technology & cars

Distracted Driving Awareness Month!

With as much attention having been raised in regards to distracted driving over the past several years one would think this top cause of preventable accidents and deaths would be on the decline. Since 2015 vehicle deaths are up 6%, killing over 40,000 people this last year. Unfortunately, it is on the rise.  The National Safety Council  (NSC) has an entire page devoted to tools, information and statistics dedicated to educate drivers about the severity of this crisis.  So what will it take to reprogram our brains to ignore every little beep, buzz and ring from our cell phones? Well, for starters here’s a few of those NSC statistics for some terrifying motivation:

  • Drivers talking on handheld or hands free devices don’t see 50% of their surroundings
  • 1.6 Million crashes per year are attributed to drivers using their cell phone
  • 1 out of every 4 accidents is caused by texting and driving
  • Using voice to text is actually more distracting than texting
  • 7% of all drivers of cars on the road are on their phone

So why are we seemingly incapable of turning off that need to immediately respond? For many smart phone owners, the answer is addiction. In CNN’s article, “Smartphone Addiction Could be Changing Your Brain” study after study reveals just how addicted many of us are to that digital rectangle in our pockets and purses.  Per a 2010 Pew Research Study half of American adults send or read texts while driving. For 16 to 17 year olds that number increases to one in three. Even walking while distracted has been blamed for putting the walker at ten times the risk of being injured. Distracted drivers combined with distracted walkers simply can’t have a good outcome.

But wait, the term distracted driving isn’t anything new. We’re simply more distracted than ever before. The hashtag #JustDrive has been created to make the point that the only way to keep ourselves and others safe on the road is to do just that…drive. Lest we forget, our cell phones, texts, calls, and social media updates are only one aspect of the driving behaviors that keep us from being focused on…driving. NSC has several links on information to remind us of all those other preventable causes of accidents still exist such as driving drunk, under the influence of drugs and driving while drowsy, not to mention the simple things that take our eyes off the road just long enough to miss a swerving car or a darting bicyclist.  Eating, applying makeup, flipping through a folder, even just changing the radio station are all seemingly benign activities until one day, one second without focus becomes one accident that never should have happened.

We hope that each and every one of you will take this year’s pledge to #JustDrive.  Share your commitment to that pledge on social media with the #JustDrive hashtag. Spread a life-saving message! 

Blog by: Allison Green

New 2018 Vehicles to Dazzle Your Holidays!

New 2018 Vehicles to Dazzle Your Holidays!

Whether you're a driver that prefers a sedan, coupe, convertible, SUV, truck, pickup, van, minivan, crossover, wagon or hatchback, charting all of the redesigned changes can lead you to pick out the best new vehicle option to suit your preferences. Some models are all-new while others are redesigns.

Artificial Intelligence to Make Your Drive Safer & Even More Fun!

Do you have one of the many personal assistants through Amazon’s Alexa, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, or a Google Assistant that can communicate with other devices at your home and control them?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take your personal assistant with you on the road? Artificial Intelligence is expanding through the universe at furious speeds with a German Company, called German AutoLabs offering up the first personal assistant to compliment our driving experience.  This will also be the first male personal assistant with the name Chris.

Chris will allow you to make calls, listen to voicemail, checkout your Facebook, What’s App, or even check your email messages all while safely keeping your hands on the wheel.  (Yahoo Tech)

According to the company it will also include assistance with navigation and allow you to listen to your favorite music with merely a simple voice command. “Chris, play the Lumineers.”  Wala! Discover more about Chris through the informational video on Youtube.com.

According to Forbes.com:  “Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015, a 746% increase in five years. In 2016, this continued to increase with roughly another $1.5 billion being invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies in 2016.”

It's not only Chris making a splash in this competitive industry, another report from @FordOnline delves deeper into the future of AI in our cars through Cloud-based voice control that will be available on 75% of new vehicles by 2022. The future personal assistants will do everything for us in our cars as they do in our homes with smart technology taking over the world! 

 "This summer, Ford’s in-car connectivity system SYNC 3 will enable drivers to connect to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa and offers 23 different languages and many local accents. By accessing cloud-based resources, cars of the future could enable even more drivers to speak their native language…” 

“Voice commands like ‘I’m hungry’ to find a restaurant and ‘I need coffee’ have already brought SYNC 3 into personal assistant territory,” said Mareike Sauer, voice control engineer, Connectivity Application Team, Ford of Europe. “Eventually, drivers will not only be able to use their native tongue, spoken in their own accent, but also use their own wording, for more natural speech.”  

Discover more about a research project Ford is currently running with RWTH Aachen University which includes using multiple microphones to improve speech processing and reduce the effect of external noise and potential disruptions. Nuance says that within the next two years, voice control systems could prompt us with: “Would you like to order flowers for your mum for Mothers’ Day?” “Shall I choose a less congested but slower route home?” and “You’re running low on your favorite chocolate and your favorite store has some in stock. Want to stop by and pick some up?”  

"Future gesture and eye control would enable drivers to answer calls by nodding their head, adjust the volume with short twisting motions, and set the navigation with a quick glance at their destination on a map." @FordOnline.com

Lastly, the future of AI is meeting us coming and going in a world of fast paced answers to every question.  In addition, it will provide more safety and security in our daily commutes. As AI grows our cars will even be able to sense our moods through facial recognition software. Learn more about this amazing AI feat at nytimes.com.  The future looks bright with the advancement of AI! 

 

Keeping Teenage Drivers Safe on the Road

Having a teenage driver in the family might just be the most terrifying part of your child transitioning into an adult. Many teens are involved in several extracurricular activities in their school, have jobs and always a busy social life.  My husband and I scrounged up enough money to buy our son an old pickup truck when he was in high school mainly so he could get our daughter back and forth to school for band practice, tennis, student council and seemingly a hundred other obligations. Where most of us as parents can relate to and remember our high school days being a life of constant doing and little sleeping, those of us that did have cars had fewer distractions simply because the technology wasn’t there yet. 

My parent’s minivan had a bag phone in 1990. I never used it, I can’t even remember why- maybe it cost too much to make a call. Either way, I could have never imagined that when my own children became teenagers, they and everyone they knew would have their own phone always on their person.

Any distraction is a potential accident for any driver, though for someone who is still learning the ropes it’s tenfold. The radio, eating, and passengers could all result in a wheel jerk or slam to the brake. A text, a phone call, a notification from social media or a video game yelling at your teen to make his/her move is a new kind of distraction. The kind that nightmares can be made of.

A recent NBC news report refers to the beginning of summer as “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teenage drivers.  The video is primarily based on AAA statistics which state that “16 & 17-year-olds are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash and those fatal accidents involving teens jumps 15% over the summer”.

So what can you do as a parent to help keep your teen safe? My husband always says “Nothing good happens after eleven”. He based our teen’s curfew on that believing that by eleven the roads became an even more dangerous place to be. Beyond finger-crossed parenting, the same technology that brought our kids the smart phone has also brought us as parents “apps for that”.  OnlineDriversEd.com has a list of the best apps for parents to keep track of their driving and smartphone use. Some block calls and texts during driving while some notify parents when their teen exceeds the speed limit or breaks a driving law. The site warns that even an app to prevent an accident could become its own distraction. As a parent, I also wonder if there’s a point of being too invasive into a teenagers life. Gauging between a possible life threatening situation and letting them learn to make good choices on their own is hard. I experienced those nights where I sat in the living room at midnight with a cup of coffee in one hand and my phone in the other waiting for my teen to walk in the door or send the prayed for text, “Mom I’m okay”.  We didn’t have the technology then that we have today, and that was only three to five years ago.

So let’s look at the numbers; “11 teens die each day due to texting and driving. 21% of teens involved in a fatal accident were distracted by their cell phones” –AAA. 

Here’s another thought to take into consideration, it’s not just our teens who are being distracted by that world at our fingertips. A 2014 USA Today article (the most recent on the topic) states that 26% of all accidents are related to smartphone use. According to ATT’s It Can Wait, 7 out of 10 people are using their smartphones while driving, 10% on a video chat and a shocking 17% taking “selfies”.

Accidents happen.  Cars can be repaired. Turn the phone off and enjoy the scenery! Lives are precious- we can all do a better job to get everyone home…safe and sound.

Blog Author:  Audrey Elder, Past to Present Research, LLC

American Made Ford Mustang Icon Races through Time to 2018!  

For over 50 years the American made Ford Mustang has delighted young and old alike.  The first generation (1964 ½  to 1973) production of the Ford Mustang was revealed to the public in the Ford Pavilion during the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, the very same day that it would go up for sale around the Country.  

To everyone’s surprise the Ford Mustang was affordable and loved right out of the lot.  Ford anticipated selling approximately 100,000 models the first year, but phenomenally beat their own goal selling close to half a million! 

From the 1st generation Ford Mustang to the present 6th generation there is no stopping the fame of this beloved American made icon. To learn more about the history of the Mustang visit Edmunds.com who have an excellent article showcasing all the generational history up to 2005 in superb detail. 

How about the 2018 Mustang? Amazing like most previous generations with a slightly sportier redesign in comparison to the 2017 model. As the photo above displays, Ford offers another brilliant new color to dazzle us: Orange Fury Metallic Tri-Coat.

Yahoo.com Daniel Howley, Technology Editor, showcases an interesting informative video of the 2018 model along with an article with extra details including: 

"The biggest changes to the new Mustang’s front end include all-LED lights and updated hood vents. Around back, the Mustang’s rear lights have been reshaped to look like large parentheses. Ford has also outfitted the rear of the Mustang with a new quad-tip exhaust, which just plain looks cool."  

As far as cost this American icon remains beautifully and powerfully affordable for most. The 2018 base 2.3L EcoBoost will cost about the same as the 2017 model at around $27K with the GT V8 costing close to $35K.  Ready to buy one?  The wait will not be long as the 2018 models will be made available for purchase this fall. See Ford.com to receive updates and prepare for the ride of your life! 

By Gina Sifers, Bella Media Services, LLC