cars

Just how big a deal is the "gigafactory" that Tesla Motors says it's going to build to make batteries for its electric cars?

-- It's projected to cost $5 billion between now and the year 2020. Tesla expects to invest about $2 billion. Partners — who it's rumored could include Apple and Panasonic — would invest the rest.

C.P. Storm / Creative Commons

Last Sunday morning, I read with interest this essay by writer Beth Boyle Machlan on the joys of driving with her kids and listening to commercial radio -- the antithesis of the modern i-music experience which involves carefully choosing and curating one's own "playlists," and never subjecting oneself to anything as vulgar and top-down as listening to a whole bunch of songs picked out by other people. 

NASCAR's old point system was a mathematical labyrinth concerned with consistency: Drivers didn't have to actually win a race to make the playoffs, as long as they were in the top 10 often enough.

Even NASCAR CEO Brian France has joked that fans needed a computer next to them to figure it out. Take this announcement at a race in Richmond, Va., last year:

"Joey Logano is still barely clinging to that 10th spot in points, but he's 25th two laps down. Jeff Gordon only 2 points behind him."

I-84 Hartford Project

Hartford's Aetna Viaduct is among the top ten urban highways that deserve to be torn down, according to a new study by Congress for the New Urbanism. The yearly report, "Freeways without Futures" lists the elevated stretch of I-84 (in no particular order of futureless-ness) with such highways as I-10 in New Orleans, I-81 in Syracuse, and I-70 in St. Louis.

The criteria for being a futureless freeway?

This post was updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.

A chain reaction of crashes involving dozens of cars and tractor-trailers has left at least 30 people hurt and forced the closure of the eastbound lane on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the town of Bensalem, local news reports.

The lane is now reopened after being closed for much of the day.

Some 100 vehicles were reportedly involved in multiple accidents stemming from an initial 14 or 15-vehicle collision in southern Bucks County at about 8:25 a.m. ET.

A winter storm has dropped heavy wet snow on Connecticut, along with rain and sleet that began in the southern part of the state overnight before moving northward. Total snow accumulations were about 10 inches in many areas. Connecticut has depleted its budget for snow and ice removal. A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said this week that the agency has spent all $30 million on a dozen storms for the season.

More than 40 vehicles, many of them semitrailers, were involved in a massive pileup on a slippery stretch of Interstate 94 in northwestern Indiana that killed at least three people and injured 23 others.

The accident occurred near Michigan City, Ind., about 60 miles from Chicago around 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The Associated Press reports:

Update at 8:15 p.m. ET: Gov. Christie Responds

In the late afternoon, Gov. Chris Christie released a statement expressing anger at the situation and denying involvement in what appeared to be an act of political payback:

Everyone knows that the first rule of driving is never take your eyes off the road.

Teen drivers start off being careful, but they tend to start multitasking after just a few months behind the wheel, according to research published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

And while older drivers can handle eating or talking to passengers, which trip up the newbies, dialing a cell phone increased the risk of accidents among young and experienced drivers alike.

epSos .de / Flickr Creative Commons

Fatalities on the roads are going down despite distractions going up. Cell phones, GPS devices, iPods, electronic billboards..there’s no shortage of things to take our attention away from driving.

As we make it through another holiday season, we’ll take a look at our driving habits. Are you driving as safely as you possibly can? Or is the glow of your iPhone pulling your eyes away from the road?

Flickr Creative Commons, imrambi

Motorists who fail to remove ice or snow from their vehicles will face possible fines beginning Dec. 31.

The so-called "ice-missile" legislation requires drivers to remove any "threatening" ice or snow from the hood, trunk, and roof of their car or face a $75 fine. Fines will be even higher if the ice or snow causes property damage. Non-commercial motorists could face a $200 to $1000 penalty for each offense. Commercial violators could be fined between $500 and $1200.

WNPR

The Connecticut State Police are "hopeful" that drivers are receiving the message when it comes to safe driving. 

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you drive an electric car, you have to charge it, but sometimes finding those charging stations can be hard. Drivers call that "range anxiety" and it's stopped some consumers from going electric. Now, the state is looking to change that. Earlier this month, it announced more than $135,000 in grants to assist in the construction of 56 new, publicly available charging stations. 

London's colorful mayor, Boris Johnson, has made it a priority to get more of his constituents on two wheels. But a series of deaths on the city's roads have shaken cyclists and noncyclists alike.

The number of Londoners cycling to work has more than doubled in the past decade. On some roads, cyclists now make up more than half the rush hour traffic.

And for years, Johnson has been among them. Many think the London mayor has his eye on Prime Minister David Cameron's job.

aldenjewell, creative commons

Most of us have gone through the process of buying an automobile. It can be both exciting and excruciating. And sales are up to almost pre-recession levels. A boom caused by “more widely available credit, an increasingly aged fleet, and a host of new models.”

It is still as dark as night as Jim Rix steps out of his red brick Chicago bungalow and gets into his car, parked on the street. It's 6 a.m., and the 53-year-old engineer is getting an early start on his 35-mile commute out to Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago's southwest suburbs.

"Depending upon weather and time of day, it can take 45 minutes to two hours to get to and from work," Rix says.

cgosnell90 / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting this month, Connecticut began imposing stiffer penalties against drivers who speed through work zones. The endangerment charge will be applied to motorists driving more than 75 mph or truckers going faster than 65 mph in a work zone.

Over the last year of so, Tesla motors has received some really good press. But this past week, it's been knocked off its pedestal.

"We're a country that likes to put things up on pedestals and then tear them down from pedestals. We do that with people, I think we do that with things," says Jack Nerad, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

Why not let one of Connecticut's best-selling authors tell it in her own words?:

Use of ignition interlock devices has tripled since a state law took effect in 2012 requiring first-time DUI offenders to have the device installed. The Day reports that nearly 2,700 people in the state currently use such a device in their cars. The device is wired to the car's ignition and requires a breath sample before the car will start. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing for the device for all convicted drunken drivers and intends to reintroduce state legislation at the 2014 legislative session.

Chion Wolf

Most of us have gone through the process of buying an automobile. It can be both exciting and excruciating. And sales are up to almost pre-recession levels. A boom caused by “more widely available credit, an increasingly aged fleet, and a host of new models.”

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said his administration has been discussing a reduction in the city's car fleet since last year, before two illegal incidents involving city employees and city-owned cars. During a panel discussion on Where We Live in downtown Hartford, Segarra framed the discussion largely as a fiscal one.

Melissa Bailey / NewHavenIndependent.org

You may have noticed this morning that I-84 near the Connecticut-New York border will be shut down temporarily this weekend, while a bridge is repaired. That got us thinking at The Wheelhouse Digest about other ways to get around. What you need to know now is a little bit of transportation news from around the state.

Dan Saksa / Flickr Creative Commons

If you plan to take I-84 West over the New York border this weekend, you might want to think again.

Westbound lanes of Interstate 84 along the Connecticut-New York line will be closed as workers replace a two-lane bridge.

The New York state Department of Transportation will install a prefabricated bridge near Southeast, N.Y., in just 18 hours. The procedure will be repeated for the other direction of the bridge in October.

Liftarn / Wikimedia Commons

New restrictions on teen drivers in other states, like New Jersey, are provoking debate in Connecticut, where tightened laws appear to have had a positive effect. In 2008, driving laws changed in response to a spate of crashes.

The laws prevented new drivers from carrying passengers, enforced a tough curfew, and mandated parent and teen instruction.

Chion Wolf

After a series of fatal accidents a few years ago, Connecticut passed distracted driving laws aimed at keeping teen drivers safe. Since the first kid got behind the wheel of a car, it’s been a challenge for parents and law enforcement.

Greg Dolittle / Creative Commons

We've all had the experience of cruising along the highway only to come upon a police cruiser nestled behind some trees with the officer holding a radar gun. Even if you're driving the speed limit, your first reaction may be to slam on the brakes.

That technology is about 70 years old, and got its start right here in Connecticut.

Pagan Kennedy recently wrote about the origins of traffic radar in the The New York Times Magazine.

Courtesy of Flickr CC by State Farm

This summer saw several deadly crashes involving young drivers with passengers in the car.  The latest was a crash in Hartford in August where two teens were killed. In 2008, a series of fatal accidents involving teens  spurred state lawmakers and the DMV to tighten teen driving laws. Now, the DMV is partnering with the Injury Prevention Center at CT Children's Medical Center to raise awareness about passenger safety.

Why?

If you've ever gotten stuck in traffic in downtown Hartford, you'll like this story. The city is applying for a grant that will allow it to upgrade traffic signals in the central business district. The plan is to reduce congestion.

Flickr Creative Commons, taberandrew

Some of you may actually be in moving cars right now, listening to this show, but the average automobile spends 95 percent of its life parked somewhere. 

Your car might be parked at work for a while, and that big employee parking lot uses up a lot of valuable space and throws off a lot of heat on summer days.

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