auto blog kansas city

Increased Old Car Thefts in Missouri

Each year a new “most stolen” list of cars preferred by thieves is released and in years back most that made the unfortunate list were very new or close to new models. That list however is changing. Nationally, the most stolen car is the 1998 Honda Civic followed closely by the 1997 Honda Accord. According to Forbes, there’s a simple explanation, these cars are easier to steal because they don’t have smart key technology. Following the Hondas are a list of newer vehicles such as 2006 F-150 at #3 and the 2017 Toyota Camry at #4.

Kansas City police arrest a woman in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Car thefts in Missouri have skyrocketed following a change in scrap yard laws in 2012. Photo Credit: SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3.

Kansas City police arrest a woman in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Car thefts in Missouri have skyrocketed following a change in scrap yard laws in 2012. Photo Credit: SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3.

Here in Missouri however, older cars have seen an unusual increase in being stolen. This oddity is considered to be directly related to a 2012 Missouri Law allowing for anyone to sell a vehicle over ten years old for scrap even without a title. The law was originally passed to help rural farmers and land owners who needed to remove abandoned vehicles without titles from their property. Since this law went into effect auto thefts are up by one third in Kansas City while St. Louis has seen a 37% increase of old cars stolen since 2012. Even the state of Kansas has experienced a 24% increase in car thefts. To curb the increase cities and legislators are looking for ways to ensure the scrapyards that accept vehicles are enforcing the rule that these vehicles are not operable. Some municipalities are also working to create ordinances that require scrapyards to collect identification information from the seller of the vehicle. Many scrapyards have already voluntarily applied these suggestions and work with law enforcement to help curb theft for scrap. Although most vehicles only provide $200 - $500 in scrap value, the amounts are enough to keep the bad apples out looking for the next car to cash in on.

How can you protect your older vehicle from being stolen? Here are a few tips:

  • Be wary of unmarked (no company name or logo) tow vehicles. This is the most common way older vehicles are stolen.

  • Don’t leave a broken-down vehicle in an area that it could be easily towed away and when possible make the necessary repairs to the vehicle quickly to avoid the temptation. Even a flat tire can be regarded as making a car inoperable at a scrapyard that doesn’t thoroughly check what is brought in.

  • Install a GPS system to track your vehicle in the case it is stolen.

  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight.

Blog by: Allison Green

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

Autonomous Vehicles Will Decrease Deaths on U.S. Roadways

Autonomous vehicles will significantly decrease deaths on American roadways because mainly human vision is about 30 meters forward whereas the LIDAR system that are sensors that Google utilizes in the Google car can actually see a whopping 300 meters ahead.  Unfortunately, according to studies, humans are the main reason for more than 99% of all car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 38,000 Americans were killed on U.S. roads last year. Administrator, Mark Rosekind, from the NHTSA remarked, “That is unacceptable.”

Photo: Courtesy of Google

At the 2-day telematics conference in Detroit Rosekind’s comments to 3,000 representatives of automakers, technology companies, government agencies and insurers at the conference may be the latest signal that regulators aren’t expecting an accident-free future, just a reduction in the number of severe, deadly wrecks.

Autonomous vehicles will be mandatory and many regulations and standards must be put into place regarding the automotive industry, insurance and legal aspects that arise from accidents. http://goo.gl/TrNbSx

Speaking of accidents, a few weeks ago the first autonomous car crash killed a man when he was driving into fierce, bright sunlight and the software fatally failed and passed under a semi-truck. The car kept going after passing under the truck and crashed through 2 fences and into a light pole.  Tesla made a 537 word statement about the crash.

The first paragraph notes that this was Tesla’s first known autopilot death in some 130 million miles driven by its customers. “Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” the company then notes.  It goes on to say that the car’s autonomous software is designed to nudge consumers to keep their hands on the wheels to make sure they’re paying attention. “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” the company said. See more on Tesla’s statement here:  https://goo.gl/YqDJo9

Other test drivers of the Tesla have noticed issues when driving into bright sunlight.  The gentleman, Joshua Brown, who was driving that fateful day was someone who supported Tesla and posted many videos regarding his autonomous driving experiences. https://youtu.be/5TjbqVartjM

“As collisions in the future will be dealing with the failure in the design, manufacture and maintenance of vehicles, we can expect that the insurance industry will look to product liability and/or service failure, whether hardware- or software-related, not driver error, as the primary means to manage the risk of collisions,” Michael Teitelbaum, a partner Hughes Amys LLP, told seminar attendees during a subsequent panel discussion. http://goo.gl/i04dsd

There will also be legal ramifications regarding accidents that must be worked out and the legal experts still have many questions to ultimately come up with solutions.  To learn more about the insurance and legal ramifications click here.  

Autonomous Driving Steering the Future

Many automakers have recently released their concepts of autonomous cars.  We are astounded by the profound technology that make the autonomous cars a much safer form of driving and ultimately the most efficient driving that the world has ever known.  

We will present some fine details of a few of our favorite autonomous cars and touch on the trust factor.  How many drivers and passengers will truly be comfortable giving ultimate control to their cars?  The stats are in and there is much work to be done to prepare the population for a new way of driving.   

The Swedish auto maker, Volvo, recently reported that they plan to launch their version of self-driving splendor and convenience in 2017 with a goal of 100 vehicles due to drive Swedish byways. Until then we are allowed to take a peek inside one of the most amazing self-driving concepts that we have seen to date. 

Through a study Volvo estimates that people lose approximately 26 minutes of productivity during their daily commute.  The concept packs convenience and efficiency by sporting a driver side digital desktop, with a desktop table and a 25” mega monitor controlled to pop up on the passenger side from a central, front, console touch screen. 

“The system was the first autonomous concept interior placed on a workable platform.” Learn more about this amazing autonomous dream at Yahoo.com/autos.  To see many of the new self-driving concept cars in action around the world check out these awesome videos: https://goo.gl/PhhOJZ.

Now, regarding the trust factor: with new concepts of self-driving cars coming out every year we wondered how many people trust the technology? 

“A Pew report last year showed that less than 50 percent of people wanted to ride in a driverless car. While this is not an insignificant portion of the population, for car manufacturers to fully commit to producing autonomous cars, they clearly will need to work on winning the trust of over half the population. Both Google and Ford have publicly stated that 2020 is a realistic date for when fully autonomous cars will be seen on our roads.”

The leader in building trust in the minds of would be driverless drivers has been primarily Google through their ongoing testing of their cars in California in some of the most congested city driving in America.  They have a strong belief that autonomous vehicles are safer without human intervention.  

Their coaxing has obviously paid off well as a letter posted online in February 2016 stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave its OK to the idea of a self-driving car without a steering wheel and so forth, that cannot be controlled by a human driver.  Discover more about the details of this very important decree by the NHTSA:  http://goo.gl/bTFNtt.

As we await 2020 we will be focusing on Google’s fleet of autonomous cars as they learn more about the many complicated driving scenarios that plague drivers every day.  Many people around the world have probably already heard about the Google Lexus-model autonomous vehicle ("Google AV") that hit a bus at slow speed last week.  The first to be partly the fault of a Google self-driving car.  No injuries reported, but, precisely why testing and constant tweaking of their autonomous software continues for several more years. Read more about this recent accident at endgadget.com.  

Lastly, as Google’s autonomous functional prototypes have cruised 1 million miles on the roads of California Google experts are continually discovering ways to perfect the genius software that make the future of self-driving cars most promising.  Until then we will keep dreaming of accident free driving that saves time and provides the best of technology without the wheel and worry. 

All about Google’s self-driving cars with monthly progress reports: https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/ 

 

 

Dynamic New 2016 Vehicles!

Is a new vehicle on your Christmas list this year?  At Richards’ Collision Center we have researched the most dynamic vehicles of 2016 to narrow down your search.  Over the next several weeks we will show case some of our favorite choices.  

The Smart Fortwo vehicles top the charts as the most urban cool, and, cost saving.   Their tag line is: 

“From gas to electric, see which smart is right for you.”

 

Photo:  Smartusa.com

The starting price for the basic gas powered model is only $14,650.  If you are looking for an electric model with a sun roof you can race home with a convenient lease at $199 monthly, and, other options that fit any practical budget.   Click here to discover more about SmartUsa.com –  American compact cars packed with saving power. 

 

Photo: Yahoo.com/autos

Next on the list of great American vehicles is the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang. Yahoo.com declared this vehicle as the most “Epic Ride of the Year.”  It sports a 526 horsepower, 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V-8 showcasing all the power you will ever need.  “Other contenders for the Epic Ride of the Year were GM products—the 2016 Chevy Camaro and the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V and wild CTS-V (the other favorite being the Lexus RC-F).”

Another informative site that most people are well aware of and tend to respect is the Kelly Blue Book and they nominate and vote for their favorite new vehicles each year.  In the ranks of mid-size SUV’s the crown winner this year is:  2016 Honda Pilot!  It was a unanimous vote with a combination of utility, comfort, features, and price.  Learn more about this dynamic vehicle at KBB.com.

Whether you are looking to save gas expense, or, need the room for a large family, or simply want an attractive car that appeals to your sense of luxury - the new 2016 vehicles offer something special for everyone.  Happy shopping!