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Need a place to park? WhereiPark can help

AUTO NEWS

Published August 3, 2014

As more and more people choose to live in downtown Toronto rather than the suburbs, the challenge of finding an affordable parking spot is becoming more difficult than ever.

Toronto-based tech entrepreneur Alex Enchin encountered this in February, as he walked around the Adelaide and Peter St. area, looking for a spot in the $200-a-month range.

Not having any luck on the ground, Enchin began searching the Internet and found that there were few resources outside of classified ads that listed parking spots. Enchin, who previously worked with WagJag, teamed up with Jeremy Zuker to come up with a solution.

The result of their brainstorming is a web-based marketplace called WhereiPark, which seeks to link those in need of parking spots with those who have spots for rent. Listings include pricing and photos of the spot.

Free for everyone in the beginning, including the people placing ads, the company only charges if a spot is rented through the site. Then, once a car owner has reserved a spot, WhereiPark.com manages payments for spot owners, so they don’t have to chase tenants for monthly invoices.

Small cars fare poorly in U.S. safety tests

These four 2014-model small cars fared worst in frontal crash tests. Clockwise from top left: Nissan Leaf, Nissan Juke, Mazda5 wagon and the Fiat 500L.

Of a dozen cars put through front-end crash testing recently by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only the Mini Cooper Countryman scored a “good” rating.

The challenging test mimics what happens when a front corner of a vehicle hits an object such as another vehicle, a tree or a pole.

The test, introduced in 2012, is more difficult to pass than traditional head-on collision testing in that it bypasses the main structures that form a vehicle’s crush zone, making damage to the passenger compartment more likely.

The Chevrolet Volt received a score of “Acceptable,” as did the Ford C-Max Hybrid, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S and Subaru BR-Z. The Scion xB and Hyundai Veloster both received “Marginal” scores.

More concerning are the “Poor” results achieved by four popular models including the Fiat 500L and Nissan’s Juke and Leaf. The Mazda5 experienced “a host of structural and restraint system problems. Parts of the occupant compartment essentially buckled, allowing way too much intrusion, according to IIHS senior vice-president for vehicle research, Joe Nolan.

No mandatory side guards planned for trucks in Canada

Back in April, the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States put forward a recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to require trucks to implement side under-ride protection systems, more commonly called side guards.

The idea behind these guards is to prevent pedestrians, cyclists and motorists from becoming caught underneath the open sides of a tractor trailer.

To date, the NHTSA has not acted upon the recommendations.

In 2010, Transport Canada commissioned a study into the use of truck side guards in the European Union, Australia, Japan and North America, which was carried out by the National Research Council. At that time, Transport Canada determined that mandatory side guards were not considered to be necessary in this country.

I spoke with Marco Beghetto, who is the vice-president of communications at the Ontario Trucking Association, to see if there have been any more recent discussions about implementing the safeguards. Beghetto told me there have been no recent moves to make side guards mandatory, adding “Transport Canada has determined that they are not needed and the OTA is on board with this decision.”

CAA launches campaign to combat distracted driving

The most frequent focus in discussions about distracted driving seems to be on the use of cellphones, but, in reality, there are many other types of distractions which are often just as bad.

CAA South Central Ontario, in conjunction with the CAA Traffic Safety Coalition, have launched a new campaign designed to draw a driver’s attention back to what counts the most: driving.

I love that they have outlined many more real-world examples of distracted driving:

Before you drive:

  • Turn off your mobile device
  • Stow and secure loose objects
  • Pre-set climate control and radio
  • Pre-program your GPS.

While you are driving:

  • Allow phone calls to go to voicemail
  • Do not text, surf the web or read emails
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke
  • Do not fix hair or apply makeup
  • Keep your eyes on the road
  • Be aware of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.

GM faces another lawsuit over ignition switches

The Detroit News reported Wednesday that a Texas lawyer filed yet another lawsuit against General Motors Co. on behalf of 658 people who the firm alleges either died or were injured due to the automaker’s ignition switch defect.

The lawsuit comes just days before independent compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg is to begin accepting claims for families of people who died or were injured tied to the faulty ignition switch, the News said. The Texas lawyer’s suit was filed in New York and lists families of 29 people who died in vehicles allegedly tied to an ignition switch defect and another 629 injured. The plaintiffs are suing for wrongful death or injury in accidents that occurred after GM emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009.

According to the newspaper, GM spokesman Jim Cain would not comment on the lawsuit. The company acknowledged there had been 13 deaths related to the defective ignition switches.

“We want to do the right thing for the people who were physically injured or lost a loved one as a result of an ignition switch issue in a Cobalt or one of the other recalled small cars,” Cain said in an email to the News. “They should file a compensation claim, and Mr. Feinberg will independently evaluate them beginning Aug. 1.”

wheels@thestar.ca.

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