To Regulate or Not to Regulate - Keyless Cars

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  1. My Esoteric profile image91
    My Esotericposted 10 months ago

    Here is an interesting conundrum.  Keyless cars were introduced in the early 2000 which allow you to push a button to start your car while the key fob remains in your pocket or purse.  Since 2006, 28 people of died and 45 others injured from CO poisoning resulting from forgetting to turn the car off; something I have done a few times with my RAV4 Hybrid (although in most instances I didn't forget, it just didn't work because of something else I did.)

    A class-action lawsuit was filed and dismissed.  A call is being made to automakers to fix the problem (maybe an automatic turn-off after so many minutes of inactivity.  Chances are high that automakers will not do it on their own and it will take a regulation to do it.

    http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/13/news/ke … index.html

    Analysis: Clearly, these deaths are a result of human carelessness.  And, if the only people who died are those who forgot to insure their car was actually turned off, then many will argue - "so what? they got what they deserved"  I want to feel that way because that is just, but I can't.  Then there are those who were killed that weren't party to the negligence, just innocent by-standers - those people I do care about very much.

    Nevertheless, I can't support the lawsuits.  It wasn't the "keyless" aspect that is at fault (with one exception), it was the user.  But, that one exception is IF the manufacturer had thought of that almost certain possibility and did NOTHING about it, then responsibility partially transfers to them and should be sued.

    All that said, everybody NOW knows forgetting to turn off the car is a distinct possibility.  It would be very nice indeed if all the car companies jumped to it and come up with what is probably a very easy fix.

    Now the question: IF the car makers don't step up on their own, should they be regulated to do so?  My answer is Yes.

    1. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      Just some thoughts, added fodder for discussion:
      The change to make the car shutoff is very nearly cost free - merely a matter of tweaking the programming of the computer system.  For instance, my push button start has a remote start function (key fob or phone)...but it won't run more than 10 minutes before the computer shuts it off.  Some cars require the fob to be inserted into the dash - easy enough to shut off the engine when the fob is removed, and something I suspect is already done, (although that still leaves the problem of those that leave it in and the engine running).

      We have gone a long way down the road of the nanny state, with government responsible to prevent us from hurting ourselves through our own stupidity.  Do we want to continue that thread, removing more and more of our responsibility for ourselves and shuttling it onto the great mommy on the hill?

      What about service, where the engine may run for an hour during diagnostics or other service?  (My engine in the hybrid Volt won't run unless it is warming the car in extreme weather...OR if the hood is open.  But that takes more than programming - it requires a sensor switch in the hood and wiring to the computer).

      How far should we go?  We have required a sensor in the passenger seat, checking weight, so a child that has been put there by some idiot won't be killed if that same idiot has a wreck the air bag goes off.  Should we put one in the drivers seat so a child can't sneak the key and go for a drive?  Force license holders to have a chip implanted that all cars could read before starting?

      IMO, our continued insistence that we are too stupid and thoughtless to bear any responsibility for ourselves has gone far enough (actually too far).  Companies spend a great deal of money printing and distributing useless safety notices simply to prevent lawsuits; to prevent bogus claims that manufacturers, not end users, are responsible for anything that user does.

      So my opinion is that no law should be required.  It is also that manufactures should take note of this (however small and 28 worldwide instances in 12 years is not a major problem) and spend the $100 per model (probably less than that) to help prevent such occurrences.  It won't solve it, of course, but it should help and costs very little.  It also brings up the specter of a malfunction where the engine shuts off while driving, and we have a nasty habit of requiring absolute perfection from manufacturers.

      1. My Esoteric profile image91
        My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        How about if you reframe the question "prevent us from hurting OTHERS through our own stupidity. ?" Does that change your view?

        1. wilderness profile image97
          wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          No.  If the number of OTHERS was significant (it isn't) it might, but there is also the option of taking legal action against those that hurt others.  That everyone should suffer because of the actions of a tiny handful is not reasonable.

          It's much like saying that no one can have Xmas trees because a few people will carelessly use them to start a fire.

          1. My Esoteric profile image91
            My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            Of course we are back to wondering what one innocent life is worth? And yes, I do agree there is a line.  But is it a $10 fix or a 1 million dollar fix?  Once a flaw is known (assuming and endlessly running car is a flaw of course) does the manufacturer have an moral and ethical obligation to fix it, or, if too expensive, not provide the feature in the first place.

            Side questions might be "what responsibility does a manufacturer have in addressing human nature where people unwittingly misuse the product; meaning they didn't intentionally misuse it?  How easy is it for the human to screw up without knowing it and should that be part of the calculus?

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

              IMO, the manufacturer has an ethical obligation to fix it.  I said that, predicated on the belief that it an almost zero cost change to them.

              But YOUR question is "do we want another law, with all the baggage that goes with it, to fix something that is a "problem" only when the user screws up".  And my reply to that one is "No - the nanny state has already gone way too far, and additional laws to protect people from themselves is at the top of that 'too far' list.  If we aren't smart enough to turn the car off we shouldn't be driving it in the first place."

              1. My Esoteric profile image91
                My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                Yes, that would be the question.  You agree that the manufacturer does have such a responsibility, within reason, but what do you do if they refuse and "innocent" people keep on getting hurt or killed?  What is it now, up to  73 now or 6 a year?

                But, judging from your next paragraph, you favor letting the flaw stand if that is what the manufacturer chooses to do.  Do you think that should open them to lawsuits now that they know of the flaw and did nothing?

                While I agree with your sentiment "If we aren't smart enough to turn the car off we shouldn't be driving it in the first place."" I am not sure "smart" is the right descriptor.  Forgetful, careless maybe?  To me, that describes most humans.

                1. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                  Then don't buy their car.  Consumers are not children that need the "guidance" of the federal government to force them into the "right" decision in everything they do. 

                  Manufacturers are not (or should not) be held liable for the failure of their customers to use a modicum of intelligence and care.  I know that isn't the philosophy today, which is why we see the most ridiculous warning labels on products everywhere we go.  They are there to protect the manufacturer from lawsuits, not to keep the owner from their stupidity.  How about we put a label on the dashboard, in giant neon green letters: TURN OFF THE ENGINE, BUT ONLY WHEN PARKED IN A SAFE PARKING AREA WHERE IT IS LEGAL TO PARK ME.  PUT ME IN PARK AND SET THE HANDBRAKE, TOO.  DISCONNECT THE SEATBELT BEFORE YOU TRY TO GET OUT.  TAKE THE CHILDREN AND PETS OUT OF THE BACK SEAT WHEN YOU EXIT ME.  LOCK MY DOORS.  LOOK BEFORE YOU STEP AS THERE MAY BE A CURB THERE AND YOU MIGHT FALL. 

                  Personally, I'd be far more concerned with what happens if the "off" button is touched by error...while moving at speed.  I've done that - reached for a nearby button, missed and hit the "off" button while going down the freeway at 80 MPH.  I expect the manufacturer to take such errors into consideration and ensure (as much as possible) that there will be no negative consequences for even a gust of wind might cause that.

                  But to require them, under force of law, to shut off the engine when there has been no activity for X number of minutes, well, they already provide a chime if the door is opened with the engine on.  A normal person hears the engine running if they exit with it on.  People absolutely should be paying enough attention to what they're doing to shut it off.  No.  We don't need to make the action automatic - if they aren't smart enough to turn it off then they shouldn't be driving.

                  Maybe we could convince manufacturers that instead of a "bong bong" when the door is opened the speaker should shout at high volume SHUT THE DOOR, DUMMY!  Or TURN OFF THE LIGHTS DUMMY!  Bet it wouldn't take but a few times before the most jaded driver learned to do it.  Every time.

                  Esoteric, we have a different philosophy on this matter.  You  require the government perform the duties of a mommy, always watching out that the children don't hurt themselves.  I don't want it doing that, I resent that legislators think I'm a child and I hate that we really becoming a nation of kids depending on Mommy to take care of us.  The "dumbing down" of the country, so that people don't need to do for themselves because someone smarter has done it for them is not in our best interests. 

                  My grand daughter recently got her first car.  She announced the other day that she was digging around in the trunk and what did she find but another tire!  It was so astounding to find a tire in the trunk she had to tell everyone.  Neither her nor either of two more grandkids with their first car had ever heard of checking the oil.  None had any idea how to change a tire.  None knew where the jack was.  None can put air in the tire.  None realized that oil needs changed periodically.  One drove for less than a week when she went across one of the dips we have in residential areas to drain water fast enough to drive the front down and set off the airbags in her "new" car.  All have gone through "drivers ed" although I question that they were "educated" in anything at all.

                  1. My Esoteric profile image91
                    My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                    I could buy that " SHUT THE DOOR, DUMMY!  Or TURN OFF THE LIGHTS DUMMY! "

                    "Esoteric, we have a different philosophy on this matter. " - Yes we do. The fundamental difference we have is the value of a life.  Preventing one needless death is more important to me than not having gov't regulations.

                    But for the forgetfulness of the father and lack of regulation, the daughter is dead.  That's what it boils down to, isn't?  I prefer to have the daughter alive and have the regulation.

                    If the fix is too expensive, then that feature should be abandoned.

      2. My Esoteric profile image91
        My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        BTW - "We have gone a long way down the road of the nanny state" is not true, not even close.  America is almost last in the world of wealthy and semi-wealthy nations in taking care of its citizens.  While most (if not all) nations who can afford it care about relieving the suffering of its people, America barely tries.

    2. GA Anderson profile image91
      GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      Well hell bells My Esoteric, I read the thread before responding, so I can only say my answer is "no." Wilderness has already covered the perspective I would have offered.

      GA

      1. MizBejabbers profile image91
        MizBejabbersposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        We kind of got off track on the convenience of keyless cars, but to get back on regulation of hybrids:  Every regular legislative session, this bright-bird state representative introduces a bill to raise the license tax on hybrids "because they are not paying their share of the road taxes." Every year I hold my breath until the bill fails.
        Right now my Prius costs about $26 a year to license while my husband's much heavier Dodge Ram 1500 costs about $30. This jerk wants licensing for hybrids to start at $50. What the doofus doesn't realize is that hybrid owners already pay more sales taxes just to own a hybrid, a portion of which does go into the highway fund. For instance, a Prius or a Honda Insight costs several thousand dollars more than a Corolla or a Civic that gets very acceptable gas mileage, therefore, the buyer already pays more in sales taxes than the buyer of a comparable single-fuel vehicle.
        Hybrids are also lighter in weight and don't tear up the roads like heavier vehicles do. Since we pay our fair share of taxes up front and drive a lighter vehicle, we should not be discriminated against at the license desk.

        1. GA Anderson profile image91
          GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          Careful MizBejabbers, someone might take that as a Conservative thought.

          And I am envious. Here in Maryland my family sedan costs $73 per year to licence/register. And it is lighter than your husbands Dodge Ram.

          GA

          1. MizBejabbers profile image91
            MizBejabbersposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            GA, I'm a middle-of-the-roader. I've never been a flaming liberal or a rabid conservative. My father was a conservative Democrat. Today that would be an oxymoron.
            Wow, that's high. I forgot to mention that the value of the car also determines the personal property tax, too, so hybrid owners pay higher PP taxes. I lived in Kansas once, and the PP tax was triple the PP tax in Arkansas. We have high sales taxes here, so some of our other taxes and fees are lower.

        2. wilderness profile image97
          wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          Lucky you.  My plug in hybrid pays the same as other cars of the same value...PLUS another $75.  A total electric pays another $100.  This is after paying another $600 or so in taxes when it was purchased.

          And, as you point out, this is for a compact car that does a fraction of the damage a pickup or SUV does. 

          They key, I think, is that there are very few plug in hybrids (regular hybrids don't pay extra) in my state (Idaho).  The group of owners is thus quite small and doesn't have the political clout to prevent the majority from penalizing them for driving a nearly pollution free car that requires very little fossil fuels.

          1. MizBejabbers profile image91
            MizBejabbersposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            There is a big lobby against electric cars nationwide that is part of the oil and gas industry. When I was working at the State Capitol, I noticed several Prius cars had license tags belonging to senators, reps. and high level state officers and employees.  I guess they keep the bill from passing.
            Personally, I think they should be more concerned about driverless cars.

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

              I keep hearing that; can you provide evidence the oil and gas industry are against electric cars, and what reason they give?

              (I also hear they bought the patent for a carburetor that would give cars from 30 years ago 100+ MPG, that they prevent things like adding an hydrogen generator that will vastly increase mileage, etc.  What these kinds of claims are actually saying is that the oil industry is preventing us from getting energy from nothing - a contradiction of the laws of physics.)

    3. MizBejabbers profile image91
      MizBejabbersposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      I wish the manufacturer would install a safety that would turn off the motor or engine after 10 minutes. I have a Prius hybrid, my second one, and have been driving them since 2010. My car can be locked with the touch of my finger on the door handle as long as the remote "button" is on my person or in my purse. Fortunately for Prius drivers, the car will squeal rather shrilly when the driver gets out and touches the door handle if the remote button is still inside or if one gets out and tries to lock it with the engine still running. Having a silent motor, the latter happens to me every now and then.
      Also I went out one morning to drive to work and discovered the car had run all night. My husband is very hard of hearing. The night before, after I'd locked the car, he had gone back to check on something about the car and started the motor. He never uses the touch lock, and after he left the car, he used the remote button to lock it. Being nearly deaf, he didn't hear it squeal that the motor was still running. We are very lucky that someone didn't drive off in our unlocked car that was running. I've never tried to do that without the remote button on me, so I'm not sure that someone could do that.
      Another issue:  There is a lot of discussion about the locking and unlocking of this type of vehicle and the "unsafety" of those features that one doesn't think about. Every now and then I find the car unlocked when I know for sure that I locked it  after I drove it. My husband carries his remote button in his pocket, and I wonder if he sometimes touches the car as he walks by and it unlocks. He has his own vehicle and rarely ever drives mine. I don't think there is anything that can be legislated for locking safety. It's a choice between convenience and don't buy one.

      1. wilderness profile image97
        wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        Our car, a chevy Volt, has a setting where I can tell the car to always lock itself when we get out.  It is buried rather deep in the menus, though, and I had to do some searching to find it. 

        Your husband may well be unlocking the car.  I occasionally find mine with the windows all down (it's garaged), even in wintertime!  Can't imagine what's doing that, but I've watched as it suddenly locks or unlocks as I walk by.

        1. My Esoteric profile image91
          My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          Haven't seen the window thing on my keyless RAV4 hybrid yet, but it happened several times on my key-driven Nissan Murano.  Lost a GPS that way once.

          1. wilderness profile image97
            wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            I haven't figured that one out.  There is no setting on the remote for windows, so what's making them all go down?  I have a phone app that lets me lock, unlock and start the care remotely, too (handy because the range of the remote is pretty short), but again there is nothing about windows.

        2. MizBejabbers profile image91
          MizBejabbersposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          You're lucky you can put yours in a garage. Our garage is under the hill, and the driveway is so sharply curved and steep, once we got down, sometimes we couldn't get back up without being pulled out. That happened in dry summer weather, so we gave up parking in it. I've had my car ransacked and all the stuff in the glove compartment stolen, sunglasses, keys to rental property, bottle opener, etc. They left the car registration papers though. I'm sure the car was unlocked when they did it. We had an SUV several years ago that someone broke out a back window just to be vandalizing it. I'd left a Christmas present in a plastic bag in the back floorboard, and it was still there.

          ME, does your Rav-4 have a finger touch lock? My friend and her son each have one (gasoline, not hybrid), and I don't think theirs do. I think they have to use the remote.

          1. My Esoteric profile image91
            My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            Yes it does and I love it.

            BTW, my step-daughter stopped locking her car because the thieves (she has been hit five times so far, once a year) simply broke her window.

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

              The door button is nice, isn't it?  We had a Prius and I thought the keyless thing was just a gimmick, but I've learned to love leaving that fob in my pocket.  Don't need it to open the door, don't need it to drive the car.  It's even smart enough to know that if there are two fobs in the car, and one is taken out, the door will still lock, but not if there was only one and it was left in the car.

              1. MizBejabbers profile image91
                MizBejabbersposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                I love that touch feature, Wilderness, because in the event that someone is bothering or chasing you, just grab the door handle and jump in for a quick escape without fumbling for the remote. It's never happened to me, but I read a lot about women being accosted in parking lots in town, especially malls. That's why I was asking ME if his Rav-4 had the touch feature. I'm thinking about buying the Rav-4 hybrid next time because it sits the driver up a little higher, and I am short. I love the Prius, but I never bumped a curb when I drove an SUV.
                I don't know where y'all live, but I live in a rural state, and Prius drivers are subjected to being hassled by rednecks in pickup trucks. It's only happened to me once or twice, but another woman said she had escaped several attempts to run her off the road. She lives in a smaller city and drives 60 miles one way on I-40 to and from work each day.
                Have either of you experienced any prejudice toward hybrid drivers where you live?

                1. My Esoteric profile image91
                  My Esotericposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                  No, can't say I have been or seen anyone else harassed for owning a hybrid.  I have had redneck relatives call me a liberal tree-hugger because I think helping the environment is a good thing, however. (Only my wife and I voted for Obama and Clinton, the rest of her family think Trump is god.)

    4. MizBejabbers profile image91
      MizBejabbersposted 5 months agoin reply to this

      My Prius hybrid already has a safety feature. It emits a squeal when the door is locked with the engine running. However, my husband is hard of hearing even with his hearing aids and did leave the car running all night one time.

      1. My Esoteric profile image91
        My Esotericposted 5 months agoin reply to this

        You made me go out and check my RAV4 Hybrid.  I remember hearing a squeal when I locked the door this evening.  I did turn around and pressed the door handle again, but didn't think to check to see if the car was still running.

        If it was, it must have turned itself off because it wasn't running when I went out to check 4 hours later.

        Good to know.

        1. wilderness profile image97
          wildernessposted 5 months agoin reply to this

          I have set my Volt to lock when I exit the car, but it won't do it if I leave the fob inside the car, with no other action from me.  Interestingly, if my wife AND I are in the car, and she leaves her fob in her purse on the floor it WILL lock...as long as one fob is taken out.

          If I use the remote start it is rather irritating in that it will only run for 10 minutes before it shuts off.  Doubly so as the Volt gas engine won't start except in the very coldest of weather - that means no danger of CO poisoning, just running the battery down.  I suppose if one left it "running" for hours the engine WOULD start eventually, but it would take a very long time.

          It is interesting (but not surprising) that you feel manufacturers are liable for misuse of their product; that they must take any and all steps possible to prevent such misuse or pay the price when someone does something they should not.  In the case of the car running I would agree with you...but only because another timer in the main computer programming is a very simple, cheap fix.

          1. MizBejabbers profile image91
            MizBejabbersposted 5 months agoin reply to this

            I suppose you are talking to My Esoteric because I haven't expressed an opinion. I thought the manufacturers were going to install something that causes the hybrid to make a noise when the electric engine is running. Something that has the same effect as clothes pinning a piece of cardboard to a bicycle spoke. We do have to be very careful because a person or animal with its back turned won't hear the vehicle approaching.

            One day I was driving down the street close to my house during mating season, and there were at least four cats, male, I presume, all in fighting stance in the street. I've learned to drive down this block very carefully anyway because of inattentive cats and squirrels. A couple of the cats saw me and took off, then a another one looked up and left. The last one was standing victoriously in the street when he finally saw my car almost upon him. He nearly jumped out of his skin and had at least one life scared out of him. I'm not a sadistic person and I would never have hit one of them, but I laughed so hard at him my mascara was running.

            Anyway, I don't think any of the manufacturers have ever installed noisemakers on their hybrids.

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 5 months agoin reply to this

              Personally I hope they never do.  I like peace and quiet, and find noise pollution to be a very real thing.  I'd far prefer to teach people to pay attention than to make everyone scream out wherever they go.

        2. MizBejabbers profile image91
          MizBejabbersposted 5 months agoin reply to this

          Sometimes mine squeals and says my key battery is low because it is covered with stuff in my purse. Then I have to make sure it isn't stuck between a wallet and checkbook or cell phone that are impeding the signal.

 
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