Those photos of dashboard temperature gauges that pop up on social media feeds when it’s hot out — “111 degrees?! Whaaaaaa” — are a bit misleading.
Yes, it’s hot out, and it’s been humid recently too. But the actual temperature is probably cooler, around 10-15 degrees cooler in some cases.
That’s not a big deal for social media purposes — Aunt Gladys in Topeka would probably respond with a shocked face emoji either way — but it can be hazardous.
“We strongly encourage people not to rely on the dash temperature,” said Doug Shupe, spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.
And that goes for either end of the gauge.
When the temperature dips to freezing, knowing whether there may be “black ice” is very helpful.
“Even if the outside air is above freezing there are areas where the air could be colder, such as in shadows cast by trees,” said Shupe.
“In those spots, black ice forms first and remains longer, even if the outdoor air temperature is above freezing.”
The faulty readouts also are problematic during hot days, when a mild temp on the dash might give some parents or caregivers the idea that’s it’s OK to leave kids or pets in a car, which can prove deadly for both.
“Even on a day … when temps are in the 90s … the inside of a car can reach 133 degrees within a matter of minutes,” Shupe said. “It’s not acceptable to leave anybody or any pets in a vehicle. Don’t think you can just crack your window.”
As for why the readouts are wrong, the Weather Channel recently wrote about the difference between a thermistor — the device used to generate…
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