By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
● Gas prices in California skyrocketed last week as several individual events combined to restrict supply. A crude oil pipeline was shut down for technical inspections, one refinery had maintenance matters that restricted output, and another was slow to recover after an area power outage.
The net result was some gas stations running out of fuel and average prices exceeding $4.60 per gallon of regular. (Remember that’s an average, with as many prices above as below.) Some stations are already over $5/gallon. Producers are rationing products on the “spot market” in favor of sending fuel to their brand name outlets. The state government is taking steps to increase supply and thus reduce prices.
● But even those high fuel prices are nowhere near European prices. In Italy, regular petrol recently topped €2 per litre or above $10 per gallon. That partially accounts for the 2011 vehicle sales leader in that country: the bicycle.
By a slim margin, two wheelers outsold passenger cars as families downsize their fleet or seek cheaper transportation. In the narrow and crowded streets of most Italian cities, a trip by bike trip can be shorter and cheaper than taking a taxi or bus.
● Hyundai has announced its withdrawal from North American motorsports for 2013. While the company didn’t have much of a footprint in traditional racing, they were well known in drifting and specialty events such as the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. The company will continue its involvement in European and Asian motorsports.
● Fair to say that traffic cameras, particularly the ones that can issue speeding citations, are controversial. If reports are to be believed, a school zone speed cam in Elmwood Place, Ohio recently snagged over 20,000 violators in two weeks. The village’s population is under 2,500 people and several residents received multiple citations with total fines over $1000.
On the other hand, both Washington D.C. and Baltimore have recently had to cancel or refund over 10,000 tickets – representing more than a million dollars in fines – due to poorly programmed traffic cameras. In D.C, the camera was using the wrong speed limit internally and in Baltimore the camera contained the wrong location.
● In Scotland, police are using number plate recognition cameras to find uninsured vehicles. The plate picture is quickly compared to the national database and authorities are frequently notified while the car is still on the road. Under UK law, uninsured cars can be confiscated if proof of insurance cannot be produced. Affected owners then have a certain time period to show proof of insurance and reclaim the car, but some never appear. So far this year, more than 630 cars have been sold at auction or crushed.
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