Cars

Goodyear honors highway heroes; check for recalls

HIGHWAY HERO 1: Scott Rosenberg helped rescue a driver from a pond.
HIGHWAY HERO 1: Scott Rosenberg helped rescue a driver from a pond.GOODYEAR

The term “where the rubber meets the road” has come to symbolize crunch time in any number of life’s endeavors, but it’s an everyday occurrence for over-the-road truckers.

For the past 30 years, Goodyear has presented its annual Highway Hero Award, honoring professional truck drivers who’ve put themselves in harm’s way to help others where the company’s rubber does meet the road.

This year’s winner will be announced on March 27 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

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“Each of our finalists took action without concern for his own safety in order to save another person from a life-threatening situation,” says Gary Medalis of Goodyear.

And you can bet this year’s award finalists weren’t thinking about awards when they did things such as:

• Rescued a two-year-old from a burning car. That was driver Brian Dunn of Knoxville, Tennessee.

• Extricated a heavily bleeding teen from a flipped car at the bottom of a 35-foot ravine. Tim Horton, Sheridan, Arkansas.

• Used the boom of a crane on his trailer (for unloading heavy blocks) to flip an upside-down pickup truck in a pond so others could rescue the driver. Scott Rosenberg, Isanti, Minnesota.

• Rescued the driver of a burning tanker dangling over the side of an overpass. Ivan Vasovic, Cucamonga, California.

For those of us who like good news stories, this fits the criteria and each driver deserves the everyday hero designation.

Unanswered Recalls

Carfax, the company that provides history reports on used cars, this month released data that show online shoppers may have unknowingly purchased millions of cars with open safety recalls, that is, defects that haven’t been addressed.

The company’s research found more than 3.5 million cars listed online in 2013 had unresolved recalls pending.

Nearly one third of the cars were in five states: Texas, California, Missouri, Florida, and Ohio.

“Wherever and whenever you shop, make sure to look for open recalls and have them fixed,” says Larry Gamache of Carfax. “Almost every recall will be fixed for free at the local franchise dealer.”

Dependability Drops

J.D. Power is citing an increase in engine and transmission problems for the first decline in its annual vehicle dependability study since 1998.

The industry average is 133 problems per 100 vehicles. In 2013, Lexus was far and away the leader with only 68. It was the only automaker with a score below 100, and this was the third consecutive year it led the rankings. Others in the Top 10 with problems per 100 cars in parentheses were Mercedes-Benz (104), Cadillac (107), Acura (109), Buick (112), Honda (114), Lincoln (114), Toyota (114), Porsche (125), and Infiniti (128).

J.D. Power cited both four-cylinder engines and large diesels as particularly problematical.

“Increases in such problems as engine hesitation, rough transmission shifts, and lack of power indicate that, in striving to reduce fuel consumption, automakers must be careful not to compromise quality,” says David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power.

“By combining our customer research with trade-in data, we see a very strong correlation between dependability and real-world brand loyalty,” he says.

EyeSight and Driving

Declining eyesight and slowing reactions are main reasons why people stop driving.

Subaru’s improved EyeSight driver assistance system is aimed at bolstering drivers’ vision and reaction times. It works so well that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated two Subarus equipped with the system as “superior,” the highest rating in frontal crash avoidance tests.

The other five rated as superior were the Cadillac ATS sedan and SRX SUV, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, and Volvo S60 sedan and XC60 SUV.

Subaru’s latest system features two color stereo cameras with a 40 percent longer and wider detection range plus brake light detection, making the system fully functional when the speed differential between the EyeSight vehicle and another vehicle is up to 30 mph.

EyeSight integrates adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure warning technologies.

Subaru says the adaptive cruise control is intended for freeway use and can maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, braking or accelerating as needed to maintain the driver’s selected speed and margin of separation. If needed, EyeSight can bring the vehicle to a full stop if it’s locked on to the vehicle in front.

We haven’t tried it in stop-and-go traffic yet, but Subaru says it will assist in maintaining the selected distance from the vehicle in front under those conditions, too.

Much like Subaru’s tried-and-true all-wheel-drive system, the EyeSight has proven to be affordable and effective. Subaru says surveys of its new-car buyers show that 9 of 10 would recommend it and more than half credit it for helping them avoid an accident.

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