Posts in Safety

ParqEx: Self-Driving Cars: What You Need to Know

Self-Driving Cars: What You Need to Know

June 23rd, 2016 Posted by Community, Parking, Safety No Comment yet

Believe it or not, self-driving cars may not only be the wave of the future, they may become very prominent in our society very soon. You may or may not have heard about this movement. For some reason, it hasn’t received very much publicity, but there are a number of companies working on the concept. You may even find yourself in a self-driving car in the next decade. Here are a few things you might want to know about the world of self-driving cars.

Self-Driving-Cars-300x300 Self-Driving Cars: What You Need to KnowSafety

The first thing that many people want to know about self-driving cars is how safe they are. You may be surprised to hear that self-driving cars are, at least in theory, much safer than cars driven by humans. They’re still in development of course, but the reality is that computers can accept input, respond, and multitask much more quickly and efficiently than humans can, even on their best days. While humans can be very unpredictable, computers tend to be very predictable, to both humans and other computers.

Although Google, one of the leading researchers in the world of self-driving cars, has had a number of autonomous cars on the road for many years, they have only recorded a few accidents, and in most cases, the autonomous car was not at fault. Although many people have a hard time believing it at first, self-driving cars may very well make the roads considerably safer.

Cost

Currently, self-driving cars are very expensive. In fact, one of these vehicles can cost as much as several hundred thousand dollars. This is out of most people’s price range, of course. The high price of one of these cars is due to the expense of the many sensors and systems that are required for safe operation. In addition to a long list of safety sensors, the cars generally use cameras, a high-quality GPS system, and software to keep everything running. However, this price is expected to come down considerably in the future. In fact, within the next decade or two, the entire automation system may only add a few thousand dollars to the price of a vehicle.

Uses

So what are all of these autonomous vehicles going to be used for? Of course, the thing most people think of first is human transportation. Need to go to the store or get your kids to soccer practice? Just jump in and it’ll get you there. There are a number of other possibilities though. For example, Ridesharing companies are already partnering with autonomous car manufacturers with the intention of eliminating the need for drivers. Many companies are also considering this technology for deliveries, both on a small-scale, such as delivering your lunch, and on a large-scale, for example, tractor-trailer delivery companies.

Legal aspects

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of autonomous cars on the road yet. This is partially due to a lack of acceptance and trust, as well as a lack of knowledge, from the general public, but it is also because of the fact that many states have not legalized the use of these vehicles yet. On the other hand, you may be surprised to know that several states have decided to allow this new technology. A handful of states have already enacted laws that make self-driving cars legal, and many other states only have vaguely written legislature that does not allow or disallow the technology.

Future

What’s next with self-driving cars? According to some predictions, this technology may be commonplace by 2020 or a little after. Numerous companies are working on this, in addition to Google. Some of these companies include GM, Ford, Tesla, and Audi. Would you ride in a car that drives itself?

Looking for more information about innovative transportation technology? Google gives lots of good information about their program here, and this article talks about the growth of the self-driving car industry that is expected by 2020. Feel free to contact us with any other questions.

ParqEx: 3 Common Summer Transportation Problems to Avoid

Don’t Let These 3 Common Summer Transportation Problems Ruin Your Fun in the Sun

May 19th, 2016 Posted by Chicago Travel Tips, mobile app, Parking, Safety No Comment yet

Summer is right around the corner, and this is usually exciting for most people. But after that initial jolt, the reality sets in.  Nothing is for free, and with all the joy that summer brings, it also has its costs.  Certain issues such as childcare, getting that beach bod ready, and dealing with the oppressive temperatures come to mind, but few things are as frustrating as transportation.

While we are happy not to deal with the winter transportation issues such as snow, salt, and ice, summer brings with it an entirely new set of factors with which we must contend.  Below are 3 common summer transportation problems that you must consider and plan for in order to get past the irritation and get straight to the fun.

summer-transportation-300x300 Don't Let These 3 Common Summer Transportation Problems Ruin Your Fun in the Sun

Traffic & Congestion

We have all been there – trying to get out of work early or get the kids together fast enough to beat the traffic to the beach only to find that everyone else had the same idea.  The summertime seems to create conditions for the perfect storm of traffic.  Not only do more vacationers (and therefore cars) on the road increase the potential for road rage, but many travelers are not familiar with the layout of or the path to their destinations. This can cause problems like getting lost and moving at slower speeds while trying to get oriented.  In addition to more drivers, with school being out less experienced drivers flood the roads which leads to more accidents, and therefore more possible traffic.  Cars must also now share the road with bikers and cyclists wanting to take advantage of the warm weather.  This limits space on the road and increases the need for caution. Finally, with summer being a popular time for construction, more road work generally means more traffic.

Heat

While we all know how painful a hot summer is on our bodies, we often overlook the amount of damage it can cause to our modes of transportation.  If you treat your car with the same care as you would any system or living organism, it will reward you by keeping you safe.  For example, air conditioning systems go from winter hibernation to full force in a matter of days.  Everyone should stretch before a work out, so make sure to run it for a few hours in advance and pay attention to any strange smells or odors.  Also, heat expands the air in the tires changing the pressure and causing potential blow outs.  It is important to remove snow tires and check them frequently. Harsh sun can cause excessive wear on parts such as hoses and drive belts as well as overheat engines.  Whether it is a car, bus, or motorcycle, checking in with your vehicle on a regular basis will keep it running at its optimal performance.  Don’t forget about your vehicles most important component – the passengers!  Risk of dehydration increases during summer months even in cars as people can be stuck in vehicles for long stretches during road trips. Keep water and coolant handy and pull over if there are any concerns at all.

Parking

With an increase in markets, festivals, and events taking place during the summer, the need for reliable parking becomes that much more important.  That said, more cars are trying to fill the same amount of spots so what may have once been adequate quickly becomes less than ideal. Furthermore, airport parking is limited due to more vacations.  Challenges will also vary according to the city.  For example, the beautiful farmers markets in Chicago or the large number of activities in Millennium Park may make downtown parking difficult.  Bigger cities like this are notorious for traffic problems and it can really put a damper on summer activities.  Fortunately sharing economy parking is an option and peer-to-peer alternatives are out there to help solve this problem.

These issues are not only an annoyance, but can also become quite costly to repair. Contact us to learn more about parking solutions as well as other ways to beat the heat this summer.

ParqEx: 5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Road Trip

5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Road Trip

March 24th, 2016 Posted by Car, Chicago Travel Tips, mobile app, Parking, Safety No Comment yet

The road trip is a phenomenon seemingly as old as the automobile itself.  Way back when, a road trip was simply to the next town over.  These days it is possible to travel across an entire country.  While a road trip with your buddies or significant other may differ in purpose and content from a family road trip, it will always be an affordable way to see the sights and spend time with the people who you care about.

road-trip-parqex-300x300 5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Road Trip

That said, what seems like a simple concept (get in the car and drive) can often be derailed by unforeseen circumstances and poor planning.  While there are many things you cannot prepare for, there are several ways to get ready for a road trip that can make the trip run more smoothly and make it much more enjoyable for everyone. If you are planning a road trip or intend to soon, below are 5 things to consider.

  1. Destination and Route: While many people just want to hit the open road and see where destiny takes them, not having at least a general destination in mind can result in disaster.  Multiple route options are ideal as well.  Weather could make the scenic route more treacherous, but on the other hand you could miss a lot of landmarks if you do not plan to drive past them.  This plan does not have to be especially rigid, but it can help you prevent unintentionally driving several 8 hour stretches.  This is much easier than it used to be with today’s technology with such planning apps as Roadtrippers or On The Way.
  2. Budget: While driving to a destination is much cheaper and more about the journey than flying, expenses can add up very quickly. For example, you may want to meander around an area to see the sights, but gas prices can accumulate, so best see what you can on foot.  Apps like Gas Buddy can help you save money on gas.  Prepare as much as you can to eat beforehand and share rooms if possible.  There are several online travel calculators that can assist in this process.
  3. Parking: While you are driving to most cities or towns, once you get to that destination you will probably want to get out and explore.  Unfortunately, in many places parking is not always easily accessible or the rules are unclear.  For example, Chicago parkingrules differ from New York City parking rules.  Fortunately, Parqex has a very helpful parking app that can help in that area.  If other cities do not have similar apps, try and scout ahead for discount parking or places you can rent parking for the day.  Downtown parking can be especially difficult to find in certain places so take into account the size of the city.
  4. Cash: Even though many people do not like to carry a lot of cash with them, it is important to have some on a road trip for multiple reasons.  Toll booths seem to appear in the most random places, and many parking stands still only take cash so make sure to carry both bills and coins.  It is also a good idea to keep this in a place other than your wallet in case it is misplaced or stolen.
  5. Stay In Touch: Make sure a friend or family member has a copy of your general itinerary and check in regularly to keep them updated about any changes.  This way in anything happens to you or you fail to check in, there is someone who is aware that things may not be ok.  Turning on apps like Find My Friends alerts people to your location at all times if assistance is needed.

Of course there are other important considerations such as proper packing and making sure your car is in the best possible shape.  Road trips are a shared common experience that unite us as both individuals and as a culture.  That said, it is true that many people look back at their road trips growing up and only recall the broken down car or fighting siblings, so make sure to prepare adequately in order to avoid a negative experience. Contact us to learn more about parking options or any other ways we can help make the trip one that your family and/or friend will remember with a smile.

California is proposing that self-driving cars need a specially certified %22driver%22; are these restrictions a step in the right (or wrong) direction? #Californiarules

California is proposing that self-driving cars need a specially certified “driver”; are these restrictions a step in the right (or wrong) direction? #Californiarules

March 3rd, 2016 Posted by Car, mobile app, Parking, Safety, sharing economy No Comment yet

Under proposed new rules, you’d need certification to “drive” a self-driving car; this proposal demands that a fully licensed driver be in the front seat the entire drive time. California is proposing that self-driving cars need a specially certified “driver”; are these restrictions a step in the right (or wrong) direction? #Californiarules

California-is-proposing-that-self-driving-cars-need-a-specially-certified-22driver22-are-these-restrictions-a-step-in-the-right-or-wrong-direction-Californiarules-300x300 California is proposing that self-driving cars need a specially certified "driver"; are these restrictions a step in the right (or wrong) direction? #Californiarules

A 2014 University of Michigan study of public opinion on self-driving cars was inconclusive; people do like autonomous features in cars (self-parking, auto-braking, collision avoidance) but they don’t really want to give up all control. When it comes to a machine with no steering wheel, we humans feel we ultimately do a better job and are reluctant to give over control. California seems to concur.

We don’t yet know if self driving cars are safer than human-driven. Until self-driven vehicles are in widespread use we won’t have the statistics to make an open road comparison. Many current safety studies that lean toward calling self-driven cars safer come from those with a vested interest; big players in the market who face an uncertain regulatory environment in the future of self-driven vehicles.

These big players, companies like Google and Mobileye, are betting that self-guided vehicles will be a common sight in just 10 years and ubiquitous in 20, but in order to foster widespread adoption of radical new driving technology, they must sell unprecedented personal transportation safety to the public. Novelty and convenience won’t be enough to push the market to its full potential, although they will certainly play a large role in the continued development of fully autonomous vehicles.

Markets and technologies will always move faster than industry regulation, but regulation is inevitable and should be adopted to give the public, with its existing prejudice against machines, the confidence to widely adopt new driving technology. If this new market is to meet and exceed its potential, safety must be the driving force behind the industry as a whole. When combined with new conveniences, the fully autonomous vehicle will become the industry standard.

The autonomous, self-driving vehicles envisioned by manufacturers will not only offer unprecedented passenger protection; they will automatically utilize a wide host of convenience applications that cover every aspect of trip planning and execution, from navigation and hotel booking to en-route entertainment and internet access. Applications like ParqEx will even allow travelers to rent and automatically locate a parking spot in a city they don’t know, all at the touch of a button.

This future is rapidly approaching, but hang on to your Metra ticket for now. Manufacturers like Mercedes do not expect self-driving cars in the showroom until 2020, and we will not be seeing fully autonomous vehicles at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show. We will, however be seeing a host of highly advanced safety features, the very features that are paving the way toward the self-driving car.

For more information on this topic, please contact us.

ParqEx: 5 Commuting Tips to Make Your Mornings Easier

5 Commuting Tips to Make Your Mornings Easier

February 11th, 2016 Posted by Car, Chicago Travel Tips, mobile app, Parking, ParqEx, Safety No Comment yet

Who doesn’t wish their morning commute was easier? Even those who have a blissful 15 minute or less commute can likely find a thing or two they’d like to change about it.

We see your morning commute as being a window of opportunity — even if you love your commute, you may find something here to help make your mornings even smoother. Here are 5 commuting tips to make your mornings easier.

5-Commuting-Tips-300x300 5 Commuting Tips to Make Your Mornings Easier

  1. Start Your Morning the Night Before. Both men and women take the same amount of time to get ready in the mornings — about 52% clock in between 10 and 30 minutes; with another 20-25% saying it takes more than 30. Think of all the things you could be doing otherwise — morning yoga, a run, reading your favorite web comics, or sleeping (our favorite option). While there are certainly some things you can’t do the night before like shave, put on makeup, or shower (we know — some of you refuse to do it the night before), there are things you can do — like pack your lunch, lay out clothes, and get your briefcase or purse ready to go.
  2. Treat Yourself to a Tasty Beverage. Part of what makes our morning commutes crummy is that they’re boring. We get in the car, we drive the same route, we park, we go to work. Done. Spice up your mornings with some delicious beverages that can make your drive a little tastier! You can prep healthy and filling smoothies the night before by freezing ingredients in a blender; make a mini coffee bar with your favorite syrups or add-ons, or try scrounging for some new tea flavors to try on your commute.
  3. Guarantee Your Parking with ParqEx. If you’re lucky enough to have your name in big corporate letters on a metal sign, please skip to point 4. All others, read on! We know what a headache it can be to have to haggle for parking once you arrive at your destination — even worse are the mornings when you’re running late and can’t seem to find a single place to park. Cut down on all the hassle by finding and reserving the best spot using ParqEx, and never give your boss that lame parking excuse again.
  4. Level Up Your Entertainment. The news tends to be depressing, talk radio is typically mind-numbing, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing those Top 40 songs for the rest of the day in either the breakroom or from your cube mates. Why not get yourself some better audio entertainment for your ride? Podcasts, books on tape, and even webinars are all fantastic ways to inject a little education into your morning — here are some that are far from boring, and are genuinely fun to listen to.
  5. Get a Sidekick. It may seem like a 90s sitcom trope, but carpooling can actually be pretty great. You can typically save a lot on both car maintenance and gas — and you may even land yourself some new friends. Carpooling can be a great way to practice your professional social interaction too, letting you get a leg-up in the way you talk with your coworkers — and when was the last time you saw “Communication skills not needed” on a job listing?

We’d love to hear from you! Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how you can earn money through your parking spot, and how the sharing economy is making waves for people like you.

Parking Tips that will Save You Time and Money

Parking Tips That Will Save You Time (And Money) In Chicago

October 22nd, 2015 Posted by Chicago Travel Tips, Community, mobile app, Parking, Safety No Comment yet

Chicago has everything a traveler could ask for, from night clubs and music venues, to sporting arenas, theaters, and conventions. One thing the Windy City doesn’t have, though, is quick, simple, and painless parking. Chicago is hardly unique in this problem when it comes to major cities, but if you don’t want to bust your travel budget finding a place to leave your car while you enjoy the city’s sights and sounds, here are some parking tips that will protect your wallet.

parking-tips-300x300 Parking Tips That Will Save You Time (And Money) In ChicagoTip #1: Street Parking is a Real Life Saver

Chicago, like most other major cities, has an abundance of street parking. If you’re just going to lunch, or to a quick meeting, then paying $7 for an hour or so at the meter isn’t going to break your bank account. However, if you’re going to be out all night (at a concert, hitting the clubs, etc.) then it’s a good idea to pick a location very carefully. According to research, street parking in many parts of Chicago is free starting at 9 p.m., and it will remain that way until 8 a.m. the next day. Planning ahead can be a major boon for those who’d rather spend their money on something more fun.

Tip #2: Validated Parking Can Get You an Hour or Two Free of Charge

If you go somewhere like Trader Joe’s, you’re allowed to park in the customer lot with a validated parking ticket. That ticket will be good for a few hours, as long as you go inside and make a purchase. Once you’ve picked up that item you needed, whether it was a pack of gum, or a car charger, you can still spend time in the area. You may have as long as two hours, which gives you ample time to grab a bite to eat, take a walk in the park, or meet up with a friend. Again, good planning will save you from spending $25 or more for a parking slot in a garage.

Tip #3: See if Your Hotel Has Free Parking

Parking is at a premium in any big city, and Chicago is no exception to this travel rule. If you’re paying for a room at a hotel, though, you’re often given a free parking space as part of your stay. That can take a huge load off of your shoulders, particularly for hotels that allow you to come and go as you please without any additional parking fees, valet fees, etc.

Tip #4: Use an App to Pay For Parking

We live in the age of the smartphone, and thanks to the spread of technology there’s no reason for you to drive around looking for a parking spot while you’re in Chicago. All you need to do is download a parking app, like Parqex, and you’ll be treated to a view of available parking near your destination. Not only does the app give you a bird’s-eye view of your parking situation, complete with a map to let you plan your evening more easily, but it allows you to pay for parking with a few taps of your screen. Quick, easy, and there’s no need to keep a cash stash in your car to be sure you can cover your parking expenses.

The usefulness of parking apps cannot be overstated. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can pay for your parking. Whether you’re going to a garage or the street, as long as the meters are in the network, it’s all taken care of.

For more useful tips and tricks on getting cheap parking in the Windy City, simply contact us today!

ParqEx: The Trials of Parking at the University

The Trials of Parking at the University

September 3rd, 2015 Posted by Car, Community, Parking, ParqEx, Safety No Comment yet

Jenny is running late for class…again.  She knows full well that she should leave earlier in the morning, but those last ten minutes of sleep just end up being more important right up until she’s rushing to actually get out the door.  When she pulls into the university area, she already knows that she’s doomed.  There’s no parking anywhere.  She’s already behind, and she’s either going to have to spend the next thirty minutes circling the campus, desperately hoping that something will open up, or park so far away that she’ll already have missed her class by the time she walks all the way there.The-Trials-of-Parking-at-the-University-300x300 The Trials of Parking at the University

Crystal isn’t currently enrolled at the university.  She’s just meeting a friend for lunch at a little place that happens to be a few miles off campus.  Unfortunately, she’s beginning to regret her decision to drive all the way in instead of parking off campus and walking.  There’s no parking anywhere near the restaurant, and she’s about to be late to meet her friend.  Even if she wanted to park further away, she’s wearing her favorite pair of stylish–yet highly uncomfortable–shoes.  Walking that far simply isn’t an option.  Now, if she could just find a parking space.

Byron has been planning this date for weeks.  He knew that Gabby loved theater, so he was sure that she’d be enchanted by his decision to take her to the college’s latest production.  He’d planned everything perfectly:  he’d dressed his best, remembered to bring her flowers, and even scoped out the best place to take her out to dinner after the play.  There’s just one problem:  it’s pouring rain, she’s not dressed for walking, and there are no parking places to be had anywhere.

Mark has a standing appointment to tutor Lacey on Wednesdays after her last class.  Unfortunately, the last few times he’s come in, he’s been running very, very late.  It isn’t because he isn’t making the effort to show up on time; the trouble is, he hasn’t been able to find parking.  He’s leaving with plenty of time to get there and get a space; there just isn’t one anywhere!  By the time he finds one, he’s running behind, and he has to cut her tutoring session short as a result.  She’s not getting what she needs out of the arrangement, and that means that if he’s not careful, he’s going to be looking for another tutoring job.

Jordan just needs to run into the bookstore on campus to pick up one item.  He’ll only be there for a few minutes…if he can find a parking space.  Unfortunately, if he has to park off-campus and walk, he’s going to end up being late to his job.  He has to get in and get that book picked up, or his professor is going to read him the riot act on Monday, but he can’t risk being late to work, either.  All he can do is hope that there will be a parking space open…or is it?

All of these people have one thing in common:  they need a parking space.  Some of them need one for a one-time event or commitment.  Others would benefit from having regular access to a parking spot.  The solution?  ParqEx.  ParqEx allows drivers just like these three individuals to reserve parking spots when they need them the most, where they need them the most.  In high-traffic areas, finding a parking space can be a real challenge, but with ParqEx, you can rest assured that you’ll have the parking space you need, when you need it.

Need more information?  Fee free to contact us with your questions and concerns and to learn how ParqEx can revolutionize your parking habits.

Space Saver “Street Justice” Hurts Drivers

February 21st, 2015 Posted by Chicago Travel Tips, Parking, ParqEx, Safety No Comment yet

Many cities are banning the tradition of reserving shoveled parking spaces with space savers, or “dibs.” While many people feel that this is a better move for the community, there are some who don’t care for it. This has resulted in “street justice,” where tires are being slashed for parking in what would have once been considered a reserved spot.

These acts of vandalism have grown in cost, with innocent drivers being forced to pay hundreds of dollars to replace their tires. Neighbors are being asked to remove space savers if they are seen, but people also fear for their safety as well as for their cars.

So how can you park in a snow-free spot without risking the tires on your car?

To avoid this “street justice” problem, you can commit to shoveling out spots on a regular basis, but that requires a lot of time and effort. Besides, if it’s freezing out already, this can often seem like the worst case scenario.

What we recommend is that you can use ParqEx to rent a spot that is snow-free (possibly even covered or indoors) for a minimal fee. This helps out your community by keeping money local, but it also provides you with a safe, dry spot to leave your car. These spots are also often protected, either by security or a garage, so you can park without fear of “street justice” having its way with your vehicle.

You shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of your car. When you use ParqEx, you don’t have to.

Protect Your Car wih ParqEx

Protect Your Car (from People Who Can’t Park)

January 21st, 2015 Posted by Car, Garage, Parking, Safety No Comment yet

You could be the best driver in the world, but that won’t always keep your car safe. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who don’t have your vehicle’s best interests at heart, and they could very easily leave your car in worse shape than you found it. However, there’s still hope for you and your vehicle — that’s why we at ParqEx are here to help. Here are a few tips on how to Protect Your Car (from People Who Can’t Park)

• Park in a garage. Parking inside a garage is one of the best ways to keep your car safe from fellow drivers. If you don’t have your own garage, you can very easily rent one of these private spots for a very reasonable price on ParqEx. Hosts will love making a few extra bucks while you love knowing your car is safe from harm and crazy drivers.

• Park in a private area. Take your car to a secluded area to prevent others from tapping into your bumper. This doesn’t mean you’re relegated to the woods, though; there are plenty of private, controlled access spots you can rent, even in big cities like Chicago. ParqEx offers dozens of listings to choose from as you find the best one for you.

• Park during the day. The day time tends to lead to more crowded parking, but it’s also when folks feel more accountable. In the light of day, people are more likely to be careful and watch what they’re doing — even if it’s only because other people can see them. Make sure you’ve got a spot in the day time by using ParqEx and reserving it early.

Commit these tips to heart. With a little luck and help from us, you (and your car) will stay in tip top shape!

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