Archive for October, 2015|Monthly archive page

Full size Ram SUV under study

Ram is thinking about building a large SUV to take away some Chevy Suburban sales, according to Fiat Chrysler (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne. He was speaking during a conference call, and noted that a large SUV was made possible both by an upcoming redesign, which could lower engineering costs of making the variant, and by having a higher-capacity plant to build them in.

At the moment, General Motors dominates the large SUV market, and competitors such as Ford and Toyota have a small slice of the leftovers. It is unlikely that Ram would manage 50,000 sales per year, much less 100,000, but that could be enough if engineering costs were kept down and it was made on the Ram 1500’s assembly line.

This would be the first Ram SUV; to date, all SUVs have been branded as Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler.

Mr. Marchionne also said that they would be exploring “some other segments” for the Ram.

Large SUVs are currently very profitable for GM, but part of that may be due to GM’s dominance; if volume went down, profitability would likely follow. However, with over 400,000 large-SUV sales expected for 2015, along with stable gasoline prices, chances are that the market for large SUVs will grow and GM’s volumes will not shrink. One wildcard is Ford’s upcoming aluminum-bodied Expedition.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2015/10/full-size-ram-suv-under-study-30450

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Lights Out? Check Vehicle Lighting

Fall is here and its arrival means fewer hours of daylight and upcoming holiday travel. Before hitting the road, it is a wise idea to make sure your vehicle’s lights are in proper working order, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Lights play a critical role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so inspect all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out.”

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The vehicle lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:

Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.

Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.

Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

“Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers,” said White. “Keeping your vehicle’s lights properly cared for and replacing wiper blades periodically will help ensure a safer ride, keeping the road ahead well-lit and giving you a clear view.”

For more information on vehicle lighting, service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and tips to drive smart and save money, view the Car Care Council’s free digital Car Care Guide online at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/10/lights-check-vehicle-lighting/

Don’t Be Spooked By Basic Car Care

While Halloween is a scary time of year, vehicle owners don’t need to be spooked about basic car care. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends motorists follow a preventative vehicle maintenance plan to help take away the fear of unexpected breakdowns and frightening repair costs.

“Getting an oil change should never be scary; having wipers replaced should not be horrifying; and asking a professional automotive technician questions should not make someone shake in fear,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “With a quick visit to http://www.carcare.org, motorists will find free online tools from the Car Care Council to help take the fear out of auto care.”

The Car Care Council’s online custom service schedule and email reminder service can help car owners be more responsible and remember to include auto care in their busy schedules. This easy-to-use resource is free-of-charge and can be personalized to help make auto care more convenient and economical. The council also has a general service schedule that can be printed and followed. Drivers should be sure to consult their vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations by the carmaker.

Motorists can order a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide. Available in English and Spanish, the popular guide uses easy-to-understand language and includes descriptions of major vehicle systems, questions to ask a professional technician, and a checklist to remind drivers what vehicle systems need to be maintained and when service or repair should be performed. Special sections on fuel economy and environmental awareness show drivers how to get better gas mileage and make their vehicle more environmentally friendly.

The Car Care Council’s video entitled “Auto Service and Repair: What to Expect” helps drivers become more comfortable with the auto service and repair process, providing valuable information on such topics as finding the right auto repair facility, what to expect at the shop and what questions to ask. The video also covers the real truth about consumer rights and the manufacturer’s warranty. View the video online at http://www.carcare.org/2012/01/auto-repair-shop-video/.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/10/dont-spooked-basic-car-care/

How to Choose a Drivers Training Program

Whether you’re a teen driver, an adult ready to get your first drivers license, picking the right driver’s training program is nothing to scoff at. Learning how to drive properly and safely takes time and practice, therefore finding the best course and driving school — that is also state-approved — should be of the utmost of importance.

There are a few questions you should ask yourself when you start researching which type of driving lessons and training you should enroll into:

How much can I afford for this training?
How quickly do I want to complete the program?
How do I find a state-approved instructor and driving school?
Do I want one-on-one training, or can I work in a group with multiple students?
Is it possible to complete the classroom instruction online?

What to Expect in Driver’s Training School

Drivers Education

Most states require that every teen driver enroll into some sort of state-approved driver’s education course. Some states require that adults working toward their first driver license enroll, too.

Depending on your age, this training will require you to be in a classroom atmosphere to learn the ins and outs of driving safely. Sometimes, you can take the classroom instruction part of these courses online, but even if your state allows that, chances are you still must complete behind-the-wheel training with an instructor when you’ll learn and practice actual driving skills.

Driver Improvement

Driver improvement courses are a different kind of drivers training. Typically, these courses are designed to help drivers refresh their knowledge or even acquire knowledge they didn’t have before.

People enroll in traffic schools for numerous reasons, including to:

Lower auto insurance rates.
Satisfy a traffic ticket (or have points reduced or the ticket dismissed).
Sharpen driving knowledge for personal reasons.

Generally, these classes don’t require actual driving lessons; rather, they focus on knowledge of driving rules and regulations.

Tips on Finding the Best Drivers Training

Tips for finding the best drivers training for you depends on the reason you need a training course, but overall look for courses that:

Meet your state’s requirements. Unless you’re taking the course for personal reasons, chances are you must choose a course approved by whichever entity you’re working with (the state, the court, your auto insurance provider, etc.).
Fit your budget. You CAN shop around for driver training courses.
Work with your schedule. You might not have much wiggle room if you’re taking a course to get your driver’s license, but if you’re doing it for court or insurance purposes, you might find approved online courses that let you work at your own pace during times that are convenient for you.

Don’t forget to search for reviews. You can find these online and by talking to other drivers.

Read more at: http://www.dmv.org/articles/how-to-choose-a-drivers-training-program/

Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill

When it comes to automotive technology, self-driving cars are all the rage. Standard features on many ordinary cars include intelligent cruise control, parallel parking programs, and even automatic overtaking—features that allow you to sit back, albeit a little uneasily, and let a computer do the driving.

So it’ll come as no surprise that many car manufacturers are beginning to think about cars that take the driving out of your hands altogether (see “Drivers Push Tesla’s Autopilot Beyond Its Abilities”). These cars will be safer, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient than their manual counterparts. And yet they can never be perfectly safe.

And that raises some difficult issues. How should the car be programmed to act in the event of an unavoidable accident? Should it minimize the loss of life, even if it means sacrificing the occupants, or should it protect the occupants at all costs? Should it choose between these extremes at random? (See also “How to Help Self-Driving Cars Make Ethical Decisions.”)

The answers to these ethical questions are important because they could have a big impact on the way self-driving cars are accepted in society. Who would buy a car programmed to sacrifice the owner?

So can science help? Today, we get an answer of sorts thanks to the work of Jean-Francois Bonnefon at the Toulouse School of Economics in France and a couple of pals. These guys say that even though there is no right or wrong answer to these questions, public opinion will play a strong role in how, or even whether, self-driving cars become widely accepted.

So they set out to discover the public’s opinion using the new science of experimental ethics. This involves posing ethical dilemmas to a large number of people to see how they respond. And the results make for interesting, if somewhat predictable, reading. “Our results provide but a first foray into the thorny issues raised by moral algorithms for autonomous vehicles,” they say.

Here is the nature of the dilemma. Imagine that in the not-too-distant future, you own a self-driving car. One day, while you are driving along, an unfortunate set of events causes the car to head toward a crowd of 10 people crossing the road. It cannot stop in time but it can avoid killing 10 people by steering into a wall. However, this collision would kill you, the owner and occupant. What should it do?

One way to approach this kind of problem is to act in a way that minimizes the loss of life. By this way of thinking, killing one person is better than killing 10.

But that approach may have other consequences. If fewer people buy self-driving cars because they are programmed to sacrifice their owners, then more people are likely to die because ordinary cars are involved in so many more accidents. The result is a Catch-22 situation.

Bonnefon and co are seeking to find a way through this ethical dilemma by gauging public opinion. Their idea is that the public is much more likely to go along with a scenario that aligns with their own views.

So these guys posed these kinds of ethical dilemmas to several hundred workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to find out what they thought. The participants were given scenarios in which one or more pedestrians could be saved if a car were to swerve into a barrier, killing its occupant or a pedestrian.

At the same time, the researchers varied some of the details such as the actual number of pedestrians that could be saved, whether the driver or an on-board computer made the decision to swerve and whether the participants were asked to imagine themselves as the occupant or an anonymous person.

The results are interesting, if predictable. In general, people are comfortable with the idea that self-driving vehicles should be programmed to minimize the death toll.

This utilitarian approach is certainly laudable but the participants were willing to go only so far. “[Participants] were not as confident that autonomous vehicles would be programmed that way in reality—and for a good reason: they actually wished others to cruise in utilitarian autonomous vehicles, more than they wanted to buy utilitarian autonomous vehicles themselves,” conclude Bonnefon and co.

And therein lies the paradox. People are in favor of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives—as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.

Bonnefon and co are quick to point out that their work represents the first few steps into what is likely to be a fiendishly complex moral maze. Other issues that will need to be factored into future thinking are the nature of uncertainty and the assignment of blame.

Bonnefon and co say these issues raise many important questions: “Is it acceptable for an autonomous vehicle to avoid a motorcycle by swerving into a wall, considering that the probability of survival is greater for the passenger of the car, than for the rider of the motorcycle? Should different decisions be made when children are on board, since they both have a longer time ahead of them than adults, and had less agency in being in the car in the first place? If a manufacturer offers different versions of its moral algorithm, and a buyer knowingly chose one of them, is the buyer to blame for the harmful consequences of the algorithm’s decisions?”

These problems cannot be ignored, say the team: “As we are about to endow millions of vehicles with autonomy, taking algorithmic morality seriously has never been more urgent.”

Read more at: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/542626/why-self-driving-cars-must-be-programmed-to-kill/

Plymouth – Wicked Halloween Run: Sunday, October 25th, 2015

Wicked Halloween Run TV Video Gallery:
http://michiganrunner.tv/2014wicked_halloween/

LARGEST HALLOWEEN RUN IN STATE

  • 2015 Wicked Halloween Run: 10K, 5K Run/Walk, Monster Mile ~
    Welcome to our Wicked Halloween Run – a festive race brought to you by
    the Kona Running Co. Sign up and wear a Costume!  A Halloween-themed
    annual race event you will not want to miss because you will experience
    a spooktacular wicked good time!
  • 2015 10K / 5K Finisher Medals
  • 2015 Tech Shirt*:  Long-sleeve unisex “Tech Shirt” for entrants.  Tech shirts ARE GUARANTEED to everyone !
  • NEW ! – Each registrant ALSO receives a pair of Road Runner Sports Drymax socks!
  • Wicked Double:
    Participate in 10K & 5K; must run in the 1st Start Wave of 10K
    & receive a Tech Shirt, a pair of Road Runner Sports Drymax
    socks, 10K Medal, Double Finisher medal; limited to 500
  • Shuttle Buses from ACH Plant parking lot MAP (limited to 1,500 cars) MAP
    to/from Central Middle School; City of Plymouth will be charging $5 per
    vehicle ($2.50 to city & $2.50 to charity) in their municipal
    parking lots & structures so use our free bus shuttles
  • 10K Time Qualifier: Participants must run at “18 minutes or less pace per mile” to register for our 10K event
  • Entertainment & Monster Mash Party: Live
    onstage Dance Performance by Piazza Dance Co. (choreographer Lindsey
    Humpert) at start of 10K & 5K; DJ at Kellogg Park; Food &
    Beverage Buffet & Party in heated Tents at Kellogg Park
  • Costume Contest: Judging by Plymouth DDA – Evaluated 7:15 am to 8:45 am at judging table in Kellogg Park at canopy tent – see details on Race Info page
  • Age Group Awards:
    10K & 5K events; M/F, 3 deep, 5-year age group increments, from 14
    years old to +75 yrs old – pick up your award at our finish-line Tent
    between 9:15 am to 10:00 am
  • USATF certified courses
  • Powerade ION Drinks: provided at 3 mile mark in 10K Run only
  • Start/Finish at Kellogg Park, Plymouth, MI: 10K, 5K & Monster Mile
  • 10K & 5K Pace Groups: 8 min/mile pace up to 12 min/mile pace
  • B-Tag Timing: (ChronoTrack chip in bib) for 10K, 5K & Mile events
  • NO REFUNDS; ONLY TRANSFERS ALLOWED TO ANOTHER PERSON BEFORE OUR ONLINE REGISTRATION CLOSES
  • PLEASE DO NOT LITTER!  Thank You!

NHTSA, Safe Kids Worldwide and safety advocates urge parents to register car seats and take action during a recall

WASHINGTON – In advance of National Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 13-19), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind and Safe Kids President and CEO Kate Carr joined safety advocates today at the Department of Transportation for a press conference encouraging parents and caregivers to register car seats with the manufacturer and to take immediate action if the product is a part of a recall.

In 2014, more than six million car seats were recalled for a safety defect – the largest car seat recall in U.S. history. Yet, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fewer than half of those car seats received the necessary repair.

“The safety of children in cars is our biggest priority,” said Administrator Rosekind. “NHTSA is committed to helping parents register their car seats and other child products with manufacturers, which we know is critical if there is a recall. We’re also committed to working with manufacturers to make sure parents receive a quick and thorough solution during a recall so children are protected.”

Safe Kids and NHTSA strongly urge all parents and caregivers to follow these steps to ensure their child is protected in a vehicle.

Register Your Car Seat

Option 1: Register online with your car seat manufacturer or http://www.safercar.gov/parents. You’ll need the model number and date of manufacture found on the label on your car seat.

Option 2: Fill out and mail in the registration card that came with your car seat. It already includes your car seat’s information. No postage required.

Find Out if your Car Seat is Recalled

Visit the NHTSA website and enter your seat’s brand name and model.

“The single best way for parents to learn about a recall is to register their car seat with the manufacturer. Unfortunately, this important first step doesn’t happen nearly enough,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “During Child Passenger Safety week, we want to remind all parents to register their car seats and take action when a recall occurs. This is a cost-free remedy the manufacturer provides — and must provide — to protect your child.”

To understand why so few recalled car seats get repaired and to educate parents about the importance of recalls, Safe Kids Worldwide released “Car Seat Recalls: What Every Parent Needs to Know,” a new study which reveals that only 42 percent of parents said they filled out and returned the registration card. That means that on average, six out of 10 parents risk not hearing about a car seat recall in the most timely and dependable manner – directly from the manufacturer. The study, with support from General Motors Foundation, surveyed 562 parents of children who use a car seat, and collected responses from 44 parents who participated in an online bulletin board discussion.

“Through our nearly 20 year partnership with Safe Kids, we’ve made it our mission to help keep families safe in vehicles and on the road,” said Greg Martin, executive director of Global Public Policy for General Motors. “Each year, part of our annual grant is dedicated to fund research studies that shines light on ways to better protect children in and around vehicles.”

When a recall occurs, manufacturers use the information provided on that registration card to contact consumers directly and, if needed, provide the information and appropriate equipment to repair the car seat.

“Manufacturers want consumers to provide their information so if there is new or additional safety information about the car seat, they can be contacted,” said Kelly Mariotti, executive director of Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. “Registering the product isn’t difficult, no information from registration cards can be used for marketing purposes, and it’s an additional level of protection when traveling with children.”

During the final day of National Child Passenger Safety Week, recognized as National Seat Check Saturday, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will show parents and caregivers how to correctly use, install and register their car seats. Safe Kids will host more than 500 child seat inspections across the country. Car seat inspections are a free service, available to parents year round. Visit safekids.org to locate an event in your community at any time.

Read more at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-safekids-urge-child-seat-registration-09102015

NHTSA encourages parents of teens to join the ‘5 to Drive’ campaign

Campaign gives parents the words to use when they talk with their teens about the rules of the road

WASHINGTON – In recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 18-24, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges parents and guardians of teen drivers to discuss with their teens one traffic safety topic each day. Those topics, also the most risky behaviors among teens, include alcohol, texting, failure to wear seat belts, speeding, and riding with extra teen passengers.

“When parents model and reinforce safe driving habits, they equip their teens with the skills to safely navigate the roadways for life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about behaviors that will keep them safe, and those that create greater risk.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds in the United States. In 2013, there were 2,614 teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 130,000 were injured. Yet a survey shows that only 25 percent of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving. During National Teen Driver Safety Week, and as part of the “5 to Drive” campaign, NHTSA urges parents and guardians to make time to have these talks, and to continue those conversations throughout the learning-to-drive process.

The “5 to Drive” campaign addresses the five most dangerous and deadly behaviors for teen drivers.

No alcohol – The minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21. However, in 2013, among 15- to 20-year-old drivers killed in crashes, 29 percent had been drinking.

No cell phone use or texting while driving – Texting or dialing while driving is more than just risky – it’s deadly. In 2013, among drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 11 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use. In 2013, 318 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted teen driver.

No driving or riding without a seat belt – In 2013, more than half (55%) of all 15- to 20-year-old occupants of passenger vehicles killed in crashes were unrestrained.
No speeding – In 2013, speeding was a factor in 42 percent of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers.

No extra passengers – NHTSA data shows that a teenage driver is 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and three times more likely with multiple teenage passengers

“The ‘5 to Drive’ campaign gives parents and teens a simple, straightforward checklist that can help them talk about good driving skills, and most importantly, prevent a tragedy before it happens,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.

To address the issue of underage drinking, NHTSA has joined with the Ad Council to launch a new public service announcement campaign that targets new drivers 16 and 17 years old, and is built around the idea of “Underage Drinking and Driving: The Ultimate Party Foul.” The campaign includes a TV ad, a Tumblr site, web banners and outdoor advertising. A branded emoji keyboard will be available later on both the iOS and Android platforms. View the PSAs and learn more about the campaign.

NHTSA has also partnered with the Ad Council to develop new English and Spanish TV PSAs that target motorists who text and drive. The new ads remind people that the kind of overconfidence displayed by those who text and drive is not only selfish – it’s dangerous. The PSAs also make it clear that no one is special enough to text and drive. View the PSA

Young Drivers Traffic Safety Facts Sheet


More information on NHTSA’s “5 to Drive” campaign and the five rules designed to help save the lives of teen drivers

Stay connected with NHTSA: Search for open recalls with VIN look up | Download the Safercar Mobile App for Apple or Android devices | Receive recall alerts by email | Visit us on Facebook.com/NHTSA | Follow us on Twitter.com/NHTSAgov | Watch 5-Star Safety Ratings crash tests on YouTube.com/USDOTNHTSA | SaferCar.gov

Read more at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2015/nhtsa-5-to-drive-campaign-2015

Lights Out? Check Vehicle Lighting

Fall is here and its arrival means fewer hours of daylight and upcoming holiday travel. Before hitting the road, it is a wise idea to make sure your vehicle’s lights are in proper working order, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Lights play a critical role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so inspect all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out.”

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The vehicle lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:

Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.

Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.

Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

“Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers,” said White. “Keeping your vehicle’s lights properly cared for and replacing wiper blades periodically will help ensure a safer ride, keeping the road ahead well-lit and giving you a clear view.”

For more information on vehicle lighting, service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and tips to drive smart and save money, view the Car Care Council’s free digital Car Care Guide online at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/10/lights-check-vehicle-lighting/

Jeep Trackhawk: 600 hp?

The Dodge Challenger and Charger both have Hellcat engine options, bringing 707 horsepower to the cars. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has long been rumored, and sources say it will indeed have the same engine, but without the same tuning.

There could be several reasons why it would be detuned somewhat:

Cooling is a major issue with this amount of power, and the Hellcats have goals of high consistency at full power. Competing cars from Chevrolet and Shelby have been slammed for throttling back on the power as they quickly heat up at the track.

The Jeep, unlike the others, is rumored to be all wheel drive, which could allow quicker launches — but would put more stress on the entire system. The engine may have to be tuned to put out the power that can reasonably and economically be handled by the drivetrain and suspension.The Grand Cherokee has a higher center of gravity and too much power could be dangerous.

Regardless, a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk packing even 580 horsepower would be a major boost over the current 485 horsepower SRT model, and would likely attract even more attention from those who would normally go for a German crossover.

FCA US has already applied for a trademark on the Trackhawk name. The application has passed all the legal hurdles and USPTO approval of registration is now waiting for the company to file a Statement Of Use (SOU) in commerce.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2015/10/jeep-trackhawk-600-hp-30326