Archive for November, 2015

Self Driving Cars for Seniors

Seniors as a group, myself included are approaching the time when driving might no longer be an option. Slowing responses, nervousness and caution can sometimes lead to accidents with more aggressive drivers. Short city trips would be much less stressful if a car could drive itself to your destination. My wife would love this concept. Loss of independence is a big issue for many seniors. Self driving cars could address this issue. At age 70 the accident rate begins to increase. At age 80, the accident rate is similar to rookie teenagers who do not have the experience. For seniors it is response time, peripheral vision and even driving too slowly. This is according to major insurance companies who publish results of claims and accidents.

Self Driving Cars for Seniors

Although for some people who are control type individuals who might not like self driving cars, many seniors and other nervous drivers will appreciate the flexibility of getting into a car and telling it where to go. Programming a self driven car regarding the address to go to might be a problem that designers have not dealt with yet. For many people setting up their GPS is still a problem. Once set or a destination saved, it should not be a major problem for most drivers.

With accident rates declining for self driven cars, insurance rates should also decline. As the percentage overall increases for self driven cars and accident rates decline, insurance premiums should also decline. We are looking forward to the day when self driven cars are combined with all-electric cars to provide the ultimate transportation vehicle.

There will always be a small group of people who will resist purchasing self driven cars or will turn the option off. These will be consumers who like the thrill of driving and also like the control factor. The main issue as we see it is remaining alert ready to take over should some kind of emergency require it. I can see all occupants of a self driven car falling asleep while the car continues merrily along to the programmed destination. Imagine !!!!

Emergency Preparedness for Winter

Emergency Preparedness for WinterWhether it is bitter cold weather, huge snow storms or winter rain storms, winter can bring a variety of weather to us that tests our ability to survive. We can think about emergency preparedness for winter and take the steps necessary to protect ourselves. We can all lessen the impact on our lives. In our last post about getting ready for winter we listed a number of areas for consumers to consider. In this post, Emergency Preparedness for Winter, we are going to focus on the emergency side of the question. Emergencies are when you have no power, no water and no way to get to safety. What do you do now to make your life easier in these situations?

Emergency Preparedness for Winter

Water -without electricity the water supply may not work. Cooking, cleaning, washing etc not to mention water for drinking will be in jeopardy. Make sure you have enough water stored up to supply your needs for several days unless you feel there is a chance that the outage will last longer.

Food -The same applies to storing food that will not deteriorate without refrigeration. Dried foods, although not that exciting are easy to store and will keep you from going hungry. You also do not need electricity either to prepare it.

Electricity – an electric generator is a handy thing to have if your power goes out often and stays out. Gas driven and hookups are required to ensure that you have enough electricity to run the basics can make the difference between an uncomfortable difficult period and one that is just ok. Make sure that the generator is always situated outside and that you have sufficient gasoline to run your generator for a few days.

Lights – candles, flashlights, batteries or at least wind up flashlights are a necessity. Your generator may provide enough power for a few lights, but you probably want to run the fridge on it to keep your food fresh. Have sufficient candles and dry matches for longer periods of darkness with no electrical power.

Heat – If you do not have a wood burning fireplace, you need to develop a plan to heat your home if the power will be off for a long period of time. No electricity means your furnace does not work and your electric hating does not work. Using propane heaters indoors can kill you so do not do that either. Running a gas generator outdoors and connecting it to the furnace and the fridge are probably the two main priorities. Make sure it generates sufficient power to handle both.

Don’t forget Evacuation Plans

Evacuation – if there is a chance that you will need to evacuate, have an emergency pack ready, make sure the car is full of gas and know your escape route. Don’t wait until it is too late to get out. Leave early to avoid road congestion or blockages.

The above are the basic necessities to consider to get ready for any emergency. You need to asses what the worst thing is that will occur and then prepare for that situation. Since this particular post is focused on winter conditions, you may have to adapt it somewhat if you are concerned about flooding or high winds for example at other times of the year.


Self Driving Cars will Change Retirement

About to lose your license! Afraid to drive! Maybe self driving cars are the answer for seniors and anyone who is uncomfortable getting behind the wheel! Baby boomers are retiring in droves and are still driving. In about 5 years, Google and others feel that the technology and the laws will be ready for main stream autonomous driving! This coincides with the older boomers nearing the time when driving becomes a problem. There could be a large demand from this market segment. In fact after age 70, the accident rate begins to climb and at age 80 the accident rate is the same as rookie teenagers. Maybe self driving cards will change retirement, cause fewer accidents and fewer people will die in accidents.

Self Driving Cars will Change Retirement

There is still a way to go yet. The software needs to be perfected to handle just about any situation. Initially drivers will need to be prepared to take over in special situations, however there is a lot of concern about this. How alert will drivers be after using a self driven car for some time. Initially they will pay attention, but after many uneventful rides or longer trips attentions spans will wonder and the car will need to deal with emergencies by itself which is the long term plan.

Another issues will be the difficulty that many people have in giving up control to a machine. Even boomers who should not be driving will still have this issue. Control is a big thing for many people. They just feel more secure when they are in control of a machine.

Perhaps five years is a bit ambitious, since the technology may be worked out, but it may take longer to work out licensing issues for the owners / operators. Then there is the liability issue when an accident occurs. Who is at fault, the operator of the car, the person who wrote the software or the sensors that perhaps did not do their job. A lot more to come but at least there is hope for the aging boomer population.

Get Ready for Winter

Get Ready for WinterIt is not too late, there is still time to get ready for winter and avoid sudden emergencies on the coldest day of the winter. We put together a short list of items that home owners may want to consider in the fall to get their home ready for winter. Feel free to leave comments about these items or others that we should consider adding to the list. These are the bare bones basic items that every home owner should think about, even apartment dwellers will find this useful, particularly if you are susceptible to power outages from storms in your area.

Get Ready for Winter

Your Furnace Рon the coldest day of the year your furnace or boiler is going to stop working and you find yourself worrying about freezing pipes etc. The repairmen are all overwork because thousands of people have the same problem. Have your furnace checked now and also cleaned to  increase your odds of having s failure free winter.

Snow Blower Engines – Start it now, make sure you have fresh clean gasoline in it. Change the oil to get it ready for winter. Don’t wait to that first snow fall to find out that it won’t start or needs major repairs. It is so much easier to deal with these issues when it is still warm outside.

Emergency Power – A gas powered generator may be the one item that provides you with peace of mind in a power failure situation. If your electrical supply system is prone to failures you may just want to invest in a gas powered generator. Install the proper hookups to power your emergency devices.

Emergency Supplies – this includes everything from non perishable food, to flashlights. Include jugs of water to help deal with no power for an extended period of time. Flashlights are good to have, as are candles and matches. Just make sure candle flames are protected and reduce the risk of fire.

Freezing Pipes – if the power does go off and you have to leave, make sure you know how to turn the main water supply off and drain the pipes. You can reduce a great deal of water damage by taking this simple step.

Leaving Your Home

Evacuation – if this is a real possibility where you live, then make sure that your vehicles are never on empty. Always have at least three quarters of a tank of gas in your vehicle to enable a fast get away. You avoid having to get in a long line of cars and trucks to buy gas.

Remember that it is all about preparedness and self survival. The first responders cannot get to everyone immediately. It may take days for them to make it to your home!



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