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3 entries from December 2014

Get Home Safe During the Holiday Season

Holiday Festivities

I love the holidays ... the lights, the music, the parties, the cocktails. Ahhh .. the cocktails.

OK, time for Real Talk. If you're planning to have a tipple this holiday season when you're out and about, you need a way to get home safely and keep other people on the road safe as well (sober driving - it's not just about you).

Make sure that you and your friends have a conversation about this topic BEFORE heading to the party: who will be the designated driver? And if no one wants to be the DD, make sure you have a plan.

Luckily, especially around the holidays, there are several options that will help you, your family and friends get home safe and sound.

Calling a Designated Driver Service
There are Designated Driver Services sprouting up in communities across Canada. This service lets you take your own car to a party or event. Then, when you're ready to leave, you call the service and they will send two people: one to drive you and your friends home in your car and the other to follow in a "chase car" and pick up the driver of your car.

Private DD services are available in various communities. The best way to check if one is available in yours is to do an Internet search for "designated driver service" and your city. Operation Red Nose is a free designated-driver service that operates during the holidays across Canada. Check out the website to see if they operate in your area. 

Calling a Taxi
#TAXI - PoundTaxi is a service on your mobile phone; when you dial #TAXI (#8294) it connects you to the next available taxi. This service is available in Canada. Note - it is considered a "premium voice service" and, as such, has a charge, depending on your wireless carrier. For more info, see the #TAXI website

Get a Taxi App
Several of the taxi companies in Canada's larger metropolitan centres have smartphone apps that let you pre-book or call a taxi on demand. Often they will let you track your taxi's route, so you can see how far away they are. Handy! Search for your city and "cab" or "taxi" in your preferred App Store.

Local Transit
Several communities across Canada offer free transit on New Year's Eve. Check your local transit authority's website to see if this is being offered in your area.

That's it for PumpTalk this year! We're on holiday until January 8, 2015. From all of us here on the PumpTalk team, we wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!

- Rose R.


One for the Road - Great Books about Cars and Driving

Books about Cars
Photo: iStock

Last week we posted some ideas for the car lover on your holiday gift list. But what if your intended recipient is more of the armchair variety? Less about driving experiences and gear, and more about the story behind the car or the road? Well, we've rounded up a few great books to give to your driving enthusiast this year.

Muscle Car Madness: If your gift recipient loves looking at rare muscle cars from the 1960s, a wild time in American automotive history, then you'll want to consider "Top Muscle: The Rarest Cars from America's Fastest Decade" by Darwin Holmstrom with photos by Randy Leffingwell.

This beautiful coffee table book, full of glamour shots of both cars and engines, showcases a private collection of muscle cars, including:

  • The very first Z16 Chevelle built in 1965
  • The first LS6 Chevelle SS 454 built
  • The only 1969 Mustang Mach I built with a sunroof
  • The first production A12 Road Runner 440 6bbl.
  • A documented 1970 Hemi Challenger R/T with the N94 hood

Cool Concept: For something a little more "out there" (and also a little late because it's not being published til Jan 15, 2015), try "Motorama: GM's Legendary Show & Concept Cars" by David Temple. Temple is a well-known car show and concept car enthusiast and an authority on GM's Motorama show, an annual auto show held by GM from 1949 to 1961. In his new book, Temple documents the concept cars that were the highlight of Motorama, including the GM Le Sabre, replete with aerospace design and an aluminum engine; the fiberglass-bodied Corvette dream car, which went into production after overwhelmingly positive response; and the jet engine-powered Firebird. Temple discusses the body, engine and special features of each car as well as some of the ownership histories.

Rollicking Road Trip: Maybe it's not so much about the car, but the journey for your gift recipient. A book like "Canada's Road: A Journey on the Trans-Canada Highway from St. John's to Victoria" by Mark Richardson may be just the ticket. On a 10-week road trip, Richardson drove the 8,000 KM drive and explored the diverse places and people along our beloved Trans-Canada.

Driving You Crazy: Finally, maybe you want your gift to be a little more than just a gift. Is your driving enthusiast more of a backseat driver who regularly comments on your merge techniques or your parkade parking? Give them a copy of "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)" by Tom Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt's book explores the relatively mundane task of driving through the lenses of psychology, culture and emotion, interviewing traffic officials and driving experts to shine a light on topics as diverse as pedestrian safety, the psychology of commuting and the trouble with traffic signs.

These are the books on our wish list this year, how about you? Any car or driving tomes that you'd recommend?

- Rose R.


Take the Flag This Holiday Season - Car Enthusiast Holiday Wish List

Holiday Shopping for Car Lovers
Photo: iStock

My dad bought his first new car in 30 years recently and he's a little obsessed. In fact, I have it on good authority that he took the car's manual with him on vacation so that he could really get to know all that his brand new baby has to offer. After decades of driving bona fide clunkers, my father might finally be turning into…a car enthusiast.

While I'm thrilled that he has a new hobby, I also know that car lovers can be tricky to buy for. They can be very picky about what goes in or on their vehicle and if you're not really into cars yourself, it might be tough to know where to start! So here are a few ideas for what to get the car enthusiast on your list this holiday season.

Car art: If they already have a car they treat like a member of the family, consider having it professionally photographed and framed so that they don't have to be in the garage to admire the glory. Or if you know they have an aspirational vehicle, get them a framed print of their favourite car, so that they remember to dream (and save up).

Car experiences: Sometimes experiences can be the best kind of gift, especially when your car lover has all the car "stuff" they need. Check out local racetracks for programs like the Bridgestone Racing Academy that offer lessons to drivers who feel the need for speed or who want to learn some of the cool stunts they've seen in the movies. If you're worried that they'll end up quitting their day job and start training for for NASCAR, consider getting them tickets to the local auto show - or better yet, an auto show that requires a road trip!

Car fashion: Driving in heavy shoes makes it difficult to really get a feel for the road - if your driver is keen to drive like the pros, consider buying them racing boots (or other racing apparel, like gloves).

Car games: The winter is a great time for your driving enthusiast to spend more time in virtual cars. There are several awesome racing games out for the holidays this year. Gran Turismo 6 for PS3, Forza Motorsport 5 for XBox One, and Need for Speed Rivals are just a few of the heart-pounding video racing games you can treat your car lover to.

If you don't have a gaming system, here's an interesting alternative - this year there's a new "real-world video game" called Anki DRIVE that looks really cool. The game involves two toy cars, one controlled by you and one controlled by artificial intelligence. As your cars battle each other, each gains experience and gets better at racing, so the competition become increasingly intense. Hours of indoor fun!

Continue reading "Take the Flag This Holiday Season - Car Enthusiast Holiday Wish List" »