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June 2014

4 entries from May 2014

Gear Up for Summer: Summer Maintenance Checklist

Summer driving
Photo: iStock
The sky is blue, the tomatoes are planted, the dog refuses to come in out of the sun - I think it might finally be summer! If you're anything like me, you're already planning your summer road trips to all the wild places Canada has to offer. 
While you're getting the maps out and checking your Trip Advisor app, here's a quick checklist of things you can do to help make sure you and your car have a safe and happy summer together:

Continue reading "Gear Up for Summer: Summer Maintenance Checklist" »

Can this Attention Powered Car Cut Down on Distracted Driving Accidents?

We've written a lot over the last year about assisted driving technologies and distracted driving - so when I came across this project that's tackling both, I had to share it with you PumpTalk readers!

Like the rest of the world, Western Australia has a problem with distracted driving; their experts estimate that between 20 to 30 percent of driver deaths are caused by distraction (versus 10 percent in the U.S.). With a mind to improving that statistic, the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) partnered with Emotiv to create the Attention Powered Car.

The Attention Powered Car can tell when you're distracted or trying to multitask while driving and it adjusts your speed accordingly. The driver wears a neuro-headset that monitors brain activity and that information is conveyed to the car.

Here's a video about how the system works.

There are several more great videos on the RAC site with more information about the Attention Powered car - be sure to check them out!

Obviously, anything that gets us all to focus on the road more is a good thing. But clearly this Attention Powered Car system has its drawbacks - decreasing speed doesn't necessarily mean you won't be in an accident and sudden slowing could cause accidents as well. Still, as a tool to educate drivers about how often they get distracted, it could be useful!

Would you take a ride in the Attention Powered Car?

- Rose R.

Spring Driving Refresher: Hydroplaning

Car on wet streets
Photo: iStock

After our crazy winter, spring seems to be a little later this year.

As the rain falls…and falls and falls, we thought it might be a good time for a spring refresher on hydroplaning!

As we wrote last year in our When April Showers Bring Hydroplaning post:


Hydroplaning is the skidding that can occur when your car tires come into contact with a wet surface. When the grooves in your tire can't sufficiently scatter the water on the road, your tires lose traction on the thin film of water between them and the asphalt. When you hydroplane, you temporarily lose braking and steering control, making it dangerous for you and anyone else on the road.

Any wet surface can cause hydroplaning, but when are roads the most slippery? The most perilous time is during the first 10 minutes of a light rain, when the water mixes with oil residue on the road, creating extra slippery conditions.

Check out the rest of the post for hydroplane avoidance tips - or watch this video from ABC News which demonstrates how to avoid hydroplaning and what to do if your car starts to slide on the road: 

Have you hydroplaned in this wet spring weather? Have any tips to share? Leave them in the comments!

- Rose R.


May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

As the weather warms up, all of my motorcycle and scooter-riding friends are dusting off their wheels and enjoying the open road. With more motorcycles on the road this time of year - and with motorcycle fatalities on the rise - now seems the ideal time for a refresher on motorcycle awareness and safety. 

That's why The Ontario Road Riders Association has joined forces with various other law enforcement and safety organizations in Canada to declare May 2014 Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Photo: ORRA

As these riders can attest, drivers aren't always as alert as they could be where motorcyclists are concerned, often with tragic results:

Here are several Ontario Road Riders Association tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on the road:

  • Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.

  • Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.

  • Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to other vehicles pose major hazards to motorcyclists.

  • Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when following a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Naturally, safety is a two-way street; motorcyclists need to follow the rules of the road, wear appropriate protective gear and being alert to other drivers.

For more about Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, visit

Do you ride? Any safety tips to share with other motorcyclists or drivers? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.