WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD
AuthorIn Search of Robin  

I almost got run over by a Tesla a week or so ago. It was not really my fault or the Tesla driver's fault it was the car's fault.

I had an early-morning appointment at my doctor's office, which is in a small building with an attached parking lot in the rear. I pulled in and parked in one of the available slots at the rear of the building walked up toward the back of the building and then started around the corner of the building to the front entrance.

As I stepped out of the corner which was into the driveway from the front entrance into the parking lot, I was nearly run down by a very large black Tesla. I'm not sure who was the most startled, me or the driver of the Tesla. The problem is he couldn't see me coming, and I could not hear him coming either.

One of the fascinating characteristics of electric vehicles, cars and trucks, is they are extremely quiet, even the best gas or diesel-powered automobile makes a slight sound when it's running.

Not so with the electric car. No sound, nothing. They make a little noise on the highway when they're up to speed from passing through the air but when moving slowly through a parking lot or down a city street, there's virtually no sound from the car.

So, it's easy for them to sneak up on you.

We are all going to have to change our transportation habits.

I put together a list of things you need to consider when you're a pedestrian crossing a street, walking through a parking lot, riding on one of those so-called bike paths that is carved out of streets with two simple little white lines, your whole level of awareness needs to increase.

Instead of walking along the parking lot, cell phone in hand, checking text messages you're much better advised to be in heads-up mode looking in both directions and glancing behind you all the time.

When you are walking around the corner of a building, or any structure, for that matter, and the turn leads you into a driveway or an alley, you need to stop before you walk around that corner and look around the corner to see if there's a car or a truck coming because if it's electric, you may not hear it.

All of this is really kind of a sea change for the way we function these days as we wonder somewhat aimlessly through parking lots, across streets, around corners, looking at our cell phone and listening with our ears to what might be oncoming traffic. That approach to life is not going to work anymore in the very near future.

I think bicyclists have an awful lot to worry about also.

I don't know about you, but when I ride my bicycle, I can often find myself drifting into a very comfortable place enjoying the ride, enjoying the scenery, looking for people to say hi to, looking for other bicyclists and just generally not paying a whole lot of attention to what's going on around me.

That approach to bicycling isn't going to work either.

Same problem. You just cannot hear that electric car coming up behind you. It's there before you know it, and if you suddenly turn into its path, the result is not going to work out well in your favor.

So, along with all of this comes a change in the way we are going to have to drive. Looking at the proposed sales figures of electric vehicles for the next five to seven years the number of these vehicles coming online and on the road is just going to be something a little short of staggering.

When there was just Tesla and a couple of other companies sort of fooling around in the electric car market it really wasn't much of a deal.

However, as these cars become more plentiful and with lower costs, they make excellent vehicles to take children to school, to go get groceries and run around town presenting a whole new series of hazards for us to look at.

I'll be writing a series of posts on electric vehicles. I think they're great; I think they're good for the economy; I think they're good for the environment I think they're good for people in general.

But we are going to have to refine the way we ride, drive, work, and walk. So, if you're going to be out there walking your dog, riding your bike, taking your kid to school or just wandering through the parking lot at your favorite mall, keep your head up, your eyes open, and rely a little less on your ears as the way you keep from getting run over.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

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Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin  

This is the second of a 4-part series of Posts regarding the growing presence of electric vehicles on our streets and roadways. You can check out Part 1 here: The Electric Vehicle an All-New Experience for The Driver, Biker, Bicyclist and Pedestrian

For years, the automobile industry labored under the delusion that electric vehicles had to look like something out of the future. It began with a DeLorean and the movie Back to The Future.

For some unknown reason, automobile manufacturers worldwide thought there must be a distinct styling difference between the traditional automobile and truck if they were electric.

It's taken the industry several decades to figure out that most of the automotive buying public would prefer that their electric car has the same styling characteristics as conventional automobiles.

That's all changing, and it's being driven primarily, at this point, by the Ford Motor Company. You might have caught their commercials hinting that the radical styling of electric vehicles is not going to be their approach and their electric vehicles are going to follow the design lines of their current standard fossil fuel powered vehicle offerings.

In addition, virtually every automaker of any significance in the domestic and commercial markets is now preparing to offer a growing array of traditionally styled electric vehicles premiering over the next two to four years.

Here's what this means to you as a daily driver.

As you look across the intersection at a stoplight, if the vehicle at the front of the line was an electric car, it was easy to identify by the styling. Today, that is becoming less and less the case.

You can't rely on your visual perception that the vehicle waiting to charge across the intersection is either gasoline, diesel or electrically powered.

So, what's the point you ask?

The point is this. Electric-powered vehicles perform significantly different than their fossil-fueled counterparts. First of all, as we noted in our previous Post, they are certainly much quieter, and secondly they accelerate at a much more rapid rate.

What that simply means is if you're preparing to jump into the intersection, and the electric car across the street is preparing to turn in front of you, you no longer have as much time to make the decision about whether to go forward or to remain where you're at because the electric-powered  vehicle is going to be in the middle of the intersection much more quickly than you are used to.

Another driving factor, on the highway traditionally vehicles used to come up behind you and move to the outside passing somewhat slowly as they accelerate and move into the next lane, electric vehicles will perform this passing maneuver very differently. They will often come up fast and quietly move to the outside rapidly and pass at an even higher rate of speed than you would normally anticipate.

These performance differences of faster acceleration and less noise are going to force us all to rethink our driving habits.

More caution will be required at stop lights, 4-way stops and intersections as vehicles may accelerate from the red light, stop sign or 4-way stop much more quickly than you might anticipate.

As more people drive electric vehicles, they will become very familiar with the new performance characteristics that have been put in their hands, and they are sure to use them whenever the opportunity presents.

The growing number of electric vehicles that will be joining the daily commute is going to increase at an extremely rapid rate. Even the least expensive of these electrically powered cars and trucks will have performance characteristics in terms of power and acceleration that far exceed their traditional fossil-fuel counterparts.

What this means is we are all going to need to adjust our driving habits and our process of driving observation to accommodate the performance characteristics that will allow these vehicles to start more quickly, accelerating more rapidly, running through yellow lights at a higher rate of speed.

It's time to start thinking about all these issues now.

At the accident scene, these excuses are probably not going to play out very well.

I didn't hear it coming.
I didn't think it was coming that fast.
It came across that intersection before I could get stopped.
It’s the electric car’s fault.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.  



Opinion by:  E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin  

This is the third Post in my series regarding the rapidly emerging electric vehicle.

You can catch the first two post by clicking on these links:

The Electric Vehicle an All-New Experience for The Driver, Biker, Bicyclist and Pedestrian

 Things You Need to Know About Driving Around With Electric Vehicles

All indications are the number of electric cars and trucks on our streets and roads is going to increase at a dramatic rate over the next three to five years.

As I've indicated in my previous posts, this new form of transportation is going to affect us in many ways in addition to our move away from fossil fuels.

I've taken a look at bikers, bicycles, and pedestrians in these previous posts and how the presence of electric vehicles in on our roadways, and in our parking lots is likely to affect us.

However, the impact on children may be the most significant.

Children today from somewhere between five and seven on up are aware of cars, kind of how they work, how they look, and most of all how they sound.

The old-school safety adage at the intersection “Stop Look And Listen” has probably saved more children's lives, then we can begin to imagine. The problem is the third leg of that three-legged Stool Stop, look, Listen is not going to work as well as it used to.

Children being born now, under the age of 5, will grow up riding in and being around electrically powered vehicles. It's not too big of a stretch to assume that they will adapt to their new environment of something large and dangerous moving about them that they can't hear, better than their older counterparts who rely significantly on their ability to hear something coming as well as see it coming.

Note the teenager or preteen, and the young adult, walking across the intersection cell phone in hand texting, reading text or making a call and not bothering to look either way relying mostly on their ears to alert them if something is headed in their direction.

In the world of electric vehicles, unless there are some significant changes, that is a recipe for disaster.

Younger children, who tend to learn by example are following along with less visual attention to almost everything and more audible attention than ever.

So, the question is what do you tell your children about electric vehicles? I think it first begins with an example of you yourself changing your level of awareness in walking, bike riding and maneuvering in parking lots. Leave your cell phone in your pocket, be constantly looking about, and when you see an electric vehicle point it out to your child and comment about how quiet it is.

Raising the awareness level among children and young adults as it relates to sensory perception is going to be a significant challenge. Most of us will go to almost any length to protect our children from harm; the question is how much effort will we put into training them in a new way of walking and riding their bicycles?

We're also going to need new awareness programs.

New coloring books that point out you have to look for the cars not just listen for them.

 New school safety programs that deal with watching where you're going, watching where you cross, watching where you're walking when there are cars and trucks in the same vicinity.

All of this needs to start now, not after we've had a ration of pedestrian injuries and deaths of children and adults related to electrically powered vehicles.

It may be time to start comparing that electric car as a stealth predator, not unlike the neighborhood cat who quietly sneaks up on the neighborhood squirrel, who, if not paying close attention may have an unpleasant outcome.

None of this is to say that electric vehicles are inherently bad. They certainly are not.

They are going to contribute significantly toward resolving our climate-change issues and our consumption of fossil fuels.

However, all of us are going to have to adapt to the presence of these large, quiet machines on our streets, roadways, parking lots and school pickup zones. Now is the time to start not after tragedy occurs.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.  



Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD
AuthorIn Search of Robin  

As we move into 2022, you're going to see more advertising for hybrids and all electric vehicles from virtually every automobile manufacturer.

Most consumers will have several questions and concerns about electrically powered vehicles as they consider a potential purchase.

These concerns center around the issues of mileage between charges (range), charging times, availability of charging stations; home installed charging options, reliability, safety, warranty, and dealer service.


Electric motor and battery technology is evolving almost daily. Mileage, or range as it is more often referred to in electric vehicles is increasing between charges significantly. The question is, how much of the manufacturing statistics provided on those windows stickers can you believe? The short answer is we really don't know right now. What is obvious is the automobile manufacturers will attempt to make their vehicles look the best by citing the greatest range statistics.

What I suspect the consumer is going to find, is that the actual range of any electric vehicle will vary greatly depending on where it's used and how it's used.

There could be significant differences in the range of an electrically powered vehicle from a cold or cooler climate to a warmer climate. Remember that both heating and cooling will be provided by electric energy drawn from the battery pack. As you use the car's electric energy supply to control the cabin environment, it will reduce the amount of energy available to power the vehicle.

So, the point is, take those range statistics with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, you're not going to know the actual range of any electric vehicle you purchase until you have it and have driven it for some time.

Electric Vehicle Charging

The electric vehicle manufacturers are all faced by the daunting issue of providing charging stations. There is yet to develop a significant model from any of the fossil-fuel  retail providers to support a large influx of electrically powered vehicles. Right now, it's hard to make a case for the investment. However, as the number of electrically powered vehicles on our roadways grows exponentially you will begin to see charging stations deployed at what are now traditional gasoline fuel stops.

The daunting issue is using your electric vehicle on longer trips. Electric vehicles purchased for computer use around town, taking the kids to school, going grocery shopping will present few if any recharging problems if a sufficient recharging connection has been created at the home.

So, when considering the purchase of an electric vehicle you must carefully consider exactly what that vehicle is going to be used for. If your daily commute or vehicle usage is well under the vehicles estimated range, then you should have no problem keeping the vehicle sufficiently powered. Just remember, that range should be the actual range not necessarily the range on the window sticker.


Since there are many electrically powered vehicles currently on the road, I would not expect reliability to be a significant issue from the major automotive manufacturers.

There will certainly be problems with electric vehicles just like there are with their fossil-fuel counterparts and recalls. If you are an early adopter of electrically powered cars and trucks, you must make those purchases with the fact firmly in mind that you are part of the electrically powered vehicle development process.

The only real proving ground for automobiles since the beginning of motorized transportation has been the highway and the roadway. No manufacturer honestly knows how things are going to go with any vehicle regardless of its power plant until you put it in the hands of multiple users with multiple applications and widely varying driving styles.

So, if you're early in, look to be part of that process.

Safety, Warranty, And Dealer Service

There's a lot of effort going into making electrically powered vehicles as safe as they can possibly be. However, once again until we actually get them on the road in large numbers, we're not going to know all the answers to the safety issues. From a crash, crunch, and crumple perspective, they should not vary widely from traditionally powered automobiles. From a fire, explosion perspective they present a whole new series of issues for manufacturers, users, and first responders.

I think warranty and dealer service for the electrically powered vehicle will in the near term be exceptional. In the short term, until dealer service departments get their technicians to the factory authorized schools and become proficient in dealing with the electrical portion of the vehicle, service could be a bit sketchy. Wait times at dealers for service appointments related to electrically powered vehicles could be excessive early on and in some cases problematic.

It's certainly in the interest of both the car dealership and the vehicle manufacturer to ensure that the automotive technicians working in the service department get the best and latest training on how to deal with these totally different vehicles.

I don't think this should be a major decision point as you consider buying an electric vehicle, but it should be something you should be aware of. Rolling up to your dealer with your new electric car that has some sort of minor problem, you may not be able to get in for an immediate service appointment. Just something to think about

All in all, I think the electric vehicle is a wise purchase specifically to use as a commuter vehicle to perform all those short trip commuter functions that we do every day.

It won't be long before the over the road; longer haul trip will be just another trip with charging opportunities along the way that will be sufficient to quickly recharge the battery and get you moving on down the road.

For now, that doesn't exist and that should be part of your equation as you evaluate whether or not you're going to go electric.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.  



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