Category Archives: Editorial

One Text or Call Could Wreck It All

Unfortunately, distracted driving is not a passing fad. It has become a trend with deadly, real consequences.

For anyone who thinks they can talk on their phone, text, apply make-up, or do any other distracting activity while driving, it’s time for a crash course in reality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and approximately 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. (NHTSA)
  • Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to be involved in a serious crash. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  • The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers. (NHTSA)
  • Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of driv­ers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. (NHTSA).

While those numbers may sound like just statistics, they’re anything but.  They could be parents, children, neighbors and friends from right here on BF.c.  There are too many sad tales of deaths and injuries that could have been prevented had drivers been paying attention to the road instead of someone or something else.

So, why do so many people participate in this dangerous behavior?  With more technology now than ever, driver distractions have risen to unprecedented levels.  We live in a world where people expect instant, real-time information 24 hours a day, and those expectations don’t stop just because someone gets behind the wheel.  Drivers still do not realize – or choose to ignore – the danger they create when they take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their focus off driving.

People often say, “I can do two things at once.  I’ve memorized where the numbers are on my phone, so I don’t have to look.” Or, “Sending or reading one text is pretty quick – that should be okay.”  They couldn’t be more wrong.

For those who think they can do two things at once, think about this: According to a 2014 special article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of a crash or near-crash among novice drivers increased with the performance of many secondary tasks, including texting and dialing cell phones. Driving is an activity that requires your full attention and focus in order to keep yourself and others safe.

Yes, this is a national problem, but it also affects us right here on BF.c.  No one is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. So please remember: One text or call could wreck it all.

www.distraction.gov – The Official U.S. Government Site for Distracted Driving

Cooper Tire RS3-G1 installed on an E46 ZHP

As you might recall, after spending a couple days in Florida trying out Cooper’s new tire, the Cooper Tire RS3-G1 (Doesn’t roll off the tongue the best still, I would’ve preferred it being called the G-nado), I was quite impressed. So when my E46 ZHP, manual of course, wore down its old shoes to the wear bars, I was in need of some new stick. Lo and behold, my ZHP, aptly named Nigel, is now wearing Cooper Tire’s latest around its curb rashed 18″ alloys.

The Performance Package code names ZHP in the US was available for sedans from model years 2003 to 2005, and available for coupes and convertibles from 2004 to 2006. It included various aesthetic changes over the regular 3 series, as well as functional and mechanical enhancements. The ZHP was equipped with sportier cam shafts and more aggressive engine tuning to increase power from 225 hp to 235 hp. Suspension was modified over the standard suspension with firmer springs and dampers, larger anti-roll bars, stronger front control arm ball joints, a lower ride height, and slightly more negative camber.

What are they like day to day now after a few weeks? Terrific! The first drive home with them fitted I was in complete shock. For months now I have been thinking either an alignment or a suspension overhaul was needed to cure Nigel’s wayward tendencies over road imperfections. I never quite understood tramlining until I bought Nigel the ZHP. I feel a first-time driver would have crashed poor Nigel within the first week. Me though, I always thought it made the car more, er, entertaining and involving. It is widely understood that the basic ZHP suspension geometry and wheel sizes do tramline more than other models, but it seemed a little excessive.

However, first drive home with the new RS3-G1s and…it’s a revelation. Sure, it still does follow the asphalt more than a new 3 does by a fair bit, but it’s such an improvement. The end result being increased driver comfort since I no longer have to work the wheel as much. Ride quality seems slightly less harsh on impacts, though it is still ZHP firm. I have not had time for a real spirited drive yet, but so far grip seems impressive. This being evidenced by screaming through an intersection on a left turn arrow that had  just turned yellow on approach. Being in a BMW, of course I’m not stopping for it.

So, so far so good. As the miles roll along, updates will as well. Stay tuned for more.

Is the new 2017 BMW 5 Series a hit or miss?

Well by now you’ve all seen it. The new 2017 BMW 5 Series, that is. It’s hard to believe the current F10 generation 5-series has been on sale since 2010. Yes, it’s old. It’s a very familiar shape on the road, having been a smashing sales success for the Roundel. However, to keep up with the times, BMW has ended the life of the F10 for the new G30 edition.

As you might recall from my drive of a 528i in Florida, it’s bit of a mixed bag in how I regard the outgoing 5 Series. I find it’s shape incredibly unexciting, and lacks emotion and further excitement while driving, but it is very comfortable, gets great gas mileage when easing on it, has great power and one of the best transmissions available. Overall it’s a good car, but not exactly a BMW in my opinion. But then, what do I know; I’m just an Internet nitpicker.

2017 BMW 5 Series Rear

So, for the new 2017 BMW 5 Series to be any good it would have to address my issues with it’s immediate predecessor. As far as looks go at least, it is a definite improvement. Taking the appearance of a shrunken 7 Series, it exudes a satisfying shape of elegance and class. But I still wish it had more drama to the shape. Optioning the M-sport package sure spices things up with the larger, almost gaping front air intakes to show it means business. The M5, with the surely obligatory wide fender flares and haunches will be a real looker given the base car’s form. I’m not too sure about the hockey stick running along the bottom of the doors though. It’s directly taken from the 7 and I didn’t like it there either. BMW indubitably could have come up with a more interesting design cue for that area.

The real question though, is how will it drive? If the direction the new 7 went is any indication, I don’t think it will win me over in this category. The new 7 is wonderfully compliant and smooth. With the seat massages optioned and rear-seating package, it is, to be frank, a very nice place to be. The 7, though, does drive with a sense of disconnection, isolating the driver and his/her entourage from the outside environment. It’s not my exact ideal driving characteristics, far from it to be precise, but it is slated as a genuine luxury car. It’s a car that puts on, as Will Ferrell would say, its big-boy pants, every day; not a racing suit. This is what the 7 is supposed to be, not a sports car, so I can’t dislike it for that reason.

However, if the 5 were to achieve this same style, I would be disappointed. The 5 series has always been, historically at least, a driver’s car, just of a larger dimension. Each time I’ve had a chance behind the wheel of an E60 era 535i, with it’s twin turbo six, it’s a joy compared to the outgoing model. The steering has brilliant weighting and feedback with a firecracker of an engine. V8 guise gets even better, and has aged remarkably well when wearing the M-sport uniform, especially the M5. This is the car I would like the new 5 to be more like, but seeing its emphasis on technology, it likely will continue in BMW’s current trend of further disengaging the driver. Though, compared to the last Mercedes Benz E350 I drove, a current 528i feels like a track star. It could be disconnected as per BMW standards, but will very likely be the driver’s pick still of the current range of offerings by rival marques.

The engines on offer seem to be the same that appear in the also new-for-2017 330i and 340i, and will receive the same bumps in model name. The entry-level four-cylinder 5 will be called the 530i and the six-cylinder variant the 540i. You know, they have to seem like they’re improving in some regard. Bigger number, better car, right?

Autonomous driving capabilities seem to be pushing further to full robotics each few months, and BMW has instilled the G30 with some self-driving prowess of its own. No, it’s not a Tesla in what it can do, but remember, people usually buy BMW’s because of how they drive, not how they, er, drive you. A new version of iDrive also appears imminent, even if iDrive 5.0 only was released a year ago. It looks to continue the trend of BMW having the easiest and most intuitive infotainment system on market. In terms of features of the technological kind, the new ‘5 has got it made.

Perhaps my biggest wish of the new 2017 BMW 5 Series? That it includes a backup camera as standard equipment. I mean, come on, how is a backup camera not included as standard on a $50k+ car? That is perhaps my number one “what were they thinking moment?” on the outgoing car. Wonder how many people bought 5’s thinking it standard only to be surprised when going into reverse.

There you have it, my thoughts on the incoming 5-series. I’m sure it will be another BMW sales success, but will it be a success as a BMW is the real question. We will just wait and see!