Don’t SMS while driving

Cars these days use many smart devices to warn and remind drivers of seat belts like buzzers and bells.  It is about time another problem was taken charge of using cell phones for talking and text messaging while driving.

Several car gadgets companies have come to realize that creating a widespread effective solution is not just a tough job but it is also not as simple as putting up reminders.

Although many states have banned drivers from using mobile phones, this has not seemed to reduce the number of crashes.  This is possibly because drivers continue to flout laws for their own safety.

Some start ups have managed to produce applications which are designed to deter drivers from using mobile  phones while driving.  However, the problem is that they work on only certain type of phones and they have a difficult time figuring if the cell phone user is really driving or not.

sms while driving

The important players are still  to step in and help such as wireless carriers, auto manufacturers and the federal government.  Small companies are not being able to promote widespread use and their tools might not really be able to improve safety.

Drive Safely Corp is proposing phone software that can detect if the phone  device is faster than fifteen miles per hour using a GPS chip.  It will display  a series of letters and numbers which need to be matched from the keypad to unlock the phone.  They assume that matching will not be possible while driving and hence the phone will not unlock for texting.  But this can prove dangerous for a determined driver.

There are other services with software tools like Textecution, CellSafety, TxtBlocker and ZoomSafer use the GPS chip of the phone to know if the cell phone user is moving.  They hold incoming messages in quarantine till after the trip and block the user from writing new ones.  These are expensive in comparison to regular downloadable applications.  Some of them cost 40 dollars with 4 dollars a month recurring fees. Parents of teens will pay for this just for feeling secure.  But since they have an option of override, a determined person will still take advantage of it.

Key2SafeDriving and Cellcontrol are using another approach, that of using the car to let the phone know  if it is moving.  They have a gadget which plugs into the car’s port.  This was originally intended for mechanics to diagnose car problems but it also manages to let the gadget know how fast the vehicle is moving.  Above a specific speed, the Bluetooth receiver of the phone receives a wireless signal and the phone application locks out some features of the phone.

This method does not drain the battery of the GPS although its software does not work if the phone has not been set up for a particular transmitter.  But a common problem in both methods is that these applications run only on certain phones like BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or high end expensive Nokia phones.  Phone like iPhone that lack smart OS systems like are of no use here.

The optional sync system of the Ford Motor Co links phone to the car controls, It reads out messages and can understand spoken commands. But replacing manual manipulation with voice commands remains questionable as research shows that mobile phone conversations distract drivers irrespective of whether or not they use handsfree.

Cellcontrol, iZup and DriveSafely are some other services for curbing distractions from your phone while driving, but the real challenge really seems to be to make the drivers just drive!

Popularity of Japanese Mini Trucks in Canada

Here is some good news.  Times Colonist, a premier newspaper of Canada reports that Japanese mini trucks are a quite a hit with business and trade professionals in Canada.

The legions of Japanese mini trucks that are being embraced by the businessmen and trade people include the Daihatsu Hi-Jet, Subaru Sambar, Honda Acty, Mazda Scrum and Suzuki Carry.  These mini trucks are now fast becoming common place in Victoria.

These mini trucks find their origin in Japan in the year 1964.  They are also called Kei Trucks. The term ‘Kei’ implies that the vehicle is a Kei class vehicle of Japan.  This means it is of the sub compact class.  The vehicles of this class have an engine displacement which is limited to 660cc.

The micro trucks are diminutive in size and this makes them ideal for movement around town and it also allows them to be economical at the same time. These trucks can easily be navigated through narrow country roads, small city streets and even through rice fields. The micro  trucks have three or four small cylinder engines.

These trucks can be used for a variety of things like off-road hunting or as farm utility vehicles.  They can be used as maintenance vehicles for large factories, schools, golf courses, university campuses, shipping yards, ranches, warehouse facilities, dairies, theme parks, horse stables, airports, landscaping companies, orchards, campgrounds, local municipalities, movie sets, movie sets, security companies  etc.  The possibilities are really endless.

In Japan, you can see these vehicles almost everywhere including remote villages and in the mountains.  Japanese trucks which are old are put up for sale because of inspection costs and taxes which are levied on old vehicles in Japan.  Many of these vehicles might have had very low mileage.

One of the bigger advantages of having a Kei truck is that it ownership cost is very low. Although, earlier they were in demand in only right hand driving countries like Asia and Australia, but now even Canadians are embracing them.

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Japanese Car Makers Set Standards for Electric Cars

Japanese automobile makers are taking the electric automobile industry forward in a big way.
Very soon, Electric Vehicles will become commonplace.  Recently, Japanese car makers like Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan have teamed with Fuji Heavy Industries and ‘Tokyo Electric Power Company’ forming the CHAdeMO association – which is an abbreviation of ‘Charge de Move’.  This association will promote standardized charging methods for electric vehicles, by establishing a protocol for recharging infrastructure.

The aim of this council is to standardize technology which is being used to charge electric cars across the entire motor industry.  The firms are hoping that places across the whole of Japan will offer charging station after the creation of this technology.  They want to make the technology compatible with all electric vehicles.

158 companies and organizations including the above mentioned five companies areall  set to join this association.  This consortium includes many overseas businesses.  Campaigns have already started in USA to make the Japanese recharging technology a global standard.  There is a lack in competing standards.

A home plug recharges the electric vehicles as well but the main point of difference between this and the power station is that the station delivers fifty kilo watts at 150-200 amps so your car gets recharged in a few minutes and not hours.

The availability of  power stations encourages owners to take their car further although they might not have  charged it and encourages use of electric vehicles.  Right now the electric cars cannot travel more than two hundred kilometers on a single charging.  A brand agnostic station for charging is critical for the future success of these cars. The technology is currently already  in use by Subaru and Mitsubishi, and Nissan is likely to follow them.

The Japanese automobile industry had always led the way for the hybrid and electric car sector.  The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid in the world and is Japans top selling vehicle.  The government of Japan is supporting this EV standardization venture of CHAdeMO with 13.7 million dollars.