Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jet lag

Jet lag is a combination of fatigue and other symptoms caused by travelling abruptly across different time zones. Another name for jet lag is ‘time zone change syndrome’.

The body is synchronised to night and day by the action of sunlight through brain chemicals or neurotransmitters, especially melatonin. Many bodily processes are timed on this 24-hour physiological ‘clock’. These include temperature, hormones, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and brain states. This changing rate of activity over each 24-hour period is called the circadian rhythm (‘circadian’ means approximately one day).

Travelling to a different time zone disrupts the circadian rhythm. Lack of sleep can also contribute to jet lag. There is no cure for jet lag, but its effects can be reduced with careful planning.

The symptoms of jet lag include:
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Digestive upsets
  • Impaired judgement and decision making
  • Memory lapses
  • Irritability
  • Apathy.
Flying east or west makes a difference:

Your circadian rhythm (body clock) is less confused if you travel westward. This is because travelling west ‘prolongs’ the body clock’s experience of its normal day–night cycle (the normal tendency of the body clock in most of us is slightly longer than 24 hours). Travelling eastwards, however, runs in direct opposition to the body clock. If you suffer badly from jet lag, it may be worthwhile considering a westerly travel route if possible.

Strategies while travelling:

There is no evidence that popular strategies, such as fasting or eating complicated diets, have any effect. Suggestions to reduce the impact of jet lag while travelling include:
Make sure you have had enough sleep before you leave. Sleep deficit or ‘debt’ will make jet lag worse.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Try to nap whenever you feel sleepy.
  • Eat small meals frequently, choosing lighter foods like fruit and vegetables.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Whenever possible, walk around the cabin.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Walking in Traffic

Walk on the Sidewalk

Stay on the sidewalk and crosswalks. Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks.
If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

Cross at Intersections

Most people are hit by cars when they cross the road at places other than intersections.

Look left, right, and left for traffic

Stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again for traffic. Stopping at the curb signals drivers that you intend to cross. Cross in marked crosswalks and obey the signal.

See and Be Seen

Drivers need to see you to avoid you.
Stay out of the driver's blind spot.
Make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets.
Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at night.
Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
Do not let kids play near traffic or cross the street by themselves. Kids are small, and drivers may not see them if they run into the street.

Watch your kids

Children should not cross streets by themselves or be allowed to play or walk near
traffic. Kids are small, unpredictable, and cannot judge vehicle distances and speeds.
When kids get older, teach them three things to do before they cross the street:
1) Try to cross at a corner with a traffic light. 2) Stop at the curb. 3) Look left, right, then left
again to make sure no cars are coming.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Battery Electric Vehicles

Electric CarBattery electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity stored in batteries and have an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine. EVs are often confused with conventional hybrid electric vehicles which combine an internal combustion engine with a battery and electric motor. However EVs are zero emission cars because they have no internal combustion engine so they have no tailpipe exhaust and no evaporative emissions from the fuel system.

Over the years, manufacturers have developed a wide range of EV types that include:
  • Neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) that can be used for short trips around town.
  • City EVs with 50-75 miles range also for around town use.
  • Full function EVs which can go up to 80 miles an hour and have a longer range.
How it Work:

An EV has three main components: the batteries, the electric motor controller, and the electric motor. The controller converts direct current (DC) from the batteries to alternating current (AC) for the motor. The most common battery types available are, Nickel metal hydride, Lithium Ion, and Lead acid. To recharge the batteries, there is a charger on the car which takes the electricity from a power source (ultimately the power plant) and converts the current from AC to DC for the battery.


Battery electric vehicles will always have a Global Warming Score of 10 and Smog Score of 10 on their Environmental Performance Label. This is even taking into account the power plant emissions from making the electricity to charge the cars. Here are more battery EV benefits:
  • No tailpipe exhaust
  • No evaporative emissions
  • No emissions system which can degrade or fail with time
  • No emissions from the refining of fuel and service stations
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced exposure to toxic air contaminants such as benzene when refueling with gasoline
  • Reduced oil consumption and dependence on imported oil
  • When factoring in power plant emissions - EVs are 90% cleaner than the average new gasoline vehicle.
  • EVs are 3 ½ to 4 times more efficient than their gasoline counterparts.

EVs meet all federal motor vehicle safety requirements. The batteries are sealed and all high-voltage circuits are protected from accidental contact. High-voltage circuits are color-coded orange and posted with warnings to advise of their presence. These vehicles pose no additional risks over a conventional vehicle.

Friday, December 18, 2009

AntiTheft Devices

Engine Disabler or Kill Switch:

This well hidden switch is installed so when turned on, it cuts power to your starter.
Engine Disabler
Armor Collar:

A metal shield that locks around your steering column, which prevents tampering with the ignition switch or starting mechanism. This prevents "hot-wiring" a car because the area is inaccessible.
Armor Collar
Hood Lock:

A hood lock prevents a thief from stealing parts under the hood or disconnecting anti-theft devices.
Hood Lock
Fuel Switch:
When turned on, this mechanism stops the flow of fuel from the fuel pump so the car will only go a short distance and then quit.
Fuel Switch
Time Delay Switch:

This is a power cut-off device which, unless a switch is turned off, will disable your car shortly after it's started.
Time Delay Switch
Time Delay Ignition:

This device will activate your ignition only after a preset time has passed. There is no way to activate the ignition before the preset time has elapsed.
Time Delay Ignition
Clutch and Brake Lock:

This mechanism, used only on manual transmission vehicles, locks the brake pedal and the clutch pedal together so one can't be operated without the other.
Clutch and Brake Lock

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Maintenance and Safety Tips for Car

Tire Chains - Weather and road conditions can change suddenly if you are traveling in the mountains or the foothills. Always keep chains handy and learn how to install them.

Winter Safety Kit - Whether you're heading for the mountains or planning a long road trip, it's a good idea to store a few items in an old duffel bag or backpack in the trunk of your car in case of emergency:
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Large flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid supplies
  • Extra blanket and some warm clothing
  • Battery-powered radio with spare batteries
  • Basic tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food
  • Highway safety flares in good condition
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Replacement electrical fuses (check owner's manual for specifics)

Cooling System - Flush and refill the radiator according to the manufacturer's specifications. This service should include replacing the pressure cap and adding anti-freeze if necessary. A quality repair shop has a tool that can check your car's antifreeze/coolant to make sure that it will provide adequate freeze protection.

Wiper Blades - Replace dry and cracked wiper blades and top off the wiper fluid. (Do not use water!) Check them before the first storm of the season by turning them on and making sure they evenly wipe the windshield.

Battery and Battery Cables - Have your battery tested, especially if it's near the end of its warranty. Inspect the battery cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt.

Brake Pads and Linings - Have your brakes checked by a licensed adjuster.

Tires - Regularly check the air pressure in your tires (including the spare) and inspect them for signs of excessive wear. Uneven or excessive tread wear is an indication that it may be time for rotation or replacement.

Lights - Properly functioning lights are crucial for driving in winter fog. Test them to make sure they work, especially brake lights and turn signals.

Heater and Defroster - You may want to have a professional inspect the entire heating system, as well as the belts and hoses.

Belts and hoses - Inspect the hoses and belts for cracks, soft spots or bulges. If you find a problem, have the hose or belt replaced.

Check Engine Light - Often ignored, your car's "Check Engine" or "Malfunction Indicator" light is the first sign of a problem. Have your car checked by a qualified technician if the check engine light is on.

Gas - Try to keep your tank at least half-full, particularly when driving at night, in bad weather or long distances.

Cell Phone - If you carry a cell phone for emergencies, make sure the battery is fully charged.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kids and bicycle safety

Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. You should always inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.
  • Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet: Protect your brain, save your life. For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication. “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet.”
  • Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit: Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.
  • Check Your Equipment: Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.
  • See and Be Seen: Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.
  • Control Your Bicycle: Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
  • Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards: Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.
  • Avoid Riding at Night: It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.
Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including such things as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding the wrong way in traffic. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Driving More Efficiently

Drive Sensibly
Drive Sensibly

Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

Observe the Speed Limit

While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.

You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

Observing the speed limit is also safer.

Remove Excess WeightRemove Excess Weight

Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

Avoid Excessive Idling

Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.

Use Cruise Control

Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

Use Overdrive Gears

When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A moped, sometimes called a "scooter," is a motor vehicle with the engine as an integral part of the vehicle. If the engine is an add-on it's likely the vehicle is a motor bicycle, which has limited operation on highways different from motorcycles and mopeds. A moped engine may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters (CCs) in size with an automatic transmission, or 130 CCs in size if it is a bicycle type vehicle with fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power.

Traditionally, mopeds had fully operative pedals but modern mopeds are usually more like small motorcycles with an automatic transmission and no pedals.

Differences between a moped and a motorized scooter

A motorized scooter is similar to a traditional foot-propelled scooter with two small wheels except it is powered by either an electric motor or gasoline engine. A person operating a motorized scooter typically is in the standing position although some scooters are equipped with a bicycle seat.

MopedsUnlike mopeds, which may be driven legally on public roads, a motorized scooter may not be operated legally on public roads or sidewalks within a roadway’s right-of-way.

Motorized scooters do not meet federal safety equipment standards for motor vehicles and are not designed for operation on roadways. Therefore, the law treats motorized scooters like lawn tractors, all-terrain vehicles, go-carts, mini-bikes and other off-road motor vehicles that are not allowed on public roads.

In addition, anyone operating a motorized scooter on a street or sidewalk without a valid driver’s license could receive a citation for operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license. For juveniles, such a violation could result in their being ineligible for a driver’s license when they turn age 16.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Diesel vehicles

Diesel Car
Diesel vehicles may be making a comeback. Diesel engines are more powerful and fuel-efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines (about 30-35% more fuel efficient). Plus, today's diesel vehicles are much improved over diesels of the past.

Better Performance

Improved fuel injection and electronic engine control technologies have
  • Mercedes ML320 BlueTECIncreased power
  • Improved acceleration
  • Increased efficiency
New engine designs, along with noise- and vibration-damping technologies, have made them quieter and smoother. Cold-weather starting has been improved also.


Today's diesels must meet the same emissions standards as gasoline vehicles. Advances in engine technologies, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, and improved exhaust treatment have made this possible.

Although emissions of particulates and smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) are still relatively high, new "clean" diesel fuels, such as ultra-low sulfur diesel and biodiesel, and advances in emission control technologies will reduce these pollutants also.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Frontal Air Bags

Like first and second generation frontal air bags, third generation advanced frontal air bags inflate in a fraction of a second to prevent occupants from striking the interior of the vehicle during a moderate to severe crash.

However, in a lower-speed frontal crash, where full-force air bag deployment would not be necessary or could cause injury to smaller occupants, an advanced air bag system provides the appropriate level of protection by:

• Inflating a frontal air bag with less force (referred to as low-risk deployment), or

• Shutting off a frontal air bag entirely (referred to as suppression.)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tire Traction

Traction grades are an indication of a tire's ability to stop on wet pavement. A higher graded tire should allow a car to stop on wet roads in a shorter distance than a tire with a lower grade. Traction is graded from highest to lowest as "AA", "A", "B", and "C".

diagram of tire showing traction designation

Of current tires:

  • 3% are rated “AA”

  • 75% are rated “A”

  • 22% are rated “B”

  • only 1 line of tires rated “C”

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tire Ratings-UTQGS

Temperature grades are an indication of a tire's resistance to heat. Sustained high temperature (for example, driving long distances in hot weather), can cause a tire to deteriorate, leading to blowouts and tread separation. From highest to lowest, a tire's resistance to heat is graded as “A”, “B”, or “C”.

Of current tires:

  • 27% are rated “A”

  • 59% are rated “B”

  • 11% are rated “C”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009