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5 entries from October 2013

Watch for Children, Ghosts and Ghouls this Halloween

It's Halloween! Jack-o-lanterns! Witches! Teen hijinks! As the sun sets, the streets will be full of children in crazy costumes, high on sugar, darting out in front of your car. Boo! Scary stuff.

Halloween is celebrated, in a variety of forms, all over the globe - and drivers in every country will do well to be careful on the roads tonight. As a reminder to drive with caution and watch for little ones, we thought we’d share this fun collection of “Watch for Children” signs from across the world. Do you recognize any? 

Watch for Children road signs
Top Row (Left to Right): Germany, Poland, Japan
Middle Row (Left to Right): Austria, Ukraine, Chile
Bottom Row (Left to Right): New Zealand, The Netherlands, Ireland

Wherever these signs are from, they have one thing in common - keeping kids safe. The CAA has some great Halloween safety tips for both drivers and kids this year - be sure and brush up before you hit the road tonight!

We here at PumpTalk wish you all a safe and spooky Halloween night!

- Rose R.

Bright Lights, Dark Road: All about Headlights

Photo: iStockphoto

As the days get shorter and the fog rolls in here in Vancouver, I find myself being very appreciative of headlights - particularly as a pedestrian on those misty mornings.

History nerd that I am, I thought it might be interesting to find out more about how today's high-powered headlights came to be. From the gas-powered carbide headlights of the 1880s to the high tech LED lights on today's vehicles, headlights have undergone quite an evolution!

For a great run-down on the history of headlights (complete with photos of headlights through the ages), check out Illuminated: A Brief History of the Headlight.

This NBC Sports video from this year's LA Auto Show talks a little bit about the history of headlights as well as showing us what the future of headlights looks like:

And for more about how headlight improvement are contributing to driving safety, see this MSN Autos article about headlight technology.

With all of the new developments in headlight technology, the shape of headlights have changed dramatically. I confess a weakness for the old school look of round headlights, even if they aren't the most efficient. Rectangle, round or oblong - do you have strong headlight preference? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.

Taking Driving for Granted: Cars and Other Cultures

Car keys on the map
Photo: iStockphoto

Growing up in Edmonton, driving was the ultimate goal of every teen. You get your learner's permit at fourteen, your driver's license at sixteen and, if you were REALLY lucky, you'd inherit your parents' clunker so that you could drive your friends to the mall.

Driving is a huge part of our culture as Canadians that most of us take for granted. But driving and vehicle ownership is not a straightforward proposition in many other places in the world. Here are a few interesting tidbits about driving and car culture outside of Canada:

  • In Singapore, the government is very dedicated to curbing vehicle ownership in order to keep traffic orderly and pollution down. As a result, owning a car in Singapore is a very costly venture. Between the taxes, fees and the Certificate of Entitlement you have to obtain via auction before being allowed to drive, the total cost to buy and license a $16,500 vehicle would be close to $140,000.

Continue reading "Taking Driving for Granted: Cars and Other Cultures " »

Distracted Driving: Why You Should Strive to be a Uni-Tasker in the Car

Distracted driving
Photo: iStockphoto

I remember that when I created my very first resume, my worldly friend who had been employed for two weeks told me that I should definitely put "multitasking" as a skill, so that employers would know I could handle whatever they would be throwing at me. I kept adding "multitasking" on job applications for years and it was the only lie on my resume.

The reality is that I'm a uni-tasker. I can only do one thing - properly - at a time. I'm such a uni-tasker that I am routinely mocked because I refuse to answer my cellphone when I'm a PASSENGER in the car (I am far too busy driving with my mind).

As it turns out, I am not unique - most of us are uni-taskers pretending that we're good at multitasking. But, while some assert that the ability to effectively multitask is a myth, multitasking doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

It's illegal to use a handheld cellphone while driving in most of Canada but most provinces still allow hands-free devices. Most car manufacturers now include handsfree cellphone connections and infotainment options in the dashboard to let you stay connected while in your vehicle. Don't text and drive - dictate your texts (and Facebook posts) aloud, without taking your eyes off the road! Great solution, right? As it turns out, not so much.

According to this article from the National Post, a new AAA study has found that using in-car voice commands to text or check email are actually more distracting than simply talking on a cellphone because they require just as much, if not more, concentration to perform.

Continue reading "Distracted Driving: Why You Should Strive to be a Uni-Tasker in the Car" »

Knowing When To Stop - Intelligent Braking Systems

Smart brake system
Photo: iStockphoto

I'm lucky in that the only head-on vehicle collision I've ever been involved in was the time I drove a golf cart into a palm tree in Phoenix, Arizona in 1985. I was 10 at the time. The cause of the crash? Failure to apply the brakes in a timely manner.

My failure to brake is not uncommon. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 40 percent of drivers fail to hit the brakes in time when they're involved in a crash. The average driver takes just under a second to recognize an urgent braking situation and that may not be enough time for them to stop their vehicle before a collision takes place.

In the past, we had to rely on seatbelts and airbags to reduce injuries in case of collisions but over the past few years, vehicle technology has made great strides in more active safety systems. Several vehicle manufacturers are now rolling out vehicles that make up for our slower animal reflexes with crash avoidance systems like intelligent braking.

Continue reading "Knowing When To Stop - Intelligent Braking Systems" »