The Nürburgring in Germany is one of the world’s most talked about race tracks and a common feature on the hit TV show Top Gear. In the past, many of the finest drivers ever to grace the planet have battled it out to achieve the best lap times, with current records held by such greats as Montoya and Schumacher. However, it’s not only drivers that compete on the asphalt – it’s also the vehicles themselves.
The most recent buzz surrounding the Nürburgring focuses on a new lap record. The record was set by Alfa Romeo’s latest lightweight sports car, the 4C. The new Alfa now holds the crown for production cars with below 247 bhp, coming in at a refreshing eight minutes and four seconds.
The new record is not just another name in the record books. This new time is significant because it marks a shift in the trend for the manufacturing of production vehicles. Traditionally, fast vehicles beat others from A to B by virtue of one main factor – power. Today, as people across the planet are becoming more conscious of the impact we are having on the environment, car manufacturers are looking elsewhere.
The remarkable time of just over eight minutes was achieved with an engine smaller than 2 litres. The Alfa Romeo 4C is incredibly light. It is also incredibly well designed. The effect of this is that the vehicle is able to achieve such great lap times without forcing the driver to compromise on sustainability. This marks wider changes which are occurring today in the industry of vehicle manufacturing and design.
The Alfa 4C is a production car, and is therefore available to the public. This means that Alfa Romeo have put some thought into what it is the public want. Along with the astonishing speed of the vehicle, owners can expect to see extremely low emissions of just 159g/km and an average fuel consumption of 41.5 miles to the gallon – yes, that’s an average well below the average.
The ability to combine such great performance with environmentally friendly numbers means great things for the future of hatchback cars. Changes in consumer demand can often filter through into the decisions made by manufacturers and can alter the directions in which they head. The growing concern about the environment is a great example of this, with the Alfa 4C leading the pack.
Right now, a lot of trucking companies are facing a problem with driver shortages, according to the president of RightWay Trucking Nigel Oliver
Currently there are thousands of trucks and companies all over the country looking to fill positions.
Companies all across the board have goals and a quota or workers to fill. The problem right now is, it’s hard finding trainers to train new truck drivers. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the quickest growing industries according to the Department of Employment and Learning. The economy continues to grow, so obviously the need for more truckers to drive goods and supplies across the country grows as well.
One of the main problems that Oliver is facing with his company is that frequent orders are coming in for drivers to supply truckloads of goods across the nation but there are no drivers to do it. “If something isn’t done soon, we’re not going to be hauling any goods and not only our company, but others could be in jeopardy as well,” said Oliver.
So where are the truckers going and why aren’t people signing up? One theory is that baby boomers who were born into trucking are starting to retire and new safety regulations implemented in as late as 2010 are scaring new truckers off. A staggering 64% of drivers in Britain’s roads will not have completed the required 35 hours of training by 2014.
To a young person, you have to understand where they’re coming from, because trucking on the road doesn’t exactly sound appealing. Some of the older generation truckers took those jobs because they had to, the younger generation tend to have more options available to them these days.
One of the things that might scare new or potential drivers off is how long they’ll spend inside of their trucks. Also, a lot of horror stories are told about a truck driver’s state of health, which might play a role as well.
One trucking student had to this to say about the subject matter: “I was honestly scared off a little bit when I heard about how long they spend on the road.”
However for many people, they tend to change their views when they meet other drivers and find out, they’re just like them. A lot of people’s fears of being a trucker tend to go away the second you meet people you’ll be sharing the road with.
One student named Smith says, “The common misconception about truckers is, they’re all rednecks, overweight and rude. They weren’t like that at all and as a matter of fact, they were some of the nicest people I’d ever met, and really honest too.”
Nigel Oliver plans on aggressively marketing the benefits of trucking with higher and increased pay for new truckers and veterans alike. Also, companies like www.hgvtraining.co.uk are helping to fight low truck driver numbers by offering high tech training.
“The rates have to increase” said Rogers, who was speaking about new regulations that are going to limit how many hours of driving time a driver can log.
When purchasing family cars, one of the most important considerations will be the safety features included in the design. Nothing is more important than family, consequently the safety features of family cars, whether these features are active or passive, will all need to be considered carefully when deciding on the most appropriate model of car to buy.
The majority of cars these days include the most up to date anti-locking braking systems (ABS), along with driver assistance technology. The most advanced, now have electronic stability controls, (ESC), which is designed to help control the vehicle during extreme manoeuvring. ESC can sense when a car is beginning to spin out of control and will subsequently apply the brake to one wheel.
Airbags, front, side and curtain, are included in some models, and as extras on other models, though front airbags are mandatory others are not, therefore it is best not to assume all models carry the same features. Airbags are crucial in shielding drivers and passengers from serious neck, chest and head injuries. Seat belt pre-tensioners are a useful feature, especially when several people are driving the same car and therefore often moving the seats forwards and backwards. This feature retracts the belt, removing any slack in the event of an accident. An energy management feature allows the seat belt to yield a little during an incident, thus reducing the level of force impacting on the chest.
Front seats are required to have head restraints fitted, they are designed to reduce head movement caused by rear impact accidents. Most head restraints are adjusted manually, some are now automatic, in that they change with the position of the seat, or in the event of an impact they adjust dynamically, these offer the best protection from neck injury.
The fixing of child seats is a tricky task even for the most experienced of parents, cars with special car seat mountings offer reassurance that the child seat is safe and secure when in situ, and if you have wide opening doors, which give easier access to the rear of the car, then securing the seat becomes even easier.
There are a number of optional safety features that could be installed in family cars, making the driving experience even safer. These include; adaptive lights that help drivers to see round bends in the road, some also automatically dip the headlights when detecting oncoming traffic, a curve control system that attempts to slow down the car, if it detects too high a speed when navigating a bend in the road, lane departure warning, this system monitors the road’s lane markings and sounds a warning, to alert the driver when it detects the driver is drifting unintentionally to the next lane.