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There's a right way to get your car out of a snowbank. Above we have the aftermath of one of the wrong ways.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario -- February 16, 2017 -- This week’s Friday Fun takes a look at a creative but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get a car out of a snowbank, how hit-and-run drivers in Pennsylvania may find themselves up against the Amber Alert system, a science fiction custom builder and much, much more!

- The Ottawa Sun ran a story with the headline: How not to get out of a snowbank: One man learns a fiery lesson.” The story goes on to relay the dismal tale of a local 24-year-old man who got his car stuck in a snowbank and his idea to get it out. The bright idea he came up with was to wedge a skateboard onto his car's accelerator. When he jumped out to push, according to the story, “... the car’s doors locked when the gas pedal was pushed down. Then the car caught fire.” When it was in reverse the engine gave way. “I’m not sure if the wheels caught on fire from spinning or if it was just the engine turning too fast and not going anywhere, so long story short … the front end of the car caught on fire,” a police source quoted in the story said.

 - It looks like an MSO might be for sale … if you’ve got $2 billion rattling around your sock drawer (better check under the couch cushions too). The private equity funds that are the majority owners of Service King Paint & Body are said to be considering a sale of the company, according to a Bloomberg report. No final decision has been made and the firms may elect to keep the business, according to the report. However, it would make sense. The typical business model for a private equity fund is to buy a stake in a company and then work over five to seven years to improve operations of a company, sell it and realize a gain on the deal. The report notes that the consolidated chain of 2017 could sell for $2 billion. Who might be a buyer? There are many potential suitors. A pension fund that might want a good, stable revenue-producing long-term asset, or one of the other fund groups involved in the ongoing consolidation of the industry are both possibilities. A larger dealership group like AutoNation could also be a “dark horse” suitor in this story. AutoNation, as well as privately held dealerships Hendricks and Berkshire Hathaway Automotive (formerly Van Tuyl) are also said to be on the lookout for expansion opportunities in the collision sector. Interesting times. More to come on this story, certainly.

- Could the arrival of Trump in the White House slow the adoption of aluminum? Possibly. A news report notes that in a recent meeting, “...with U.S. auto executives, President Trump hinted his administration will try to roll back America’s fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.” Rolling back CAFE standards would take the pressure off of auto companies to make the shift to aluminum. It may also slow down the adoption of other lightweighting methods.  

- An article on Stuff highlights custom car designer Michael Vetter, who creates radically unique vehicles from normal road models. The Florida-based “petrol-head” takes "donor cars" from paying customers, and makes a series of modifications to create cars that look like something out of a science fiction film.

Vetter designs and fabricates every part of his creations. He has built vehicles on the chassis of a Chevrolet Aveo, a Chevrolet Cobalt SS and a Toyota Echo. His latest is built on a Porsche Boxster. According to the story Vetter's creations, “... can be registered, titled and insured like a regular car. In Florida, at least.”

FridayFunNoBoxster LG  
Custom builder Michael Vetter focuses on turning production cars into science fiction
vehicles. This one started life as a Porsche Boxster.

- Your suspicions are confirmed by data: Millennials really are bad drivers. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published the results of a study this past week. The study finds that, "88% of young millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days, earning the top spot of worst behaved U.S. drivers," according to a report of the study. "These dangerous behaviors — which increase crash risk — included texting while driving, red-light running and speeding. These findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent, the largest single-year increase in five decades,” according to the report.

As well, millennials, “...acknowledged typing or sending a text or email while driving at nearly twice the rate of other drivers (59.3% to 31.4%),” according to the study. Nearly half of Millennials reported running a red light even if they could have stopped safely, compared with 36% of the rest of drivers. Nearly 12% of Millennials said it was acceptable to speed 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared with 5% of other drivers. Dr. David Yang, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's executive director, was quoted in a statement as saying, "Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable. It's critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads."

However, it should be noted that experience as a driver has always played a large factor in collision rates and risky driving habits. There’s a reason a long driving record gets you lower insurance rates.  

- Hit-and-run drivers in Pennsylvania could be made part of the state's Amber Alert system. At a press conference this week the owner of a West Philadelphia auto body shop appeared along with the family of fatal hit-and-run victim Jayanna Powell to announce the initiative. State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and representatives of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and PennDOT were also at the press conference. All were there to support the “Jay Alerts legislation”, which would send, “... hit-and-run notifications out on the state’s Amber Alert system and legally require auto-body shops to tell law-enforcement agencies if a vehicle matching the description has been brought to them for repairs.” 

- A story out of the US finds that “older driver road tests appear to cut crashes in Illinois but not New Hampshire.” The state of Illinois has a requirement that drivers 75 and older renew their licenses frequently, “... and pass a road test at each renewal.” That policy has reduced insurance claim rates among the older driver population, according to a study. However, as the story notes, “... a now-repealed road-test requirement in New Hampshire failed to have the same effect.”

The story explains that, “Per mile traveled, older drivers crash more often than middle-age adults, though not as often as young drivers. Concerns about age-related mental, visual and physical impairments have prompted many states to establish shorter license renewal cycles for older drivers and to require eye exams at renewal.” According to a study of the program, “The state's requirements have resulted in fewer older people driving than otherwise would be expected ... Those older drivers who do remain on the roads are somewhat less risky than older drivers in nearby states.” But when New Hampshire introduced a similar policy and studied the effects, the state, “... didn't see the same benefit from its road-test requirement, which was in effect for drivers age 75 and older until 2011.”


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