Yet another state bumps up max highway speed to 70 mph.
The law was later changed to allow speeds up to 65 mph, and in 1995 the 55 mph mandate was repealed, leaving states up to their own devices in regards to speed limits. Since then, some states have bumped that limit up to 70 mph (or higher -- to 75, in some wide-open states such as New Mexico).
Virginia joined the 70 mph club this week, according to The Wall Street Journal, after a newly elected governor made the issue a priority. All told, 34 states now allow highway speeds of 70 mph or higher.
Raising speed limits rankles safety-advocate types, but I find their "more-speed-is-more-danger" reaction simplistic and, frankly, condescending.
By Mark Vaughn
All four classes of the teen driving school B.R.A.K.E.S. were packed last weekend as 160 teens age 16 to 18 from all over Southern California took part in the school's West Coast debut.
"It's a lot more intense than I expected," said 18-year-old Dylan Wright, who spent part of the morning flinging a Dodge Avenger sideways on a wetted-down skidpad.
"The best thing is, like, you've never done any of this stuff, ever," said another driving student whose name badge read Chris.
"I like when they encourage you to go faster," said a third, whose name tag read Donald and who had two accidents on his driving record before attending the class.
The school--which was founded in Charlotte, N.C., but plans to expand across the country--teaches abbreviated versions of techniques you might find in a typical racing school but with an aim toward teenage pilotes, with some good lessons in driver distraction thrown in.
Consumer Reports' best and worst in overall safety.
The magazine has just released its new best-and-worst list, ranking overall vehicle safety. Consumer Reports combines government and insurance industry tests -- including crash and rollover test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety -- with its own battery of performance assessments.
A note from Consumer Reports on understanding the ratings:
"When comparing safety scores, it’s important to evaluate vehicles in the same weight; most vehicles in a vehicle class have a similar weight. Even if a small car has top crash-test ratings, for instance, it will still take the brunt of the impact if hit by a larger sedan or SUV, or even in a single-vehicle crash, say against a tree."
You can check out the original article here; after the jump, we've also reposted the magazine's comprehensive chart (with its permission, of course) in its entirety.
By Hans Greimel, Automotive News
Japan's automakers aim to cement their lead in electric vehicles by making Japanese recharging technology the global standard and bringing it to the United States.
They aim to corner the market on one of the technologies that will be key to the eventual acceptance of electric-powered cars: the high-speed charging points that will act like gasoline stations of the future and enable drivers to recharge and keep driving after their batteries run low.
“What we need to do is make this protocol a standard outside Japan,” said Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the main utility backing the venture. The coalition, launched Monday, is called CHAdeMo and has 158 partner companies.
Charging stations for electric vehicles will cost, but no one knows just how much.
In fact, the cost of the charger itself can take a back seat to the price of installation and labor, which is much more likely if you live in an older house. While houses built from the '90s on are pretty sure to have 200- or 400-amp service, which works well with EV requirements, older homes may not be equipped with the right stuff, meaning the homeowner is stuck with a costly upgrade bill.
But there must be a range, right? Something to help gauge how much it could cost, on the low end and the high?
By Charles Child and Chrissie Thompson, Automotive News
GM assembled 1,037 Saturn Outlooks last month after not making any Saturns since October.
“We are building out a few Saturns to utilize existing material,” GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said. GM will assemble Outlooks for a few more weeks, she said.
Ford finally puts the Crown Victoria out to pasture.
Much of the reported tale of unintended acceleration doesn't hold up to initial investigations.
Of course, as James Bell of Kelley Blue Book pointed out in an e-mailed release, the tests did not address whether Toyota vehicles can "momentarily malfuntion" and, in a sense, go haywire, with nothing working as it should. Personally, I don't think that's the case in this instance (the whole thing seemed a bit off from the start), but it would behoove Toyota to hang onto whatever customer loyalty it has left and put that issue to rest once and for all.)
More bad news for James Sikes, the man behind the wheel of the alleged runaway Toyota Prius in California, which garnered loads of publicity and which under scrutiny looks increasingly like a scam, as we reported on Friday. The official investigation into the incident, conducted jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota, is under way, and the preliminary results don't jibe with Sikes' story.
For one thing, the wear on the brakes doesn't suggest that they were fully applied over a sustained period at high speeds, which is a key element in Sikes' story. Instead, the report suggests that Sikes' brakes were actually applied intermittently, and with moderate force.
More obvious, though, is the fact that Sikes' 2008 model-year Prius has an electronic brake override system that cuts power to the accelerator if it and the brakes are deployed simultaneously. The override system operated successfully during tests to re-create the alleged runaway scenario, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Actual unintended acceleration could not be re-created; however, as Sikes' lawyer pointed out, this has been true of all previous unintended-acceleration allegations.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal, CNN.]
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5
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