By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario -- September 7, 2017 -- In this week's edition of Friday Fun, a Georgia autobody team feeds fleeing Floridians, a BC family home hosts a runaway stretch limo, gossip from the world of celebrity collision repair-based reality television, and much, much more!
- An employee of a Georgia autobody shop had to do something for the streams of drivers fleeing Hurricane Irma. Chad Harrison rounded up a couple of co-workers at the bodyshop where he works and grilled food on the side of the highway for anyone who wanted to stop by and eat. They put up a sign, “Free Food For Evacuees” and ended up serving 2,000 meals to hungry Florida motorists streaming north into Georgia and away from the storm.
As word spread, donations began to pour in. In an interview with Inside Edition, Harrison was quoted as saying, "It's a huge storm. Being from the south, it's something that we felt like we needed to do. We just take care of our neighbors. It was beautiful. I cooked meals. I filled up gas. I filled in where it needed to be, everyone did. People had tears of joy … It's just hard to describe when you see a child who has nothing and all of a sudden, they have to get on the road and run from a Category 5 hurricane. You can imagine the stress level of the parents."
- A Surrey, BC, family suffered an attack from a late night intruder into their home recently. At 3 a.m. a stretch limousine skidded, “... out of control and ran through the front of the house …” Everyone is okay but the limo caused, “... extensive damage to the home … A day later, it was still lodged in the building. Police say the structure could collapse if the vehicle is removed. They’ are worried the damage from the crash has made the house uninhabitable,” according to a report by CBC News. "It looks like the limousine is actually supporting the structure right now so there is a possibility that the house may collapse, or partially collapse, when it's removed," Sgt. MacDonald told reporters.
- Big trouble in the world of celebrity autobody-based reality television. A History Channel show, Counting Cars, follows the coming-and-goings at Count's Kustoms in Las Vegas. Apparently one of the employees at the shop has been accused of abusing privileges, according to a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal: "In a lawsuit filed in March, the hot rod and motorcycle restoration and customization company featured in the ‘Counting Cars’ series accuses former employee Joseph Frontiera of using the business' money to make a down payment on his personal Land Rover Range Rover and buy airline tickets for personal use." The report went on to say that he, “... managed to fail to pay company's taxes on time, resulting in an $18,000 penalty, and even had a signature stamp made to stamp checks in the absence of members of authority without their permission.”
- An Associated Press report from Michigan suggests that some auto insurers in that state illegally sell more expensive policies to women and widowed drivers.
According to the report, “State law prohibits insurance companies from basing rates on sex or marital status. But an expert for the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault—a group of health care providers and plaintiffs' attorneys—said at least three insurers are doing so … Doug Heller, a California insurance researcher, found the discrepancies in online quotes and, in one case, an insurer's own filing with the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. San Francisco-based Esurance and Ohio-based Progressive, he said, charge women in Detroit with perfect driving records as much as 33 percent and 38 percent more than men with the same record, vehicle and address, despite evidence that women are safer drivers … Liberty Mutual, based in Boston, applies a 5 percent surcharge on drivers who become widowed, regardless of their sex. Premiums at Progressive and Esurance drop for men who are widowed, according to the findings …"
- A new concept from Honda, the Urban EV, features some neat effects. Tech Crunch reports on the “... displays front and back of the vehicle which show charging percentage and rates, as well as brand badging and other information, like greetings, ‘advice for other drivers on the roads’ and more.”
The car also has an, “... expansive touchscreen display which spans nearly the entire interior dashboard, offering a view Honda describes as ‘panoramic.’ The screen even extends into the doors, and those display feeds from the car's two wing mirror cameras for checking the space around the vehicle.”
The vehicle also has an onboard intelligence device featuring Honda's Automated Network Assistant. According to the report the system is designed to, “... learn about a driver over time and then adapt that information in order to help provide info like routing recommendations or other tips intended to be customized to a driver's personal preferences.”
- A report in the Edmonton Journal notes that a photo radar fund now, “... risks dipping into the red as local speeders lighten up on the gas.” According to the story, “Council heard Tuesday the fund was $3 million short this year because people aren't speeding as much as expected …” Ben Henderson of Council was quoted as saying, "I would argue that's a good news story.”
- Red light cameras in Toronto are reducing the number of collisions at intersections, according to a report in the Toronto Star. The Star reports that the city has found an average drop of 40 percent in the number of collisions causing a death or a serious injury at the intersections that have been equipped with cameras that send out tickets to those running the light. A new program has seen the city install 65 such cameras.
Toronto fast-tracked various road safety measures after an emergency meeting was convened last December the day after a five-hour span on a drizzly, rainy and icy Tuesday saw 22 pedestrians hit. A number of new initiatives were undertaken at the time. The city accelerated the installation of senior safety zones, including additional mid-block crossings, reduced speed zones, increased lighting and signage in areas with high populations of senior citizens.
- The CEO of PSA Peugeot Citroen and Vauxhall/Opel, Carlos Tavares, has taken a very interesting stand on the question of electric vehicles. As a story in the Telegraph noted, he recently, “... fired a warning shot across the bows of governments during a speech at the Frankfurt motor show today, saying that a total ban on internal combustion engines and the enforced introduction of electric cars could put the industry at risk.”
Banning hydrocarbon-based internal combustion engines is suddenly wildly popular in Europe. The diesel emissions scandal has seen to that. But the CEO of Peugeot is warning that, “... governments dictating technology will stifle creativity in the motor industry, put finances and jobs in jeopardy - and might also have safety and health issues in the future, which those governments will be responsible for.”
He held nothing back in his speech, laying future liabilities for EVs on governments:
"I want to be very clear here, we are moving from a technology-neutral era into an instruction to go electric. From now on, the scientific responsibility is in the hands of governments. So if, in 20 or 30 years, there are health or safety issues [with electric vehicles], they will be in the hands of governments,” Tavares was quoted as saying. He also worries the industry will either, “... be smashed or fewer people will be able to afford a car, ‘which is a wider social issue.’"
- Also announced this week: “China said over the weekend that it would eventually ban the sale of all fossil fuel powered cars in the country, with the timeline to be determined,” according to a report on Tech Crunch. The country’s leadership is said to be taking a much closer look at environmental issues. They may also be working to avoid the consequences of peak oil post-2020. According to the report, “China's vehicle sales numbers have led the world recently, and are increasing at an impressive clip annually, so automakers reconfiguring their long-term strategy to focus on EVs in light of China's favoring of EV tech makes plenty of sense. France and the UK have also expressed plans to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2040.”