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.

Getting into a Lexus: IS 350, CT 200h stand out in small frames

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            A sport compact sedan, the 2017 Lexus IS series comes in three forms (Turbo, 300 and 350), each with its own engine. The IS 350 utilizes a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. (Metro News Service photo)
A sport compact sedan, the 2017 Lexus IS series comes in three forms (Turbo, 300 and 350), each with its own engine. The IS 350 utilizes a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. (Metro News Service photo)

Lexus does luxury well. But does it do it in small packages? That is what we are here to find out today. Let’s take a brief look at a pair of 2017 Lexus models, the IS 350 and CT 200h.

Lexus IS 350

A sport compact sedan, the IS series comes in three forms (Turbo, 300 and 350), each with its own engine. Our focus is on the IS 350 that utilizes a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. It is the most powerful of the engines (the Turbo gets 241 hp and the 300 has 255 hp), and while this might not be readily apparent in around-town driving, the cost difference is not exorbitant, either.

The price tag for the IS starts at $37,825 for the Turbo and the high-end 350 begins at $41,370. We drove one with rear-wheel drive but it is also available with all-wheel drive.

Like most Lexus vehicles, the IS is a smooth handler but with 277 lbs.-ft. of torque it falls shy of being a road course animal. Our test vehicle came with the optional F Sport Package, which enlivens the outfit with an adjustable suspension and tightens the throttle and 8-speed automatic transmission for better utilization of the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The F Sport package ($3,155) alters the looks of the IS, also, with a unique bumper and spindle grille.

Inside, the IS can hold five passengers. Legroom is snug but not unreasonable since the car itself is just over 15 feet in length. All materials are of high quality and there are soft surfaces where needed. The optional navigation system brings a 10.3-inch multi-function screen into play in place of the standard 7-inch screen. Cargo capacity is a mere 10.8 cubic feet — that’s relatively tiny — but the rear bench does fold in 60/40 fashion.

The Lexus IS 350 is a classy car that can check off many needs in standard format. The F Sport package can take care of the wants.

Lexus CT 200h

OK. Hybrids and luxury are not exactly synonymous. So, let’s cut Lexus some slack here. Let us first focus on the EPA fuel economy ratings since that should be question one. The marks are 43 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway. Now add to that the Lexus quality and the fact that this is a hatchback and there are plenty of pluses to go around.

This is a well-appointed little car (14 feet, 3 inches) that has leatherette upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio, 10-way power driver’s seat and more.

Materials throughout the interior would have to be considered of lesser quality than the more upscale Lexus models, but they still seem to fit in a compact hybrid. Front-seat passengers have the requisite space, and two adults will be just fine in the three-passenger rear seat.

The powerplant is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that turn out 134 hp. This isn’t a go-getter, so focus on that excellent mileage. Our test vehicle came with the F Sport Package, so the driving manners and handling were sharper than ones without.

There are 14.3 cubic feet of space in the back and 34.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded.

The base price of the CT 200h is $31,250. At that price, there is good value here. The optional F Sport Package, navigation, pre-collision system and LED lighting package sent the bottom line to more than $40,000. What is better mileage worth to you?

2017 LEXUS IS350

  • Price/As-tested price………………… $41,370/$49,579
  • Mileage…………………………………… 19 mpg/city; 28 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 3.5-liter V6
  • Horsepower…………………………… 306 hp/277 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission……………………………………… 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………………………………… Rear-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………………………………… Tahara, Aichi, Japan

2017 LEXUS CT 200h

  • Price/As-tested price………………… $31,250/$41,795
  • Mileage…………………………………… 43 mpg/city; 40 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 1.8-liter 4-cylinder/electric
  • Horsepower…………………………… 134 hp/torque N/A
  • Transmission……………………………………… Continuously variable
  • Drive wheels……………………………………… Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………………………………… Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan

Prices skyrocket for vintage pickups as customizers discover trucks

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            1957 Chevrolet 3100 PickupThis 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Custom Truck, better known as Quicksilver, is a 2014 Barrett-Jackson Cup winner and has been recognized as one of the finest custom truck builds of all times, according to Barret-Jackson Auction House. Laying claim to this honor came with a hefty price tag, and the truck was sold for $214,500 in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2016. Nearly everything on this vehicle, from the 540 big-block, 650-horsepower Chevy engine, to the handmade and reshaped body panels, was customized by Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Chevrolet photo
1957 Chevrolet 3100 PickupThis 1957 Chevrolet 3100 Custom Truck, better known as Quicksilver, is a 2014 Barrett-Jackson Cup winner and has been recognized as one of the finest custom truck builds of all times, according to Barret-Jackson Auction House. Laying claim to this honor came with a hefty price tag, and the truck was sold for $214,500 in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2016. Nearly everything on this vehicle, from the 540 big-block, 650-horsepower Chevy engine, to the handmade and reshaped body panels, was customized by Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Chevrolet photo

Car collectors have discovered vintage pickups, and prices for really good ones reflect that.

As Chevrolet celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first truck, auto auction house Barrett-Jackson collected data on the most expensive Chevy pickups it’s sold.

Nine have hit six figures so far, with one approaching a quarter million dollars.

They all sold in the last few years, as appreciation for vintage truck style and customization grew.

Most expensive is a 1957 Chevy 3100 pickup called Quicksilver for its lustrous paint job. Quicksilver sold for $214,000 in 2016.

Virtually everything about the powerful low-slung pickup was modified by Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Okla., including a 650-horsepower Big Block V-8 and handmade body panels.

More silver paint graces a two-tone 1950 3100 pickup that sold for $205,700 earlier this year. Modifications include a 500-horsepower LS3 V-8, heavy-duty four-speed automatic transmission and independent front suspension.

The rest of Barrett-Jackson’s honor roll of six-figure Chevy pickups:

1957 Chevrolet Cameo Pickup, sold for $159,500 in 2007

1957 Chevrolet C-6 Custom Pickup, sold for $148,500 in 2011

1955 Chevrolet Cameo Custom Pickup, sold for $143,000 in 2013

1955 Chevrolet 3100 Custom Pickup, sold for $132,000 in 2006

1960 Chevrolet El Camino Custom Pickup, sold for $126,500 in 2017

1959 Chevrolet 3100 Custom Pickup, sold for $121,000 in 2014

1971 Chevrolet C-10 Custom Pickup, sold for $110,000 in 2014

All nine trucks were heavily customized, frequently with new engines, suspensions and bodywork.

That’s the good news, if you’re a car lover on a normal person’s budget. The price tags on these professionally reworked beauties show the sky’s the limit, but unmodified vintage pickups and SUVs remain among the best buys for collectors.

The case of the ‘horseshoe’ dash symbol

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            This typical dash warning symbol indicates the tire pressure monitoring system has detected a tire that has low inflation pressure. James Halderman photo
This typical dash warning symbol indicates the tire pressure monitoring system has detected a tire that has low inflation pressure. James Halderman photo

Wheels:

Mike M. from Centerville asks: “This fall, when it got cold, an orange or amber warning light came on that looks like a horseshoe. After driving the car for a few miles, the light went out and stayed out for the rest of the day. I have had warning lights come on before but nothing that looks like a horseshoe. I tried to tighten my gas cap and that has worked for me in the past. However, the next morning the horseshoe light came on again. What do you think this is and what is wrong with my car?”

Halderman: The horseshoe-shaped dash warning light represents a tire and the warning light is used to notify the driver of a tire that has low inflation pressure. All passenger vehicles since 2007 have been equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system that will light a dash light to warn the driver of a tire that has lost inflation pressure by 25 percent of the recommended pressure, as stated on the driver’s door placard. What likely happened was that when the temperature dropped, the pressure inside the tire decreased because the temperature and pressure are related. A drop in temperature of 10 degrees will cause the tire pressure to drop 1 PSI.

Therefore, check the inflation pressure of all tires, including the spare. Please note: Many SUVs use a tire pressure sensor in the spare as well as in each of the four tires on the ground. If one tire continues to lose inflation pressure, ask a professional service technician to find the root cause and correct it to keep the light out.

For a free chart that can be downloaded showing all the dash warning symbols with their meaning, visit www.jamesahalderman.com.

Value of this inheritance is rather dubious

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Dear Car Talk:

I am now the owner of a 1978 Cadillac Seville Grand Opera Coupe. This was my grandmother’s car and one of a few hundred made of this model. It is not running, but I believe that is due to it sitting. It is all original and has very few miles. What is the history of this model, and is it considered “desirable” or sought-after? Thank you! – Whitney

RAY: I don’t think anyone would ever describe this car as “desirable,” Whitney. Your grandmother either had very unusual taste (you might want to look for a picture of your grandfather), or she had a great sense of humor. Or both. Because this is one of the weirdest, ugliest vehicles known to man.

For our other four readers, if you’ve never seen one, you owe it to yourself to Google “Cadillac Seville Grand Opera Coupe,” and then come back and finish reading today’s column when you’ve stopped laughing.

This was not a car made at the factory by Cadillac, which reduces its value to some extent but also gives Cadillac plausible deniability for its existence. The Grandeur Motor Car Company of – wait for it – Pompano Beach, Florida, made a bunch of these by taking a Cadillac Seville (which was based on a Chevy Nova), removing the front seats, extending the hood and windshield backward and having the driver pilot the car from where the back seat used to be.

But the piece de resistance – the touch that puts the Grand Opera Coupe in league with sky-blue polyester leisure suits and gold toilets – are the fake, wire-wheeled spare-tire covers that are built in, on each side, between where the driver sits and the front wheels.

Now, is there a market for these things, Whitney? Of course! I contacted our friend Craig Fitzgerald, who writes for bestride.com. He’s our go-to guy for all things automotive and ridiculous. Craig says that since they are “conversions” and not original Cadillacs, even Grand Opera Coupes in great condition have never pulled in more than about $15,000.

He says that a Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas got $16,000 for one in mint condition a couple of years ago, but I think they had to throw in a couple of other cars with it.

Anyway, that’s something, Whitney, right? If you can get $15,000 or $16,000 for this thing, you can get yourself something you might be willing to be seen in. Good luck.

Faulty air bag light requires a scan

Dear Car Talk:

I have a 1996 Honda Accord with 161,000 miles. I am the second owner, but I’ve had it since ’97, and it is the most mechanically reliable car I have ever owned. In the past few months, it has developed an intermittent issue. Sometimes – not always, but more than half the time – when I start on a drive, the air bag warning light comes on. If the trip is short, the light (if it came on) will stay on the entire time. But if the trip is longer, after 30 minutes or so the light goes off. If the light never came on, or if it goes out during a trip, once it is out, it doesn’t come back on during that trip. Is this something I should worry about? – Albert

RAY: Not unless you think you might need the air bag someday, Albert.

Air bags have a “self-diagnostic” system that takes a few seconds to run every time you start your car. So each time you start up your Accord, the computer checks to make sure all the components necessary to deploy your air bags are present, accounted for and working.

While the car is testing the air bag circuits, you’ll see the air bag (or SRS) light on your dashboard. Once the system has checked out and is ready to go, the light will go off. So if the light is on, at least one of your air bags won’t function if you need it.

On a 20-year-old car, it could be almost any part of the system. It could be a faulty sensor, a bad air bag module, a bad clock spring or a problem with a wiring harness somewhere. And you’re going to need a mechanic to scan the car for you and track it down.

In the meantime, keep your Bronko Nagurski football helmet on the passenger seat. And if the air bag light doesn’t go off after a few seconds, fasten that chin strap.

And needless to say, you’ll want to get it fixed as soon as you can, Albert.