Edition: November 2008 - Vol 16 Number 11
The high price of gas
If you get pulled over for a traffic offense, there are certain things you should not do. A West Virginia man who police said passed gas and fanned it toward a patrolman was recently charged with battery on a police officer, according to an Associated Press report. The 34-year man was pulled over for driving without headlights. According to the criminal complaint, the man smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and failed three field sobriety tests before he was handcuffed and taken to a police station for a breathalyzer test. At the station, he reportedly scooted his chair toward the policeman, lifted his leg and "passed gas loudly," the complaint said. He then fanned the gas toward the officer. "The gas was very odorous and created contact of an insulting or provoking nature," the complaint alleged. The driver was also charged with driving under the influence, driving without headlights and two counts of obstruction. He said that he had an upset stomach at the time, and that police had denied his request to go to the bathroom.
Text-message ban for drivers
Drivers who text-message while driving, at least in the state of California, will be breaking the law as of Jan. 1. On Sept. 24, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law banning motorists from text-messaging and e-mailing while operating a vehicle. Drivers caught using their phones to write, read or send messages will be fined $20 the first time, and $50 on each subsequent offense. The statewide penalty is a base fine; municipalities may add their own fees. The law follows another law, which became effective July 1, 2008, requiring motorists to use hands-free devices if they want to chat on the phone while driving.
Mercedes diesel qualifies for tax credit
Daimler says its newly introduced Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC diesel vehicles are the first diesel-powered cars to qualify for a U.S. Internal Revenue Service "Qualified aternative Motor Vehicle Credit." That means that drivers who buy an ML 320 BlueTEC, R 320 BlueTEC or GL 320 BlueTEC can get up to $1,800 in tax credits for buying a vehicle demonstrating high fuel efficiency and low emissions. The car company says that up until now, only hybrid-electric vehicles have qualified for the credit. The vehicles reportedly are the first diesel passenger vehicles to meet all 50 states emissions requirements and get up to 600 miles to the tank.
You stand warned
Beginning March 2009, used-car buyers will be able to consult a national database to see whether the car they want to buy was previously written off due to damage by flood, fire or crash. In September, a federal judge ordered the government to implement the Anti Car Theft Act, which orders the development of a system that would allow interstate tracking of cars and trucks by their vehicle identification number (VIN). (Though Congress passed the law in 1992, it never appropriated the funds to implement it.) The information is to be provided on a continual basis by insurance companies, salvage yards and junkyards.
You can go back
Hand-cranked windows in your future? How about manual door locks? According to the New York Times, automakers are reverting to manual controls in an effort to boost miles per gallon. A case in point is the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, which gets 37 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in town. You cannot buy a base model with power windows or locks. Similarly, the 2009 Toyota Corolla is also available with crank windows and manual locks. According to the newspaper, the Cobalt owner's manual instructs the younger generation on the basics. "If your vehicle has manual windows, use the window crank to open and close each window."