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7 entries from June 2014

Fido On Board - Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car

Summer trip with dogs
Photo: iStock

We're headed over to Pender Island for our first road trip of the summer next week and we're bringing our dog Emmy Lou. Even though Emmy is super super old, she still perks up in a new place and it's always fun to watch her discover new smells and figure out how to defend an unfamiliar hotel room.

Planning for this trip got me thinking about traveling with pets in general - and keeping your dog safe in the car in particular! It's not illegal to let your dog have the run of the car while you're driving but it's certainly not safe - some police officers may issue tickets for careless driving if they see your dog romping around your vehicle.

Here are a few tips for those of you hitting the road with your furry friends this summer:

Secure your dog with a harness or crate. Emmy will NOT get in a crate but she loves her harness - it give her some mobility to change positions but keeps her from wandering all over the car. Worst case scenario, a harness will keep your dog from becoming a dangerous projectile in case of an accident; best case, it will keep your dog from distracting you while you're driving. If you're putting your dog in a crate, be sure the crate is well-secured.

Don't roll the windows all the way down. Enterprising pooches may leap out and hurt themselves trying to chase a squirrel.

Don't let your pup hang her head out the window. As cute as it is when Fido's ears flap in the breeze, flying gravel and other debris can cause injuries. Plus, wind and cold air can cause lung infections and inner ear damage.

Continue reading "Fido On Board - Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car" »

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Car Accessories That Broadcast Your Mood

Motor Mood
Photo: MotorMood

When I'm out on the road, I have often wished that I had some kind of "ODS" - Opinion Delivery System - in order that I may communicate my feelings to other drivers.

Of course, my feelings are generally "WHAT are you DOING?" but there are also times when I want to say "Hey - that was some good driving, buddy."

Given the limits of inter-car communications, good driving often goes unlauded. Until now! Enter MotorMood - a light-up happy face that you can attach to your rear window. You can activate it via remote control while in traffic to communicate with other drivers. Basically, it's like a technologically advanced courtesy wave that you can use to say "Thanks!" or "Sorry!"

It seems like a simple idea but I can see how it might help make the road a friendlier place. As MotorMood says in their mission statement:

MotorMood reduces road rage anxiety and driving related misunderstandings by offering a richer level of positive communication that facilitates better understanding between drivers. When used in potentially inflammatory situations, our light up happy face diffuses tempers and replaces frowns with smiles. It goes a long way when you can communicate "thanks" and "sorry" and show another driver you're a human being and not a two ton cube of glass and steel.

It looks like MotorMood was originally planning to offer a winking face (to salute cute drivers) and an angry face as well but it seems like they've decided to stick with positive reinforcement. Probably a good call - "winking" at a stranger may be interpreted as creepy and you never know when your "angry" face will trigger someone else's road rage.

What do you think about this idea? Would you stick this cute emoticon on your car to "make the road a happier place"? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.

What’s Behind Gas Prices?

You likely saw the articles on your favourite news sites yesterday, or heard the radio reports on the way to work. The price of crude went up around 3%, largely based on the news of the Iraq insurgency and the potential of oil supplies being disrupted. And when crude goes up, the cost of gasoline at the pump is at risk of rising as well.

You’ll often hear examples of the factors which effect the price at the pump. Natural Resources Canada lists the following price influencers:

  • Changes in world crude oil prices
  • Availability of supply to meet demand
  • Local competition among retailers
  • Seasonal demand
  • Inventory levels

Given the impending water cooler talk, we thought it may be helpful to provide a little context on a few of those factors.

Commodity Market Fluctuates Daily
Gasoline and crude oil are commodities - they are bought and sold at prices determined by commodity markets. It's like when we plan a trip to the US: depending on the day, we will pay a different exchange rate for our Canadian dollars; that exchange rate is determined by currency markets.

Similarly, on the commodity market, the wholesale price of gasoline changes daily, depending on the market's reaction to the price factors above.

Effect of Wholesale Gas Prices on the Price at the Pump
Wait, why do we care about wholesale prices for gasoline rather than the retail price? At Suncor, we produce and sell gasoline from our refineries, but we also purchase gasoline on the wholesale market to round out our supply and make sure that all of our stations (and customers!) have the required fuel. The wholesale market's prices are set on a daily basis (you can track the daily wholesale market price on Natural Resources Canada's site).

So for all the gasoline that we produce and sell, we follow the accepted daily wholesale price set by the market. You can read more about the relationship between gas prices and commodity prices in a previous PumpTalk post.

- Corinn S.