Through the Virginia Transportation Act of 2000, legislators provided for about $3 billion in new money or accelerated financing for $10 billion worth of highway construction, public transportation, airports, and ports during the next six years. It was called “an unprecedented investment in transportation in the commonwealth’s history” by Gov. Gilmore, and Commissioner Charles D. Nottingham, responding to the momentum of the bill, said, “We will build roads as fast as the law allows and the money flow allows.”
In December 2000, Gov. Gilmore proposed a Transportation Reform Initiative to reduce the time required for completion of construction projects and to bring savings in the construction program of $140 million annually. In the proposal were 105 recommendations for best practices developed by the Governor’s Commission on Transportation Policy. The recommendations included one to allow the CTB to enter into design-build contracts, which put one contractor in charge of an entire highway project rather than dividing responsibility for the project among many contractors under VDOT’s supervision. The General Assembly was asked to pass into law several of these recommendations, and in 2001 did so, including one to allow counties to choose to reassume responsibilities for building or maintaining secondary roads within their boundaries.
An introduction to adaptive cruise control
You’re probably familiar with the cruise control function featured in most cars, but are you acquainted with the ins and outs of adaptive cruise control? Here’s what you should know.
What’s adaptive cruise control?
Adaptive cruise control allows you to both maintain a fixed speed and sustain a set distance from the car ahead of you. Depending on the car model, a laser or radar calculates the distance and speed of the vehicle you’re following. This enables it to automatically adjust its pace if the car in front of you slows down or another driver cuts you off. Some systems will even slow you down to a full stop if necessary.
Your vehicle will accelerate to the programmed speed again when it’s safe to do so, like when the vehicle in front of you picks up speed or switches lanes. As is the case with traditional cruise control, you can manually accelerate and brake at any time.
A few precautions
There are several things to be mindful of if you’re using adaptive cruise control.
• The system’s range can vary from model to model, and some will only function at speeds above 16 miles per hour.
• The laser detection feature may not function properly in bad weather or when the car ahead of you is very dirty and doesn’t reflect light adequately.
• The system may not be able to detect a stopped vehicle.
• This tool doesn’t in any way exempt you from paying attention to the road. Notably, you need to engage the brake if the car in front of you suddenly stops.
Adaptive cruise control can be a useful feature, but you need to have a thorough understanding of how it works. Only use it once you’ve familiarized yourself with the relevant information in your owner’s manual.
A history of roads in Virginia: Unexpected setbacks come in the new century
Even before taking office in 2002, Gov. Mark R. Warner expressed concern about financing and scheduling highway projects, as well as about cost overruns for new projects and inadequate budget projections to maintain the highway infrastructure. The construction program so dramatically enlarged just two years earlier by the previous administration and the General Assembly was being severely crimped by the downturn in the economy. Rosy revenue projections foreseen for transportation in late 2001 were realized as untenable in 2002. Project cost estimates did not adequately account for inflation and were significantly low. The available funding and the extensive improvements in the transportation system called for were recognized as incompatible.
The new governor called for a “realistic and achievable” Six-Year Program for transportation improvements and directed VDOT to produce it. Secretary of Transportation Whittington W. Clement, recently appointed by the governor, indicated a sharp reduction in the construction program was necessary, saying, “We can’t do it all, but whatever it is, we’re going to do it well.”
Gov. Warner also appointed a new commissioner of transportation, Philip A. Shucet, and within weeks he and VDOT staff prepared a Six-Year Program that reduced the previously approved program by nearly a third. At the same time, Virginia’s aging highway system required more maintenance, further reducing available funding for new construction. Virginia, which long held “pay as you go” as its transportation funding philosophy, had to use Federal Reimbursement Anticipation Notes (FRANs), or special-use bonds, to help cover some construction projects’ costs.
It appeared to be the beginning of an era of retrenchment, but at the same time, 1,157 projects across the state remained in the $7.3 billion Six-Year Program. And, simultaneously, motorists across Virginia rated highly the service they received from roads and highways, even in areas where traffic congestion was problematic.
The transportation theme of the new century, however, had been changed from spending and building to one of a realistic, credible, and systematic improvement process.
The AEB system: tomorrow’s must-have car safety feature
The most important innovation in automotive safety technology in recent years is the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, cars with this feature are in half as many rear-end crashes as other vehicles.
The ABCs of AEB systems
Thanks to sensors, radars and cameras, an AEB system is able to detect objects in front of the car and automatically apply the brakes when a collision is imminent. AEB systems generally include one or more of the following features:
• Dynamic brake support (DBS), which enhances a drivers’ braking when they aren’t pressing the brakes firmly enough to avoid a collision.
• Crash imminent braking (CIB), which automatically applies the car’s brakes when the driver has failed to take action to avoid a crash.
• Forward collision warning (FCW). This feature alerts drivers of an imminent collision with beeping, a flashing light in the instrument panel or by tightening the seat belt. If the driver fails to brake despite the warning, the CIB system (if included) kicks in.
Some but not all AEB systems are able to detect pedestrians as well as cars.
Availability of AEB systems
In 2018, 30 percent of new vehicles came standard with AEB systems, while 40 percent more offered them as an option. By 2022, virtually all new cars sold in North America will come standard with AEB systems.
AEB systems are meant to be a safeguard against distracted driving, which has become a serious problem on our roads. However, it’s in no way a substitute for an alert, conscientious driver.
6 ways to pay less for auto insurance
A host of factors can influence the amount you pay for your automobile insurance premiums. Here are six ways you may be able to lower them.
1. Shop around. Prices can vary significantly between different insurance providers. Make sure to work with an experienced broker who can help you find the most affordable plan.
2. Use affiliation discounts. Unions, professional associations and alumni associations often have special agreements with particular insurers. You could be eligible for a better price via the organizations you’re already a part of.
3. Negotiate. Don’t hesitate to ask for a discount. Some companies offer them to full-time students or young people whose parents have policies with them.
4. Combine. If both your car and home are insured by the same provider, you’ll likely receive a discount. In some cases, it could be substantial.
5. Pay a higher deductible. If you can afford it, committing to a higher deductible in case of an accident usually means you’ll pay a lower premium.
6. Drive safely. A good driving record means cheaper insurance. Accidents, driving infractions and prior insurance claims all contribute to higher premiums.
Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to an insurance broker. Oftentimes they have access to policies that aren’t available to the general public.
The ABCs of EVs
Electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining in popularity, and with good reason. These cars are silent, economical, environmentally friendly and reliable. Here’s how they work.
A fully electric car is powered by a large battery, itself composed of power cells. It’s also equipped with an electric transmission.
Depending on the battery’s power, which is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), a car will have a longer or shorter range. The range refers to the distance it can cover with a single charge. For instance, a car with a 60-kWh battery has a range of about 240 miles while a car with a 40-kWh battery has a range of 150 miles.
To operate, EVs first need to be plugged into an external power source so the battery can be charged. There are three types of charging stations:
• 120 V (slow)
• 240 V (standard)
• 400 V (fast)
In addition, EVs are equipped with an energy recovery mechanism called regenerative braking, which helps charge the battery while driving. It works when some of the car’s kinetic energy is converted into electricity, which is then stored in the battery. This saves a lot of battery power, thereby extending the range of the car.
To learn more about EVs, speak to an expert at your local dealership.
What should you do after a car accident?
The average driver will be involved in at least one car accident during their lifetime. Be prepared for this eventuality by knowing what you should do after a collision.
Determine if anyone is injured
Before you do anything else, check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 right away or have another person do so.
Move your car to safety
If you’re able to operate your vehicle, and if it’s safe to do so, move your car to a safe spot away from oncoming traffic.
Notify the police
Even if the accident is minor and there are no injuries, it’s important to call the police. In some states, this is required. The officers will fill out an accident report when needed. If the police aren’t able to come to the scene, you can go to your state’s DMV to file an accident report. Check your state’s laws to learn when filing an accident report is required.
Gather as much information as you can after the accident, including the following:
• The name, address and phone number of the driver and owner of the vehicle
• The contact information of any eyewitnesses
• The license plate number of the other vehicle
• The insurance company and policy number for the other vehicle
• The description of the accident
• The location of the accident
• The condition of the road
• Pictures of the damage to your car
Finally, be sure to inform your insurer about the accident as soon as you’re able to do so. This will speed up the claims process and ensure your report is processed quicker.