Distracted drivers in Ohio might soon face additional $100 fine

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            The State Highway Patrol reported 13,994 crashes in 2016 that involved distracted driving, resulting in 27 deaths and 7,290 injuries. Metro Creative Graphics
The State Highway Patrol reported 13,994 crashes in 2016 that involved distracted driving, resulting in 27 deaths and 7,290 injuries. Metro Creative Graphics

Ohio motorists who can’t put down their electronic devices might soon find themselves facing additional fines.

Under House Bill 95, which passed unanimously out of a House committee May 17, drivers who are pulled over for speeding, running a stop sign or other moving violations would get a ticket for that violation, then potentially face an additional $100 fine if they also were driving distracted.

The distracted-driving enhancement would be a secondary offense, meaning law-enforcement officers could impose the additional fine only if they witness the distracted driving while the initial offense was committed.

The State Highway Patrol reported 13,994 crashes in 2016 that involved distracted driving, resulting in 27 deaths and 7,290 injuries. The number of reported distracted drivers rose 11 percent in 2015 and 5 percent in 2016.

“It is our hope that this legislation will encourage drivers to remain focused on the road and help save lives,” said Rep. Jim Hughes, R-Upper Arlington, who is sponsoring the bill along with Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati.

Élise Spriggs of State Auto wrote to lawmakers that “we see business trends that highlight the rising frequency and severity of accidents related to distracted driving.” Since 2013, she wrote, claim frequency in the industry has risen 4.4 percent, and claim loss is up 16.8 percent.

The bill would allow offenders to complete a state distracted-driving safety course in lieu of the fine. Wearing earphones or using a vehicle’s hands-free technology would not trigger the extra distracted-driving penalty.

A similar bill passed the Senate unanimously last session, but did not see a House vote. The bill has wide-ranging support, including county prosecutors, the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, the Ohio Insurance Institute and the Ohio Bicycle Federation.

The AAA Foundation’s 2017 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 81 percent of drivers view texting or emailing while driving as a serious safety threat, despite nearly one in three admitting to typing messages while driving within the past month, and 40 percent reporting receiving messages. More than two-thirds of drivers reported talking on cellphones while driving in the past month.

Ric Oxender, representing the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, called the bill a good first step, but said, “We do have concerns with how our law-enforcement personnel can use the law effectively to cite motorists for distracted driving.”

Questions about enforcement have lingered since Ohio lawmakers in 2012 passed a law banning texting while driving.

For adults, the texting violation is a secondary offense, but it’s a primary offense for drivers younger than 18, who are prohibited from using a handheld device while driving for any reason and can face a $150 fine and license suspension.

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Buick makes big improvements to three-row Enclave SUV

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 12:00 AM


            The 2018 Buick Enclave’s lower roofline, sharper windshield angle and longer wheelbase support a more dramatic stance. Buick photo
The 2018 Buick Enclave’s lower roofline, sharper windshield angle and longer wheelbase support a more dramatic stance. Buick photo

The Buick brand has done an admirable job recently of branding itself. Or should that be re-branding itself. It had/has a stodgy reputation. And frankly, that reputation is really unfair, especially considering my tester this week.

The 2018 Buick Enclave is all new – looks, dimensions, powertrain. Buick’s ads continue to tout: “That sure doesn’t look like a Buick”. And that’s certainly applicable to this year’s Enclave.

I was able to really put the Enclave to task, as I drove it to the Detroit auto show. “The D” in January is open to cold and crazy weather and potholes galore. The Enclave provided the most comfortable, controlled and confident ride I’ve ever taken to the auto show.

On whether it doesn’t “look” like a Buick, I’m not sure that’s relevant. I’ve always felt Buick had refined, timeless styling. And this year’s model is no exception. The ’18 Enclave has a longer body and a more athletic appearance. It more puts the SUV in line with other three-row SUVs on the market today.

The new angular grille is especially nice and bold. The styled hood has a modern look. The sharp angle of the C-pillar makes for an attractive roofline and a classy-looking back end. This is what an SUV should look like.

The Enclave is a well-behaved SUV. Overall, the Buick brand doesn’t excited enthusiasts. Perhaps that’s why it (wrongfully) has the stodgy reputation. For this model year, the Enclave offers a new powertrain. It still won’t blaze a trail of dust, but it’s more than adequate in any environment. On a long four-hour drive (mostly highway), it was smooth and refined. But when it needed to get off the line, it had enough oomph to not disappoint.

The 2018 Enclave has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 310 horsepower. The 9-speed automatic transmission is a great addition. The shifts are smooth and efficient. This may be my favorite transmission in a couple years.

Inside, Buick does everything well. They focus on quality touch points and comfort, but go an extra step with added noise-deadening technology and even an air ionizer as part of the ventilation. What it means is the Enclave’s cabin is outstanding.

The added dimension to the vehicle this year brings a 10 percent increase in rear seat space. This means better leg room. The seven-passenger Enclave has an outstanding back seat, but the third row is pretty average when it comes to space. Adults will be cramped, but that’s to be expected.

The increase in size is noticed in cargo room. The Enclave has 23.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row, accessed through a hands-free lift gate. Fold the second row flat, and that space increases to 58 cubic feet. With all seats flat, there’s nearly 100 cubic feet of cargo room. As such, the cavernous Enclave excels as a family vehicle.

There are four trims for the Enclave including: Enclave (yes it has a trim named after itself) Essence, Premium and Avenir. My tester was the Premium trim with all-wheel drive. The Premium trim is a great option as it brings the aforementioned ionization system, along with leather surfaces, blind-spot monitoring and collision warning. I’ll add that all trims and all vehicles should have blind-spot monitoring included, and not as an option. This is a must-have safety feature.

My tester had a starting price of $50,315. With extra options like a trailering package (up to 5,000 pounds), and special navigation system, my tester had a final MSRP of $56,555.

The one big knock on Buick is it has luxury-like pricing, but not enough people consider it a luxury brand. That’s where their branding and marketing comes in. But honestly, this Enclave was nicer than many Japanese luxury-brand SUVs.

The EPA rating for the AWD Enclave is 17 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. I averaged a little over 20 mpg in my trek to Detroit and back. That was good, but not great, fuel economy. But the comfort and smoothness of the Enclave more than made up for it.

Trying to define the Buick brand is a yeoman’s task. I’m not on the General Motors payroll, so I’ll leave it up to their PR gurus. Rather, I’ll say, whatever you define it as, the Buick Enclave is much improved and pleasant for road trips.

2018 BUICK ENCLAVE PREMIUM

  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $50,315/$56,555
  • Mileage…………………………………… 17 mpg/city; 25 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 3.6-liter V6
  • Horsepower…………………………… 310 hp/266 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 9-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Lansing, Michigan

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Go old-school to find your next set of wheels at the Dayton Auto Show

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 12:00 AM


            The 2018 Dayton Auto Show is offering the chance to win a grand prize of a two-year lease on a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox LT, courtesy of the Miami Valley Chevrolet Dealers. The lease has an approximate value of $9,500, Dayton Auto Show organizers say. Entries are being accepted at the show through 1 p.m. Feb. 25. Metro News Service photo
The 2018 Dayton Auto Show is offering the chance to win a grand prize of a two-year lease on a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox LT, courtesy of the Miami Valley Chevrolet Dealers. The lease has an approximate value of $9,500, Dayton Auto Show organizers say. Entries are being accepted at the show through 1 p.m. Feb. 25. Metro News Service photo

Here is what shopping for a vehicle online won’t tell you: how easy or hard it is to open the door, climb inside and what it feels like to sit there. How the upholstery feels. Where the blind spots are. Where you can put your purse, laptop, tools, luggage, children, dog. Whether the vehicle fits you and your family.

For all this, there is a superior way to select your next car, truck, crossover, sport-utility vehicle, minivan or hybrid: Do it the old-fashioned way – in person, at the 2018 Dayton Auto Show. It will never get easier.

That’s what’s happening now through Feb. 25 as the new range of what has arrived or will arrive in showrooms in the months ahead, has been packed into the Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. Fifth St. Two hundred-plus vehicles, including Harley-Davidson motorcycles, are gleaming underneath the spotlights.

You’ll see not only great vehicles but may win something worth upwards of $9,500, plus possibly T-shirts, trinkets and gift cards for gas and merchandise from various contests.

The Miami Valley Chevrolet Dealers are generously offering a two-year lease, valued at about $9,500, on a 2018 Chevy Equinox LT SUV to some lucky attendee. To enter, visit the show until 1 p.m. Feb. 25. A final drawing will take place at 3 p.m., and you must be present to win.

Other show highlights are:

• Makes and models from several dozen manufacturers. Vehicles drawing attention at the show, are the 2019 Subaru Ascent, Honda Civic Type R and the Cadillac ATS-V Championship Edition. Purchase of the Caddy includes two days of all-inclusive instruction at the V Series Academy in Nevada, according to Voss Cadillac. This is a limited-edition Cadillac – only 200 were made world-wide.

• The Toyota Drive Center feature vehicles for test-driving around downtown Dayton. The following may be available to drive, subject to change: the first-ever C-HR, the all-new Camry, RAV4 and Highlander.

• FCA Drive Experience, featuring the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Charger, Jeep Compass, Ram 1500 Crew and Fiat 500x

• Special entertainment attractions for kids, including animals from Wild Hearts African Farm and Petting Zoo, Matt the Balloon Guy and Face Doodles by Jen

• Dayton Dragons booth Feb. 24-25. Attendees can stop by for a chance to win a VIP Dayton Dragons prize pack that will include four stadium seats, pre-game tour, four Dragons hats and T-shirts. Heater and Gem will make several appearances Feb. 24-25.

• Identifying makes and models of vehicles featured in various photos during a photo scavenger hunt will give attendees the chance to win a 55-inch Samsung UHD TV. A “selfie” social media contest throughout the show also will reward participants will gas cards.

“The 2018 Dayton Auto Show is really the best place to see and test all the new vehicles; we are fresh off the Detroit and Toledo auto shows,” Danison said. “It’s a great opportunity to see how individual needs and preferences mesh with the vehicle. Plus it’s a no-pressure environment because no vehicles can be sold at the show.”

The event is presented by the Dayton Area Auto Dealers Association. Show sponsors are the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun, Miami Valley Chevy Dealers and Dayton Area Toyota Dealers.

HOW TO GO TO THE 2018 DAYTON AUTO SHOW

Now through Feb. 25, Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. Fifth St.

SHOW TIMES:

Feb. 23, Noon-9 p.m.

Feb. 24, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Feb. 25, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

ADMISSION: $8 for adults at the door, $6 online at https://www.tix123.com/tix123/eTic.cfm?code=DAS18. Children ages 9 and younger are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

DISCOUNTS: Feb. 23 – Military Appreciation Day, all with military ID will gain free entry; Seniors, age 65-plus, $6 at door. Student discount with student ID, $6 at door

PARKING: Available in the Transportation Center garage, one block east of the Dayton Convention Center on Fifth and Jefferson streets. There is a covered skywalk on Level 1 that will bring you to the third floor at the Dayton Convention Center facility. Daily rates are $2/hour or part hour with a $6 maximum.

INFORMATION: DaytonAutoShow.com; Facebook: Facebook.com/DaytonAutoShow; Twitter: @DaytonAutoShow; Instagram: @DaytonAutoShow

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Researchers: Tesla Roadster in space will come near Earth this century

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 12:00 AM


            In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched in early February from the Falcon Heavy rocket with a dummy driver named ‘Starman.’ IT is heading toward Mars. (Photo by SpaceX via Getty Images)
In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched in early February from the Falcon Heavy rocket with a dummy driver named ‘Starman.’ IT is heading toward Mars. (Photo by SpaceX via Getty Images)

The Tesla Roadster blasted into orbit around the sun by Elon Musk’s SpaceX is going to pass close to Earth, according to a new study, and young earthlings may still be alive when it happens.

In fact, the space-going car with an astronaut-suited mannequin at the wheel may actually collide with our planet eventually, though the chances are fairly small and the time horizon far, far away, researchers found.

While the vehicle itself will likely last for tens of millions of years, it will pass close to Earth quite soon, relatively speaking, the researchers said in a report released Feb. 14. By “close,” they mean at least as near as the Moon.

“The first close encounter with the Earth will occur in 2091,” said the astrophysicists from Canada and the Czech Republic.

That’s only 73 years from now, so it’s probable that some children who watched imagery of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launching with the Tesla on Feb. 6, and of the vehicle in space afterward, will be around when the red Roadster comes back into Earth’s vicinity.

The chance the car will actually strike our planet is relatively slight – around 6 percent – over the next million years, the researchers said in the draft of their report, which has not been peer reviewed.

One of the researchers, University of Toronto astrophysicist Hanno Rein, told Science magazine that his team made its predictions by charting the Roadster’s expected orbit over the next several million years.

The scientists believe their shorter-term predictions are more accurate than those covering possible events further in the future, Rein told CBS News.

“We can’t predict with certainty what’s going to happen after just a few hundred years, because it’s a chaotic orbit and we can only draw conclusions in a statistical sense,” Rein said.

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A reader asks where to buy gasoline that does not contain alcohol

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 12:00 AM


            Most fuel pumps have a sign posted showing that the gasoline contains up to 10 percent ethanol. James Halderman photo
Most fuel pumps have a sign posted showing that the gasoline contains up to 10 percent ethanol. James Halderman photo

Wheels:

Dick of Michigan writes by email: “I hope you can help me. I have many lawn and garden pieces of equipment plus a snow blower and several tractors. I am storing half them over the summer and the others are in storage over the winter. I have heard that all gasoline today contains alcohol and that this can cause issues with the fuel system in my equipment. My questions include:

  • Is it true that gasoline today contains alcohol?
  • Where can I find gasoline that does not contain alcohol?
  • If I can’t find pure gasoline, is there something I can use to treat the fuel to help prevent causing damage to my equipment?”

Halderman:

Thanks for asking, and you did hear right that there is alcohol in most gasoline today. The alcohol used is ethanol, also called grain alcohol or ethyl alcohol, and it is the same alcohol as is in wine, beer and whiskey. The ethanol is usually made from corn and then “denatured” so that it is not drinkable and then added to gasoline at the local fuel depot/distributor. Gasoline today contains up to 10 percent ethanol. There is a website (www.pure-gas.org) that lists stations that carry gasoline that does not contain ethanol. Ethanol-free gasoline also costs more.

Regarding your third question, I suggest that two things be done to help protect your equipment:

Keep the fuel tank full when not in use. Ethanol can absorb moisture from the air so if the tank is kept full, then there will be very little air in it. When ethanol combines with moisture, the ethanol separates from the fuel and sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank. It is this concentration of ethanol at the bottom of the tank where it can be drawn into the engine that can cause issues such as corrosion of the fuel system. It also could make the engine run rough.

A fuel stabilizer such as STA-BIL can be used every time the equipment is refueled. This can help keep the gasoline from oxidizing and also help prevent the ethanol from separating from the gasoline. Add the stabilizer to the fuel storage container used to refuel the equipment. Be sure to use fresh stabilizer in gasoline that is younger than 90 days old for best results.

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