Hybrid automobiles and natural gas are both (potentially) silent killers.
You may already know about the dangers of natural gas. Because it is colorless and odorless in its natural form, there's no way that people would know they are breathing it in. That's why municipalities mandate that gas suppliers mix in an artificial odor with the raw natural gas -- so that people can smell it if there's a leak and know that they are in danger.
Hybrid cars have similar issues. When they first hit the market, consumers marveled at how quiet the engine was when the vehicles were running. That's great for the driver and passengers, but could be potentially dangerous to other people like cyclists, pedestrians, or visually-impaired individuals. If you can't hear a hybrid vehicle approaching, you put yourself in danger of getting hit by that vehicle.
Thankfully, the government has recognized this hazard -- which means that hybrid vehicles will be getting noisier in the future.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been ordered to draft noise regulations for hybrid vehicles. The idea is to make hybrids noisy enough for people on the street to hear them. After taking comments from the public for two months, the agency will have until July of 2012 to finish the standards -- which wouldn't take effect until at least January of 2014.
Some companies are already addressing this problem. For example, the Nissan Leaf hybrid produces a "high-pitched whine" when it is moving forward at low speeds. But a company called ECTunes appears to have come up with a better solution.
Not only does ECTunes' system send out an artificial "engine noise" sound until a hybrid car reaches about 18 miles per hour, but it incorporates speakers which only direct the noise to the area in front of the car. Similarly, the system emits a pattern of "melodic beeps" when the car is in reverse -- and the sound is funneled toward the rear of the car in the same manner. When the vehicle is stopped, the engine noise is directed in both directions. ECTunes' specialized technology helps notify passersby of its presence without causing undue noise pollution.
So what types of sounds might be incorporated into hybrid vehicles in the future? A ticking noise? A programmable melody (like your cell phone ringtone)? A voice that says something like, "Hybrid car present"?
Whatever solution is implemented in the coming years, it represents another step in the evolution of hybrid vehicles. And that's perfectly consistent with the record of improvement of all auto safety features in passenger vehicles, hybrid or gas-powered.
If you need car insurance, check out SafeAuto.com.
Image credits: biblelife.org, dev.kansan.com, youtube.com.
Tags: safeauto, safe auto, hybrid car, ectunes
The Mixed Martial Arts Gods were smiling down on Mike Grant from West Babylon, New York on July 28, 2011. Driving to the gym for his first ever day of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the 35 year old car salesman received a phone call from SafeAuto Insurance informing him that he was the grand prize winner of the “VIP at the UFC” contest. The prize package included two tickets to UFC 133, paid travel expenses, hotel accommodations and a behind the scenes meet and greet at the weigh-in with SafeAuto Fight Team Member Yoshihiro Akiyama. “I was in complete shock to be honest with you,” exclaimed Grant. “I needed to see if my brother who works for the New York Police Department could get those days off. Once he confirmed that he was in, I couldn’t stop bragging to all of my friends about this ridiculous trip.” SafeAuto Insurance, a state minimum auto insurance company, is a proud sponsor of the UFC®. One of the main goals behind the company’s sponsorship was to grant fight fans access that they’ve never experienced before. “It was our mission to be as digital as possible with the UFC®,” said Elie Deshe, Founder of the SafeAuto Fight Team. “Running this contest on Facebook where you can see behind the scenes videos and blogs about our fighters was a no brainer. We’re excited that Mike and his brother get to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.” Mike found out about the “VIP at the UFC” contest through the Ultimate Fighting Championships Facebook page as they helped promote the SafeAuto contest.” I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that I would win, but I figured it was worth a shot to at least enter,” said Grant. “The UFC is extremely popular right now and it is cool to see SafeAuto so active with their sponsorship.”
*Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes video access of Mike Grant and his brother from the city of brotherly love and their experience at the “VIP at the UFC” contest. Be sure to root for SafeAuto Fight Team’s Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133!*
If you live in America, then you probably drive. And if you drive, then you’ll have to get your vehicle repaired at some point. Hopefully you have car insurance!
But, even if you don’t, you know that every mechanic is going to treat you fairly and bend over backwards to fix your vehicle for the lowest possible price. Right?
Okay, maybe that’s not the way you see it. And you may be right.
Here’s another fact: car repairs in one part of the country may cost more than in other areas. CarMD.com is reporting that the average car repair can vary from $265 (in the District of Columbia) to $420 (in Arizona). Is there a good reason for that? Or are Americans just getting hosed? Let’s examine the report a little more closely.
First, the study focused on the monetary amounts of the average repair (not the actual mechanical problems being repaired), so there’s no apples-to-apples comparison data to scrutinize (like, say, the cost of a brake job in New Orleans compared to New York).
Plus, the study is limited to the repairs which resulted from the “Check Engine” light appearing on a car’s dashboard, and many drivers simply ignore this notification.
When you look at the costliest car repair states (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, and Nevada), you notice that they are all in the southwest U.S. This region generally has higher numbers of miles driven, because people rely less on mass transit. Also, the dry, warm climates in parts of these states can take a toll on vehicle engines and jack up labor costs.
On the other end of the spectrum, six of the ten least costly auto repair states are located in the Midwest. This region is home to many mechanics who earn lower hourly wages than their counterparts on either coast. But why D.C.? CarMD.com notes that a significant number of repairs there were either extremely simple or required little or no out-of-pocket expenses (perhaps because of warranties or auto insurance).
The bottom line? You shouldn’t necessarily assume that you’re getting screwed at the repair shop simply because your brother in the next time zone paid less for the same repair to his car. To ensure that you are getting a fair price, consider obtaining more than one estimate for the specific repair job you need. Or seek out someone you know in your area who has undergone a similar vehicle repair recently.
Everybody has their own opinions about auto mechanics and their scruples (or lack thereof), but varying prices at the repair shop may have more to do with geography and less with unscrupulous business practices.
Image credits: worldcaredition.blogspot.com, 1950vagabond.com,
Tags: safeauto, safe auto, car repairs
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There are many bad drivers out there on the road. Play It Safe with helpful tips, articles, videos, and of course, examples of what not to do. Brought to you by SafeAuto Insurance Company.