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Tag Archives: driving

Are cars all smoke and mirrors?

I’m not talking about mufflers and rear-views.

It’s hard to imagine where we’d be today if not for the invention of the automobile. The car is truly a marvel of technology and innovation, and it’s hard to underestimate the contribution it’s made to civilization.

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The bumper is held onto the vehicle by eight of these push-on clips on top and eight more on bottom, plus 2 bolts.

I’m certainly not a mechanic, and I’m sure that the drivetrain and chassis of a modern vehicle is solid and safe. Yet whenever I do minor repairs or install something new, I’m amazed by just how little material is actually holding the whole thing together. Even auto brands that are known for safety and quality give us vehicles that are surprisingly reliant on plastic pieces that snap into place and are held together by more plastic clips.

To wit, today I replaced the headlamps on our 2005 Honda Odyssey…not the light bulbs, but the entire front headlight assemblies. This job wasn’t difficult, but it was eye-opening. To start, I had to remove the front bumper – which seems like a big, heavy project in itself, right?

Not exactly.

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The bumper is a single piece of soft, molded plastic.

The bumper itself is a hollow, single piece of molded soft plastic which covers a steel beam attached to the chassis. To remove the bumper, you simply pop out eight plastic clips on top, eight more on bottom, and one bolt on each side. That’s it. The whole bumper then peels off the front of the vehicle effortlessly.

Then, to remove each headlight, you only need to disconnect 4 bulb wire attachments, and unscrew three bolts. The assembly comes right out, and the new one fits easily in its place.

Putting the bumper back on the car is as easy as it was to remove, simply reversing the steps.

As if looking out for the other guy wasn’t enough to worry about on the road.

So just be careful out there, friends. And remember that luxury vehicle you’re riding in might just be held together by 10-cent plastic clips.

Well, at least we have new headlights.

Well, at least we have new headlights.

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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Random, Thoughts, Travel

 

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Mini-random Journeys

Happy observations, profound thoughts, minor annoyances, pleasant surprises…

  1. How can you tell if kettle chips are stale?
  2. Why must the other car drift into my lane right when I’m passing?
  3. If it’s over 100 degrees, it really doesn’t matter that it’s a dry heat.
  4. There are few things in life as important as getting the cereal-to-milk ratio just right.
  5. The latest study shows that three out of four people make up about 75% of the population.

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Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Random, Thoughts

 

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Not phoning in my resolution this time

A new study is out that confirms a rising trend: This will just take a seven…salmon…(damn you, autocorrect)… This will just take a second —

Texting and driving don’t mix.

Despite widespread awareness of the dangers that distracted driving can cause, and despite horrific viral video campaigns that will make you wish for a real-life “undo” button, drivers continue to text behind the wheel.

The new research, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shows that the number of people who thumb messages or email from the driver’s seat has risen 50% over the past year.

So why the disconnect between the absolute sheer danger and the real-life behavior?  You might think, as with most tragic events, people erroneously think it can’t happen to them.  But that’s not quite it.  What’s happening, the researchers believe, is that people just seem to think they’re better drivers than everyone else, and they can handle the additional distraction — but the other guy can’t.

“Everyone thinks he or she is an above average driver — it’s all the nuts out there who need educating,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

But I’m willing to bet Mitt Romney $10,000 that there’s also some deeper psychological phenomenon at stake, and I hope that will be the next research study the government undertakes.  My hypothesis is that there is some sort of addictive rush that comes from sending and receiving messages. Something chemical in the brain that creates an urge too great to put off, despite intellectually knowing the dangers.  That could explain why so many people support laws banning texting while driving (now illegal in 35 states), yet so many continue to do it.

Some of the other findings from the government study:

  • 90% said that when they are passengers they feel very unsafe if the driver is texting or emailing.
  • In 2010 there were an estimated 3,092 deaths in crashes affected by a wide range of driver distractions.
  • Big majorities of drivers surveyed support bans on hand-held cellphone use and texting while driving — 71 percent and 94 percent, respectively, yet 20% of all drivers and 50% of drivers 21 to 24 years old regularly text or email while driving.

If these numbers aren’t enough to jolt you into changing your behavior, perhaps the video below will. (Fair warning: it’s very difficult to watch.)

And that’s why one of my 2012 New Year’s resolutions is to put the kibosh on cell phone distractions in my car. That means, no texting, no browsing, no Words with Friends.

It can, and it will, wait.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Family, Thoughts, Travel, Work

 

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