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.

Amazon’s Alexa now speaks to your BMW

Amazon Alexa brings BMW Connected into your home.
“With the availability of BMW Connected as an Alexa skill in USA, customers will for the first time be able to manage their personal mobility agenda and operate vehicle from their homes. The integration between Alexa and BMW Connected is underlining BMW’s promise to constantly integrate BMW Connected into new touch-points and to expand its digital services,” says Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Services and Business Models at BMW Group.

The first version of BMW Connected, available in the U.S. since March 2016, focused primarily on journey management and remote services. Now, BMW Connected is literally coming home. With the availability of BMW Connected as an Alexa skill on all Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, it is now possible to use voice commands to check the vehicle’s battery charge and fuel level, for example, as well as lock the vehicle remotely. The BMW Connected Alexa skill allows users to learn about their next scheduled trip, find out what time to leave, and send the destination to their BMW.

“We’re excited to work with BMW to bring their Alexa skill to customers,” said Rob Pulciani, Director, Amazon Alexa. “Never before have BMW and Alexa users been able to control their connected cars using hands-free voice control from their home — and now with the BMW Alexa skill, customers can use Alexa voice technology to lock their car doors, check their fuel level, and more without lifting a finger. We can’t wait for customers to try it out.”

The skill works by using the activation word “Alexa,” followed by the invocation name “BMW,” which allows users to access the relevant functions, e.g. “Alexa, ask BMW when I should leave for my next appointment.” The vision of BMW Connected integrated with Alexa was first revealed earlier this year at CES 2016 in Las Vegas. The vision has now become a reality, and we expect to continue to release more innovative Alexa updates in the coming months. Today, users in the U.S. can access BMW Connected through enabling the Alexa skill and linking their BMW Connected account in the Amazon Alexa app.

The Ultimate BMW Forum