Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NHTSA's Multitaskers of Horror!

Last month news agencies reported about NHTSA's report about distracted drivers. The report, entitled The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk tracked 100 vehicles equipped with video and sensor devices for one year.
A brief analysis of the study shows:
  • Drowsiness is a significant problem that increases a driverÂ’s risk of a crash or near-crash by at least a factor of four. But drowsy driving may be significantly under-reported in police crash investigations.
  • The most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones. However, the number of crashes and near-crashes attributable to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Dialing is more dangerous but occurs less often than talking or listening.
  • Reaching for a moving object increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 9 times; looking at an external object by 3.7 times; reading by 3 times; applying makeup by 3 times; dialing a hand-held device (typically a cell phone) by almost 3 times; and talking or listening on a hand-held device by 1.3 times.
  • Drivers who engage frequently in distracting activities are more likely to be involved in an inattention-related crash or near-crash. However, drivers are often unable to predict when it is safe to look away from the road to multi-task because the situation can change abruptly leaving the driver no time to react even when looking away from the forward roadway for only a brief time.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Gas Crisis in BART Parking Lots?

From the Contra Costa Times:
BART patrons have become targets for gas-siphoning thieves, and police say it could become a neighborhood trend if inflation at the pump continues.

Thieves have drained from a quarter-tank to a half-tank of gas from at least four vehicles parked at different BART stations in the past month, including one Thursday morning in Bay Point, said spokesman Linton Johnson.

Vehicles, which sit unattended for hours in parking lots or garages, are like rows of treasure chests for petrol pirates.

Gas prices have leapt more than 30 cents a gallon in the past month, making it increasingly expensive to keep cars on the road -- especially SUVs whose gas tanks top off at 25 to 30 gallons. A gallon of unleaded was going from $3.20 to $3.30 in the Bay Area on Thursday.

"If these prices continue, it shouldn't be long before it's a trend everywhere," said Walnut Creek police Sgt. Shelly James.

Does this mean locking gas caps will be popular again? It is 1977 again?

An Electric Car that's Faster than a Ferrari?

CNN Money reports that a new electric car has one of the fastest 0-60 mph acceleration speed in the world, second only to the 1001 horsepowerd Bugatti Veyron.
The X1 designed by Ian Wright. Could a high performance car be the key to bringing electric vehicles to the mass market?

At least it's more effecient than the jet-propelled VW bug.

via /.

Toronto's GO Transit Hacked

Tronto's GO Transit (Greater Toronto Transit Authority) was hacked. From Computerworld:
“It was Thursday evening, April 27, about 5:30, and I was leaving Toronto and I was taking the GO Transit train,” said [Stephen] Nicholls, vice president of the National Citizens Coalition. “Each car has a little electronic advertising sign and messages scroll across them and usually it’s something like buy tickets to this event or messages about train safety. But this time the message on the sign was reading ‘Stephen Harper eats babies,’ every three seconds. Stephen Harper used to be my boss and he’s president of the organization I work for right now.”

Nicholls, who lives in a suburb of Toronto, thought the message on the sign was strange and figured it had to be some kind of parody, with some kind of kicker explaining what it meant. But there was no punchline, he said.

“My first thought was maybe I’m hallucinating and that this couldn’t be. So I sent an e-mail to the GO Transit people and I put it on my blog. I never got any messages back from the GO Transit people over the next couple days,” he said. “But people in the blogging community picked it up, and it sort of got all over the place and local media picked it up. Then I talked about it on a radio station and suddenly the GO Transit people were contacting me. They explained that a hacker got into the system and changed the message. Apparently, this person did it with a wireless device [that] costs about $25 ... at any hardware store or any tech store.... They don’t know who it was and apparently it was running all last weekend on different trains.”

The LED signs are programmed with an infrared remote, and apparently weren't password protected all the time. The signs will most likely be protected now though.

Stephen Harper doesn't eat babies.

Monday, May 01, 2006

High Gas Prices of the Future?

ITS' own Robert Cevero spoke with Don Gonyea this weekend on NPR's Sunday Weekend Edition. They discussed what effect higher gas prices may have on transportation. The full piece can be heard here.