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Your car is watching you–and that might be good news.

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Your auto insurance rates could soon be set based on how you, personally, drive–not on your statistical risk.

General Motors Co. (GM) has launched an auto insurance program with its OnStar subsidiary to match data on driving patterns and usage to insurance costs. Tesla and Ford have also announced initiatives, according to Claims Journal.

Right now, insurance companies use criteria such as age, gender, neighborhood, and/or credit scores to set insurance prices. Consumer advocates have found this unfair because a good driver could live in a neighborhood that is unsafe and have a lower credit score.

Statistically, a teenage boy is the world’s worst auto insurance risk and insurance rates reflect this. But with usage-based insurance pricing, even a teenage boy might be able to demonstrate he is a good risk.


The mechanism of future insurance pricing will come from telematics–devices that collect real-time information on driving patterns and use. According to JD Power, demand for insurance based on telematics has increased during the pandemic as customers, working from home, though they could save money on insurance.

What that could mean for good drivers and drivers who don’t drive much is lower rates. Bad drivers would get higher rates. Depending on how the technology is deployed, drivers might get real-time feedback about how they are doing, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). That could be like having a permanent back-seat driver who is always right. But drivers do respond when they have incentives to drive better, according to iii.org.

A study by Willis Towers Watson showed that, in commercial fleets monitored by telematics, crash rates fell by 80 percent.

But will drivers have privacy concerns or will they resent having their every driving move monitored? Another survey by Willis Towers Watson suggests not. Resistance to the idea of cars monitoring driving is low, about seven percent.

GM will use data from its onboard concierge service, OnStar. The service helps drivers in emergencies and with navigation, but it also collects data on driving patterns. It takes special note of hard braking and acceleration.

Tesla’s initiative hasn’t yet launched.

Ford Motor Company has teamed up with Allstate Corporation to allow customers to share driving data.

GM says its OnStar program has provided the company with more data from connected vehicles than any other carmaker, as quoted in Claims Journal.

The company’s insurance offer will start in Arizona and use braking, acceleration, and general usage data to help set insurance rates. The program is set to expand nationwide using more data, including tire pressure, lane-keeping, and automated braking. More use of connected car data could be used if regulatory hurdles can be overcome.

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Five things to consider before driving abroad

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Are you planning a trip abroad and thinking of renting a car while you’re there? Follow these tips to ensure you’re prepared.

1. Driver’s license. Depending on your destination, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive on the roads legally.

2. Rules of the road. Find out about speed limits, tolls, and alcohol regulations in the country you’re visiting. If you have to drive on the left-hand side, watch a few videos on the internet. This will help you anticipate the maneuvers you may need to make in the opposite direction, such as changing lanes and going through roundabouts.

3. Signage. You may have difficulty interpreting the road signs if you’re not visiting an English-speaking country. Do your research so you know what to expect.


4. Child car seats. If you’re traveling with young children, ask the car rental agency to provide you with car seats. Some American models don’t meet the safety standards in every country.

5. Insurance. Determine if your insurance provides overseas coverage or if you need to purchase insurance through the car rental agency. Also, make sure you have sufficient liability coverage.

Visit travel.state.gov and talk to a travel agent for valuable advice. They’ll tell you what to look for and what vehicle is best for the region you’re visiting. Have a good trip!

 

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The average Virginian admits to exceeding 100mph on 4 occasions over the past month

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Full Speed Ahead? The average Virginian admits to exceeding 100mph on 4 occasions over the past month.

  • 60% of drivers do not know the penalties for speeding in Virginia.
  • 1 in 10 do not think highways should have speed limits at all.
  • 46% would prefer that each state’s traffic violation data should not be shared with each other.
  • Over half admit they would speed more if speed cameras didn’t exist.
  • An infographic showing the no. of times drivers have exceeded 100mph across America.

These days, everyone always seems to be in a hurry. We want to get to where we’re going – fast. But are we doing that at the expense of breaking the law? Here in the U.S., the maximum speed limit on rural interstate highways is broadly 70mph; on four-lane divided highways, it’s 65mph, and on all other highways, it’s 55mph (although each state sets their own limits, with some allowing up to 85mph).

So how many of us obey the rules? Gunther Volkswagen Daytona Beach carried out an anonymous survey of 3,500 drivers and found that, over the past month, the average Virginia driver admits to having exceeded 100mph on 4 occasions – and if that trend were backdated, that would mean they sped over 100mph 48 times over the past year. This makes them one of the second most guilty drivers, who have gone over 100mph four times over the past month, along with Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, and Connecticut.

That obviously raises the risk of accidents; in the U.S., of the more than 37,000 fatal accidents that occur yearly, around 1 in 3 collisions involve a driver going above the legal speed limit. Shockingly, Gunther Volkswagen Daytona Beach found that the drivers who’d gone over 100mph the most times over the past month – a scary six times – were from Utah. The second most guilty drivers, who have gone over 100mph four times over the past month, were from Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, and Virginia.


Those who are the least likely to speed and who only exceeded 100mph once are from Nebraska, South Carolina, and South Dakota – which is encouraging, but they could still do better. After all, speeding can increase the risk of an accident if the road conditions are poor – for example, due to bad weather (particularly now in January), needing repair, or in badly lit areas at night.

Infographic showing the number of times drivers have exceeded 100mph in each state

Gunther Volkswagen Daytona Beach also found that 60% of drivers do not know what the penalties are for speeding in their own state, which can be anything from a fine and points on their record to a license suspension and even jail time if it’s elevated to the status of a misdemeanor. Two-thirds (60%) of those interviewed do not think the penalty is harsh enough for drivers who are caught speeding at 100mph (fines generally start at around $25).

Strangely, and considering the risks, over 1 in 10 drivers (13%) do not think highways should have speed limits at all, as is the case on Germany’s autobahns (a recent New York Times report found that the number of deadly accidents on stretches of autobahn that have a speed limit was 26 percent lower than on those without).

The findings also revealed that 58% of drivers admit they would speed more if speed cameras didn’t exist. And half (49%) somewhat hypocritically admit to condemning people who speed, even if they speed themselves.

Finally, 46% would prefer that each state’s traffic violation data should not be shared so that if they incur a penalty out of state, they would not incur a penalty.

 

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New year, new world: Flying cars offer new social challenges

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Meet George Jetson! He’s not just a cartoon character — he might be real now that flying cars are closer to becoming reality.

It’s a tempting prospect for people who live in high-traffic areas. Imagine being able to lift your car over a traffic jam. So long, drivers!

Dozens of companies are already deeply involved in flying car research. In 2022, the Slovak Transport Authority certified the Klein-Vision AirCar as airworthy. The car takes about two minutes to transform from a ground vehicle to an air vehicle and flies 100 mph up to 8,000 feet of elevation.

What will a flying car mean for transportation and safety? The answer is that it would challenge every known legal, financial, and licensing system and regulation, including air space, insurance, safety, and policing. It would challenge every social and privacy restriction, perhaps rendering fencing useless for privacy, and create a separate class of citizens.


It would challenge public safety. One can easily imagine the destruction a flying car could create if it crashed into houses or crowded areas. Parachute-type devices are being considered, according to Science Direct Assets.

Law enforcement might need the ability to remotely shut off flying car engines without harming property and people on the ground. Firefighting, rescue, border, and coastal security would be affected.

Challenges aside, flying vehicles are already here. The AirCar may be available for purchase this year for a salty $1 million. Currently, only licensed pilots are eligible to fly it.

A small single-engine airplane costs from $15,000 to $100,000. You’ll need to get a lift from the airport.

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How to prepare your car’s sunroof for winter

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Your sunroof probably won’t get much use throughout the cold season. However, it’s important to take the following steps to ensure it remains in good condition.

• Clean the glass and wipe down the gasket around the sunroof with a soft cloth, automotive cleaner, and toothbrush.

• Clean the sunroof’s slides and tracks and lubricate all moving parts with white lithium grease.

• Clear the sunroof trough with a canister of compressed air. Then, insert a skinny, flexible, non-puncturing wire into the drains to remove stubborn dirt and debris.


• Look for jagged edges or cracks along the sunroof’s seal and assess the area for any accumulated water or mold. If you notice any leaks, fix them before the cold weather sets in.

Over the winter, carefully remove snow and ice from your sunroof using a soft brush or gloved hand. Don’t use an ice scraper or hard-bristled brush.

 

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Four advantages of using a block heater

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A block heater is a must-have if you can’t park your car in a heated garage in winter. These devices preheat coolant and allow specific powertrain components to reach an optimal temperature before starting. Here are four additional benefits of using a block heater.

1. Increased comfort
When the coolant inside your vehicle is warm, the inside of your car heats up 40 percent faster. This also ensures your windows defrost quickly.

2. Improved mechanical performance
A block heater makes it easier to start your car when it’s cold. Consequently, using one can help increase the lifespan of your ride. The battery, for example, doesn’t have to use as much energy. Plus, combustion becomes much more efficient, meaning you won’t have to change your oil as often.

3. Fuel savings
Vehicles connected to block heaters consume up to 15 percent less fuel during the first 12 miles of driving. This allows you to save at the gas pump


4. Reduced emissions
Warming up your engine minimizes exhaust emissions produced when you start your vehicle. Using a block heater is also much less polluting than idling. However, to avoid wasting electricity, you should plug in your car no more than three to four hours before driving. Your engine won’t get any warmer after this point.

If your car doesn’t have a block heater, you can install an aftermarket model on almost any vehicle. Ask your mechanic about the various options.

 

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Three indispensable automotive inventions

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Modern vehicles are more technologically advanced than ever before. However, some of the tech you take for granted didn’t always exist. Here are three inventions that revolutionized the automotive industry.

1. Winter tires
Winter tires improve grip and handling on snowy and icy roads. The very first ones were invented in Finland in 1934. Designed by Nokian Tyres, they were initially intended for large transport trucks. However, two years later, they were adapted to passenger vehicles. Modern winter tires were invented in the 1970s.

2. Seat belts
Seat belts significantly reduce the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a car accident. The precursor to the seat belt can be traced back to a harness designed by an aeronautical expert in the early 19th century. However, the first patent for automobile seat belts was filed in 1885 by Nils Bohlin of Volvo.

The modern two-strap belt was introduced in 1959. In 1968, the federal government mandated that all new cars in the United States include seatbelts at all seating positions.


3. Windshield wipers
If you’ve driven in the rain, snow, mud, or slush, you understand the importance of windshield wipers. This innovation was patented in 1903 by Mary Anderson, who designed a swing arm with a manually operated rubber blade. In 1917, Charlotte Bridgwood created the first electric wiper blades. Automatic wipers were patented in 1964 by Robert Kearns.

It goes without saying that driving would be a lot more difficult without these inventions.

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Upcoming Events

Feb
1
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6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 1 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Feb
4
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1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Feb 4 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
Feb
6
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8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 6 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
7
Tue
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 7 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
8
Wed
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 8 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Feb 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Feb
9
Thu
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 9 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
10
Fri
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 10 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
11
Sat
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 11 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]
Feb
12
Sun
8:00 am Chocolate Crawl
Chocolate Crawl
Feb 12 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chocolate Crawl
The Front Royal Chocolate Crawl is back for its 3rd year, and it is BIGGER than ever. With over 20 businesses on our list, you’re guaranteed to find something amazing (to purchase) and meet some[...]