October 2010

Must have apps for drivers

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Parking apps: When it comes to carpark locators, it was a toss up between Carpark@SG and Park-a-lot lite.
Both are free and have decent, though not comprehensive, lists of carparks in Singapore.
Park-a-lot allows you to browse for carparks nearby, while Carpark@SG shows the availability of parking spaces.

Show Nearby: Show Nearby locates amenities, including convenience stores, movie theatres and hospitals, in your vicinity.
While not a carpark app, Show Nearby gives a rather comprehensive listing of carparks in less central parts of Singapore.
But, as its name suggests, it is useful only when you are “nearby”, and it is hard to search for a specific location in advance.

Park Alert: Check in your location when you have parked your car and you can receive alerts, or warn others, when a parking warden comes by.

Motor-insurance apps: AXA and NTUC Income both have motor-insurance apps. AXA’s is for the use of its policyholders, while NTUC Income’s has a number of useful functions for motorists, including an accident toolkit.

Basic Theory Test: Helps driving learners practise for the Basic Theory Test using mock tests.

iRoadmate SG (Free)

AVAILABLE only as a Web application, it is compatible with the iPhone, as well as Windows Mobile and Symbian phones.

Besides displaying the latest traffic news, the map function provided by Google displays the petrol kiosks, carparks, Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries, and bus services at your designated location or other nearby places.

Pros: It has an attractive interface, with all prices and charges clearly displayed. It also provides detailed information.

Cons: At first glance, it is not very intuitive to use. You will need to search more than once to expand the search area. There are also no push notifications, as it is not really a phone app. (Free)

Launched this year by the Land Transport Authority, is packed with tools for the driver and the commuter.

Applications for motorists include a parking guide, views from traffic cameras, a parkand- ride locator, and live COE bidding results. It is compatible with the iPhone, Windows Mobile and Android smartphones.

Pros: Its parking guide, which displays the number of parking spaces at carparks in shopping districts, is a boon.

Cons: Its font is too tiny, as is its display area. Using it to search for ERP rates at specific gantries is a tedious process, as it suffers from poor search categorisation. (US$2.99) provides directions to any location in Singapore, whether you are driving, taking a bus, the MRT or a taxi.

It also provides the estimated time and cost of travel, including ERP and carpark rates for drivers.

Originally a Web application, most of its best-liked features have been neatly adapted to a mobile interface. It is currently available only on the iPhone.

Pros: The app is highly customised for use in Singapore, and all the transport options are displayed clearly at the same time.

Cons: It does not provide information on real-time traffic conditions.

TraffiCam (Free)

Want to know which roads to avoid? With just two taps on your smartphone’s screen, this app will give you an overview of the traffic on major roads in Singapore.

It covers hotspots like the Causeway and expressways, and the images are updated every five to 10 minutes.

Pros: It is good when all you need is a quick update on traffic conditions. It is also easier to use than the traffic-camera module in Plus, it allows you to save your favourite locations for easier access.

Cons: It would be a lot better if it were integrated with a traffic-news function.

This story was also published in my paper on Oct 20

AutoMoneyBack’s List of Insurers

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To serve you better and help you get better insurance quotes, AutoMoneyBack has partner with many insurers so that YOU can get better and more competitive quotes than ever.

Check out our List of Insurers and sign up with us to enjoy the benefits that AutoMoneyBack could bring to you.

PUMP prices have increased by three cents for all grades of petrol and diesel.

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PUMP prices have increased by three cents for all grades of petrol and diesel.

A litre of Caltex’s 92-octane petrol costs $1.767 while a litre of its 95-octane costs $1.827.

A litre of its “ultra-premium” 98-octane petrol and diesel costs $1.955 and $1.323 respectively.

However, petrol station operator Shell has not shifted its prices yet.

A litre of its 95- and 98-octane petrol still retails at $1.797 and $1.880 respectively.

The last price adjustment was an increase of three cents as well that took place on Sept 15 (see report).

Prices are before discount.

Safety Features of Modern Cars

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CAR safety has come a long way. Some brands take pride in how the vehicle design, construction and equipment contribute to a safer ride, and use it as a marketing tool.

Aspects of car safety
Car safety features can generally be classified under two categories. The first is referred to as active safety and has systems or technology that help you avoid a crash. The second group is known as passive safety and consists of components of the vehicle that help to protect occupants during a crash.

Here are some of the more common safety features found in cars today.

Airbags inflate in a collision to prevent front occupants from hitting the dashboard, steering wheel, and windshield. Some SUVs or luxury cars even have side airbags, tubular airbags that inflate from the roof, and side air curtains for added protection against head injuries in a side-impact collision.

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS)
The purpose of an anti-lock braking system is to prevent a crash from taking place. It stops a vehicle’s wheels from locking and skidding during emergency braking, giving the driver greater control over the steering.

Some cars have ABS that also include brake assist, a system which can sense an emergency braking situation taking place when it detects a faster speed or greater force at which the driver presses the brake pedal. It boosts the braking power, thus reducing the stopping distance.

Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
Electronic brake force distribution automatically applies the appropriate braking pressure to each wheel in order to maximise stopping power and help the driver to maintain steering control. This system is often used in conjunction with ABS.

Traction Control
Traction control aids vehicle stability during acceleration or when driving on slippery roads. It monitors the speed of all four tyres, and if it senses that one tyre is moving faster than the others, the computer will slow that wheel down so that it can regain traction.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
This is a crash avoidance system that reduces the danger of skidding or losing control if you need to swerve or brake suddenly. It uses computer-controlled technology to apply individual brakes and help bring the car safely back on track.