June 2011 Archives

June 22, 2011

Ford's Sync and GM's OnStar Making Driving Safer


Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, stated that drivers are distracted by vehicle information and entertainment systems such as Ford's Sync and General Motors OnStar. LaHood runs the department that oversees the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who has been developing guidelines, which will be published at the end of the year, for these in-vehicle systems.

These information and entertainment systems connect drivers to their mobile devices and the internet while driving. It also allows for audible GPS Navigation, Music (IPOD, CD and MP3) control and various other technological devices.

GPS systems are suppose to communicate directions to the driver and help the driver maintain their eyes on the road, instead of having the driver struggle to read from an open map. Even, if a driver misses a turn or changes course, the GPS systems immediately re-navigates and re-routes them. Therefore, there is no need to flip through a map while driving.

Automatic Crash Notification (ACN) is offered through OnStar and this device sends a signal to emergency departments when a driver is involved in an automobile accident. It allows the driver to make the call themselves and it also sends a signal when the driver is unable to make a call after an accident to contact an emergency department. ACN reduces the time it takes for the first responders to become aware of a crash, and this is critical to saving lives.

Other controls drivers have with Ford's Sync and GM's OnStar are automatic windshield wipers and headlights, Road Hazard notifications and being able to make and receive telephone calls while driving. This is called hands-free technology. It allows drivers to make and receive calls through the automobile's radio/speaker system and therefore keeps your eyes and hands on the road and steering wheel.

June 14, 2011

Hand-held Devices Primary and Secondary Laws for the District of Columbia, MD and VA

Man talking on the phone while driving.jpgIn order to make the roads safer, hand-held devices and/or texting have been banned from 33 states on the District of Columbia. Each of these states and the district have specific laws, and they are listed below. Some are primary law and some are secondary laws. A Primary law means that a police officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic offense taking place. A Secondary law means that a police officer can only give you a ticket if you have been pulled over for another driving violation. Novice drivers are those individuals under the age of 18 with learner's permits and/or individuals with provisional licenses.

In the District of Columbia:
Primary Law:
- Handheld ban for all drivers;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers;
- Ban on texting for all drivers.

In Maryland:
Primary Law:
- Ban on texting for all drivers;
Secondary Law:
- Handheld ban for all drivers effective October 1, 2010;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers.

In Virginia:
Primary Law:
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers;
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers;
- Ban on texting for all bus drivers;
Secondary Law:
- Ban on texting for all drivers

June 9, 2011

Odometer Fraud

Odometer.jpgThe Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations (OFI) was established in 1984 and consists of four regional offices, staffed with a criminal investigator and an administrative support staff. Their mission is to reduce the cost of vehicle ownership by stopping odometer fraud.

When purchasing a used vehicle one must consider the safety of the vehicle. Things such as safety belts, air bags, brakes and the like, but one must also consider the vehicle's odometer. A vehicle's odometer is used to determine the wear and tear of the vehicle and if this has been altered or tampered with then it can affect your safety. Some sellers tamper with odometers, and therefore you buy a vehicle thinking it is much newer and safer then it really is.

The OFI is responsible for making sure that odometers are not tampered with or rolled back. The organization works hard at tracking down crime rings that continuously purchase high-mileage vehicles, alter their odometers, and resell them.

Therefore, when purchasing a used vehicle make sure and compare the odometer mileage with maintenance and inspection records. You should also consider the wear and tear of the vehicle with the mileage of the vehicle. Most dealerships can also provide you with a CARFAX report when purchasing a vehicle, and you can review the report for the vehicles history and prior ownership.