Vancouver’s viaduct variables

11418461

What shall we do with the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaduct?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 11, 2015

Now that the filming of Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool has ended, I guess we can start talking about how awful the Vancouver viaducts are. If you are unfamiliar with these viaducts, they are the two roads that connect Prior Street, Strathcona to Expo Boulevard, Stadium/Downtown. It’s the big concrete bridge that runs alongside the SkyTrain from Chinatown to Rogers Arena.

Built in the 1970s, the viaducts were designed to be an entry point into the urban core of Vancouver. I’ve taken it to and from the city as long as I can remember, and it has never—ever—been a pleasant experience. Now, with the inception of the bike lanes, the viaducts are hazards left, right, and centre. And let’s not forget about it also being a seismic calamity waiting to happen. So when the city council voted to replace the ultra thin, unsettling Hot Wheel tracks with a six-lane, ground-level road that offers neighbouring areas more space for parks, residential, and commerce, I was all in.

But once the viaducts are torn down, what will ultimately take their place will be high rises. Let’s not lie to ourselves, we are running out of room in Vancouver, and building upward seems to be the only feasible solution. While some people have a problem with that initiative, I don’t. Done correctly, buildings can be as beautiful as the waterfront. Buildings can become the ripples of the city, where the waves are the ripples of the ocean; both can be majestic and encapsulating to look upon.

The problem with so many big cities is that their infrastructures end up fencing people from one corner away from people in another corner. Basically, crossing the road becomes a great hassle, so people don’t do it. This creates a divide, which eliminates cross-community engagements. The viaduct truly makes it difficult to traverse. Nevertheless, we should not make the same mistake. The great big cities of the world—London, Paris, and New York—have channels that connect pedestrians, not just vehicles. In Hong Kong, people never have to touch the solid ground; there are walkways connecting to every part of the city, some call it a “pop-up city.” I digress; we shan’t be one of those, albeit it does sound cool to live in such a futuristic metropolis.

Those designing the new roadway systems are assuring us that it is going to be better. I believe them, because honestly, I don’t see how it could be worse. I fear that one day we are going to be like Los Angeles with layers upon layers of highways. With the demolition of the viaducts, I can feel relieved that at least for the moment we are taking a step away from that.

Why Drug-Impaired Driving May Be a Huge Problem in Canada

Posted by  | November 04, 2014 |
Formerly published in Unhaggle.com

Why Drug-Impaired Driving May Be a Huge Problem in Canada

Impaired driving is dangerous; it doesn’t matter if it’s caused by fatigue, alcohol or drugs, because you are taking an unnecessary risk one way or another. Although it’s true that drugs, such as marijuana, affect each person differently, it’s also true that from 1999 to 2010 drug-related fatalitieshave almost doubled. The question is why. Here are some theories:

There Are No Proper Regulations

Law enforcers have done certainly much to deter drivers from driving drunk, but they still have trouble discovering and implementing the most effective measure for stopping drug-impaired drivers from grabbing their keys and getting behind the wheel. Canada has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that law officials attend unique drug-recognition training courses. However, the program is not believed to have reached its full potential when it comes to catching and actually convicting impaired drivers.

Many Think It’s Okay to Drive High

While drinking and driving is taboo, driving under the influence of drugs still somehow goes under the radar, and that’s problematic. The attitude of drivers needs to change, especially among younger ones, who have always shown a more carefree mentality when operating a vehicle. In a study conducted by Drug Free Canada, one in three teenagers considers smoking marijuana and driving to be less dangerous than drinking and driving, which is not very comforting. Driving requires a lot of attention, and a sudden lapse of judgement for whatever reason can be deadly on the road.

In order to change this reckless attitude, lawmakers in North America, Australia and certain countries in Europe have implemented a legal limit of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – in some parts of the U.S., it’s five nanograms per millilitre of blood – as well as protocols for officers to perform when they suspect the driver to be under the influence of drugs. One method practiced in Norway and Australia involves requesting oral fluid samples from drivers, which can be obtained with a quick roadside test that involves licking or swabbing of the tongue.

By giving officers more resources to catch drug-impaired drivers, the mentality of people may eventually change.

Drug Users Are Not Punished Enough

There are many reasons why our society frowns upon drinking and driving, and one of those reasons is the fact that the police categorizes the  as a high-priority issue. Why else would they have roadblocks, breathalysers and other sobriety tests? Because drinking and driving is very obviously illegal.

Some political parties believe that the whole penalty system should change so that drug-impaired drivers could receive punishment equal to those who drink and drive. The Transportation Minister of Ontario, Steven Del Duca, believes that implementing roadside suspensions, mandatory education or treatment, an ignition interlock condition and a seven-day vehicle impoundment are some of the first important steps to take in order to convince the public of the severity of drug use.

“And when you look at the statistics, in 2011 for example, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 46 per cent of all collisions involving vehicles that resulted in deaths had individuals who were either under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol,” says Del Duca.

In Canada 2012, however, only 1,126 drug-impaired driving charges were laid, which makes up 2 per cent of all annual impaired driving charges (alcohol-impairment charges exceed 60,000). The inability to confidently confirm impairment on the scene has led to many challenges for those wanting to see an end to drug-impaired driving. This is mainly because the technology used for catching drunk drivers does not work on drug users.

So What Can Help Us?

Law enforcers could definitely benefit from a few technological innovations. Breathalysers have changed the way officers charge drunk drivers, and as such, we need a device that can do the same for drivers who are high. The Cannabix Breathalyser might be the solution. In less than a few minutes, this hand-held device, conceived by BC-based company West Point Resources, can accurately detect whether a person has consumed marijuana or not. Given its success rate, this new technology could also act as another deterrent for anyone who is thinking of using drugs before driving.

Generally speaking, the point is not to argue whether smoking weed is better or worse than drinking a couple of beers – the point is to reduce fatalities. And in order to do that, drivers need to change their mindsets, while politicians and lawmakers have to reconsider their approach and provide law enforcers with better technology. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely doable!

Why You Should Buy a Small Car

Posted by  | September 24, 2014 |
Originally published in Unhaggle.com 
Why You Should Buy a Small Car

When it comes to buying a new car, bigger is not always better. Small cars, generally defined as two- or four-seat vehicles, have a length of less than 457.2 centimetres and wheelbase of less than 266.7 centimetres and may in fact be the better choice in terms of drivability, safety and practicality.

In the past, large cars and trucks were highly touted, because they could haul more cargo, transport bigger parties and never compromise safety. But drivers are not looking to move furniture every other week now, and with hatchbacks such as the Honda Fit, they can easily take some more time at Costco, knowing that the adjustable room is flexible and accommodating, if not spacious.

The world is changing, and as more and more cars appear on the road, being smaller might just be the best driving advantage you can have.

Safety First

We often hear about the hypothetical collision between a Hummer and Smart Car. The image of a smooshed petite vehicle is what appears in our heads, thus deterring us from driving them. Though, in terms of physics, a small car is less likely to prevail in a small-verses-big-vehicle collision, it doesn’t mean that small cars are dangerous.

Larger cars have numerous dodgy factors to consider too. With a higher centre of gravity, large vehicles, such as SUVs, are more likely to roll over, and trucks with unequal weight distributions can fishtail aggressively on wet pavement. All large vehicles offer is a false sense of security and that’s often more hazardous.

The IIHS report clearly shows vast improvements in small-car safety between 2005 and 2011. New safety technologies, like electronic stability control and full side airbags, as well as improved structural materials have reduced the death toll of small-car drivers by 50 per cent. One can only assume that the number will continue to drop as small cars become even more progressive safety-savvy.

Driving Sensibility

There is nothing worse than traversing a tight alley or searching for a parking spot in an urban area, except maybe doing all of that in a large cumbersome vehicle. Small cars tend to be nimbler and more responsive, making it the more practical choice for city drivers. Entering cramp parkades and taking tight turns on smaller roads is easier when you don’t have extraneous parts daring to scrap against a pillar, parked vehicle or pedestrian.

Driving a smaller vehicle is simply the more sensible choice for novice and experienced drivers. After all, there is no such thing as wasted space, both inside and out. Getting around isn’t a big ordeal when you’re unobtrusive.

Better Performance

Small cars have less mass, enabling better performance without installation of a more powerful engine. That is why sleek, speedy sports cars are often smaller and lighter. While true sport and muscle cars have an increased length, adding to the aerodynamic features of the car for a smoother ride, more modest cars can hold their own too without any further strain or modifications. Small cars, as far as they go, are built to perform with less effort. Whether it is an every-day situation or long road trip down the coast, driving a smaller car is all in all a better experience, and it’s all because of the performance.

Fit in Compact Spaces, Including Your Tiny Garage

We are now living in a world of over seven billion people. It’s hard to imagine an automobile and a parking space for everybody. In North America, we feel as though we have unlimited amount of room, but that’s not true. Space is a fading commodity in the city core, parking lots and garages. Owning a large vehicle may be a way to showcase prosperity, but it also exhibits negligence and tactlessness. If you are buying a large vehicle to fuel your own desire, please reconsider, because if you don’t make room for us, there might not be room for you either.

Big Savings

When sifting through a list of affordable cars, you’d find that the majority are smaller vehicles. There are many factors adding up to savings, including fewer materials, better fuel economy, cheaper insurance rate and less maintenance.

In addition, smaller vehicles are also more environmentally-friendly. Electric and hybrid options are in high demand, not only because of the green factors, but also because it means money saved in your pocket. As emission taxes and gas prices increase, it only makes sense that our car sizes should decrease.

To all the car buyers out there: recall the Volkswagen Beetle ad that revolutionized a generation and “Think small.”

Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen Drivers

Posted by  | August 20, 2014 |
Originally published on Unhaggle.
Top 10 Worst Cars for Teen DriversNot every vehicle is a suitable car for a teen or novice driver. Some cars come with a steeper learning curve, more responsive handling and fewer safety features. Those little elements can add up to become a challenging ride for young, inexperienced drivers. So, this is not really about safety only, but the whole package. For information on the most unsafe vehicles currently on the road, be sure to check out our top picks right here.When looking into purchasing the first car for your teenager or yourself, it’s best to choose a vehicle with some familiarity and practicality. Young drivers are prone to distraction and an overwhelming sense of invincibility, so it’s best to keep them humble. Safety is paramount, and some cars are dangerous even for the most seasoned drivers. So, try and steer clear of these death traps or, at least, don’t introduce any young drivers to them.

10. Ford Mustang

Allowing your children to drive the world famous Ford Mustang is like giving them steroids for the road. They’ll love you because it’ll make them look cool, but you might lose them to the dark side forever. The Mustang is a powerful, rear-wheel-drive vehicle that has more power than most can handle. For new drivers who are still learning the rules of the road, it’s best to stay away from a vehicle as defiant as the Mustang.

9. Jeep Wrangler

For many adventurous parents looking for a frugal choice for their outdoorsy children, turning to the Jeep Wrangler may seem reasonable. However, the Wrangler is a notoriously finicky animal when it comes to turns. Prone to flips and barrel rolls when taking corners too quickly, the Wrangler might not be the best choice for young drivers who tend to have heavier feet. Also, it should be mentioned that off-roading should be reserved for more experienced drivers anyway, so if you are considering the Wrangler as a novice, maybe you should reconsider.

8. Any Clunker

Hand-me-downs are a good thing; they breeds tradition, save money and teach modesty. Nevertheless, parents should avoid giving their teenage drivers their old, clunky cars. “Clunker” is a term for any vehicle well past its prime, and the next ignition turn may be the last. If it has a rusty exterior, susceptibility for stalling or lack of safety features from the recent decade, then it’s not an okay gift no matter how you cut it. If you don’t want your children to be stranded on a highway or in worst situations, chip in a bit more and get them something reliable.

7. Dodge Viper

Must I explain why giving a race car to a teenage driver might be a bad idea? I’ll be frank: most roadsters are bad first cars for a young driver, because they are just too unpredictable in regular traffic. The Dodge Viper does not deliver a calming ride, it’s a rollercoaster constantly seeking the next ascension. For young drivers it’s a white-knuckle gripping experience, and that’s not what anybody wants.

6. Hummer H1

If you want to nurture the aggressive, road-hogging bully inside your children, go ahead, buy them the Hummer H1. Sure, you may want your kid to have the utmost protection on the road, which in your mind may mean “bigger is better.” However, the Hummer H1, with its action-movie-like off-roading capabilities, can lead to over-confident driving. Aggressive driving is the result of one in three fatal accidents each year, and it should not be an attribute installed in drivers of any age—especially in young and impressionable ones.

5. Chevrolet Aveo

Economy cars with an egg-shell frame and limited safety features, like the Chevrolet Aveo, are not the best option for young drivers, simply because the highest percentage of road accidents are actually caused by inexperienced drivers. Sure, the Aveo has many endearing qualities that may suit a teenager, such as reliability and reserved power, but having a thin arsenal of safety features is a reason enough to look elsewhere since the car has few other redeeming qualities anyhow.

4. Subaru WRX

The Subaru WRX is a car that gets attention, sometimes from the wrong people. When purchasing a vehicle for a young driver, it’s important to consider the impression the car has on others, especially the police. The WRX is a speedy machine with turbo acceleration that can put your teenager in an unsavoury position. All in all, avoid getting a new driver a vehicle with a turbo engine. The maintenance involved is one thing, but the speed it provides is another.

3. Nissan 300ZX

There was a time when the Nissan 300ZX was the cream of the crop, but now it’s an affordable model that offers the same respectable performance.  Although it’s certainly enticing, the 300ZX isn’t the smoothest-handling vehicle on the used-car market, especially since it’s from a pervious generation. Sure, the old car hasn’t grown up much, but your teenager should.

2. Porsche 911 Turbo

Tame your child’s need for speed early, lest they end up on the side of the road. Giving a teenage driver a Porsche of any kind – let alone a 911 Turbo – is a very bad idea. The turbocharged supercar may be a joy to drive, but as enthralling as it is, the risk level of having an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of this vehicle should worry every other driver on the road. If you do give your teenager a Porsche, warn me – I’ll try to avoid the route he or she may be taking.

1. McLaren-Mercedes SLR

A combination of the expensive, the powerful and the extravagant is obviously a good thing for a young driver, right? It sure is – not! No doubt, the McLaren-Mercedes SLR is a highly-touted vehicle for drivers of all ages, but I wouldn’t want a novice driver behind the wheel the same way I don’t want an inexperienced pilot guiding an airplane through a turbulent storm. Not only does the supercar come with a steep learning curve, it is utterly unforgiving when it comes to errors. Repairs and insurance fees can add up quickly, and that is a debt no young driver deserves.

How to Get Your Parents to Buy You a New Car

 

Posted by  | July 31, 2014 | 
Originally published on Unhaggle.com 

Transformers-crop

Your parents, they love you. They want the best for you. They raised you and bought you clothes, food and video games, but why aren’t they buying a new car for you when you’ve asked? And they are not even willing to buy you an old one either!

You’ve negotiated and made the loose bargains you’ve been making your whole life: “I’ll get straight A’s!”, “I’ll do the chores!” or “I’ll take care of you when you’re old!” But those aren’t working. Perhaps it’s time to grow up and approach this tactfully. Think: What would an adult do?

Pick the Car You Want and Explain Its Benefits

 

Prove your maturity by doing research. Not only will it show your family that you are knowledgeable, but you might also impress them with all your added automotive expertise.

If your parents are hesitant, which they probably are, then you should suggest several vehicles that will ease their nerves and make them reconsider. Select several cars and highlight their safety features, comfort level, fuel economy and price.

Most vehicles these days come with state-of-the-art safety technology, so it wouldn’t hurt to know what electronic stability control does and why anti-lock brakes are important. If you want to really show off your chops, list all the IIHS Top Safety Picks and pinpoint the vehicle you want on the list. Nothing is more important to your parents than your safety, so be sure to leverage that!

Gas prices are on a pretty consistent rise, insurance is always more expensive than it should be and cars aren’t cheap either. With that in mind, beggars can’t really be choosers, so demonstrate to your parents that you can be financially responsible. After researching affordable cars, you’ll notice that not every vehicle has the lavishness of a Lexus, Porsche orBMW, but they can still get you places and isn’t that the important thing? A car should not be a status symbol unless you have earned it yourself.

Convince Them That You’ll Pay Your Share

 

Nobody likes a spoiled brat, not even your parents, so pay back the good deed. Your mom and dad may take some convincing, but if you can show off your budgeting capability, not only will you get a car, but your family will have a piece of mind too.

Start by paying for the gas you use, move up to the monthly insurance and then, hopefully, over time, you’ll be able to take over the financing or lease. If the car breaks down, if you get a ticket or if your friends make a mess in the backseat, it is your job to clean up that mess. Please don’t let your mom solve all your problems. Admit it, your parents work hard because they don’t deserve to worry about another set of payments. So, anything you can chip in would be great – and make sure you do.

This might mean getting a job on the weekend or after school. Heck, you might even be able to drive to work and show off your ride. All of a sudden, you look a little bit more like the adult you totally are. Understand that a car is not only a wonderful alternative to the bus, it is also a huge responsibility. You’ll need to clean it, take it to maintenance and of course, be responsible while driving it.

Make Your Car Useful and Promise to Follow Rules

 

My late Uncle Ben once told me: “With great power comes great responsibility.” I always heed those words, and so should you. If you have a car, it is your duty to use it to not only make your life better, but to make your whole family’s life better too.

By sharing the vehicle with your loved ones, you’ll better convince your parents that you actually deserve it. So, why not give your sister a ride to the party? Why not help your mom pick up groceries at the store? Or why not drive your dad to the doctor’s office instead of simply driving him mad? The car shouldn’t just change your life, it should change everyone else’s too – and for the better.

Yes, you’re helping out, but when you do have the car for your own time, be sure to follow the rules; rules that you and your parents have agreed upon initially, before the trip to the dealership, before you put the key into the ignition and before you go cruising down the road.

You should be the one who approaches your parents with the rules. Write them down on paper and make them official – parents love official stuff. Whether you deserve a curfew, restrictions on where you drive or the freedom to have food in your car are up for you and your parents to decide. But, once the rules are set, regardless of what they are, be sure to follow them. As soon as you break a rule and your parents catch you, the trust is lost – and the same might happen to your car privileges.

You deserve a car. But, if you want to drive, you’ll have to prove it.

Top 10 Crazy Car Concepts That Almost Made It

 

Posted by  | July 08, 2014 |
Originally published in Unhaggle.com

Car concepts, like fashion, can be creative, innovative, evocative and occasionally a complete faux pas. You can take a look at some failed vehicles on our list of the ugliest cars ever produced, if you need proof of how bad some designs can be.

During auto shows, concept cars are presented to both the public and the industry. It is there that car companies and designers get a chance to measure the overall reaction of their imaginative prototypes. It’s unlikely that these ambitious and unique vehicles would become the next Bugatti Veyron, but it’s a chance for the manufacturers to show everyone what is possible.

While some concept cars actually make it onto the assembly line, others fade away, only to be found in the obscure history books. Here are 10 crazy car concepts that came, went and even foreshadowed the next generation of automobiles.

10. Toyota RV-2 (1972)

Toyota RV-2

The Toyota RV-2 was a four-person camper and standard station wagon all in one. Inspired by the Volkswagen camper bus of the ‘70s, Toyota was trying to appeal to outdoorsy hippies as well as drivers who just wanted a practical vehicle. The innovative, yet far from revolutionary, clamshell roof opened up, revealing a canvas tent that offered a sleeping arrangement that was more comfortable than most backseat at the time.

The emerald green concept car made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1972 and received positive response from the public. However, it was not popular enough to be worthy of mass production on a wide market.

9. Honda Fuya-Jo (1999)

Honda Fuya-Jo

The Honda Fuya-Jo was built to be a “mobile sound studio,” even though it looks like an oversized purple toaster oven. Translated, Fuya-Jo means “Sleepless City” in Japanese, which make sense, because who can really sleep in this four-seater dance floor on wheels? Taking inspiration from modern clubbing culture, Honda has attempting to replicate the DJ’s mix table and offer a ride that simulates the nightlife experience.

Unfortunately, many feared that the Fuya-Jo might be sending a message that drinking and then driving to the after-party was all right, thus keeping it from the production line.

8. Dodge Kahuna (2003)

Dodge Kahuna

The Dodge Kahuna made some waves at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show, but has never really earned the approval of surfers, soccer moms or the free-spirited drivers who live along the coast. The six-passenger van, with its bulky cartoon-like exterior and its Stow N’ Go seating, was meant to take surfers and athletic types from the street to the beach with ease.

The polarizing impression that the Dodge Kahuna left on critics and the public sank the vehicle’s production potentials. You can even say that the van “wiped out.”

7. Aurora Safety Car (1957)

Aurora Safety Car

The Aurora Safety Car may just be the ugliest car ever conceived. The strange ameba design, with a smiley face grille and oblong windshield, is enough to disgust even he most tolerant drivers. The Safety Car was the first Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) to be manufactured.

But the story of Father Alfred A. Juliano, a Catholic priest and automobile manufacturer, was even more upsetting than the Aurora Safety Car’s appearance. Juliano funded the $30,000 prototype with some help from his congregation, but it ended up bankrupting him and the Aurora Motor Company.

However, the vehicle is now restored and can be seen in the Beaulieu Motor Museum in England.

6. Saab Aero-X (2006)

Saab Aero-X

The Saab Aero-X is the stunning and simplistic iCar that might have originated from Steve Jobs himself. The 180-degree canopy and fluid design gave the Aero-X the look of a fighter jet. Unlike the rest of Saab’s lineup, the Aero-X was simply not the direction the company wanted to gear towards. Yet, it was reassuring to know that the Swedish manufacturers were capable of making an elite vehicle that could reach 250 km/h.

5. Audi Avus (1991)

Audi Avus

The Audi Avus was ahead of its time in more than one way. The futuristic design with a 6.0-litre engine capable of producing 509 horsepower turned heads, but wasn’t able to change people’s mindset at the time. Few were convinced that Audi was capable of creating the super car, the Avus claimed to be.

The silver bullet that is the Avus was never meant for production since it was built mainly to prove that Audi was a powerhouse brand that towers above most car manufacturers. Today, the original Avus can be seen in the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt, Germany.

4. Lincoln Futura (1955)

Lincoln Futura

If the Lincoln Futura looks familiar, it’s because it was the Batmobile in the 1960’s television series. The clear-top bubble glass canopy is the defining feature of the UFO-like Futura. The concept car ended up bringing a lot of publicity for the company. Replicas were created for television and media appearances, and few were sold off for novelty sakes.

Although the Futura was a star at the time, it never saw production. However, it did serve as inspiration for other Lincoln vehicles such as the Premiere and Capri, which had a respectable run on the market.

3. Toyota EX-III (1969)

Toyota EX-III

The Toyota EX-III, modeled after the EX-I, is designed for the high-speed commute of tomorrow. Sadly, tomorrow has never really materialized for the EX-III, EX-I or any of the EXs afterwards. The flat body with semi-rear wheel covers, bumperless front, fish gills and tacky headlights remind us of all the design relics of yesteryears.

2. Mazda Furai (2007)

Mazda Furai

The Mazda Furai was the punk-rock speed demon that car lovers have dreamed of, but sadly, the vehicle’s legacy ended in a nightmarish fiery death. During a showcase at Top Gear’s road test in 2008, the Furai’s Batmobile fire-breathing exhaust caught fire with the engine bay. The whole vehicle was engulfed in flames, and in eight minutes, the beautiful concept was scorched. There was no resurrecting the Furai, as the horrible image had made sure of it. The resting place of the concept’s carcass is still unknown.

1. Ford Nucleon (1958)

Ford Nucleon

The Ford Nucleon, deemed the Atomic Car, was one of the most influential and iconic concept cars in history. Capable of running on nuclear power, the car was perhaps more of a mobile nuclear bomb than an energy saving initiative. Inspired by the functionality of nuclear submarines in the military, the vehicle was essentially an ironed-out red pickup truck. Still, you can imagine the chaos of a highway pileup or a congested urban accident, if all the vehicles involved were nuclear-powered, like this one was. Innovative, yes, but the Nucleon was just not meant for our rational world.

Hate Car Shopping? Here’s How to Make It Better

 

Posted by  | June 26, 2014 | 
Origially published in Unhaggle.com 
Ferrari

Car shopping – the disenchanting experience that all car buyers have gone through. Why isn’t the experience of buying a brand new vehicle as appealing as shopping for a new TV or wardrobe? Is it because we hate cars? Or do we hate the dealers?

According to a survey conducted by Edmunds, 46 per cent of Americans in a sample of 1,000 would rather scrub the porcelain throne than go car shopping. In the same survey, 30 per cent of respondents would attend a wedding alone and 32 per cent would sit in the middle seat of an airplane. Finally, only 20 per cent of people would actually prefer going to the showroom.

Apparently, the reason for all the disdainful sentiment is because of one critical aspect of car buying – haggling. People hate it. To some, the whole process is so classless, uncomfortable and complicated that it seems almost pointless.

But, is car buying really as agonizing as the survey makes it sound? Surely there must be some life hacks that can help us out, right?

Know exactly what vehicle you want

Quality negotiators know exactly what they want before they even enter a dealership. If you’re not sure what vehicle you want to buy, you might get swayed by the dealer to get something costlier than you really need.

Begin by doing some research. There are plenty of resources online that can guide you. Since there are tons of makes and models out in the car market to fit every personality on the road, you want to keep on top of them all. You also want to find the perfect fit for your lifestyle

Automaker websites and third-party review sites are all just a search away. Use the process of elimination to make your final selection. And ask yourself a lot of questions (which you should be able to answer). Do you want a nice family sedan? Do you want to take an SUV on a camping trip? Or would a luxury vehicle suit your fancy? It doesn’t matter what you decide on, the important thing is that you’re the one who decides.

Know exactly how much you want to pay

You are less likely to pay more if you set a limit and stay within it. Determine a reasonable budget for yourself and be certain that it makes fiscal sense. If you don’t know the range you are working with, you might spend more money than you should.

Familiarize yourself with the different prices and incentives associated with car buying. Know the dealer’s invoice price, the MSRP and all the other fees before you start negotiating. Your knowledge will be your haggling armour, and the more you know, the thicker it will get.

For more information, check out Unhaggle’s free price report, which includes the MSRP and other pricing quirks. You can also look up local estimations for the average selling price for the vehicle of your choice.

Know how you want to pay

Another factor that a lot of car buyers neglect upon entering a dealership is their payment method.

Is it smarter for you to lease at the moment or would you rather finance and own your new vehicle long-term? This is the tough question you’ll have to answer yourself, but sometimes automotive manufacturers will help you with that decision. We explain the advantages of both right here.

Keep your eye open for promotions and incentives (and finance/lease rates). These opportunities tend to come up at the beginning of each month. Unhaggle also offers public and hidden incentives, as well as the latest rates available, which you can find in the aforementioned price report.

And if you’re looking for tips on how to become a more confident haggler, check out this article on how to become better at everything.

Unhaggle | Road Obstacles 101: How to Survive a Collision With an Unknown Object

Written and researched by Elliot Chan for Unhaggle.com | May 06, 2014 |
crazypothole

Worst-case scenario: you are driving your new Escalade when suddenly you feel a bump and then an unsettling scrape against some unseen part of the car. What do you do after? Do you drive off and hope for the best? Or should you pull over and assess the damages to the unfortunate obstruction and your car?

In a world full of construction sites and jaywalking animals, things that could have been avoided sometimes just aren’t. Regardless of what you might crash into, dealing with the result will test your character and aptitude as a driver. We don’t plan for accidents, but we can definitely be prepared for them.

Potholes

Hitting a pothole can be a horrifying endevour. You see it coming up ahead, but there just isn’t enough time to react, so you drive directly into the crater. Your car jolts, while the tires, suspension, rims and everything else all suddenly feel compromised. You drive on, but you know that there is some damage. What now?

While road maintenance is the city’s duty, getting compensation will require you to make an insurance claim, which we have covered in this piece. If you have hit a damaging pothole, be sure to report it so that the road can be repaired as quickly as possible.

Anticipating potholes requires the driver to do a few key things while driving. Be aware of the weather conditions: cold weather often damages the road and rain can form puddles that hide the resulting potholes. Leave some distance between yourself and the car in front, which will allow you some room to see the road ahead. Don’t speed or break too quickly when driving across a pothole. Doing so will increase the damage to your vehicle. So, take your foot off the brakes since it’s the best you can do if a pothole is unavoidable.

Pylons and Traffic Cones

Remember those driving tests with pylons and traffic cones scattered all over the road for us to avoid? Well, nothing has really changed—hitting a pylon is never a good thing. It can cause a minor damage to your vehicle or it can cause major accidents.

Hitting a traffic cone may make it to fly away comically or cause it to get caught under your car or in-between the wheels. Dragging a cone, even for a block, can cause severe damage to your vehicle. So, if you feel the plastic orange cone underneath, pull over and remove it immediately. The top part of the cone may seem fragile, but it is often the heavy black base that causes the damage.

Yes, we all have the temptation to drive through a line of pylons, but hitting them is considered vandalism and you may be charged if your motives are seen as negligence.

Large Wildlife

As we plan for our summer road trips, we must also remember that some highways cut across homes of many large animals, including caribous, moose, deer and even bears. Signs are often posted in areas where wildlife populations are high, but are there more precautions we can take?

We remember the term “deer in headlights”, which refers to the paralyzing fear animals feel when they see our vehicles’ blinding headlights. Odds are – they aren’t going to leap out of the way. If you know you cannot avoid the animal, do not try to maneuver around it—instead, try to brace for impact. Swerving may cause you to flip your car, drive off the road or into oncoming traffic, all of which can lead you to a more compromising scenario.

After you have hit the animal and checked that you are okay, do not approach it since it may still be alive. In a moment of panic, the animal can attack, kick or gore. Remain in your vehicle and report the incident to 911 right away.

Pedestrians

Hitting a pedestrian is every driver’s nightmare. Not only can you be legally liable to the fault, but you can also kill someone. Driving safe in urban, congested areas—like downtown cores and parking lots—are the best measure. Drive passively and defensively; assume that anybody on the sidewalk can jump out in front of you at any time.

But what happens if you do hit someone?

Stop! Hit-and-runs are a severe crime with punishment ranging anywhere from a fine to imprisonment. If you hit someone you must pull over, call for emergency responders and cooperate with law enforcers. Take pictures, exchange information and stay on the scene. From there do not hide evidence or speak unruly or discuss the accident. Contacting an attorney will be a good option at this point to help you through the legal process. For more info, consult this article.

Pets

Remember that pets are someone’s family members. It might be easy to simply drive away after the incident, but it is far from the right thing to do. If you drive away and get caught, you may be charged for cruelty to animals and be taken to court.

If the pet, like a dog for instance, is still alive, then approach it carefully. Injured animals are unpredictable and may attack. Help remove it off the road by muzzling it with a blanket. Then contact the dog owner (information should be available on the pet’s collar) and the police. Bring the animal to the veterinarian as soon as possible. The owner will be responsible for paying the medical bill. If the owner cannot be located, the one who brings in the pet will be responsible.

As for the vehicle, a comprehensive insurance claim will cover the damage by going after the pet owner, who is responsible for their pet in the first place. If the driver does not have comprehensive insurance, he or she can go to the pet owner and file a claim for repair.

Unhaggle | 5 Ways to Lose Weight While Driving

Researched and Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan for Unhaggle.com | April 01, 2014 |
hancockcar

Driving is the leisurely way to commute, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight while doing it. Although we shouldn’t point at our GMC Sierras and Dodge Journeys and shame them as the cause of our obesity, researchers at Planetizen have found links between driving and diabetes and other weight-related health problems in the U.S.

But as more and more people get rides to work, does that mean us drivers are doomed to the mockery of bikers and joggers, in addition to our bad health? Not necessarily. Sure, you might be able to walk everywhere, but you are very capable of making your commute to work, home and fun much more healthy—and you might even be able to lose a few pounds on your way too.

Don’t Eat and Drive

With so many dining options at every intersection and increasingly busy schedule, it’s easy to get caught in a drive-thru or consume a quick meal on your way somewhere. Eating while driving is not only dangerous, but it is also unhealthy and unnatural. In the best case scenario, you might add pounds, but in the worst case scenario, you might cause an accident.

On the go eating is bad for the digestive system, because it happens in quick spurts and is inconsistent. A red light does not mean “Go” for eating. Schedule your day so that you would have a moment to eat before or after driving to your appointments. Once you are driving, you should be driving—not eating a dashboard dinner.

Don’t Eat Junk Food

If your plan is to lose weight, you should know better than to indulge in junk food—and driving should not excuse you from that plan. Sure, heavy traffic and long trips may lend itself to snacking, but snacking out of boredom is a bad alternative.

Snacking occasionally while driving is a habit that causes drivers to lose touch with their sense of hunger. Instead of enjoying the food, they are just continuously eating, neglecting the fact that they have already eaten. This habit is then transferred to other mundane activities during the day. Don’t associate boredom with eating. Don’t associate driving with eating.

Stack Up On Healthy Snacks

Driving is not a high-calorie burning activity like running or bicycling, but it does burn calories. A person weighing at 130 pounds will burn approximately 118 calories after having driven 30 miles. Increasing speed does not increase the weight loss, but if the person is heavier, the weight loss does decrease. So maybe it isn’t so crazy to stock up on some fuel on long trips just to keep the energy up. But when choosing snacks for long road trips, consider the healthy choices. That means, avoid stocking up on beef jerky and pork rinds at the gas station.

Prepare ahead: bring some peanut butter or tuna sandwiches for protein, some fruit and vegetables for nourishment and some personalized trail mix, as you would if you were going on a hike. Having the right mindset will put you on a path to a healthier lifestyle.

Work Out In Your Car

Drivers have a reputation for being lazy, but that is just not the case. Busy schedules impact their abilities to get a sufficient workout at a gym or home. The excuses for drivers are abundant, but it really doesn’t excuse them if they want to get in shape.

Exercising in the car may sound like a recipe for disaster, but there are ways to do it safely and effectively, even if it’s just a few moments in the parking lot. Turn on some pump up music and try a few of these workouts. To work out your biceps, start by gripping your steering wheel palms down at 11 and 1 o’clock and pulling up, you can work out the muscles in your arm. If you want to work out your triceps, use your hands to support yourself with the arm rests in your car. Push down with your arms, while raising your body. For a chest workout, grab the steering wheel at 9 and 3 o’clock and push inwards and feel the burn in your chest. Finally, if you can, work out your back by grabbing onto the steering wheel at 9 and 3 o’clock and pulling it towards yourself,

These are some simple workouts you can try to sneak in when you are waiting in your car for a friend or your parking metre to run out. Either way, keep an extra pair of running shoes in your vehicle just in case a workout spontaneously occurs.

Drink Water

You might want to get another cup of latte and a snack for the road, but water may be a better alternative.

First off, water is good for you, plain and simple, no arguments there. But it’ll also keep your mind away from those tempting snacks and high-calorie drinks. Keep a bottle of water with you during days where you need to get from here to there, and then back again. You know those types of days where you just can’t help but feel sluggish. Water is the zero-calorie premium.

Unhaggle | The 5 Car Features That Will Keep Your Family Safe

Originally posted in Unhaggle.com
March 13, 2014
Written by Elliot Chan
carfeatures
Before you buy a car, don’t just consider the driver’s needs, but consider the passengers as well. If your family is important to you – you don’t need to convince me that they are – then finding a car with safety features to match is equally as important. Families come in all sizes and so do vehicles, so it doesn’t matter if you are dropping off your kid at school in your Chevrolet Cruze or heading on a family trip in your Toyota Highlander, safety is paramount.Here are five car features that every family-caring chauffeur should consider.

Automated braking

 

One third of all collisions are rear enders. Excessive speed, road conditions, and carelessness cause drivers to slam their brakes, but sometimes collision happen anyway and the driver from the rear is always liable. That makes braking essential, especially in those close-call moments on the road.

Automated braking is quickly showing its value to many drivers who occasionally change radio stations and enjoy their coffee during their commute. Using sensors, such as radar, laser or video data, the input system is able to calculate the speed of the vehicle and the approaching object and time the brakes accordingly – to stop before the two collide.

As an intuitive system, automated braking works unobtrusively. The driver shouldn’t even notice it’s there. It only activates when the moment arises.

Collision avoidance systems

 

Collision avoidance systems give your car a little brain of its own, not that it can drive without you. However, it can definitely access the situation around you (speed of traffic, visibility, etc.) to get you where you need to go safer.

Adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, blind spot detections, front crash prevention, lane departure warning and prevention, and park assist are all key features of the collision avoidance system. Each feature utilizes sensors to notify the driver when something (another car, an object, a pedestrian, etc.) is too close for the safety of your car.

Camera assistance (reversing, side views and blind spots)

 

Not every collision is a major one, but slight maneuvers can still cause big problems, especially for those that occur in tight spaces around your blind spots. Camera assistance is a popular option to help drivers see in those situations. It acts as another mirror or sightline in your vehicle located conveniently on your dashboard or rearview mirrors.

Whether you are changing lanes, parallel parking, or backing into a tight spot, camera assistance will offer you assurance that you’ll at least get to see where you are going, and they are becoming a standard and not simply a luxury item.

Enhanced night visibility

 

Unlit roads and oncoming headlights strains the eyes and limit visibility causing hazards for many nighttime drivers. Using near-infrared illuminators and a charge-coupled device camera, innovative engineers and manufactures have equipped vehicles with, enhances night visibility. This technology allows drivers to see obstructions that would otherwise be unapparent.

From UV technology, augmented reality windshields, to night-vision imaging systems, prototypes of all kinds are being tested by the biggest names in car manufacturing, because drivers of all calibres know that driving at night is often one of the most challenging aspects, weather conditions aside.

Electronic stability control

 

Because of the fact that most roads are not straight and traffic doesn’t flow at a constant speed, vehicles and the drivers driving them can find themselves losing control in gut-wrenching situations. According to Transport Canada, the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) had worked to reduce the rate of control-loss accidents by 29%.

ESC works by utilizing a sensory system that addresses the speed of the vehicle in relation to the rotation of the wheels with the steering of the driver. If it senses that there is a disconnect between the two, than it can assess the type of swerve (or loss of control) to properly administer the braking needed and help the driver regain control.