Report: CA stops plans for RFID-enabled driver’s licenses [w/poll]

Filed under: Government/Legal, Safety, Technology

California lawmakers suspended legislation to embed driver's licenses and ID cards with radio frequency identification chips.

California could have become the fifth state to issue enhanced driver’s licenses (EDL) and identification cards embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, but last Friday, state lawmakers suspended the legislation over privacy concerns. The RFID-equipped cards were to be optional, but ultimately it was a lack of measures to prevent law enforcement from tapping into the chips that killed the bill, Wired reports.

California EDLs originally were intended to be a solution to long wait times at the US-Mexico border – drivers carrying EDLs would not have to show a passport to re-enter the US at land border checkpoints where RFID readers are used. Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington are the four states that already employ EDLs, and residents of those states don’t need a passport to re-enter the US at most land borders if they have one of the special licenses.

Privacy advocates are worried that if more states start using EDLs and enhanced ID cards, they could become mandatory across the US, allowing the government to surveil the motoring public without its knowledge. Information on the RFID cards is stored in a secure database at the Department of Homeland Security. “It’s not difficult to imagine a time when the EDL programs cease to be optional,” says Jim Harper, the Cato Institute’s director of information policy studies. “The government also tends to expand programs far beyond their original purpose.”

Ben Hueso, a California senator from San Diego, supports RFID technology and offers a different viewpoint. “Enhanced Driver’s Licenses can provide a significant economic benefit to the state of California, while strengthening border security,” Hueso wrote in a press release in May, according to Wired.

We’re not sure what’s best for California regarding RFID technology, but considering how much of an impact technology like this could make on its citizens’ privacy, it’s encouraging to see lawmakers and privacy advocates treading carefully and airing concerns. Stay tuned for more on this issue – it isn’t going away any time soon.

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CA stops plans for RFID-enabled driver’s licenses [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: CA stops plans for RFID-enabled driver’s licenses [w/poll]

Filed under: Government/Legal, Safety, Technology

California lawmakers suspended legislation to embed driver's licenses and ID cards with radio frequency identification chips.

California could have become the fifth state to issue enhanced driver’s licenses (EDL) and identification cards embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, but last Friday, state lawmakers suspended the legislation over privacy concerns. The RFID-equipped cards were to be optional, but ultimately it was a lack of measures to prevent law enforcement from tapping into the chips that killed the bill, Wired reports.

California EDLs originally were intended to be a solution to long wait times at the US-Mexico border – drivers carrying EDLs would not have to show a passport to re-enter the US at land border checkpoints where RFID readers are used. Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington are the four states that already employ EDLs, and residents of those states don’t need a passport to re-enter the US at most land borders if they have one of the special licenses.

Privacy advocates are worried that if more states start using EDLs and enhanced ID cards, they could become mandatory across the US, allowing the government to surveil the motoring public without its knowledge. Information on the RFID cards is stored in a secure database at the Department of Homeland Security. “It’s not difficult to imagine a time when the EDL programs cease to be optional,” says Jim Harper, the Cato Institute’s director of information policy studies. “The government also tends to expand programs far beyond their original purpose.”

Ben Hueso, a California senator from San Diego, supports RFID technology and offers a different viewpoint. “Enhanced Driver’s Licenses can provide a significant economic benefit to the state of California, while strengthening border security,” Hueso wrote in a press release in May, according to Wired.

We’re not sure what’s best for California regarding RFID technology, but considering how much of an impact technology like this could make on its citizens’ privacy, it’s encouraging to see lawmakers and privacy advocates treading carefully and airing concerns. Stay tuned for more on this issue – it isn’t going away any time soon.

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CA stops plans for RFID-enabled driver’s licenses [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: GM says hybrid Corvette no laughing matter [w/poll]

Filed under: Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, Chevrolet, Luxury

When Mark Reuss was in LA recently, he sat down to have a few words with the scribes at the Los Angeles Times. When the issue of a hybrid Corvette came up, Reuss answered with “Don’t laugh.” The General Motors president is a complete fan of the possibility, calling it “attractive” and “really fun,” believing it would improve GM expertise and that “people would love it.”

Naturally, the president being supportive of an idea doesn’t give indication that a hybrid Corvette is on the way. However, with supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder and Ferrari LaFerrari giving hybrid tech a solid, if remote, place in the performance car world, the inexorable trickle-down of technology means we shouldn’t be surprised if and when it does happen.

And now that we have that non-negative half-answer to a speculative question, it would be irresponsible for us not to commence rumormilling for the C8 Corvette. Taking Reuss at his word, the C8 will obviously be a hybrid with all-wheel-drive – the left side wheels driven with electric motors, the right side with the mid-mounted, four-cylinder diesel engine. With coefficient of drag of just .16, figure on a 0-to-60 mile-per-hour time of under 2 seconds and an all-electric range of something like 30 miles at top speed. Don’t forget, folks, you read it here first.

What do you think of the idea of a gas-electric Corvette? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.

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GM says hybrid Corvette no laughing matter [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Aug 2013 13:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: You might be held responsible if a driver you’re texting causes an accident [w/poll]

Filed under: Government/Legal, Safety

texting while driving

There’s no question that driving and texting at the same time is dangerous and illegal. But a lawsuit in New Jersey filed by a couple who were the victims of a texting accident blamed not only the distracted driver who caused it, but also the person who was texting him at the time, CNN reports.

Kyle Best, who was 18 at the time of the accident in 2009, was driving on a rural highway when Shannon Colonna, the 17-year-old girl he was dating, sent him a text. Best allegedly was reading the text when he crossed the double-yellow line and drifted into a lane of opposing traffic. He hit David and Linda Kubert, who were riding a motorcycle. They were injured and lost their legs.

The Kuberts filed suit against Best and Colonna and argued that if she knew that Best was driving when she texted him, she also was responsible for the accident. The Kuberts ended up settling with Best and lost to Colonna, which they appealed. Apparently they left an impression on three appeals court judges who agreed with the principle behind the Kuberts’ appeal, but prosecutors couldn’t prove that Colonna knew Best was driving when she texted him, so she was free to go.

Here’s what the court reportedly said: We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.

For what it’s worth, this is the state that just rejected a vanity license plate application that read “ATHEIST.”

New Jersey governor Chris Christie disagrees with the appeals court judges who said a text sender like Colonna could be held accountable for a car accident. He says it’s the driver’s responsibility to keep his or her hands on the wheel and pay attention to what’s happening on the road. We have to agree with Christie on this one.

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You might be held responsible if a driver you’re texting causes an accident [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Volvo dealers pushing for V40 in America [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Wagon, Volvo

Volvo V40

Not too long ago, Volvo effectively replaced three models with one. Those were the C30, S40 and V50, and their replacement came in the form of the V40. While its predecessors were available (at some point, anyway) in North America, the V40 isn’t. And that’s something that Volvo’s players in the US would like to change.

According to Automotive News, both Volvo Cars of North America and its dealers are pressing the factory to reverse its decision and prepare the V40 for an American assault on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3. It’s a game they won before with the current V60, which hasn’t been available here, but is set to make the transatlantic voyage come the start of the new year.

This time, though, Volvo Cars of North America may have a bigger fight on its hands, because the V40 wasn’t designed to meet US regulations. Getting it up to spec, then, may be a bigger challenge than it’s worth. But if the American importer and dealer network makes its voice heard, the V40’s replacement could be designed with US regulations in mind.

What do you think? Does the V40 have a place in America? Cast your vote in our poll below.

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Volvo dealers pushing for V40 in America [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Aug 2013 14:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 Kia Soul to get quasi-SUV look for Europe [w/poll]

Filed under: Budget, Europe, Crossover, Kia, Design/Style

European 2014 Kia Soul will come standard with a SUV Styling pack that won't be available in the US.

The 2014 Soul is bigger and more refined, and Kia says its look has been inspired in part by the Track’ster concept. Interestingly, European buyers will get the option of a different look than what we’ll see in our showrooms. They’ll be able to specify the SUV Styling Pack seen here, which includes matte-black cladding on the front and rear fascias, along with what Kia refers to as piano-black trim on the wheel wells and side skirts. The roof is available painted black, white or red. With all of that black trim and slightly tougher look, the styling reminds us of the Fiat 500L Trekking, a model the Soul will compete directly against.

European markets also have the ability to spec their Souls like our North American version, which substitutes body-color trim for most of the black pieces. Currently, there are no plans to bring the SUV Styling Pack to the US. But that doesn’t mean we’ll never be able to buy this butch-look Soul on our side of the Atlantic. Company spokesperson James Hope confirms to Autoblog, “[Kia] has no plans to offer something similar to the EU-spec Soul at this time. However, we are always monitoring the market and if we saw an opportunity we would certainly look into it.”

Feel free to peruse the press release below for more details on the Euro-spec Soul – which is slated to debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show – and then let Kia know if they should bring the SUV Styling Pack here by participating in our poll below.

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Continue reading 2014 Kia Soul to get quasi-SUV look for Europe [w/poll]

2014 Kia Soul to get quasi-SUV look for Europe [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 24 Aug 2013 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Average US car now a record-setting 11.4 years old [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying

Heavy traffic is shown on north-bound Interstate Highway 5, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, in Seattle. Commuter traffic was congested but moving slowly in Seattle on the first weekday commute following the nine-day closure of the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct, one of the city's main north-south highways. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Cars are becoming less and less of a disposable item, according to a report from The Detroit Free Press. The average age of the 247 million cars and trucks in the US fleet is now up to 11.4 years, an increase of two full years since 2007 and 0.2 years since 2012. The newspaper spoke with Mark Seng, vice president of industry research firm Polk, who cited consumers’ desire to avoid monthly payments and the ever-improving quality of mainstream cars and trucks as reasons for the increased age.

The first item is fairly obvious – no one really likes to carry a monthly car payment. The second point, though, is perhaps less obvious. The fact of the matter is that modern vehicles are just so reliable that people aren’t feeling the need to scrap them as quickly. In fact, scrappage has fallen 50 percent since the start of the recession, a stat that is sure to pain junkyard scroungers everywhere.

But while the nation’s average vehicle age is likely to continue to increase, it is expected to do so right along with increasing sales of new vehicles. After a 30-year low of 10.4 million vehicles in 2009, the annual average is running right along at 15.5 million according to The Detroit Free Press. While it seems counterintuitive for these two stats to climb together, the combination of improved reliability, lower interest rates and readily available longer-term financing options has created a kind of perfect storm for both long-term ownership and new vehicle sales.

How old is your primary vehicle? Participate in our poll below, then let us know your thoughts in Comments.

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Average US car now a record-setting 11.4 years old [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Nissan had to re-edit this commercial two times to placate Aussie ad watchdog [w/poll]

Filed under: Budget, Marketing/Advertising, Safety, Videos, Hatchback, Nissan, Australia

Nissan Australia was required to re-edit its Nissan Pulsar SSS commercial three times before it satisfied the government.

Nissan recently aired a commercial in Australia for its Pulsar SSS hatchback – think of it as a five-door relative of our Sentra – in which a couple is seen hastily making their way to the hospital ahead of giving birth. But the ad you can watch now isn’t the same ad that aired originally – in fact, Nissan had to re-edit the commercial twice before the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) would accept it.

According to Go Auto, the original ad received complaints that it depicted unsafe and reckless driving, including speeding, following cars too closely and screeching to a halt upon arriving at the hospital. One of the complaints reportedly read: “The advertisement promotes driving behavior (rapid acceleration/deceleration/changes of direction) that is counter to sound medical advice regarding the carriage of heavily pregnant women in motor vehicles.”

In the first edit, Nissan lowered the vehicle’s engine noise, removed the woman’s speech urging the man to drive faster (“Go, go, go!”) and inserted a disclaimer that read “Filmed under controlled conditions,” according to Go Auto, but all of that still wasn’t enough to appease the ASB.

Nissan went back for some more editing, which resulted in the tamer commercial that’s airing in Oz today. Nissan even removed extra shots to fit in slightly slow-motion video of the Pulsar driving, to be sure viewers don’t think it’s speeding. Even so, there’s still an enjoyable hook to the ad – watch it by scrolling below.

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Continue reading Nissan had to re-edit this commercial two times to placate Aussie ad watchdog [w/poll]

Nissan had to re-edit this commercial two times to placate Aussie ad watchdog [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 02 Aug 2013 19:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Penalties possible for drivers wearing Google Glass in US and UK [w/poll]

Filed under: Government/Legal, Safety, Technology, UK

Google Glass may be banned by the UK and West Virginia before it's released.

The key feature of Google Glass is that it basically puts an Android smartphone on users’ heads, allowing them hands-free operation of many smartphone features, including web browsing, phone calls, texting and navigation. A small heads-up display rests directly above the right eye, making it seem like a match made in heaven for drivers, who could use Glass without taking their hands off the wheel. But lawmakers already are planning to ban the device from being used while driving before it has even been released to the general public, Engadget reports.

A UK Department for Transportation official told Stuff that it is “in discussion with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.” Similarly, as Gizmodo reports, West Virginia House of Delegates member Gary G. Howell has said he thinks the technology would be just as problematic as texting while driving and is introducing a bill to ban Google Glass from being used on the roads in that state.

Glass has been tested while riding a motorcycle with mixed results, and there’s even an application in development for Tesla Model S owners, but it could all be for naught if Big Brother says no. Do you think using Google Glass should be prohibited while driving? Sound off in the poll below.

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Penalties possible for drivers wearing Google Glass in US and UK [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Read This: Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll]

Filed under: TV/Movies, Read This

Drive-in movie theaters turn 80 years old this summer, and, soon, they might die of old age. There are only 360 drive-in theaters left in the US – down from 4,000 at their peak in 1958 – and the 35-millimeter film projectors that they use to screen movies are quickly losing support from studios, which have switched to digital methods of capturing pictures.

Remember the four-foot poles with speakers built in? You’d pull your car up to it, park, and open your windows to listen to the movie. Well, there’s only one company left that makes parts for those speakers, and they don’t support surround sound. And the cost to upgrade the projectors to digital systems is prohibitively expensive. James Kopp, manager at the Family Drive-In Theatre in Stephens City, Virginia, says he was quoted nearly $140,000 to make the switch to digital, The Washington Post reports.

Pennsauken, New Jersey, was the first US city to build a drive-in, yet there are no more of them in the state. As gloomy as it looks, there are drive-ins trying to make the switch to digital projection systems, and there are ones that already have. But as drive-ins fall further from our minds, the question is, do people care?

Read The Washington Post article, and tell us what you think in the poll below.

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Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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