The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest traffic day of the year. That means sharing the road with drivers who are using hand-held devices, eating, sleepy, or even drunk. So give yourself one more reason to be thankful. Be safe – slow down, buckle up, stay alert and give heavy trucks plenty of room since they can’t see, maneuver or stop like you can.
A Recent Study from IIHS Reveals Underride Crash Guards Installed on Most Trucks are Not Strong Enough
The Institute has studied the underride crash problem for more than 30 years, including mid-1970s crash tests demonstrating how then-current guards were ineffective in preventing underride (see Status Report, March 29, 1977; on the web at iihs.org). Federal rules put in place in 1953 required interstate carriers to have rear underride guards meeting speci? cations for ground clearance, setback, and width, but not strength, energy absorption, or attachment methods.
The National Highway Safety Bureau, predecessor to the National Highway Traf? c Safety Administration (NHTSA), indicated in 1967 that it would develop a new standard, but the agency abandoned the effort in 1971 even though the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that energy-absorbing underride and override barriers on trucks, trailers, and buses be required. In 1977 the Institute demonstrated that a 30 mph crash of a Chevrolet Chevette into a tractor-trailer with a rear guard meeting the US rule resulted in severe damage to the car’s occupant compartment.
The Institute petitioned NHTSA for a new standard. It took the agency nearly 20 years to publish new rules. The upgrade took effect in 1998 and resulted in lower and wider underride guards under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 224. Another standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 223, introduced quasi-static test requirements specifying minimum levels of strength and energy absorption (see Status Report, March 2, 1996). The standards cover new trailers but exempt many types of heavy trucks used in everyday commerce including straight trucks, wheels-back trucks, and special purpose trucks. The result is that the majority of trucks on the road aren’t subject to underride rules.
Meanwhile, the passenger vehicle ?eet has changed dramatically since NHTSA wrote the standards. Regulators then were concerned that “overly rigid guards could result in passenger compartment forces that would increase the risk of occupant injuries even in the absence of underride.” The agency also recognized the need for balancing energy absorption with guard strength because “the more the guard yields, the farther the colliding vehicle travels and the greater likelihood of passenger compartment intrusion.”
The Institute’s latest analysis indicates that guards too weak to adequately mitigate underride are a bigger problem than overly stiff guards.
I’ll admit that fueling a vehicle isn’t the most exciting thing to do, however there is a certain amount of attention required. So I was surprised (not really) to see this video of at least one station making the effort to add a television set on top of their fuel pumps.
According to this video (and news to me but not really news) is that some stations (Speedway?) have installed “Gas Pump TV” – to entertain and advertise to customers while they fill their tank.
Besides being a nuisance, could it be a distraction at a time when you should be paying attention to the fact that you are pumping gallons of a highly flammable liquid into one of the most expensive things you own that also may be occupied by a few friends and family members sitting inside at the same time.
I’m wondering if anyone else has seen similar systems, if so where?
President Obama’s new ban on text messaging behind the wheel of government vehicles and texting in personal vehicles if using government-issued phones or on official business is an important warning to motorists to the dangers of distracted driving.
Federal employees will not be allowed to text while driving, according to an executive order signed Wednesday night by President Obama.
Department of Transportation Secretary Ray H. LaHood on Thursday announced the measures aimed at curbing what he called a deadly epidemic of distracted driving.
The order covers federal employees when they are using government-provided cars or cellphones and when they are using their own phones and cars to conduct government business.
Separately, the federal government plans to ban text messaging by bus drivers and truckers who travel across state lines, and may also preclude them from using cellphones while driving, except in emergencies.
Tragically, distracted driving claims thousands of lives each year. Texting is becoming more and more popular with both teens and adults, and many of those teens who grew up texting are now getting behind the wheel as inexperienced – and distracted – drivers.
Last year, 5,870 people died and 515,000 were injured nationally in crashes linked to distracted driving – often due to the increasing number of drivers who juggle cell phones, BlackBerries, and other gadgets.
Drivers who talk on cell phones are four times as likely to crash, regardless of whether they’re using a hands-free device, studies show. In fact, a yakking driver is just as much a road hazard as one who is legally drunk. Texting poses even greater risks, since motorists have to take their eyes off the road.
It’s not just cell phones and text messages. The availability and variety of in-car gadgets continues to grow, and with it the potential for distracting drivers long enough to reduce reaction time and rob drivers of that critical second or two that could mean the difference between accident avoidance or tragedy.
If you’ve read any of my earlier posts about C4C you’ll understand why I’m not a big fan of the program, and have offered up a much cheaper and more effective real solution to our fuel efficiency problems. Apparently there are plenty of environmentalists who are also less than impressed with our “return on investment”.
Compared to overall carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, the pollution savings from cash for clunkers do not noticeably move the fuel gauge. Environmental experts say the program — conceived primarily to stimulate the economy and jump-start the auto industry — is not an effective way to attack climate change.
“As a carbon dioxide policy, this is a terribly wasteful thing to do,” said Henry Jacoby, a professor of management and co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at MIT. “The amount of carbon you are saving per federal expenditure is very, very small.”
Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who examined the clunkers program in an academic journal, said there are far better ways to cut energy use and greenhouse gases.
“It’s not that it’s a bad idea; just don’t sell it as a cost-effective energy savings method,” he said. “From an economic standpoint it seems to be a roaring success. From an environment and energy perspective, it’s not where you would put your first dollar.”
Show your support for FuelClinic at the ITS Challenge over at Vencorps – it’s fast and easy. The qualifying round ends this Friday.
Details on how you can do this are online at:
[Late Entry] Despite our best efforts, FuelClinic could not advance past third place at this week’s IdeaBlob runoff.
In the last week we mobilized a small army of FuelClinic.com friends and family to attempt to push our idea of creating Eco-Driving Training Videos into the top two at IdeaBlob this week, for a seat in the bigger contest at the end of the month. In the end, we were beat by two ideas who had a much larger ground-swell of voters.
In the part of the glass that’s half full – we had over 600 people read and consider our idea at that site. We had a good percentage of them decide to vote to support the idea. For a few days we were the “most active idea” at their site, and for much of the week we were featured on their homepage. We gathered valuable feedback and comments, and this competition helped us focus on some core principles for FuelClinic.com – that may have ultimately been the biggest win so far.
Thank you so much to those friends and supporters who took the time to vote. It is personally very rewarding that this idea reaches out to so many.
Truthfully, sometimes it’s hard to keep at it. Then you get reminded why you started.
Follow-Up: Moving the US Airways Airbus A320 from Hudson River Through East Rutherford NJ (9 Photos)
Here’s a follow up to our previous post about the amazing recovery of the US Airways Airbus A320 from the Hudson River. Apparently you can move just about anything, with the right equipment and know-how…
You remember Flight 1549, of course — that was the Airbus A320, that took off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport and then landed unexpectedly (if fortuitously) in the Hudson River. After the aircraft was recovered from the drink, it was hauled to the Garden State on a barge. And after it was removed from the barge, it was partially disassembled and transported by truck through the narrow streets of East Rutherford, NJ — a town best known as the home of the Meadowlands sports arena complex.
More Photos after the break… Click “Read More”
BlueMotionTechnologies bundles Volkswagen’s best environmental technologies of today to fulfill the automotive aspirations of tomorrow. These are developments such as the new start-stop system and energy recovery by regenerative braking, electric drives and hybrid systems as well as clever drive systems like the one in the new TSI EcoFuel. To the point: its aim is no less than to bring the cleanest and most economical cars to the streets.
Today, BlueMotionTechnologies are already being launched on the market in three extremely fuel efficient and clean Passat versions: BlueMotion with fuel consumption under 5 liters, EU-6 conformance in the BlueTDI, and the TSI EcoFuel that emits just 119 g/km CO2. Consider these examples:
Release date: 06 February 2009
System surpasses gasoline efficiency, reaches near-diesel levels and reduces operational costs compared to current fuels
Ricardo today revealed the development of technology that optimizes ethanol-fuelled engines to a level of performance that exceeds gasoline engine efficiency and approaches levels previously reached only by diesel engines. The technology, called Ethanol Boosted Direct Injection or EBDI, takes full advantage of ethanol’s best properties – higher octane and higher heat of vaporization – to create a truly renewable fuel scenario that is independent of the cost of oil. Work on this research project has been carried out at the Detroit Technology Campus of Ricardo Inc.
“Developing renewable energy applications that can lead to energy independence is a top priority at Ricardo,” said Ricardo Inc President Dean Harlow. “We’ve moved past theoretical discussion and are busy applying renewable energy technology to the real world. The EBDI engine project is a great example because it turns the gasoline-ethanol equation upside down. It has the performance of a diesel at the cost of a gasoline engine, and runs on ethanol, gasoline, or a blend of both.“
EBDI solves many of the challenges faced by flex-fuel engines because it is optimized for both alternative fuels and gasoline. Current flex-fuel engines pay a fuel economy penalty of about 30 percent compared to gasoline when operated on ethanol blends such as E85. The EBDI engine substantially improves ethanol’s efficiency, and performs at a level comparable to a diesel engine.
“In real-world terms, these efficiencies mean that EBDI can reduce the actual cost of transportation when compared to fossil fuels, and it does it with a renewable resource – ethanol,” said Rod Beazley, director of the Ricardo Inc Gasoline Product Group. “The combination of technologies we’re applying to the EBDI engine make the most of ethanol’s advantages over other fuels, which include a higher octane rating and a higher heat of vaporization. Without getting too technical, this means we can use a high level of turbocharging to achieve the high cylinder pressures that ethanol enables. Add in some other advanced technologies such as direct injection, variable valve timing, optimized ignition and advanced exhaust gas recirculation, and we’re squeezing out more power than is possible with gasoline.”
The prototype EBDI is a 3.2-liter V6 engine that ultimately could serve as a replacement for a large gasoline or turbo-diesel engine in a large SUV. The first firing of the engine & initial development is currently taking place and will be installed into a dual-wheel pick-up truck demonstration vehicle later this year. Beazley emphasized that the technology is very scalable. Applications could reach far beyond the automotive and light-truck industry. “Imagine agricultural equipment that, in effect, burns what it harvests – corn, sugar cane or some other renewable substance. It could mean tremendous cost savings across many industries.”
The EBDI project represents a technical collaboration with Behr, Bosch, Delphi, Federal Mogul, GW Castings and Honeywell, to further the advancement and commercialization of this highly promising technology.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Ricardo plc: With technical centres and offices in the UK, USA, Germany, the Czech Republic, China, Japan, India and Korea, Ricardo is a leading independent technology provider and strategic consultant to the world’s transportation sector industries. The company’s engineering expertise ranges from vehicle systems integration, controls, electronics and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Its customers include the world’s major vehicle, engine and transmission manufacturers, tier 1 suppliers and leading motorsport teams. Ricardo is committed to excellence and industry leadership in people, technology and knowledge; approximately 70 per cent of its employees are highly qualified multi-disciplined professional engineers and technicians. A public company, Ricardo plc posted sales of £197.7 million in financial year 2008 and is a constituent of the FTSE techMark 100 index – a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.ricardo.com.
I’m currently reading Robert Bryce’s book Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence”… I’ll have a review for you when I’m done.
A couple of quick thoughts…
- Early in the book he claims to have no political axe to grind. While he does hold politicians of both parties accountable for their energy-independence rhetoric, there is a certain venom lavished on the “neocons”, and no matter how hard he tries to hide it – his slip is showing, and it’s distracting.
- In the first chapter, Bryce sets the argument up in his favor, with a definition of “energy independence” strictly meaning a perfect 100% self-sufficient energy economy. With such a narrow definition (which rightly could be read into the sound-bite-sized political slogans from the past 30 years) Mr. Bryce sets the standard so high that any amount of energy dependence would prove his argument that independence is just not possible. His arguments (so far) are strong enough that he doesn’t need to frame the debate so rigidly from the start. I’m curious why he did.
I’ll have more in a few days.
I just receive these images of the salvage operation and raising of the airbus that crashed in the Hudson River in New York in an email from a friend. Supposedly they were taken by a friend of a friend, who is a crane operator and member fo the Coast Guard Auxillary. I thought you might enjoy seeing them too.
There is also a time-lapse video of the salvage operation where you can watch the ice flow around the site as the crame slowly raises the plane from the deep.
11 More photos after the break… click “Read More”
The purpose of EATR is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling – in other words it needs to “eat.”
According to researchers, the EATR system gets its energy by foraging, or what the firms describe as “engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.”
I can see it now: One day you walk out to start you car only to find this robot sucking your tank dry. “Sorry, I was hungry,” it says.”
While this is very interesting, even more interesting is the power-plant at the heart of this thing, the Cyclone.
In Phase I, Cyclone will build and deliver within six months the engine with a biomass combustion chamber for demonstration purposes. Cyclone believes that its radial six-cylinder, 16HP Waste Heat Engine (WHE) system is ideally suited for this application. In Phase II, Cyclone would build and deliver the biomass trimmer/gatherer and feeder system to work with its engine power source.
Cyclone likens its engine to a modern day steam engine, designed to achieve high thermal efficiencies “through a compact heat-regenerative process, and to run on virtually any fuel – including bio-diesels, syngas or solar – while emitting fewer greenhouse gases and irritating pollutants into the air.”
“Cyclone brings to this project one of the most advanced external combustion engine technologies we have seen,” stated Dr. Robert Finkelstein, President of RTI in a release. “In terms of power-to-size ratio, scalability and fuel flexibility, the Cyclone engine is ideal for a self-sustaining, autonomous intelligent robotic vehicle designed for unique military or civil applications.”
I’ll be baak.
I’ve been running this blog for almost three years now, and blog spam (bot’s trying to post spam in comments) has always been a problem, but recently the spam has been especially disgusting. (Really disgusting)
A few years ago WordPress created a plug-in called Akismet, which is a “smart” spam filter. Many websites use it (not just WordPress sites), and Akismet learns from all the spam it collects – so it adjusts fairly quickly to new spammer techniques. It’s allows real visitor comments thru, and stops nearly all spam.
I mention this only because some people have asked why their comments aren’t immediately posted. I try to get to them as quickly as possible.
If you run a blog, and do not yet know about Akismet – do yourself a favor and read more about it here:
It’s that time again…
My personal New Year’s resolutions are:
- Complete development of the current phase of FuelClinic.com by February, and have the training module frameworkÂ completed by April 2009.
- Continue building out my other web-publishing channels
- Eat less carbs and more protein in an effort to manage my own blood-sugar more effectively.
- Take my wife out for a “date night” every two weeks, at least.
- Complete some home-improvement projects like a new closet for the spare bedroom, and shelves for the nook in the “den/office”.
- Train and run two races this year, a 5K in the spring and a 10K in the fall.
What are your resolutions?
FuelClinic.comÂ Update – w/ Doc Miles
December 8, 2008 – Issue #002
We’re working hard to make FuelClinic the best place on earth to track and improve your fuel mileage. As part of these improvements, we’reÂ opening new channels of communication – including this simple newsletter that will be published infrequently.Â I hope you find it useful!Â If not, unsubscribe instruction are in the footer. – Doc Miles (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Â 1. Opinion Poll: What’s most important to you?
Why do you use FuelClinic – to save money, to reduce carbon emissions, or to reduce foreign oil dependency? Cast your vote on our Opinion Poll on the homepage.Â Â Â + For more: http://www.fuelclinic.comÂ (middle of page on left) 2.Â Website Update: Two Million Miles Later, Still Climbing.
Earlier this monthÂ FuelClinic.com membersÂ climbed past 2-million-miles of tracking and managing fuel efficiency using the tools on the website.Â Together we’ve stopped to refuel over 10,000 times -Â buying just under 90,000 gallons of fuel. Continued-usage statistics for the site are very strong, as a good number of our users return every few days to continue recording mileage.Â
You may have noticed that development has stalled on new features like the Twitter interface and the training modules. Over the past two months we’ve been actively seeking start-up funding so thatÂ we may go full-time in continuing the development of the site. This hasÂ taken a tremendous amount of time and effort.
While we’ve received a good deal of very positive feedback, our timing was very poor. The economic downturn since September, coupled with the dramatic drop in fuel prices since November,Â has made it very difficult to get past the “Gee you have a good idea, come back to talk to us in six months” stage. Overall, it was a very worth-while effort, as continued business-plan development has really helped us find and focus on our core model.
We’re keeping a few investment doors open, but are no longer counting on investment until Summer 2009 at the soonest, and are not actively chasing investment. This means we’ll continue to boot-strap FuelClinic.com development for the forseeable future, and development of new featuresÂ (as opposed to seeking funding sources) will again be the focus of our limited resources.
3. 2009 New Year’s Resolutions
We’d like to encourage you to encourage your friends to take control of their fuelish! behavior and start working to reduce their fuel consumption in the New Year. There will be one more mailing this year to this list in a few daysÂ focusing onÂ the details of our “New Year’s Resolution Reward” plan.
4. 2009 Sneak-Peak: Fleet-FuelClinic, Tutorials, Fuelishness! Book, Etc…
We have our own New Year’s Resolutions!
A commercial version of FuelClinic.com is being developed.Â This small fleet versionÂ will allow business owners to discover, monitor, and adjust their fleet’s fuel-efficiency characteristics. Owners will be able to track drivers, vehicles, and routes to determine how the combination of the three can be adjusted to improve overall efficiency and reduce fuel costs. Owners will use on-line training to improve their driver’s performance.
As a part ofÂ the development of the commercial Fleet-FuelClinic product we will be creating on-lineÂ “eco-driving” tutorials called “clinics” that visitors can review and attempt.Â Using the existing FuelClinic tool-set, you will be able to track your own real-world progress after taking any number of these online tutroials.
We are currently writing two FuelClinic related books – oneÂ is a detailed guide to improving fuel efficiency and the other is a workbook that will act as a companion to the first book as well as the website, enabling readers toÂ improve their fuel-efficiency in a way they prefer. Much of the book material will be available for free on the website as white-papers or tutorial content. The public website will always remain free, the books will be published and available for purchase on Amazon.com as well as FuelClinic.com and Fuelishness! Blog.
Limited advertising will also be incorporated into the FuelClinic free site. This is required to offset the monthly expenses of hosting theÂ site in a reliable way. Advertising will be limitedÂ and controlled to avoid being a nusense or promoting bogus “miracle fuel” products.Â Â Â Â
5. Take Action Today – FLEX-FUEL Mandate
Yesterday I encouragedÂ readers at “Fuelishness! Blog” ( http://blog.fuelclinic.com )Â to contactÂ their SenatorsÂ and insist that any bailout package for suto-industryÂ also included a mandate for FLEX-FUEL fuel systems as standard equipment in all future cars built or sold in the United States.
This simple and inexpensive mandate would create a viable bio-fuels market both here in the US and around the world, and will usher in a new era of bio-fuels investment. FLEX-FUEL carsÂ allow consumers toÂ chose for themselves theÂ kind ofÂ fuel they prefer toÂ use for transportation without having to make a huge tax-payer-funded investment in new energy-distributionÂ infrastructure.
FLEX-FUEL cars will enable ethanol/methanol-mixed fuels to compete head-to-head with gasoline at the pump, and will keep gas prices down while reducing emmissions and keeping fuel-profits at home.
6. Suggestions? Comments?
Please take the time to share our website with any of these services you subscribe to.
Â Â Â Â + Help us grow: http://www.fuelclinic.com/index.cfm/page/encourageÂ
Â Â Â Â + Latest Website News: http://blog.fuelclinic.com/category/websiteÂ
Â Â Â Â + Forgot yourÂ Password?:Â http://www.fuelclinic.com/index.cfm/page/Password_Reminder
Â Â Â Â + Comments, Suggestions: email@example.com
As always – thank you for your time, ideas, and help!
– Doc Miles
To unsubscribe from these updates, send an email with the email address you want removed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay up to date, readÂ the Fuelishness! Blog: http://blog.fuelclinic.com
The site has been working very well in my totalÂ absense, and I’m encouraged by the steady growth and interest.Â More to follow…
Regardless of what you think of his politics, Newt makes some salient points in this clip:
There was a system outage this morning that resulted in users not being able to access the Dashboard. I believe the problem has been corrected (itÂ happened during aÂ core code updateÂ from late last night – how embarrassing!), and everything should be functioning again. – Doc
I’ve made several updates over the last few days, and I think the website is behaving itself now. There are a few additional modification to be made this weekend, and I’ll post an update once they are live.
Grrr. I made an update to the code this morning, and it’s screwed up some of the key math functions. Especially when there are only a few receipts on a vehicle, the mpg calculation is bonkers, and that is throwing off all of the other calculations… I’m working on that tonight. I’m very sorry for the confusion…
Source: NY Times
â€œEvery one-cent increase in gasoline prices means Americans pay $1.42 billion more a year for gas, according to Stephen P. Brown, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Nearly two-thirds of that goes to foreign producers.â€
â€œFor many people, higher energy costs mean fewer restaurant meals, deferred weekend outings with the kids, less air travel and more time closer to home. Big box retailers are suffering as customers balk at driving to the mall, airlines have slapped on steep fuel surcharges and carmakers have seen their sales slump. On Thursday, the Ford Motor Company announced production cuts because of sharply lower demand for sport-utility vehicles and pickups.â€
A lot of other parts of the article mention how people need and are beginning to change their fuel habits.
Hat Tip: “Anonymous” FuelClinic Operative
The Energy Department said it will not sign contracts for new shipments of 76,000 barrels of oil a day for the six-month period beginning July 1. President Bush had opposed halting the shipments, arguing that such a relatively small amount of oil would not influence prices. Current shipments will continue. The reserve is 97 percent full, holding 701 million barrels of crude.
Ethanol made from the stalk’s juice has four times the energy yield of the corn-based ethanol, which is already in the marketplace unlike sweet sorghum. Sweet sorghum produces about eight units of energy for every unit of energy used in its production. That’s about the same as sugarcane but four times as much as corn.
Sweet sorghum growers in South Texas and South Florida can get two crops a year because of their tropic-like weather. The crop, though, can be grown as far north as. It grows in dry conditions and tolerates heat well.
Inand , the second crop doesn’t need to be planted; it sprouts from the first harvest. “We’ve found the contents are as good as the first crop,” Coniglio said.
Sweet sorghum also spares the environment. Less fertilizer is needed than with corn and as a result there is less water contamination, Coniglio said.