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4 entries from November 2014

'Tis the Season to be Shopping: Holiday Parkade Etiquette

Holiday Parking
Photo: iStock

Tomorrow is Black Friday in the U.S., the craziest shopping day of the year - and the craziness seems to have spread to Canada.

Several retailers are having big sales tomorrow and shoppers will be arriving early to snag the best deals. But before they can shop, they'll need to park. And if you think things get ugly in the store, you can imagine the scene in the parkade.

Black Friday really kicks off the holiday shopping season, so with that in mind, I figured we could all use a little refresher on parkade etiquette. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're cruising the parkade at the mall over the next several weeks.

Slow down. It may take a moment for your eyes to adjust to the shift from outside to parkade. Plus, there are families in here and it's harder to see tiny tots bundled up in cute snowsuits when you're whipping around the parkade like you're at NASCAR. Take your time and stay alert.

Pay close attention to signage. Parkades operate according to their own internal logic - sometimes the signage can be confusing or counter-intuitive. Take a moment to make sure you're not driving the wrong way or exiting where everyone else is trying to enter. Keep an eye on any parkade mirrors to see when other drivers are coming around corners.

Be alert for vehicles backing out of spots and yield the right of way. We've all felt the frustration of trying to back out of a spot with someone RIGHT. UP. BEHIND YOU. Don't be a creeper - give exiting drivers some room and you'll be first in line to slide into their spot.

Be the bigger driver. The holidays are supposed to be fun. But sometimes at the mall, people don't seem full of cheer. And sometimes those people "steal" your parking space. If you feel you've been wronged in the parkade, take a breath and let it go. As we noted in our Dealing with Aggressive Drivers post, sometimes the best course of action when dealing with an aggressive parker is to just avoid them and move on.

Don't be choosy about your spot when it's busy. Unless you have mobility issues and really need to park close to your destination, don't add to the congestion and exhaust in the parkade by driving around and around looking for a parking spot that really "speaks" to you. This is war. Pick a spot and park there.

Make sure you're parked between the lines and pulled all the way in. Taking up two parking spots, parking diagonally or parking with the back of your car hanging out is not cool, even if you're "just going in for a minute". Also, if you're a large vehicle, try to avoid parking in "small car" spots.

Keep your gifts to yourself. This is more of a safety note - if you're making a lot of different stops, be sure and store your purchases in the trunk out of sight to dissuade parkade thieves. An empty car is a lot less tempting than one stuffed with electronics or toys.

Do you have any parkade etiquette tips - or pet peeves to share? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.

Ahead of the Curve: Adaptive Headlights

Adaptive Headlights
Photo: iStock

This time of year, with the short short days and endless nights, a young lady's thoughts naturally turn to driving safely after dark.

Last October, we did a post called Bright Lights, Dark Road: All about Headlights about the history of the headlight. But this post is all about the future! Specifically adaptive headlights and their effect on road safety.

What are adaptive headlights and how to they work?

Adaptive headlights, as the name suggests, adapt to your car's movements. The lenses of the headlights are able to swivel from side to side and up and down.

Adaptive headlight systems are controlled by an electronic control unit (ECU) and generally include:

  • A sensor for steering input to monitor the angle of the steering wheel
  • Wheel speed sensors that monitor the rotation speed of each of your tires
  • A yaw sensor to monitor your car's side-to-side movement (i.e. turning a corner, going around a bend)
  • A level sensor to monitor whether your car is tilted forward or backwards (i.e. going up or down a hill)
  • Tiny motors that operate each headlight

The ECU monitors and analyses all of the input from these components to determine where and how to move the headlights to best illuminate the road. Check out this mesmerizing video of adaptive headlights swivelling about.

BMW F20 Adaptive Headlights (Xenon) from IronEagle on Vimeo.

What are the benefits of adaptive headlights?

Continue reading "Ahead of the Curve: Adaptive Headlights" »

Road Sign Refresher Quiz

Back in July, we posted a monthly poll called "Could you pass your learner's test today?"  

More than 60% of you felt that you would pass, with a few missed questions. What were the most commonly missed questions on the quiz? Road signs! Most road signs are pretty obvious but there are a few that most of us don't see every day.

Tempted to put your road sign knowledge to the test? Take our Road Sign Refresher quiz below to see how you stack up!

1.  Road Sign Refresher

a) Now entering Winter Wonderland

b) Curvy road ahead

c) Firefly viewing area

d) Road may be slippery when wet

2.  Road Sign Refresher

a) Runaway truck lane

b) Beware speeding trucks

c) Military base nearby

d) Truck entrance on the right ahead

3.  Road Sign Refresher

a) Attention cyclists: potentially hazardous road conditions ahead

b) Attention cyclists: show off your sick moves ahead

c) Bike lane ends

d) Bike snow route

Continue reading "Road Sign Refresher Quiz" »

Monthly Poll: Are You a Handy Mechanic?

Handy mechanic
Photo: iStock

I have a confession to make. I spend a lot of time researching car-related topics for PumpTalk, so I have a pretty good theoretical knowledge of how my car works. But when it comes to actually looking under the hood, I can get a little lost. I remember my dad showed me where the dipstick is one time and I couldn't stop laughing at the word "dipstick". Thus ended the lesson.

The great thing about this internet age is that there are myriad online ways to educate yourself about the inner workings of your car. For example, if you love video games and want to learn more about car repair, check out Car Mechanic Simulator 2014, a video game where you fix cars and operate your own auto repair shop. Fun!

If video games aren't your thing, never fear - there are some great automotive advice sites out there to start you on your DIY journey. Some are geared specifically to women, like awesome automotive advice site, while others like cater to a more general audience.

Of course, it's a stereotype that men love to work on their cars and women don't. I know a number of car crazy gals who are really into DIY with their vehicles and plenty of men I know enjoy driving but leave any maintenance work to the professionals.

Over to you! Do you consider yourself a greasemonkey or do you prefer to keep what happens under your hood a mystery? Take our poll below!


- Rose R.