Put down that cellphone; distracted-driving law is here

A new distracted driving law has come into effect in Washington state, making cell-phone, or any other electronic, use while driving a primary offense (meaning you can be pulled over for it). If you drive in Washington state, take note if you've been using your phone while driving.

The Seattle Times has all of the details, but here are the key points:

Q. What is banned?

The law forbids all handheld uses. Not just phone calls, but composing or reading any kind of message, social media post, photograph or data.

Drivers may not use handheld devices while at a stop sign or red-light signal.

All video watching is illegal, even in a dashboard or dash-mounted device.

This is fantastic. If you are having to hold your device in order to do something, you shouldn't be driving at the same time (including stopped at a light, where people inevitably don't see the light turn green).

Q. What's legal?

Common built-in electronics, including hands-free phones, satellite music and maps, are legal.

Drivers may even turn on a smartphone that's mounted in a dashboard cradle, for limited purposes such as navigation apps, a voice-activated call, or music streaming. The new law allows the "minimal use of a finger."

Handheld phone calls to 911 or other emergency services are legal. […] Amateur radio equipment and citizens-band radio remain legal.

This is where this law shines. It recognizes that for many people, including myself, their cell-phone is their car's entertainment system. By allowing for "minimal use of a finger", my phone can be my music and navigation center, as long as it's dash-mounted.`This use is similar to someone using the factory entertainment system in their car, which has been legal since cars have had them.

I do question how enforceable this law is, but at worst it is a step in the right direction. We will see over time how effective it is.

Dangers of Texting and Driving

The CBC:

A witness says the driver of a pickup truck that collided with a church minibus in rural Texas, killing 13 people, acknowledged he had been texting while driving — highlighting the dangers of sending messages on smartphones while behind the wheel.

A stark reminder that whatever the text message may be, it is never more important than the road around you while driving. Pull over and stop if it’s urgent, or save it until your destination.

2017 Tesla Model S P100D: Fastest Accelerating Car

MotorTrend:

We all understand acceleration. It’s the rate of change of velocity. This 4,891-pound Tesla Model S P100D does it best, reaching 30, 40, 50, and 60 mph from a standstill more quickly than any other production vehicle we’ve ever tested, full stop. In our testing, no production car has ever cracked 2.3 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. But Tesla has, in 2.275507139 seconds.

The Tesla does not hold the advantage forever, though, because higher speeds give the advantage to horsepower over instant torque. The Ferrari LaFerrari hits 70 mph a tenth of a second quicker; the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 pull ahead at 80 mph, and these hypercars all continue to pull away at higher speeds. But around town, everybody has long since lifted off the accelerator pedal.

When it comes to performance bang for the buck, you simply can’t do better than the Tesla as a daily driver. If you’re going to the track, there are better options. Congratulations to Elon Musk and the engineers at Tesla; that acceleration truly is ludicrous.

Ford Bronco and Ranger Return to US Market

Expedition Portal:

Ford just made some big waves at the Detroit Auto Show by announcing that two legendary platforms will be added back to the North American lineup. In 2019 showrooms will once again be graced by the mid-size Ford Ranger Pickup, followed closely by the legendary Bronco in 2020. Although we had suspected this might be the case after a United Automobile Workers representative let a rumor slip last year, we’re excited to see the formal announcement by Ford in Detroit.

I believe this is a smart, if not a bit late, move for Ford. While I don’t foresee the Bronco having large sales volume, I expect it to have a halo effect for the brand. As for the Ranger, Ford has the potential to greatly increase their overall truck sales.

While Ford still owns the half-ton truck market with the F-150, the midsize market has been growing significantly in the past few years. GM is making solid headway into the Toyota Tacoma’s significant sales lead with the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon, despite Toyota’s sales not decreasing meaningfully year of year. This shows a growing market.

A final tantalizing thought from Expedition Portal:

…one can only hope that they will step up to meet the challenge of Chevrolet’s new ZR-2. After all, with the international success of their diesel Ranger platform, and the popularity of their existing Raptor, it would only make sense.

I’m hoping for a Ranger-sized version of the Raptor.