Can you believe it?- 10 crazy laws

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There really are some crazy laws out there and I did see a LOT of lists, but no one ever stated if they were true or not. Which is something I would want to know, especially if I plan on sharing them with other people! So here is a list of 10 crazy laws, of which I could find reasonable proof for 8, and some promising information on the other 2.

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  1. You’ll get fined if your truck leaves a mess in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
    This one is true, but it’s not just about vehicles. As seen is this newsletter, pg. 7.
    ‘It is illegal to drive a truck or other vehicle whose wheels or tires deposit mud, dirt, sticky substances, litter or other material on any street or highway. (Minnetonka). This one is still on the books in Minnetonka under section 845.010 – Public Nuisances.’

 

  1. Dunn, North Carolina, it’s illegal to play in traffic.
    I can’t find anything that shows this law is actually on the books, but it is one that would seem likely since the people who would be playing in the street would probably be children or young adults.

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  1. Skateboarders in Florida need a license.
    This one is actually true according to the Orlando Sentinel. A special license used to be required to skateboard, but the law is ignored today.

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  1. In California it’s illegal to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, of course, unless you’re shooting at a whale, that’s completely fine.
    According to Etags, this law is in fact true! It’s also listed across the internet as a law, but I really can’t find any actual proof it exists.

  1. It’s illegal to shoot whales from your car in Connecticut.
    Nissan of Norwich says this is true, so it must be. Right? It’s also one of those law’s that’s absolutely everywhere on the internet.

  1. In Alabama it is completely fine and legal to drive the wrong way down a one-way street as long as you have a lantern attached to the front of your car.
    Well this guy says it’s real! Michael Shafer, Personal Injury Attorney

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  1. Texas requires windshield wipers, but not necessarily a windshield.
    I’ve been finding a lot of hearsay evidence on this one, including someone who said they were a Texas inspector on a Cobra forum, but I can’t find the actual law. So jury’s still out.

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  1. Pennsylvania requires any motorist who sights a team of horses coming toward him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass.
    Now this is one law I’ve heard about since high school and I am entertained to know that it is in fact true! Here it is cited in the book You Can Get Arrested for That.

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  1. In West Virginia Officials it’s perfectly legal for anyone to scavenge road kill.
    This one is absolutely true. In Marlinton, West Virginia they even have a Roadkill Cook-off, they’ll be having the 25th in the fall of 2017.

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  1. In Oklahoma you’ll be ticketed if caught reading a comic book while driving.
    You really have to wonder about some of these laws… but this one is also cited in a book, It’s the Law!.

Foil those morning frosts – Volkswagen’s climate windshield

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It’s one of those unifying daily tasks that no one enjoys doing, especially when you’re out in the freezing cold and the sun’s not even up yet. We all know the drill: Bundle up in our outdoor gear. Start the car. Turn the heater to defrost and (if you have it) turn on the defroster for your rear window. Then, you get out your scraper and spend the next 5-10 minutes putting scraper to windows clearing as much frost as you can.

Well, it turns out there may be a light at the end of the tunnel after all. You might even call it a silver lining. It’s an ultra-thin layer of silver sandwiched (or as the say ‘laminated’) between two layers of glass in Volkswagen’s new climate windshield. Unlike typical heated windshields with filaments of wire running through them, Volkswagen’s newest invention uses an invisible layer of silver that doesn’t affect your visibility at all. Imagine that.

Right now this is only available on the Volkswagen Golf, Golf Sportsvan, Tiguan, Sharan, Passat and Passat Variant… Which means it’s not actually available in the US. I did a bit of searching and I can’t find any mention of it anywhere on the US Volkswagen sites. I’m think this would be a big selling point in most of the country though. Most American deal with frost frequently during the winter months.

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A frosty 2016 Volkswagen Passat. source.

Yes, Volkswagen is in the middle of a public relations snafu of their own making, but this could be one of those things to bring them back into our (America’s) good graces. It’s not even that expensive but it could save you so much time and effort. Not to mention spending less time in the cold.

I’ve seen a few comparisons to the Ford QuickClear system, which is again only available in Europe, that uses a grid of wire filaments to clear your windshield. I can’t help but think why does Europe get all the good tech? So I looked into it… Apparently we had it in the 1990’s but it wasn’t popular. How strange, it seems like it would be a major selling point to me. Way to go earlier generation, why didn’t you like this?

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A Vehicle before Ford QuickClear was turned on. source.

Oh, and Volkswagen says that this state of the art windshield isn’t just for winter. The ‘the thin layer of silver acts as a passive heat shield. As it reflects up to 60 per cent of the summer heat.’ Thus reducing the interior temperature of the car by 15 degrees Celsius, or 27 degrees for those of us who live by Fahrenheit.

Prices start at €340 (approximately $363.03) depending on the model.

 

Look who’s back! -2020 Ford Bronco

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Back again…  Ford Bronco’s back… tell a friend.
(Sung to the tune of ‘Real Slim Shady.’ Just showing my age here.)

I know, the news has already taken twitter and other social media by storm. I should have written this last week, but you know me. I like to take my time. Like good coffee you need a bit of extra time for ideas to percolate.

I have to say it’s pretty awesome that both the Ford Bronco and the Chevy Blazer are going to be making a comeback by 2020. They’re two iconic US vehicle that have been gone for far too long. I bet this is how people felt about the Volkswagen Beetle’s return for the 1998 model year.

Arbitrary shots of the prototype.

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Such a great shot of the 2020 Ford Bronco! source 

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Look at that suspension. source

What? You’re telling me those are just outdoor shots and there’s nothing there? Yeah, you’re right. That’s because there aren’t any photos of the upcoming Ford Bronco at this point in time. All we’ve got is this teaser.

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Oh, nostalgia. I always thought the Bronco had a great logo. source

The concrete information we know is:

  • The new Bronco is one of four (possibly five) new utility vehicles that Ford is adding to it’s line up.
  • We’ve got the same logo as it was last used in 1996 on the F-150 based vehicle.
    There was also the Bronco II (my family had these) based on the Ford Ranger. FYI, the Ranger is also making a comeback in 2019.

Yep,  two facts. That’s all we actually know. Not really much, is it? It’s all very hush-hush.

There’s been chatter about how the Bronco is going to be Ford’s rival to the Jeep Wrangler JL, and I suppose it will be. As they fill the same space in their respective line-ups. But I really think that the revival of the name is more to do with how well it will do on  the nostalgia factor alone. 30 somethings and older are going to have a lot of memories involving the Bronco and people just LOVE to own the cars from their childhoods. Just look how amazingly well the Dodge Challenger and Volkswagen New Beetle have done. I would bet the Bronco scored really well with focus groups too.

What I want to know is:

  • How many doors will it have?
    2 is iconic look for the Bronco, but are more people wanting a 4-door? Would it still be a Bronco is it has 4 doors and you don’t have to awkwardly climb in to get to the back seat?
  • What body style is it going to have?
    Please don’t make it a cross-over, Ford. We’re begging you.
    (Luckily, Ford has mentioned that the Bronco and the Ranger will share a platform, so we’ll have to see.)
  • What kind of engine will be going into it?
    I know we all want a little bit of power to make off-roading fun.
  • Is it going to be available in 4-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive?
    I certainly hope so. It won’t be a Bronco without it.
  • What kind of mileage is it going to have?
    I remember my family’s Bronco IIs were pretty dismal…

I know, I know I really should also write about the Chevy Blazer, I did mention it. But truth be told? We were always a Ford family…  I’ll leave that to another blogger to cover.

UPDATE: As The Speed Trap mentioned in the comments below, Dana, the longtime supplier of Jeep stick axles, is going to supply solid axles in the front and rear for the Bronco. At least, according to Automotive News who cited an investor presentation from Dana. Thanks for the tip The Speed Trap!

 

 

 

Giving the Boot the boot

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If you’re like me your first introduction to the car clamp, aka ‘The Boot’ was on a TV show or movie. The Simpson’s episode ‘the City of New York vs Homer Simpson’ springs to mind.

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Homer being upset over all the parking fines and the boot.

To see one in action you had to be from a more urban area and I was stuck out in the suburbs. Well, this specific parking punishment may be heading towards the end of its usefulness. At least, if Barnacle Parking has their way. Meet the Barnacle. And I don’t mean Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

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Left: Yes, this is the Barnacle parking enforcement device. Right: Not Barney Stinson

Last summer a new parking enforcement product entered the scene. The Barnacle is a relatively lightweight, plastic device that is attached to the vehicle’s windshield using commercial grade suction cups. You ask, ‘Wouldn’t the driver easily remove this device?’ Nope. There’s an integrated pump that provides 100’s of pounds of force to secure the Barnacle to the windshield. It even has a built-in anti-tamper alarm and a GPS to detect if someone is either attempting to move the vehicle or illegally remove the device. Pretty slick.

Barnacle Parking created their device because they saw a need for a new parking enforcement device that was efficient, user friendly and lightweight. One that would make the entire process of parking enforcement easier for all parties involved: the administration, enforcement personnel and the violator.

With the Barancle, gone are the days of waiting around for someone to come and remove the boot at their convenience. All you have to do is pay your fine over the phone and they’ll give you a code to punch in that will release the device. You’ll then have to drop the Barnacle at a specified drop point, but that’s easily done.

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The man in this photo looks too pleased with himself. Shouldn’t he look more annoyed?

Will the Barnacle be making its debut in a city near you? Well, it’s currently undergoing a trial period in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We wanted to see how the Barnacle held up in a variety of environments, and Fort Lauderdale’s heat and humidity made it a perfect test market,” company president Kevin Dougherty told City Lab.

Depending on how things go, will your city ditch the Boot and switch to the Barnacle? Only time will tell.

Barnacle photos courtesy of Barnacle Parking.

Detroit Auto Show: Concepts

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I’m sure I’m not the only person who was a bit…underwhelmed by the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can say that this certainly wasn’t it. I mean, one of my favorite things about auto shows is seeing all of the concept cars. You’ve certainly seen my posts about them. Here, and Here.

But Detroit’s? Well, there wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary unless you count the Rinspeed Oasis, which reminds me of a very tiny train engine. It’s a two-seater, car sharing vehicle that has both a self-driving and manual mode.

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One of the quirkiest things about it is the tiny garden area on the dashboard. I’m not sure that’s an accessory I would really want myself. During the day you would get a small oxygen boost at least.

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Not sure how likely this is to making it into production but the ideas behind it are worth more attention. It’s not exactly an eye catching vehicle though. I suppose it’s on par with the Smart cars. I wasn’t ever terribly impressed with those. A truck looks like it could take one out.

Not a whole lot to say about the Acura Precision, it’s got strong flowing lines AND it looks like it’s happy to see me! Look at that smile.

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It really is a good looking car. I wouldn’t mind driving one. Or you know, you could give it to me as a gift

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And have you seen headlights like these?

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Now the car I most like the look of is the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept. In a lot of its pictures the paint job looks like quicksilver (mercury). (I accidentally broke an old school thermometer once, the mercury went everywhere and it looked a lot like this paint.)

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I like the sharp lines on the body panels and how the windshield sweeps back. Whoa, hold on. The doors. I hate when they put suicide rear doors with  a normal front doors. It just looks so wrong to me.

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I know, I know. It’s not exactly new. Lincoln Continentals back in the day had doors just like these. And the typical style is ‘boring.’ But hey, why screw with something that works really well? Suicide doors always make me worry a bit since you can’t really see cars coming up from behind. Then again, that’s why they’re called suicide doors.

Here’s hoping the next auto show has a few more interesting concepts out there.

Thanks to: AutoExpress, Car and Driver, Top Honda Cars, AutoBlog, and Carbuzz for the images.

3D printing shifts into high gear

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(I’ve been sick this last week, so my apologies for not posting. I’ve got a chest infection and I’m on antibiotics, but I’m doing a lot better now that I’m not trying to cough up a lung!)

Now I’m a little late to be writing about this one, but have you seen the Divergent Blade, the 3D printed super car? Sure it’s a lot smaller than most supercars, from what I can tell it’s only got a driver’s seat and no passengers will fit. But it can go from 0-60 in 2.2 seconds and it’s got 700 horsepower under its hood. If that’s not a super car, I don’t know what is.

You’ve got to love an automaker who has the confidence to paint their car pink. This isn’t a typical, bubblegum or Barbie pink. It’s more of a metallic red-purple and it’s so reflective I can almost see myself from here. I do think a lot of people would simply call it pink. Most guys would probably prefer it in the silver, as seen below. It does look amazing in the pink though. Maybe in a green or an orange instead?

With 3-D printing becoming cheaper and cheaper, the typical American household can afford to own their very own 3-D printer if they wanted. On the low end of the spectrum they run a bit under $400. I’m not sure how many useful items you could print from it, but you could own one.  You just have to have the knowledge to use the thing or to create designs or schematics for it.

Just think about it. There will be a time in the future when you could print and build your own car! Whether or not you’d want to is a whole other story. Bear in mind that 3D printed auto parts are becoming more and more run of the mill right now. Did you know that Rolls Royce uses more than 10,000 3D printed parts in the Phantom alone? Volkswagen is well known as an early adopter of 3D printed auto parts, better known as additive manufacturing technologies. They’ve been using these technologies for over 25 years. link.

And scientists are doing and working towards some amazing things with 3-D printing, including printing human tissue. They aren’t able to create complex organs like a heart or a kidney, but that is where they are headed. I wonder which would take less time to 3D print, a heart or a carburetor? Then again, the heart would be all one piece and a carburetor isn’t.

And back around to Divergent. They debuted a 3D printed motorcycle at the LA Autoshow last November. They call it, the Dagger. Same semi-futuristic design as the Blade, it looks straight out of iRobot or even a video game. But I haven’t seen any engine details or it’s speed. Do you think Divergent is into bladed hand weapons for the product names? What’s next, maybe a Kris, Katar or Cestus, maybe?

Cars as Gifts: Yay or Nay?

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With Christmas this month I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts, mostly who I need to get gifts for and what to actually buy them. The ‘who’ list is easy, but the ‘what’ can be a bit tricky with some of the people on my list. So to distract myself from that whole mess I started thinking about what I thought about giving cars as gifts. Just to make things clear, I’m talking about an outright gift.  Car bought and completely paid for, not one that has a loan on it.

Now on the whole I think most things can be a gift, whether it’s a jersey/clothes, video games, or a chance to drive super cars. You get the picture. All these things are well and good, but I don’t know if I would ever want someone to gift me a car. I used to think it would be an awesome gift, and how I always hoped my parents would have gotten me one for my 16th birthday. That never happened. But now? No, I don’t think so. Here’s my thought process on that.

Yeah, it would be great to get my dream car, but what if it wasn’t the right paint job/interior or it had the wrong engine, or it had a spoiler or other body mod that I didn’t like. And then you start thinking about comfort. What if my dream car is really uncomfortable to drive?! (You can tell you’re getting ‘old’ when you think that.) I don’t think I could be happy unless I had some hand in actually picking it out. I’m picky, I’ll admit it. Whether someone gave me my dream classic car or my dream modern car, there are so many things that could go wrong. And those things could be an expensive fix for me.

Then there’s the whole thing of paying taxes on the gift. Did you think of that? It’s going to vary depending on what state you live in (or country I suppose), but most often the recipient (that’s me) gets to handle ALL the tax paperwork on it. Does that sound like fun to you? Because it doesn’t to me. So you’re giving me a large gift that I have to pay taxes on. Sure, it’s much less than what I would have paid if I bought it myself, but… that’s still a good chunk of change. Check out this article from the DMV to get more info on tax and title transfers. Link.

Now I am very happy to get car accessories as gifts! Whether it’s new car mats, a trunk liner, or even new rims. I would be one happy guy. Or maybe some new music to listen to while I drive. Pretty much anything car related and I’m good.

What do you all think? Would you like a car as a gift?

Distracted Driving Guidelines: Too Much or Too Little Oversight?

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I saw the other day that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released new, proposed, guidelines designed to combat distracted driving accidents and deaths. Just how do they plan on doing this? They want your cell phone to know when it’s in a moving vehicle and for it to pair (where a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system) with your car and to have a ‘Driver Mode’ (a simplified user interface) that would be active while you’re driving.

Now neither of these things sounds like a bad thing. My last car had Blue Connect, and I could make and answer calls through my car rather than having to hunt for my phone when it rang. Basically, it ‘paired’ with my car (when I remembered to turn the Bluetooth on), it even called it that. And I know that trying to make a call on my smart phone when I’m driving can be a pain, so a simplified user interface could be useful.

If you stop and think about it, though… Your phone could make all apps and games off limits while your phone is in a moving vehicle. Texting will definitely not be available. But just how will your phone know you’re in the car, and whether or not you’re actually driving?

 

Pokemon Go 'You're going too fast' in game message.

Screen grab from Pokemon Go.

Well, they could use your smartphone’s accelerometer and use it to decide if you should be in ‘Driver Mode’ or not, but that would affect your passengers as well. Not to mention how annoying it would be to anyone on public transportation. The app Pokemon Go has done just that, if you’re moving above a certain speed a message pops up stopping the game to make sure you aren’t driving until you press the ‘I’m a passenger’ button. You can see it to the left.

 

 

I suppose we are lucky that the NHTSA knows that what they are proposing could really annoy the general public as this is a part of their proposal:

NHTSA has learned that technologies to detect whether a driver or passenger is using a device have been developed but are currently being refined such that they can reliably detect whether the device user is the driver or a passenger and are not overly annoying and impractical.

So, until they come up with better technology/apps, they’ll have to fall back on the actual users activating ‘Driver Mode’ themselves. Considering how often I remembered to activate my Bluetooth when I was driving, I can bet that only a specific group of drivers would actually do it.

Ridesharing: Amber One

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Ever since the idea of self-driving cars became a real possibility, people have been talking about how they would change the way we use cars. Now, most of our cars sit unused for the biggest part of the day. With the advent of self-driving cars, this would no longer be necessary. Instead of each person having their own car, it would make more sense to share our car with others. Enter the idea of, preferably autonomous and electric, cars designed with ridesharing in mind.

Of course, even today there are already a lot of apps available that let people share their cars, but none of the vehicle so far have been designed with this purpose in mind. However, many car makers such as Ford have started the development of autonomous cars with a system making it possible for them to be shared. Unfortunately, many of these cars are still in early stages and not expected to hit our roads any time soon.

That is until Dutch company Amber Mobility came along. According to Autoblog they claim that by the end of next year they will have a prototype car designed to be shared on the road. This EV, though not self-driving, would still be the start of a big change. Exactly how the Amber one would be designed to be shared, apart from a modular design, they didn’t say. However, they take the new concept of sharing, rather than owning a car very serious: the Amber One will not be for sale. Instead customers will be paying a weekly subscription. According to the company, the Amber One will have a lifespan of around 1 million miles and a range of 250 miles.

The Amber One ridesharing car

The Amber One ridesharing car

Amber Mobility is expected to start production on a small scale in 2018. But for now, we can still (or are forced to, depending on your perspective of these developments) drive and own our own cars. Which means we can still choose to equip them with our own modifications and improvements, such as a Travall Guard for safety.

Personally, I’m rather excited by the prospect of autonomous cars, but I do not relish the idea of not being able to own my own car. Though I do realize that it makes more sense than just letting it sit in the parking lot most of the day. How do you feel about these planned changes? Let me know in the comments!

 

Source: http://www.autoblog.com/2016/09/23/amber-mobility-million-miles-car-sharing/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000015

Electric hauling: Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

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Worldwide, more and more people are living in cities. This means that cities need more goods and services, which means more cars and trucks, which leads to more pollution. But according to Mercedes-Benz there is a solution to that last problem at least. To minimize urban pollution and improve air quality Mercedes unveiled their Urban eTruck, a fully electric truck concept.

Urban eTruck

Urban eTruck

The ‘Urban’ part of its name is significant as the eTruck is not meant to haul goods over long distances, which with it 124 mile range it would not be able to. Instead the Urban eTruck is meant to carry goods over a short, regular route. This concept truck is based on a regular Mercedes short-radius, three-axle truck. However, the drivetrain has been replaced by

 “a new electrically driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs – derived from the electric rear axle which was developed for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid bus.”

source:https://www.daimler.com/products/trucks/mercedes-benz/urban-etruck.html

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The Urban eTruck is Mercedes-Benz’s latest addition to their

Mercedes Vision Van

Mercedes Vision Van

range of electric urban vehicles, which already included a bus and a van. At the moment the Urban is just a concept. But it might well be a big competitor to Tesla. The latter has recently unveiled the second part of their master plan with a larger focus on heavy trucks and urban transport.

What do you think? Is this a viable concept, or just a waste of time. Would Mercedes be better off looking at electric trucks with a bigger range? Would you drive one of these Urban eTrucks?