Steering Column March 20

As schoolchildren in Duncanville head back to school following their spring break, drivers in school zones are forewarned to hang up those handheld cell phone devices.
Beginning March 24, the new “Use of Hand-held Mobile Telephones Prohibited in School Zones” ordinance takes effect. Drivers may not operate a non-hands-free mobile (cell or sat) phone or communications device in an active school zone.
According to the city of Duncanville website, this ordinance only applies to hand-held mobile phones and texting devices, not two-way radios (CB, ham or business) or laptops.
Breaker 1-9, looks like we got us a convoy …

• • •
Today is the first day of spring, so as our thoughts turn to things getting a bit greener, here are some tips to help develop some “greener” driving habits:

• Avoid unnecessary driving. Plan trips wisely with efficient routes and stops.
• Keep your car well maintained. Follow your vehicle’s service manual and get regular oil changes.
• Ensure proper tire maintenance, tread and inflation. A properly inflated tire can increase gas mileage 10 percent to 30 percent. (Ideal inflation should be listed on the sidewall of the tire.)
• Tighten the gas cap after every fill-up. A loose, cracked or missing gas cap can emit harmful emissions and reduce gas mileage.
• Avoid stop-and-go traffic. Try to drive at off-peak times.
• Limit idling. Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas and causes more pollution than simply restarting your engine.
• Select the most efficient vehicle for your lifestyle.
• Get regular emissions tests. Most places require you to get your car “smogged” before you can sell or register it.
• Consider getting a green vehicle, such as a hybrid.
• Never drive for a long time with an illuminated “Check Engine” light. It can mean a problem that’s harmful to the environment and your car, yet more than 8 percent of all vehicles on the road today do so. Adopted as a government mandate to lower emissions, the “Check Engine” light illuminates when a vehicle’s computer detects a problem that affects emissions output. All 1996 and newer cars, light trucks, SUVs and minivans manufactured for use in the U.S. have this technology.
• Make sure your car or truck is in optimal running condition. One way is to periodically test for emissions-related problems.

A recently introduced diagnostic tool provides drivers with a fast, convenient solution for monitoring their vehicles’ health, particularly with regard to “Check Engine” light issues. Called CarMD, it combines an easy-to-use, handheld tester with an unprecedented online database to give consumers information that, until now, only mechanics could access. The consumer-friendly information describes potential problems, estimated repair costs and more. It even tells you if your vehicle will pass an emissions (smog) test.

CarMD helps keep your vehicle running cleaner and more efficiently by detecting problems with your emissions system. By identifying misfires, catalytic converter problems or even a loose gas cap, drivers can pinpoint the problem, improve gas mileage and reduce emissions output.
For more information, visit http://www.CarMD. com or call 1-888-MyCarMD.
Keep your car well maintained and get regular emissions tests.

• • •
CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, reports the color black has topped the list as the most popular color for vehicle searches conducted on carmax.com in February.
“We find color choice is a very important consideration for customers when car shopping,” said Mark Simmons, Purchasing Manager in San Diego, California. “I am not surprised that black tops the list. The color black looks good on nearly every make and model.”
Used car shoppers’ top five color choices for online searches in February were:

Color Choice Percent of Searches
1. Black 36
2. White 17
3. Blue 11
4. Red 10
5. Silver 9
Other colors of interest to online shoppers included gray (6 percent), green (4 percent) and yellow (2 percent).

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