam. It was hard to manoeuvre and crashed into a wall; not surprising as the intricacies of driving were a mystery at this point. It did however have a poor distribution of weight.

Morgan 3 Wheeler

Karl Benz invented the first motor car with three wheels but only 25 were sold between 1886 and 1893. It could be thought of an idea before its time.

Henry Morgan used a two-cylinder Peugeot engine and although he originally wished to manufacture a motorcycle he decided instead to turn it into a three wheeled car. It was first shown in Olympia in London during 1910.

There were a number of teething troubles, the public was looking for a vehicle which had more than one seat and Morgan had designed a one seat car. Unbowed, he went back to basics and produced a two-seater three wheeled car for 1911 which in turn was sold by Harrod’s department store.

Reliant Robyn

The Bond Minicar and the BMW Isetta were produced just after the second world war. Most drivers preferred the Mini as a smaller vehicle but there was always a niche market of buyers. Isetta is a bubble car company originating in Italy but other countries such as Argentina, France and UK built it under license. The company originally manufactured refrigerators.

The Campaigna T-Rex is a sleek Canadian car powered by a BMW engine. It first hit the market in 1996. Its balance is maintained by having two strong wheels in front. It produces 160hp, not bad for such a small vehicle.

Polaris Slingshot

The story of the Reliant Robin originated in the work of a bicycle company (Raleigh). The design of the car was created by Ogle Design, a famous car and transport design consultancy company which also created Triumph motorcycles and Chopper bikes. Although the company was founded in 1935 it didn’t produce a car until 1952. The last three wheeled car was produced in December 2011.

Next, we have the Polaris Slingshot which uses a four cylinder engine sourced by General Motors. This one has 173 horsepower, the first model unveiled in 2014. Should you wish to open it up it is helpful to know that it has a 5-speed manual transmission. It is marketed as a three wheeled motorcycle, rather than a car.

It does seem somewhat of a shame that three wheeled vehicles haven’t yet passed into the mainstream despite the many fans of these vehicles.

Cars and Headaches

What causes headaches in a car? Some kids get headaches in a car watching TV or using tablets. The new car smell could start a headache, which does seem unfortunate if you’re lucky to be driving a new car.

Flickering lights may cause migraines – these are generally found when driving late in the afternoon or at night. A similar night-time concern is eyestrain. But driving in the bright sunny hours could also cause a headache, more specifically driving towards the sun’s glare which can be prevented by sunglasses. The beeping of horns and the rush of trucks doesn’t help either.


Even worse, a specific type of migraine – hemiplegic migraine – causes a migraine on one side of the face. It is actually forbidden to drive or use machinery if you are prone to hemiplegic migraine.

Tinnitus, an ear-ringing sound, may affect your ability to drive.

Changing altitudes could also trigger a migraine.

Nausea and vomiting are associated with headaches and can be dangerous for drivers behind the wheel. Your vision may also be affected leading to blurred vision, seeing spots or not being able to see objects at the side of your vision which you normally would.

A little-known fact is that the posture of how you sit when driving can also cause headaches, such as not having your shoulders pulled back. This can put pressure at the top of the spine. A “posterior headache” or a headache at the back of the brain is common among truck drivers as the seat and inflexible kind, so it is better to adjust it for your height and make it as comfortable as possible. Having stretches at the usual rest stops can help prevent this condition.

A tension headache is specific to people who drive for long periods, especially on a cold day. It’s a dull head pain, different from a migraine. It’s not unusual to get facial pain.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Headaches

To reduce the chance of a migraine you should find time to plan ahead, know where you are going. To keep the pressure down, stick all your travel details together such as maps, booking info and so on. Eat well, no processed food, find a good source of protein, fat and fiber. Hunger means a decrease in blood sugar levels. There may be obstacles doing this at usual rest stops. Watch out for time zone differences too.

As well as food it’s a good idea to have a bottle of water handy as it can prevent being dehydrated and this can lead to a migraine. Bad drivers tend to clench their teeth or grind their teeth while in tough driving situations. But this tends to cause tension in the face and then headache.

Don’t overdo it, when not driving it’s best to take a break, especially if it’s a long journey.

If you do feel a migraine or headache coming on, pull off the road. If the migraine continues for some time – and unfortunately some of the worst headaches can continue for 3 days – get a friend to pick you up if it’s at all possible.

It’s always the best route to remain safe on the road.

Off-roading – Dealing with Emergencies

What happens when off-roaders get into difficulty? There are various problems that could occur.

Before you start off:

It is vital to tell someone where you are going and also when you believe you are returning, just for safety’s sake.

To reduce the damage of any off-roading exercise it is best practice to lower the tire pressure before you begin off-roading and get ready with the spare tire or the repair kit if something bad happens.

It’s a good idea to find an official off-road driving course, or “space” to practice.

There are other changes that will improve your vehicle such as changing your front fender and back fender to stronger examples. One thing you may not expect to need is a winch, but this is vital if you get stuck. It’s important that you get a new enough winch that it won’t rust up otherwise it’s no use to you.

Crossing Water

Rivers can prove tricky – is the bottom solid enough or is it a mixture of shallow and deep water? If it’s the latter, then it’s best not to cross.

Beware of traversing water that has strong currents, because even 4x4s aren’t cut out for them. Always move slowly through any water. When you leave the river check that the brakes haven’t been damaged. Most people don’t know that if you traverse through cold water you will need to change the oil.

If you plan to go into deep water, you will need to protect the car’s radiator somehow. This is one of many reasons why it’s dangerous for a novice to do so.

Hi / Low Gearing

The 4×4 HD High gives a day-to-day speed as well as splendid torque or traction. The 4×4 HD Low as you’d expect is low end power but is better if you are traveling long distances.

It is hard to understand what locking differential is – it’s to do with moving the right and left wheels at the same time. A differential allows your wheels to turn at a different rate which makes cornering a lot smoother when your tires are gripping asphalt. By locking the differential in a 4×4 you force the tires to turn at the same speed which can increase traction since a tire will continue to spin even when it’s broken lose from gripping the ground beneath it.

Some incidents with the transmission perhaps through wear and tear may occur, causing you to hear noises when you try to shift gears.

Undercarriage and Tires

People forget that the undercarriage, the area under the car, could get damaged. Bits are liable to leak, and parts could fall off. You may also be faced with a strange rattle that you need to investigate.

After going through various rocks and ditches your wheels may misalign. You should let go of your steering wheel and see if it pulls to one side. Driving over rocks may cause specific damages including scratches to the bodywork. It may be advisable to get stronger tires, it is best to talk to an expert.

In fact they make tires for rock climbing that are very different than tires for mudding. If you know you’ll be mainly doing one or another you should buy the best kind of tire for that use.

Off-Road Courtesy

It is always a good idea, if you see an off roader changing a tire, that you offer to help. Don’t worry, you won’t be running into other off roaders all that often. But it’s good karma all the same, and it’s an accepted courtesy among 4×4 enthusiasts.