Tesla’s self-driving vehicles are a classic case of the automaker’s reach exceeding their grasp. Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems almost obsessed with realizing his dream of a futuristic world that seems ripped right out of the pages of a sci-fi pulp fiction magazine.
Trips to Mars. Vehicles that drive themselves. It’s the future that the 1980s promised we’d have by now, but is the technology safe enough for widespread public use? Are Tesla vehicles really safe to use with the auto pilot software engaged? Are Tesla’s safety claims exaggerated?
Tesla Protest in China
These questions are being asked after Tesla endured a brutal month of bad press. In China, a man was driving a Model 3 car on the motorway that caused a multi-car crash in February. The man’s daughter Zhang Yazhou staged a dramatic protest during the Shanghai Auto Show that went viral. She stood on top of a Tesla vehicle at their booth and cried foul play. She alleged that the Tesla Model 3 her dad was driving experienced a brake failure that caused the crash.
Tesla revealed that vehicle data from the vehicle in question indicated that the vehicle was speeding and the brakes had been applied successfully more than 40 times in the half hour leading up to the crash. Zhang was quick to call the vehicle data fake and the Chinese government has put pressure on Tesla to respect Chinese consumers and meet the highest safety measures.
Tesla Crash in Texas
Earlier this month, two men were killed in a fiery Tesla car crash that took place in Texas. The vehicle was speeding and eventually crashed into a tree and burst into flames. After firefighters extinguished the blaze, they found one passenger in the back seat and one man in the front passenger seat. There was no one driving the Tesla vehicle.
Elon Musk took to Twitter to deny allegations that the vehicle’s autopilot feature was engaged at the time of the crash. He also pointed out that the owner did not purchase the Full Self-Driving feature.
This crash from Texas is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA has 24 ongoing investigations into crashes involving Tesla auto pilot software.
How Does Tesla AutoPilot Work?
The official disclaimer from Tesla’s website is that Tesla’s Autopilot feature is not designed to work independently, at least not yet. Autopilot is “intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time,” the website states.
According to the Tesla website, a vehicle will not engage auto pilot unless the vehicle’s sensors detect there is adequate weight in the drive’s seat, the seatbelt is engaged, and the driver is attentively watching the road ahead. The full self-driving software update has been created but Tesla has not made it available to the public yet. Right now, Tesla electric vehicles can accelerate, change lanes, brake and follow road signs, as well as enter and exit highway ramps.
Consumer Reports put the Tesla AutoPilot feature to the test in a new video. During a demonstration, a small weight was applied to the steering wheel and there was no live driver behind the wheel. The Tesla vehicle essentially drove itself and failed to engage any safety measures regarding a lack of a driver.
Tesla’s software is notoriously quirky. It’s important to note that the vehicle can also still drive itself if someone is asleep behind the wheel. Trusting your life to a vehicle that drives itself takes a great deal of faith in technology and the brand which brings that technology to the market.
Tesla autopilot statistics are confusing to say the least. The findings would suggest that passengers are just as safe with the feature engaged as they are with it disengaged. Tesla publishes quarterly safety reports via their website. Here is what the electric vehicle automaker had to say about their most recent data statistics.
“In the 1st quarter, we registered one accident for every 4.19 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 2.05 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 978 thousand miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.”
That sounds absolutely stellar, but critics are quick to point out some inconsistencies. Most Tesla vehicles use Auto Pilot on the highway where the chance of a fatal crash is reduced in comparison to city streets. The Full self-driving software is designed to allow auto pilot in urban settings, but it hasn’t been released yet. In essence, Tesla is comparing their limited highway driving statistics against the total number of driving accidents on both the city and highway.
Consumer Reports has been a thorn in Elon Musk’s side for a couple of years now. In 2020, Consumer Reports compared the driving assistance systems of all the leading automakers. Despite all the bragging that Tesla executives uphold about their Auto Pilot safety, the Cadillac Super Cruise function that’s featured on the Cadillac CT6 beat out the Tesla Autopilot by a wide margin.
Tesla’s claims that their electric self-driving vehicles are safer than anything else on the road is little more than a marketing scheme. At all times, a driver must mechanically operate a motor vehicle. The future of autonomous driving is attractive, and it is close to realization. However, it’s not worth risking your life. Please drive safely.
It’s an exciting time to drive an SUV or crossover. There’s so much variety on the market in 2021. Some of the latest SUVs aim to wrangle in big families with top safety equipment while others set their sights on big performance numbers.
SUVs and crossovers have always provided more utility than sedans and coupes and more versatility than trucks or vans. Now, there are electric powertrains and off-road goliaths to wow potential buyers with high tech features.
Here are Some of the Best SUVs and Crossovers Hitting the Market This Year
2021 Toyota RAV4
According to global auto sales data from Focus2Move, the Toyota RAV4 is the second highest selling vehicle on the market and the highest selling SUV. One of the biggest selling points is the shockingly low MSRP. It costs just $26,150 to own a brand new 2021 Toyota RAV4. The ticket price is attractive but so are the dual chrome-tipped exhaust ports, upscale profile lines, and sporty front end.
Style isn’t the only thing that the RAV4 has going for it. Top level safety features come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite. You get blind spot warnings, rear cross traffic alerts, parking assist, and automatic high beams. Toyota is willing to give away these safety features to attract buyers with families who place a high value on their road safety.
At any trim level, the Toyota RAV4 is value priced. There’s all-wheel drive, hybrid models, and nothing costs more than $38,000. That’s for the Limited Hybrid model that comes with all the bells and whistles. Although there’s only a 4 cylinder powertrain available for the 2021 RAV4 gas models, its 8-speed automatic gearbox handles acceleration like a champ.
The 2021 Audi E-Tron is a technologically advanced electrified SUV. It’s a plug-in vehicle with two electric motors and quattro all-wheel drive. If you’re in the market for an SUV or crossover with zero emissions but still want high performance, then the 2021 E-Tron can’t be ignored. It produces 408 horsepower and travels from zero to 60 in a respectable 5.7 seconds.
The 2021 Audi E-Tron excels as an electric SUV because it doesn’t look like it came from a science fiction movie set. It’s easily recognizable as an Audi from the inside out. You’ve got the upscale interior ambient lighting, the 10-inch touchscreen display, and real wood grain accents. There’s no compromising on luxury, even as the market trend is going in the direction of minimalist design.
The 2021 Audi E-Tron has three different powertrain options that give drivers flexibility on performance vs. fuel economy. At its best, the E-Tron has a driving range of 252 miles and can recoup about 80% of its power in 30 minutes with DC fast charging.
When it comes to spacious interiors, there’s no beating the 2021 Kia Telluride. It leads the segment. Three rows of seating are a hallmark feature for large SUVs. It’s rarely done properly when mid-sized vehicles attempt to jam in a third row.
The 2021 Kia Telluride is one of the only large SUVs that presents seating for 8 passengers without compromising legroom for the second row. There’s 31.4 inches of legroom there. The Audi Q7 is more luxurious, and costs more, but only provides 29.2 inches of legroom on the second row. It might seem like a small difference, but those few inches mean everything on a long road trip.
The 2021 Kia Telluride has stellar reviews and carries a MSRP of just $32,190. There are options galore spread out between four different model trims. However, the base model has plenty of standard equipment such as leather-wrapped steering wheel, rearview camera, and blind spot warnings. When wrapped in premium Nappa leather, the interior steps on the toes of Mercedes-Benz and other expensive luxury SUV automakers.
Truthfully, both the BMW X3 and the X5 could make this list of the best SUVs for 2021. Yet, the BMW X5 stands out among mid-sized luxury SUVs. It has powerful engines to choose from including a hybrid and a M-tuned V8 engine that produces 523 horsepower. It’s fast enough to go from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds and powerful enough to tow up to 7,200 pounds.
There are plenty of other performance options for the X5. You can select advanced air shocks, all-wheel drive and sport-tuned suspension at your build out. You can also pick and choose some of the M features such as sport brakes and colored calipers.
The 2021 BMW X5 has an MSRP of $59,400, but that’s just the start. The X5 M tips the scales at $105,100. Even the base model has a beautiful exterior though. There’s the signature BMW kidney grille, 19-inch wheels, and an upright ride height that grants the driver with great visibility.
The amenities of the BMW X5 are most evident from the interior. There are copious amounts of woodgrain and leather inside the cabin. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are key tech features. There’s even a small third row for seating an additional couple of passengers.
If you’re looking for an affordable crossover with all-wheel drive and great gas mileage, then take a closer look at the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid. It has standard all-wheel drive, 40 miles per gallon, and attractive chrome accents all along the body.
The CR-V Hybrid has 75.8 cubic feet of cargo volume and 102.9 cu. Ft. of passenger volume. When you add the power liftgate to that equation you get an interior that is easily accessible and large enough for a full family. The interior is much larger than the Prius and the Toyota RAV4. The rear seats fold down and there’s plenty of stow-and-go compartments.
When it comes to safety features, the 2021 Honda CR-V is all aces. It comes with the Honda Sensing suite as standard equipment. That’s a bundle of safety features that includes road departure mitigation technology, collision mitigation and blind spot monitoring.
The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid isn’t the best-looking SUV on this list. None of the model trims make much of a difference in that regard. It has an MSRP of $30,560 and the low price is meant to take your attention away from the tame exterior and budget materials in the cabin. If you can get past the looks of the CR-V Hybrid, you’ll be rewarded by its thrifty nature.
The 2021 Volvo XC40 is a compact crossover that punches above its weight class. It’s a stellar all-around vehicle with advanced collision avoidance technology as standard equipment. The 2021 XC40 goes above and beyond to keep passengers safe by providing automatic braking and four onboard cameras.
The 2021 Volvo XC40 is a city dweller. It has a small footprint and an available plug-in model that boasts up to 208 miles on a single charge. The XC40 has an expressive body design with attractive lines and a panoramic glass roof. There’s leather upholstery and a 9-inch vertical touchscreen.
With an MSRP of $33,700, the XC40 cuts into the budget crossover market. Yet, this is still a luxurious Volvo with plenty of tech inside. It has a perky turbo-charged engine and can be outfitted with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. With 187 horsepower and a low curb weight, the XC40 is safe but fun to drive.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport
The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is an off-roader dream and a formidable alternative to the Jeep Wrangler. There are four model trims, all of which seek to master a unique aspect of outdoor adventuring. All of the 2021 Bronco Sport vehicles claim to go over any type of terrain.
You’d expect to pay just as much as a loaded Jeep for the Bronco Sport, but it has a starting price of $26,820. That comes with standard 4×4 capability, best in class cargo volume behind the first row, and voice activation SYNC 3 technology.
Beyond the base model, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport presents almost too many options. There are four other model trims, and the First Edition model is a rare find on any Ford lot. The Badlands model has everything Ford can throw at it for off-roading. It has a metal bash plate, beefy off-road tires, front tow hooks and a specially designed suspension system.
Even if off-roading isn’t your thing, the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport will turn heads on the road. It’s an attractive throwback. It has a high roof that offers best-in-class headroom. The interior is easy to clean and purpose built. Plus, there’s wireless charging, a 10-speaker premium audio system and plenty of creature comforts for urban adventurers.
Tesla still rakes in the lion’s share of the electric vehicle market. Yet, whatever falls off the Tesla table goes to Ford and the Mustang Mach-E. According to a Morgan Stanley report, Tesla’s share of the electric car market fell to 69% and Morgan Stanley attributes the losses directly to the debut of the Mach-E from Ford.
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E won SUV of the Year from the North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards. Here’s why the Mach-E is doing so well. There are four different models including the suped-up Mustang Mach-E GT. It has 480 horsepower and 600 pound feet of torque; it truly lives up to the Mustang namesake.
The 2021 Mustang Mach-E has a standard driving range of 230 miles with an extended mile model traveling up to 300 miles in certain conditions. The body design of the Mach-E is a direct jab at Tesla but presents itself as a hardline departure from Mustang vehicles of the past.
The 2021 Porsche Macan Turbo is sexy and athletic. It’s a small luxury SUV that successfully matches looks with capabilities. The Macan Turbo borrows from its stablemate the Cayan in the looks department. It has broad shoulders, large wheels, and a new LED taillight strip in the rear.
The Porsche Macan Turbo is a driver’s SUV with an overdose of Porsche DNA. It leads with performance and handling. Safety equipment and creature comforts for passengers are an afterthought. It has a 2.9 Liter, twin turbo V6 powertrain. The 7-speed PDK gearbox is one of the best transmissions on the planet.
Traction management, torque vectoring, and air suspension give the Macan Turbo the handles of a sports car. With a push of a button, the Macan Turbo switches jobs and goes into Off-road Mode. It grips the road and carves out corners with ease, making even novice drivers look like pros.
The interior of the 2021 Porsche Macan Turbo is an explosion of buttons, controls, and screens. It can be a bit overwhelming. Directional sound technology amplifies the exhaust note around the cabin and the panoramic glass roof has embedded ambient lighting. Aside from a cramped rear bench, the 2021 Porsche Macan Turbo is one of the best performance SUVs on the market. Scoop up your own if you’ve got $84,600.
2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz G Class SUV is like a behemoth. The AMG version of the G-Wagon is a behemoth that’s nearly impossible to kill. It’s just too tough. When you combine the ruggedness of the G Wagon with the performance of an AMG, you get a monster with a six figure price tag and fire under the hood.
Most known for its boxy, iconic proportions, the AMG G63 scoffs at any inkling of a redesign. Four chrome pipes growl from the sides of the AMG G63. It intimidates other SUVs with massive 22-inch wheels and exposed door hinges.
The 2021 AMG G63 has a twin turbo, twin scroll V8 engine that produces 577 horsepower and 627 pound feet of torque. It’s best not to even think about gas mileage when you’re putting out that level of power. It’s all managed by a 9-speed paddle-shifting AMG Speedshift transmission.
Don’t forget that this SUV is meant for off-roading in the worst conditions known to man. It has three locking differentials, a 60:40 rear bias, high ground clearance, and an AMG trail package for enhanced suspension, braking and handling. Put simply, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63 is peerless.
The Best SUVs and Crossovers of 2021
From thrifty fuel sippers to luxury flagships, these top-rated SUVs and crossovers have something for everyone. If you’re looking to go easy on the wallet, then the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid and the Toyota RAV4 have some of the best standard features that don’t cost extra money after the build out. These family haulers double down on cabin space and advanced safety equipment.
When price plays second fiddle to performance, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63, BMW X5 and Porsche Macan Turbo take the podium. The AMG G63 is rugged and ready for the outdoors while the M5 and Macan Turbo are poised to rip up some asphalt in style. All these SUVs carry large price tags and desirable options, so be ready to spend way over the MSRP.
Then, there are the electric and hybrid vehicles. The 2021 Audi E-Tron and Mustang Mach-E are standouts in this category. The dominance of Tesla in the electrified segment is being steadily challenged by automakers who balk at expensive vehicles with next to nothing inside them. Audi and Ford don’t sacrifice the luxury trappings that made them famous just to stretch the MPG meter.
The underdogs might be the clear winners in this race. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport and the Kia Telluride promise thrilling rides with lots of value built into their platforms. These SUVs check all the right boxes and it’s clear that designers at Kia and Ford did their homework when it comes to satisfying what auto buyers want most out of their next vehicle.
Dubbed America’s “Motor City,” Detroit has functioned as the heart of the country’s automotive industry for over a century. The largest and most populous city in Michigan has a long history of automotive manufacturing—one that other states and industries eventually replicated. The success of Motor City was attributed to two main factors: the state’s access to natural resources and the birth of critical players in the automotive industry.
Before the state took an interest in automobiles, it had already made a name for itself as a manufacturing center. The state manufactured a vast range of items, including soap, paint, and tobacco. In the 1830s, it began to produce stoves and grew to become the leading producer of the appliance over the next few decades. By the 1850s, the state was a major pharmaceutical producer in the country, coming second only to New York.
The fact that the state also had access to a host of natural resources paved the way for Detroit to dip its toes into automotive manufacturing. Automobiles require minerals rich in iron for their steel components. Back then, Detroit’s supply of timber also helped in the construction of wooden car frames. The state was able to quickly ship cars to other cities like New York thanks to water and rail routes, and the growing workforce allowed for the mass hiring of capable employees.
Though these resources certainly worked in Detroit’s favor, the state evolved into the Motor City primarily because of the men behind the automobile companies that shaped the American experience behind the wheel.
Perhaps the most famous automaker in the history of the state is Henry Ford, born in Dearborn in 1863 but moved to Detroit in 1891. As a child, Ford had already shown an interest in the engineering behind watches and steam engines. In Detroit, Ford learned from his fellow engineers at the Edison Electric Illuminating Company before test-driving his car in Detroit in 1896. He then founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899. Unfortunately, his company produced only two cars in three years.
By 1903, Ford had established the Ford Motor Company. He then built the Ford Model T vehicle in 1908. Though Ford did not invent the car, he did master the mass-producing assembly line, utilized Detroit’s resources, and treated his employees well. Ford hired African American employees and provided them with higher-than-average salaries. The moving assembly line shortened the time it would take for vehicles to be produced, which meant it also lowered the price of the Ford Model T. The “five-dollar day” concept is credited to Ford as well, popularizing the payment of $5 salaries (double the minimum at the time) and reducing working day hours from nine to eight. Ford employees stayed loyal to the company as it grew into one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers in the country.
Ransom E. Olds founded Olds Motor Works in 1897 and produced the curved-dash Oldsmobile. Olds left his company in 1904, and by 1908, the company sold to General Motors. General Motors, founded by Charles Mott and William Durant in 1908, focused on Buick, its automotive division. However, it also took several small automobile companies, including Oldsmobile and Cadillac, under its wing. General Motors itself was also a relatively small company, so their financial strategy of acquiring smaller companies was not very sustainable. Durant was forced out of his own company in 1920 and ended up launching Chevrolet but returned to General Motors to acquire other brands.
It was then that Buick President Walter Chrysler left to establish the Chrysler Corporation, the third member of the Big Three, in 1925. Following in the footsteps of General Motors, Chrysler acquired smaller brands such as Dodge Brothers, Fargo Trucks, and Jeep.
Aside from the Big Three, other automotive companies also set up shop in Motor City. The Packard Motor Car Company, for instance, established a large factory in Detroit for their luxury automobile.
The Golden Age
Detroit’s automobile Golden Age began after World War II when more workers had to be hired in factories to address the demand for reliable vehicles. The factories also transformed into ones capable of manufacturing spark plugs for automobiles instead of tanks for the war. Detroit’s economy suddenly revolved around the production of cars and car parts, with General Motors benefiting the most from the change.
The Golden Age went just as soon as it came. By 1956, the Big Three reported that their import sales had doubled, and consumers had shifted their attention to newer models from Europe. Though the companies did their best to address the demand for foreign compact cars by creating their own, this was just the first sign that the market was evolving. In 1958, Packard’s factory had to close, signaling the real beginning of the state’s automotive downfall.
African-American workers who traveled to Detroit to look for suitable work were either turned away or mistreated by white residents, leading to increased racial tensions. The tensions came to a head in 1967 during the 12th Street Riot, in which black residents and members of the police took part in multiple confrontations. The five-day riot left 43 people dead and 342 people injured.
In the 1970s, gas prices began to rise, which meant American automobiles were no longer pocket-friendly, and fuel-efficient Japanese vehicles became bestsellers. At the same time, the country blamed Detroit for being a significant contributor to air pollution. Fewer and fewer consumers preferred cars sold by the Big Three, leading the companies into a financial disaster.
By the 1980s, each of the Big Three began to shrink. Ford considered pulling out of North America, while General Motors failed to develop a working rotary engine. Meanwhile, Japanese automakers like Mazda were becoming more popular in the US.
The Big Three greatly suffered during the automotive industry crisis of 2008-2010, but they have maintained their title and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.
Airbags are standard features in most vehicles today, but thankfully, not many of us get to see them in action. The numerous crash test videos one can find online illustrate exactly how life-saving they can be in the event of a collision. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that over 18,300 people are alive today because of airbags. Using a lap and shoulder belt in a car with airbags has even been found to reduce serious head injury by about 80%.
Every day, vehicles with airbags are sold, amounting to around 1 million every month. According to the NHTSA, over 163 million cars and light trucks in the US are equipped with driver airbags, while over 144 million are equipped with passenger airbags.
This vehicle safety device—which inflates upon collision and acts as a cushion preventing those inside the vehicle from acquiring severe injuries—has saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Who invented airbags, and for what reason?
The very first airbag was created by two English dentists, Arthur Parrott and Harold Round, in the 1910s. The two treated victims during World War I and, thus, observed various types of injuries due to bullets, bombs, and vehicular collisions. They created their “air cushion” as a way to prevent jaw injuries as the device could be installed in both automobiles and aircraft. They filed for a patent on November 22, 1919, and received it on February 17, 1920. Though Parrott and Round were from Birmingham, England, they chose to file for a patent through the United States Patent Office.
Decades later, an American named John W. Hetrick would develop what is considered the first modern-day airbag. Hetrick was out with his wife and seven-year-old daughter on a Sunday afternoon in their 1948 Chrysler Windsor. They were headed to the Pennsylvania countryside when they tried to avoid both a deer and a large rock in their path. Hetrick was able to hit the brakes in time and steer the car away from the nearby tree and wooden fence, leading them into a ditch.
Safety Cushion Patent
Hetrick later told the American Heritage magazine that he couldn’t stop thinking about the accident on the ride home. He said, “As I applied the brakes, both my wife and I threw our hands up to keep our daughter from hitting the dashboard.” Hetrick wondered if an object could somehow come out and stop people from “striking the inside of the car.” This laid the foundations for the concept of the airbag. That same day, he began designing the “safety cushion” he would pay $250 to patent it on August 5, 1952. It took over a year to finalize, but by 1953, he received the patent for the “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles.”
German inventor Walter Linderer also patented his “inflatable cushion” based on a compressed air system in 1953. The cushion was designed to be released either by the driver or by bumper contact. Unfortunately, studies in the 1960s found that compressed air failed to inflate airbags fast enough during collisions, making them ineffective. Linderer’s invention still provided the groundwork for automakers hoping to make their vehicles safer for consumers.
By the late 1950s, automakers such as Ford and General Motors had begun working on the development of inflatable restraints, eventually discovering that they would have to be both fast and accurate. To be effective, airbags would have to be released within 40 milliseconds of sensing a crash. Airbags were also found to cause a problem in place of the one they solved: injuries in the passengers they save.
In 1967, American mechanical engineer Allen Breed developed crash sensing technology. At the time, he sold the device for $5. It is still considered the world’s first electromechanical automotive airbag system.
The same year Breed created his airbags, German automobile company Mercedes-Benz began developing airbags as well. The issue of car safety became a hot topic as more and more Americans died on the road. By 1968, the NHTSA made seatbelts a mandatory feature in vehicles, and cars in the US were required to have “automatic occupant protection systems” by 1969. Automakers like Ford and General Motors opposed the mandatory use of airbags, but eventually, governmental regulation made it necessary for their incorporation into vehicles.
General Motors’ luxury car Oldsmobile Toronado became the first vehicle with a passenger airbag in 1973. They also equipped the 1973 Chevrolet Impala with airbags for government use. Throughout the next few years, GM’s air cushion restraint system (ACRS) became an option for vehicles such as their Cadillacs and Buicks. However, a lack of demand for the ACRS led the company to discontinue the option beginning in 1977.
Ford also had an experimental airbag fleet in 1971 but, unlike General Motors, chose to offer airbags again in 1984 for their Tempo model. For a long time, automakers like Honda and Volvo offered the airbag only as part of their higher-end models. It was during the 1990s that airbags truly became a common feature in mainstream American and European vehicles.
In 1991, Breed – who several decades prior created the crash sensing technology mentioned above – received a patent for airbags which used two layers of fabric. When the airbag was triggered, it would inflate then let some gas out, making it safer for passengers by reducing the device’s rigidity. Breed is known to have designed over two dozen car safety inventions and created Key Safety Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of airbags, seatbelts, and other crash-sensor supplies and safety systems. US federal legislation made airbags mandatory in all cars and light trucks in September 1998, giving way to a safer future behind the wheel.
The airbags of today are not the airbags of tomorrow. Automakers have long been studying how airbags could be improved to reduce injuries, especially in frontal collisions. With the emergence of electric power steering and autonomous driving, they must now develop airbags with future use in mind.
Given their prevalence, it is hard to believe the dashcam was rare at one time. Though they do not directly make driving any safer, dashboard cameras are also small enough to not pose any inconvenience.
According to the market research company, Grand View Research, what once was viewed as an untapped market is projected to be worth $7.5 billion by 2027. For a person who considers themselves a perfectly capable driver and does not intend to be involved in a collision anytime soon, the usefulness of a dashcam may be debated. However, contrary to popular belief, dashboard cameras are not solely for catching accidents on tape.
Also known as a dashcam, dashboard cameras are small video cameras installed on a vehicle’s dashboard, windshield, or any other area inside the vehicle. A person can use any camera or recording device as a dashcam, but those specifically built for car use typically feature “always-on” recording and run on 12V DC power. The latter allows power to flow to the camera using the car’s electrical system, so it turns on along with the vehicle. Dashcams are also designed to overwrite old video files with new data as it is recorded and saved to the storage media. Some dashboard cameras can continue running even when the car is turned off, as long as they are connected to a battery.
8 Reasons drivers should have a dashcam
1. Footage of car accidents and traffic violations
Unfortunately, when a car is involved in an accident, the public tends to automatically blame the driver. At the same time, the driver might also recount a completely different version of events than that reported by witnesses. Having video evidence of the accident can help the driver clear their name if not at fault—evidence that the driver can show their insurance company and bring to court if necessary.
The same can be said about traffic violations that one may be confident did not occur. Allow the police officer to view the dashcam footage. If they still issue a ticket, bring the ticket and footage to court to contest it.
It is important to remember that the footage captured can help others that the driver may come across in these kinds of situations, too.
According to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, fraudulent claims total to around $80 billion each year in the US. Insurance fraud is especially common on the road, with some drivers purposely causing accidents or faking injuries to collect insurance money. Footage of the supposed accident can shield a driver from these claims.
3. A watchful eye on inexperienced drivers
Many parents have used a dashcam to keep an eye on their young drivers, and for good reason. Teenage drivers have particularly high car insurance rates because of their lack of experience on the road. For a parent who may be afraid that their child will get into an accident or drive carelessly, footage of the child driving when the parent is not there can help teach the child how they can improve.
If a person frequently allows their friends and family to borrow the car and worry that they aren’t treating it well, a dashboard camera can probably get the vehicle owner’s mind at ease as well.
4. Safety of both passenger and driver
For individuals who drive for a ridesharing company, it would make sense to purchase a two-way dashcam that can record not only what is happening in front of the vehicle but inside it as well. Both the passenger and the driver can feel safe and secure knowing that footage exists of what occurs inside the vehicle, no matter what happens. This can protect both sides from false accusations and prevent any unwanted behavior during the ride.
5. Security when unattended
Some dashboard cameras now feature the ability to stay on standby and turn on if motion is detected in or around the vehicle. Cars are broken into every day, so it is better to be prepared for a vehicle burglary instead of being caught off guard. If a person’s car ends up burglarized, or the driver is the victim of a hit-and-run crash, the vehicle owner can show the footage of the incident to their insurance company and the relevant authorities for action.
6. Tangible memories of road trips
With a dashcam, a person can collect footage of all their travels even without having to think about it. It is easy to get soaked up in the scenery while traveling and forget to document the experience. Footage of the trip from the driver’s point of view can only add to the nostalgia he is bound to feel in the future. This works even better if the driver has a two-way dashboard camera, so you can relive all the road trip karaoke over and over again!
7. Unexpected events caught on camera
Footage of events like floods or landslides that damage a person’s car can help with insurance claims, but those major events are not the only things that a camera can catch on video. Go online, and one can find tons of funny, weird, strange, and terrifying happenings caught on dashboard cameras worldwide.
A person does not have to be a young, inexperienced driver to want to review their driving footage and want to improve. Even the best of the best look for ways to better themselves. A dashcam could be any driver’s tool for self-improvement on the road.
Acquiring a dashcam
Before purchasing a dashcam, check if they are legal in your area and if they can be used in court. Dashcams come in a variety of styles, with many offering features such as WiFi capability and GPS and speed monitoring. Available at low and high price points, dashboard cameras are now more accessible than ever.
Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum Picture Gallery
You will find over 130 cars in the collection at last count. Whether you wish to find the 1914 Detroit Electric, a Ford Model A or Model T, a Packard, a Studebaker, or possibly a Locomobile, you’re sure to find your favorite.
If you like vintage motorcycles the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum has Harley Davidsons, Indians, Cushmans and more!
You can find aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles, tractors, military jeeps and engines at WAAAM.
Every licensed driver is taught not to speed. Speeding presents a hazard on the road, not only endangering those in the speeding and oncoming cars but also pedestrians. Despite the constant warnings given to drivers to consider public safety, a vast number of speeding vehicles are caught every day, all around the world.
87% of drivers exceeded the speed limit on 20mph roads in 2018. However, only 52% of drivers drove too fast on 30mph roads, which decreased to 46% on motorways. Therefore, the study shows that drivers tend to speed on roads with lower speed limits. Though motorists recognize that speed can cause road accidents, many continue to speed, either intentionally or unintentionally.
What makes drivers choose to endanger themselves and others when they can just as easily, not speed? Keep reading to find out why people speed when driving.
They may have a medical emergency and need to head to a hospital, or be late for a meeting and rush to the office. Maybe they even just need to reach a bathroom. Some drivers want to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, regardless of any speed limits they must follow.
2. They love the thrill
The excitement and thrill of speeding are most evident among young male drivers who love driving faster than they should. They might be after the image of being a daredevil behind the wheel or craving acceptance among their peers who drive over the speed limit. Ultimately, they want to feel like they belong and take part in the group identity, and that identity may involve speeding.
Like any routine, driving the same road to and from work or school every day can give one a sense of comfort or familiarity. This feeling allows drivers to trust themselves and their instincts when driving instead of being careful about the speed at which they are driving. They may be so familiar with specific intersections and expect no other cars to pass there at a particular time, causing them to drive faster than on streets with which they are unfamiliar. This is the reason many car accidents occur so close to the driver’s home.
4. They take drugs or alcohol
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost 30 people die in the US every day due to car accidents related to drunk driving. That equates to around one person every 50 minutes. In 2010, drunk-driving crashes cost the country $44 billion. Instead of driving under the influence, drivers can choose a designated driver in their group to stay sober and bring them home. However, some drivers actively choose to consume alcohol or drugs to add to the thrill they feel when speeding.
4. They feel road rage
Road rage is the term used to refer to motorists’ anger or aggression on the road. The NHTSA says that road rage incidents have been increasing over the years, with fatal car crashes associated with road rage jumping almost 500% between 2006 and 2015. In 2006, they recorded 80 fatal car crashes linked to road rage. In 2015, they recorded 467. Motorists could lash out at other cars by using their cars to express their frustration. Sometimes, this results in high-speed car chases. Other times, they intentionally cause car collisions.
5. They are too confident
While younger motorists may speed to seem cool in front of their friends, older motorists may have too much confidence in their driving abilities. Anyone can end up feeling too confident if they spend enough hours behind the wheel. Their experience can give them a false sense of security and let them think they can handle anything while driving, even if they speed.
Maybe the driver has never driven fast before and wants to try it at least once. Perhaps they have seen their parents, siblings, or friends drive fast and want to get in on the action. The problem is that even just a few seconds of speeding could result in a fatal car crash. In this case, it would probably be better not to let curiosity kill the cat.
7. They are unaware of the speed limit
Drivers stopped by police for speeding often try to excuse their behavior by explaining they were unaware of the road’s speed limit, which means their speeding was unintentional. They could argue that they never saw a speed limit sign and were unaware of the roadway’s speed limit. It is possible that they were not paying enough attention to their driving and were distracted by their passengers or the music on the radio.
8. They love how it feels
Drivers who speed because it feels good do not necessarily do it for the thrill. If they have a luxury sports car made for fast speeds, they may end up speeding to make the most of their vehicle.
According to the UK Department for Transport, drivers can be categorized into compliant drivers, moderate speeders, and excessive speeders. In a study conducted, the department found that half of all drivers are compliant drivers, while a third are moderate speeders, and the rest are excessive speeders. Compliant drivers typically follow speed limits, while moderate speeders occasionally go over speed limits, and excessive speeders normally exceed speed limits.
There is a clear difference between different types of drivers, and researchers have been able to link speeding with drivers’ age, sex, and preference for risky behavior. The European Commission states that people who prefer exciting and challenging activities are more likely to drive fast. The same is true for young drivers, male drivers, and drivers on the road for professional purposes.
Traffic organizations seem to agree on one thing: adherence to speed limits can lead to safer roads.
I found a new Portland Cars and Coffee event held every Saturday morning from 8 AM to 11 AM in Sherwood, Oregon at the Langer’s Entertainment Center parking lot. Now, I’m not sure if this PDX cars & coffee event replaces the one that used to be at the World of Speed Motorsports Museum in Wilsonville, Oregon. Due to the pandemic, the museum closed.
According to the Portland Cars & Coffee Facebook page, I found, Langer’s is the original Portland Cars and Coffee event and they have been doing this event since 2008 because they love cars. Langer’s PDX cars & coffee happens every Saturday (rain or shine) from 8 am to 11 am at Langer’s Entertainment Center in Sherwood (21650 SW Langer Farm Parkway, Sherwood, Oregon). There’s additional parking in the Fred Meyers parking lot.
Not quite a “car show” and a little less formal than the usual”cruise-in”, the PDX cars and coffee event located at Langer’s in Sherwood, OR is a place where everyone regardless of age, race, creed, color or gender attends. And unlike a formal car show, there typically are no set rules on what qualifies as a participating vehicle, and in-progress project cars are often parked directly with late-model exotics. You’ll see every kind of car at a Portland cars & coffee event.
Every cars and coffee event I attend at Langer’s I will take photos of cars as well as video the event and upload it to my YouTube channel. Make sure you come back and visit this page every week for updates and check my playlist to watch any and all of my Portland Cars and Coffee videos.
At some point in the relatively near future, self-driving cars will be part of everyday life for millions around the world. In the meantime, there is currently a race between major companies to develop the first commercially viable self-driving vehicle. So, what should we know about this important technological advance in driving? Here is some information about self-driving vehicles and when you can expect to see self-driving cars on roads near you.
This is a general outline regarding some aspects of self-driving cars. It includes explaining the difference between autonomous and self-driving vehicles, what a self-driving car is, how it works, safety, and when cars should be available to the general public. It gives a generally positive impression of self-driving cars.
A self-driving vehicle is one that can drive with little or no human interaction. There is an important distinction between self-driving vehicles and autonomous vehicles. Self-driving vehicles need some human control, whereas autonomous vehicles need no input at all from a human. To further clarify this distinction, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) created an international standard of different levels of autonomy for self-driving vehicles. These SAE levels are:
Level 0 – A human is in full control of the vehicle
Level 1 – The car has some automation, such as blind-spot detection or lane control detection.
Level 2 – The automated system assists the driver with things like automatic braking, advanced cruise control, and assisted parking. The driver is still in control of the vehicle at other times.
Level 3 – An automated system can take over part of the driving and monitor the surroundings. However, the human driver can take back control whenever necessary. A similar system is already available in cars manufactured by Tesla and Mercedes.
Level 4 – The automated system monitors the car surroundings and conducts the driving to some extent without the human needing to take control. However, this is only possible in certain locations/environments. This type of SAE level is currently tested by Uber, Samsung, and Google, amongst others.
Level 5 – The automated system performs every driving task a human would normally perform in every type of environment.
Only levels 4 and 5 are considered to be autonomous driving. All these SAE levels should be seen primarily as a guide. As self-driving technology constantly develops, a vehicle could also be placed between certain levels.
A self-driving vehicle maneuvers using a combination of technologies such as radar, cameras, lidar (a kind of radar using lasers) as well as additional artificial intelligence and computers. With numerous sensors integrated with detailed map database information, it constantly monitors its environment around the car as well as performing the actual driving. The sensors process every bit of information regarding the surroundings while also being able to react quickly to unexpected events and obstacles that can appear. Naturally, driving safely in a busy urban environment is far more complicated than driving in quieter rural surroundings. It’s this challenge of designing a car that can drive in every environment safely, which is currently one of the main goals for autonomous car manufacturers.
Some people, such as Elon Musk, say autonomous vehicles are safer than human drivers because they eliminate human error, and, according to some studies, human error accounts for more than 90% of traffic accidents. There has been one fatality so far involving a level 3 car. That happened in Arizona by a vehicle tested by Uber. As of September 2019, there were five other fatalities involving level 2 cars, all operated by Tesla while the automated driving system was engaged. A lot more mileage needs to be conducted with self-driving vehicles in real conditions to see whether self-driving cars are safer, or not than conventional driving.
Who are the main companies behind self-driving cars?
Almost all major car manufacturers are investing a significant amount of money into the research and development of self-driving vehicles. In addition, there are technology companies such as Waymo (Google/Alphabet), Apple, and Samsung involved. Since this is an industry predicted to be worth billions of dollars in the future, it’s no wonder there are at least thirty major companies around the world currently involved with developing self-driving vehicles. The two main countries racing to develop a fully commercial self-driving vehicle are China and the USA.
Will I be able to buy a self-driving car soon?
Self-driving cars have been tested and developed since 2013. Currently, the cost of the cutting-edge technology involved with manufacturing each vehicle also means owning a self-driving car will be out of most people’s budget. Initially, these self-driving vehicles will be used as taxis, hire cars, and the transportation of goods, including self-driving trucks. There is currently a self-driving taxi service operated by Waymo within a contained area of Phoenix, Arizona. Current predictions for when self-driving vehicles will be a regular sight in towns and cities are around five to ten years. Innovations still have to take place, not just car technology, but in factors like legislation and updating map database information. Other typical issues include things like the state of roads. In the US, for example, many roads with potholes are not good enough to sustain safe autonomous driving.
Self-driving vehicles are already here in many respects and certainly look to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. As autonomous vehicles continue to be tested and developed, you can expect to see a lot more self-driving vehicles on the roads performing all kinds of services, including taking you to your chosen destination.
The BMW X3 plug-in hybrid arrives on the market in 2020 to undercut pricey offerings from Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz. The 2020 BMW xDrive30e has a single electric motor, lithium-ion battery bank, and a twin-turbo engine. It’s also equipped with all-wheel drive.
Gone are the days when plug-in hybrids were thought to be slow. This hybrid from BMW promises an exhilarating driving experience that takes you around turns with a lizard-like grip and pushes through the corners with the power of 288 horses. Roof rails and high wheel wells combine with a wide kidney grille and polished aluminum wheels to make a crossover that marries off-road ruggedness with sport car thrills.
2020 BMW X3 Plug-In Hybrid Performance and Electric Range
The 2020 BMW X3 has two conventional engine configurations – a 2.0 Liter turbo 4 and a 382-horsepower turbo 6. Starting in the Spring of 2020, BMW will add the plug-in hybrid version of the X3. It’s called xDrive30e.
The plug-in hybrid X3 uses the 2.0 Liter twin-turbo 4 cylinder engine as a base. It produces 180 horsepower. It works in tandem with a single electric motor that produces 107 horsepower on its own with 80 kW / 109 PS. With both systems working together, the combined horsepower is rated at 288. The torque is 310-pound feet. The X3 plug-in hybrid is mated to an 8-speed sport automatic transmission. You can either cruise like an automatic or get sporty with steering-wheel-mounted paddle controls.
With an electric motor and battery bank, the X3 becomes a much heavier vehicle. It has a top speed of 130 MPH and can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. When you compare that to the performance numbers of the 2020 BMW X3 M40i, the plug-in hybrid is about a second and a half slower. It does have a launch control though, which automatically sets the throttle response and torque for a racing start.
There are three driving modes for the hybrid system. There’s Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, and Battery Control. You really have unprecedented control over how the power of the hybrid system is allocated. The xDrive30e also uses regenerative braking to recoup some battery life. This gives it a larger driving range between charges. According to BMW, the X3 plug-in hybrid has a combined 60 MPG and an all-electric range of 20 miles. Another thing that makes the XDrive30e unique is that it operates in full all-wheel-drive even when operating exclusively on electric power.
The X3 xDrive30e doesn’t lag or handle sloppily. Even though it’s a plug-in hybrid, it still moves like a powerful rear-wheel-drive sedan. It grips the road with double-pivot front strut suspension up front and a five-link independent rear. You can toggle between ECO PRO, COMFORT, and SPORT driving modes. These mostly affect the shocks and dampeners.
The 2020 BMW X3 is listed as a small crossover SUV. Its interior doesn’t leave much room for horseplay, but it’s quite spacious. The power liftgate comes standard on the X3 plug-in hybrid and the rear seats fold down flat. There are 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up. There are 40.3 inches of front legroom and 36.4 inches of legroom in the rear. The 2020 Audi Q5 hybrid has 25 cubic feet of cargo space, but the 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 trumps them all in terms of interior volume.
Back to the plug-in hybrid from BMW. Nearly any amenity that BMW offers can be equipped a la carte. It’s a grab bag of luxury features for the xDrive30e. The interior looks more upscale with real dark oak wood trim and beige synthetic leather. You can add a leather-wrapped steering wheel, panoramic moonroof, ambient lighting, as well as heated and ventilated seats.
The X3 plug-in hybrid is loaded with technology to keep you entertained, informed, and safe. The xDrive30e has Apple Car Play connectivity, but BMW vehicles come with their own application. You can use the BMW Connected app as a concierge to get traffic information, navigation, and schedule maintenance.
The dashboard display and instrument cluster are full of digital touchscreen controls. The xDrive30e has a signature 12.3-inch instrument cluster that relays information about your electric motor status and battery life. The video-game-like street map in the center of the display is also a nice touch. The 10.25-inch central display sits high in the dashboard, but that it makes it easily accessible for both driver and passenger. There aren’t many analog controls inside the new X3 hybrid, just a few for climate control.
If you’re looking for an entry-level luxury vehicle, then the X3 plug-in hybrid from BMW is an excellent choice. If you are specifically looking for a luxury hybrid vehicle, then you could do some more shopping. The 2020 BMW X3 xDrive30e is a bit cheaper than its competitors, but you always get what you pay for.
The Volvo hybrid crossover has tons of interior space. The Audi crossover hybrid has superb handling and acceleration. The BMW crossover hybrid excels in top tier materials inside the cabin. With that being said, the 2020 X3 plug-in hybrid boasts an all-electric driving range of 20 miles and 60 miles per gallon combined.
The 2020 BMW X3 hybrid can get pricey if you pick and choose features. However, a nicely equipped luxury hybrid can be had for around $50,000. The X3 doesn’t win any beauty contests. Its style is a bit dated, but the interior technology is out of this world. Just get inside and drive; all else can be forgiven.