Tag Archives: safety

Wishing For A White Christmas? Then The Best Snow Tires Will Come In Handy

Almost everybody has at one time experienced terrible driving conditions where they skidded on black ice or couldn’t see through the snowfall where snow tires allowed him or her to arrive safely.

Assuming you don’t read Suomi, the language of Finland that sounds like a mashup of Dutch and Klingon, there are few road signs you will understand when you’re 186 miles above the Arctic Circle. But one announcing that Murmansk, Russia, is 188 miles away gets your attention, reminding you just how far north you are. Murmansk is a Cold War relic on the Arctic Ocean—to Soviet submarine warfare what Cape Canaveral is to spaceflight. These days, the Russian Northern Fleet occasionally moors nearby.

Then another sign we can read pops up on the left: “Test World Oy.” Oh yeah, we’re here to test some winter tires. Murmansk will have to wait. We have a cold war of our own to deal with.

The Test World Mellatracks proving grounds is a facility that offers year-round testing on natural snow, as opposed to the man-made stuff. During winter months it operates like any other automotive proving grounds, but with frozen canals and snow-packed fields standing in for the concrete and asphalt you find at more-temperate venues. In early spring, Test World stockpiles snow, filling its two buildings with about two feet of packed, natural white stuff, enough to last the entire indoor-testing season. We headed up to the refrigerated covered complex in late summer, as we wanted this story to appear in time for you to take advantage of its findings for the winter soon to be upon us.

The Indoor 1 building is a 525-foot-by-52-foot pole barn of packed snow that includes a lane of Zamboni-maintained ice. Indoor 2 contains a 0.2-mile, 30-foot-wide squiggly handling ­circuit. Both buildings have cooling circuits in the floor and chilled forced-air ductwork. On our test day, the inside thermometer read -11, as in degrees Celsius, or 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

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How Can Your Car Help You To Drive

Car companies, now focus on helping drivers increase their driving experience by adding more features to their new automotive creations, but few drivers know what each and everyone of them are, if they were not mentioned in the commercial how will you know they are there.

While automakers are spending billions of dollars loading up their vehicles with technologies of all kinds, many owners are not using them and would rather use their smartphones instead, according to the first-ever J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report.

The market research firm found that at least 20 percent of new vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features that DrIVE measured. For the consumer, this means they are paying for something they are not using, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power.

The report looked at driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership and was based on responses from more than 4,200 owners and lessees of 2015-model-year vehicles.

Features that owners did not use

43 percent—In-vehicle concierge feature such as OnStar.
38 percent—Mobile connectivity, such as a factory installed Wi-Fi hot spot.
35 percent—Automatic parking system, which aids in either parallel or perpendicular parking with limited interaction by the driver.
33 percent—Head-up display.
32 percent—Built-in apps such as Pandora.

“Tired and impatient, car buyers just want to get out of the dealership, often without becoming fully oriented with all of their new car’s features,” says Tom Mutchler, Consumer Reports’ automotive human factors engineer. “But many high-tech features aren’t immediately obvious or intuitive, especially when trying to decipher their use for the first time when driving.”

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Automakers Are Unable To Go Further With Connected Vehicles Until They Are No Longer Able To Be Hacked

Connectivity in an automotive makes it easier for the driver but also creates certain risks as well.


Connected vehicles hold tremendous potential for improving road safety while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and road congestion through data sharing over the next 10–15 years.


Unfortunately, that potential may never be realized unless there is a dramatic change in the way automakers and suppliers handle cyber security. The recently revealed security vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) products with Uconnect telematics systems demonstrates some of the flaws in the current landscape.


Wired.com recently ran a report highlighting a flaw in the Uconnect telematics system discovered by noted white hat security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. The pair worked out how to remotely connect to the vehicle’s cellular modem, a key component of Uconnect and all other telematics systems. From there, they were able to access a port in the vehicle network that provided entry to vehicle control systems, including steering, braking, and other functions. The article noted that Miller and Valasek notified FCA and waited until a fix was developed before publicly disclosing the flaw. So far, so good.

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Could Technology Keep Our Roads and Highways Collision-Free?

In the coming months, dealership showrooms will be welcoming new and innovative models that can be equipped with advanced technologies that could save lives. These new safety technologies will take control of a vehicle in certain situations. This technology has mainly been confined to high-end, optioned-up premium and luxury vehicles and will now be more available to the average consumer.

The 2015 Toyota Camry, for example, will be available with adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance systems that can brake to stop or slow the car if a crash is imminent, technologies now offered primarily on Lexus models. By 2017, Toyota plans to make those and other near-autonomous technologies available across its namesake brand.

Other automakers are moving in the same direction. Ford’s 2015 Edge crossover will have a technology package that includes more than a dozen sensors around the car: cameras, radar, ultrasonic.

Then, in the following two to three years, those kinds of technologies will become more capable and likely fall in price. In that time frame, General Motors plans to launch a Cadillac with its Super Cruise system, which can take control of steering, acceleration and braking in stop-and-go traffic or at higher speeds.

Not far behind: automated emergency braking, which will stop a car anytime it’s headed for a low- or moderate-speed frontal crash, whether or not the cruise control is engaged.

The emerging consensus among industry experts and executives gathered here for last week’s Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress was that by the time today’s adolescents start buying their first new cars, the term “fender bender” is going to be on its way to obsolescence.

“A collision-free society is within reach,” Frank Paluch, president of Honda’s U.S. r&d arm, said in a presentation at the ITS conference.

Read the full story here.

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