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Current Topic: Cars and Trucks

RE: Cellphone use versus crash statistics.
Topic: Cars and Trucks 9:50 pm EST, Dec 13, 2011

A father-daughter exchange, from Lisa the Skeptic:

Lisa: Excuse me, I took a piece of this skeleton for scientific analysis. Soon you will have all the facts.

Homer: Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!

Jerry Weinberger:

So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.

Rebecca Brock:

People say to me, "Whatever it takes." I tell them, It's going to take everything.

Craig Friebolin:

Fatal Crashes vs. Cell Phone Subscribers from 1994 to 2008

Total Crashes: 0.9% Decrease
Fatal Crashes: 6.2% Decrease
Cellphone use: 1,262.4% Increase


See also - why cellphones don't cause brain cancer.

Friebolin's two data points are misleading in the way they underplay the story on the use of mobile devices.

1. The US population has increased from 1994 to 2008, from 263M to 304M.

2. There are more vehicles per capita on the road in 2008 than in 1994.

3. Total miles driven increased substantially from 1994 to 2008. At a glance, it looks like roughly a 25% increase.

4. Average commute times are rising even faster than total miles driven. In Atlanta, the average commute time is 127 minutes per round trip.

5. The automobile accident rate has declined steadily since the 1920s. (Friebolin's "0.9% decrease" is actually quite misleading because it compares total counts rather than rates. See below ...)

6. Although the absolute number of subscribers has increased (as shown above), per-subscriber activity levels have risen at a vastly greater rate. You'll find growth from 44B MOU in 1996 to 1.68T in 2008 and 2.25T in 2011, according to CTIA. Likewise, texting has gone from negligible levels in 1994, to 33M in 2001, to nearly 200B in 2011. Read those numbers again. That's a 51x increase in voice MOUs from 1994-2011, and a 6000x increase in texts just in the last ten years.

Of course, none of t... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

RE: Cellphone use versus crash statistics.

Peak Oil: Bugatti Makes a Car for the Ages | Product Reviews |
Topic: Cars and Trucks 8:58 pm EST, Mar  7, 2011

Joe Brown:

The first Veyron is an engineering marvel. It required the intellectual might of one of the largest and arguably smartest car companies in the world to birth a car that was not only faster than anything on the road, but easy enough to pilot that anyone could drive it.

To make the Grand Sport, Bugatti's engineers had to do the same thing, only with a giant hole in the middle. It was like designing a picture frame to break rocks.

They had to bolster the floor, doors and B pillars (where the back edges of the windows rest) with acres of carbon fiber. They had to turn the topside air scoops into structural supports for protection during a rollover. Then they had to sacrifice 100 virgins and have the production facility in Molsheim, France, blessed by druids.

The result is the most structurally rigid convertible in the world, which, miraculously, weighs no more and goes no slower than the coupe on which it is based. With the transparent roof removed, air resistance limits the Grand Sport to 217 mph, but you'd want that roof on for a top-speed run anyway; the wind could rip your face off at around 245.

You can spend $600 on a steering wheel and pedal set to drive your Veyron in Gran Turismo 5, and that will buy you a lot of realism, but one thing it won't do is rip your face off.

Peak Oil: Bugatti Makes a Car for the Ages | Product Reviews |

Top Gear 'Road' Tests The Ford Fiesta
Topic: Cars and Trucks 8:01 am EDT, Jun 18, 2009

Jeremy Clarkson:

Hey, look at that! The smoke grenades fit perfectly in the cup-holder!

Top Gear 'Road' Tests The Ford Fiesta

The End of Car Culture
Topic: Cars and Trucks 7:25 am EDT, May 11, 2009

Nate Silver:

This is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse: Americans aren't driving as much as they used to. The downward trend last year was stark.

Perhaps the only good thing about losing your job is that you no longer have to endure the drive to work.

The exceptionally sluggish pace of new-vehicle sales in the face of extremely attractive incentives being offered by the automakers might imply that Americans are considering making more-permanent adjustments to their lifestyles.

Verlyn Klinkenborg:

Every now and then I meet someone in Manhattan who has never driven a car. I used to wonder at such people, but more and more I wonder at myself.

Driving is the cultural anomaly of our moment.

Louis Menand:

The interstates changed the phenomenology of driving.

The End of Car Culture

Can We Transform the Auto-Industrial Society?
Topic: Cars and Trucks 4:10 pm EST, Feb  1, 2009

Emma Rothschild, in The New York Review of Books:

The present and impending disorder of the automobile companies is a reminder, even more than the decline of the housing and banking industries, of the desolation of the Great Depression.

A bailout that includes no more than a commitment to fuel efficiency, or to electric vehicles, would be a denial of the administration's commitments to respond to climate change. The idyll of plug-in hybrids is also the promise of a high-energy society, in which the auto-industrial organization of space, or of transport-intensive growth, is set in concrete for another generation, or longer. It is frightening in relation to the US, and a dystopia in relation to the world.

An enduring bailout, or a new deal for Detroit, would be different. It would be an investment in ending the auto-industrial society of the late twentieth century.

A year ago:

Driving is the cultural anomaly of our moment. Someone from the future, I’m sure, will marvel at our blindness and at the hole we have driven ourselves into, for we are completely committed to an unsustainable technology.

Also, from a year ago:

China’s catching up alone would roughly double world consumption rates.

From the archive, Louis Menand:

The interstates changed the phenomenology of driving.

Finally, Ed Burtynsky:

"I started to think: where is all this natural material going, where does it get formed into the products that we buy?"

Can We Transform the Auto-Industrial Society?

The Urge to Merge: Making it in the Battle for a Lane
Topic: Cars and Trucks 3:45 pm EDT, Aug  2, 2008

So here you are, let us say, heading west toward the Caldecott at the end of a July afternoon. The geography, what with the hills rising on either side, pretty much requires you to focus on the thing that is about to happen in front of you — you can see it coming, and sometimes from quite a distance, depending on how bad the backup is. The trick about the Caldecott is that although each bore is two lanes wide, the middle bore switches direction, by means of signage and mechanically raised cone separators, contingent on the flow of the main morning and evening commute. So if you’re driving out of the suburbs toward Oakland at the end of the day, the cars coming the opposite way take that middle bore, which means your side of 24 is being coned off into the one remaining bore on the right — a four-lane to a two-lane funnel.

This is the point at which the North American driving populace, as you know, cleaves into two camps.

See also, for the transportation wonks, "The" Freeway in Southern California, which speculates on the origins of the regional practice of prepending "the" when referring to numbered freeways.

The Urge to Merge: Making it in the Battle for a Lane

Less, Yes, but Not by a Lot
Topic: Cars and Trucks 7:50 am EDT, May 26, 2008

With each effortless run up its 7,000-r.p.m. scale, this bonbon for urbanites reminded me why BMW gets away with its high ticket prices.

Less, Yes, but Not by a Lot

Flash in the Pan
Topic: Cars and Trucks 7:51 pm EDT, Mar 24, 2008

Since people seemed to like the Akira motorcycle, I thought I'd mention the Mach 5 on display at the New York Auto Show.

Also appearing on the show floor are some unique vehicles that first came to life on-screen, including the Mach 5, a prop car from the upcoming "Speed Racer" film.

Flash in the Pan

The Pedal-to-the-Metal, Totally Illegal, Cross-Country Sprint for Glory
Topic: Cars and Trucks 10:44 pm EST, Nov 25, 2007

Alex Roy has a crazy dream: to beat the legendary Cannonball Run record by crossing the country in under 32 hours and 7 minutes. Floor it!

Following up on the Quake City Madcaps ... though with perhaps less noble goals ...

The Pedal-to-the-Metal, Totally Illegal, Cross-Country Sprint for Glory

Pinch Us: Autoblog drives the 2008 Porsche GT2 - Autoblog
Topic: Cars and Trucks 7:58 pm EST, Nov  7, 2007

It's just before noon on a Thursday morning as I saunter down pit row at Daytona International Speedway and slide into the supportive sport bucket seat of a 2008 Porsche 911 GT2. I fiddle a bit with the seat and steering column adjustments until I'm comfortable, then double-check that my seatbelt is secured. It's hot and humid, but that's not why I'm perspiring - this cold sweat is a sign that my body's survival instincts are on edge, and for good reason. Fortunately, I've received personalized instruction from a quartet of legendary drivers and a complete technical briefing courtesy of Porsche Motorsports engineers, and there's little left to be learned without actually driving the car. I depress the heavily-weighted clutch pedal, muscle the short-throw shifter into 1st gear, bring the revs up, and...

Pinch Us: Autoblog drives the 2008 Porsche GT2 - Autoblog

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