Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rage against the Light

Every so often in our journey through life we discover the one thing that truly grinds us.

For me the frustration and intolerance is for individuals who drive around with faulty taillights. For years it’s frustrated me beyond belief that for the sake of a couple of Rand and a few minutes of their time there are drivers out there putting themselves and others at risk. "How many drivers does it take to change a light bulb?"

So imagine my confusion to find out that the there is a new generation of vehicles out there that has no user serviceable parts. So now you have to take your vehicle into the garage to get it done. Sounds like a money making racket to me.

Even with a motor plan which covers the costs of the part its the fact that the average dealership has a three week waiting list to book your car in for a repair and then it’s up to six weeks for the part that makes this whole thing incomprehensible.

The inconvenience and downtime on your vehicle triples the actual cost of the part. Do the dealers actual make that much money out of this to justify the decision to make it a non user serviceable part?

So the end result is that there are thousands of vehicles driving around with faulty lights through no fault of the driver.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jaguar - The Legend

The Legend lives on

Its so seldom that one hears good news, or a compliment about a company in the service industry. We are usually so quick to complain, as most of my posts would indicate. Yet it is so seldom that we ourselves pass on a compliment when we get what we expect (and sometimes believe we deserve).

In this case my whole hearted thanks and compliments to the guys and girls at Jaguar for their outstanding customer service and support.

I have recently just had the privilege of experiencing the class and refinement of the Jaguar brand and was most impressed that the staff that support the brand live up to the standards.

I took an S-Type out for a drive in the country this week and I am sold. The vehicle drives and handles with style and class that I have not often experienced. Its an unhurried drive, tons of power available and yet you never feel the need to use it. Its a laid back kind of experience - even at 160km/h.

The experience is kind of like flying business class, if you can't fly that way again, you will never fly again.

Next time I am going Supercharged.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Three Legged Spiders

Part Motorcycle Part Roadster
- A very eye catching piece of automotive engineering -

At first glance this hybrid offers the best of several worlds, the Freedom, handling and flexibility of a motorcycle and the wet weather handling and stopping power of a car.

Unfortunately the reality is somewhere in between.

The widened front end with two wheels means twice the stopping power and better wet weather characteristics than a regular motorcycle, unfortunately it also means twice the width and its this feature that makes it impractical for urban commuting. You cant pass between cars, need full size bays to park in and more maintenance costs when its time to replace the tyres.

All in all a great concept, but more suited for a beach holiday run around than a real urban commuter, but at R270 000 new its going to be tough to justify having that parked at your beach home.

At least you don't have to remember to put down the stand.

Where's the fire?

Its amazing how many drivers have no idea how to react if a fire truck or other emergency services vehicle comes charging up behind them with there lights flashing.

Whats even more frightening is how many people have no idea of the presence of an emergency vehicle behind them, what with modern car having aircon and us being in the midst of global warming (Although watching the news from the Northern Hemisphere one has some doubts.) we tend to drive with our windows up and our 7.2 surround sound stereos isolating us from the rest of the outside world.

Now if only they could invent something for us to be able to see behind us, so we could anticipate things like this. The lipstick mirror they mount on the windscreen would be ideal for this, unfortunately its not positioned in such away to allow us to look rearward, but rather set up for its primary purpose to allow us to groom ourselves while stationary at traffic lights.

Its a case of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

One day while on a routine patrol we chased an individual 16km for jumping a Traffic light and eventually caught up with him at a roadblock (set up for him) to find him blissfully unaware that there had been a Police car behind him the whole time with sirens and blue lights. His aftermarket stereo was worth more than the car, and who uses mirrors?

Pete Piringer, spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire Department says. "There's no question that the most dangerous part of most emergency calls these days is getting there."

This is a big deal for fire and police departments. The confusion hurts response times and fully 25 percent of fire fighter fatalities are as a result of traffic accidents, according to Montgomery Division Chief Richie Bowers
- Extract from an article by Steve Hendrix Posted at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2008/08/traffic_101_here_comes_a_fire.html

At the end of the day its more about being aware of the situation than it is about how we deal with it. If we use our mirrors and pay attention we will be able to anticipate the oncoming fire truck and be able to react to its needs.

If we learn these skills and apply them to all our driving situations it would undoubtedly improve road safety as people will start anticipating accidents.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keep Clear

Dont stop in the Intersection

The crossed yellow lines in the intersections are no stopping zones, first off how many people know that?

Based on the number of (be polite now) drivers that stop in the intersections during peak hour traffic every morning, I would think nobody knows what it means.

So for all you uneducated drivers who think they can (Not that it makes a difference what they think, they will drive anyway.) below is a copy of the specific law applying to this topic.

299. (1) The driver of a vehicle shall not cross a public road unless the road is clear of moving traffic for a sufficient distance to allow him or her to cross the road without obstructing or endangering any such traffic.

This little diatribe is all thanks to the little poppy in the yellow Mazda (Yes sweetie, I mean you) who held me up on my way to work this morning because she couldn't wait on the other side of the intersectionn and would rather park in the middle of the road where everyone can see her.

Seems like I am not the only one with an issue in this regard. I found a facebook site dedicated to these people (Still trying to be polite)

Check it out @ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2294603617#/group.php?gid=2294603617

These guys are not so polite - The group name says it all for me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Art of Camouflage

14 Years ago when the ANC took over our new fledgling democracy one of their first tasks was to rename the Police from a force to a service.

One would assume based on its very name that the police would be a service to the public. Isn't it amusing then to see these services carried out using military like tactics building camouflage hides from which to ambush us from.

What possible hope can it be for these Speed Enforcement situations to have any hope in reducing speeding if the first time you become are of the fact that you were breaking the law is when you receive a fine in the post a fortnight later.

I fail to see how fineing 5000 drivers per month can be considered a success. I would far rather see the Police standing out in plain view with flashing lights the works. That would definitely reduce speeding. If the Police reported 0 cases of speeding I would consider that a success.

Also the case of posting officers at high accident zones is all and well, but what's the point in posting two officers carefully camouflaged behind the bushes all day long, when there has been no recorded case of an accident there in daylight. Instead the officers should be there at night when the accidents happen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Standing Room Only

In view of the recent bus accidents in the headlines you would think that bus company's would have gone over there safety briefings again in full detail.

Yet that appears not to be the case. Follow any bus around for 10 minutes and you would think it was a taxi because of how many times it infringed the law.

Take the Putco bus driving next to me in traffic last week; two passengers were sitting in the stairwell. So much for standing Room Only. Why not let the passengers sit on the roof too?

Why is it so hard to enforce rules and regulations on you driver? When I was a kid catching the bus to school the bus driver used to stop the bus and come and tell you off just for sticking your head out the window. Now they infringe the law more than their passengers.

I look forward to the days when robots take over from human drivers. Then the law is the law no debate, when the driver says behind the line the bus will not move until the offending passenger s behind the line. The other occupants of the bus will surely enforce this with swift and physical force should the transgressor delay the bus beyond a tolerable delay.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The world goes round and round

This is a blog about my insights into people and vehicles in South Africa.

The old saying of "but I can drive" is such an overused cliche that it should be banned from the English language.

Listen up people - the ability to move an automobile from point A to point B does not constitute an ability to drive.

Driving is an skill that involves the understanding of your vehicle and use it the way the engineers who designed it intended. It also involves the ability to predict traffic problems and the knowledge to adapt to the changes in the traffic flow. You also need to understand the different driving characteristic's of your vehicle and how these change when the environmental conditions change.

All these things together is only part of the ability to be able to say "but I can drive"

Consider the following

1, Do you know what all the buttons in your car does?
2. Do you know if your has ABS? Do you know what it means?
3. Do you understand why your children should sit in the front seat of a car with airbags?
4. Do you know why the spare wheel in your car is smaller than the others? Do you know what this means?
5. Do you wear a seatbelt?

If you answered now to any of the above questions then the chances are that you are not as safe a driver as you think you are.

Do yourself, your family and the rest of the world out there and RTFB - Read the F%$#ing Book. (Half the answers to the above questions are in the manual that came with the car)

Remember cars like guns do not kill people

Stupidity Does.