Be Careful Out There

March 1, 2023
Protect yourself with knowledge and maybe even some armor

By David Matthews

In the market for a vehicle that can fit your whole family and keep them safe during an apocalypse?

California-based Rezvani Motors has the car for you.

The Rezvani Vengeance is a military-inspired rebodied Cadillac Escalade that seats up to eight, with body armor, explosive underbody shielding, bullet-proof glass, and electrified door handles.

Nothing will stop you from getting to the grocery store with a V8 engine delivering up to 810 horsepower, military-grade run-flat tires, and steel ram bumper.

Taking the kids to school and suspect you’re being followed? Switch on the front or rear blinding lights, shoot pepper spray from the side-view mirrors, or even activate a smoke screen.

When it’s time for the school pick-up, announce your arrival with strobe lights and the booming intercom system.

OK, but what if there’s been a nuclear attack? The Vengeance has you covered with protection from electromagnetic pulses created by nuclear explosions. Your phone will stay safe, even if there’s no one left to contact.

The Vengeance starts at $285,000 with additional military and security packages bringing the price tag up to $650,000, but can you really put a price on the peace of mind that comes with having your own smoke screen button?

Know before you go

As you plan your summer travel, be aware of these obscure local traffic laws.

For example, Rockville, Md., has outlawed cursing from a moving vehicle. If you want to give that driver who just cut you off a piece of your mind, just make sure you pull over and park first.

If you need to drive the wrong way down a one-way street in Alabama, you can as long as you attach a lantern to the front of your car.

Red cars are banned from driving on Lake Street in Minneapolis, Minn.

In Glendale, Calif., it is illegal to jump from a car that is travelling 65mph or faster.

Finally, it is illegal for a female motorist in Waynesboro, Va., to drive on Main Street unless her husband is walking in front of the vehicle waving a red flag.

Gone in 60 seconds

After years of decline, car theft is back on the rise, and 2023 could be a record-setting year.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, car thefts in 2022 could reach 1 million, a 7% increase from 2021, and a 25% jump since pre-pandemic 2019.

California suffered the highest number of auto thefts of any state last year, while Colorado saw the largest increase — a 32% jump from 2020. Altogether, the five states with the most theft – California, Illinois, Florida, Colorado, and Texas — accounted for 44% of all thefts nationwide.

Car thieves aren’t just after flashy sports cars or expensive luxury vehicles. The most common targets are the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-Series full-size pickup trucks, and the Honda Civic and Accord and Toyota Corolla passenger cars.

This year the trendy cars to steal are Hyundais and Kias. Thieves have discovered that base models from 2010-2021 lack electronic mobilizers, which are used to prevent the engine from being started unless the correct key is being used.

Without an electronic mobilizer, these vehicles can be stolen in under a minute. It’s so easy that stealing them has become a challenge on the social media site TikTok.

Most stolen vehicles are taken to “chop shops” that dismantle them into parts that can be sold to unscrupulous vendors. The most popular target today is the car’s catalytic converter, a key anti-emissions component, which alone can command as much as $250 or more for the precious metals used to make it work, including platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

To help its customers fight back, Hyundai is now offering a Compustar anti-theft security kit that includes an alarm and kill switch. With the system installed, an alarm sounds when the vehicle is broken into, and the engine will not start without the owner’s key.

There’s just one catch — Hyundai is making customers pay to fix the security issue they created. The Compustar kit costs $170, plus another $200-$300 for the 2.5-hr installation.

To pay for that, you’d need to steal not just one, but two catalytic converters. R&B

David Matthews been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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