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Deadliest Driving States

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last place ribbonA few months ago, I wrote a post about America’s best and worst drivers. Based on that study, drivers in Fort Collins, Colorado, were the least likely to get into crashes (and therefore considered “safest”). Drivers in Worcester, Massachusetts, got into the most crashes and were ranked worst.

But the number of crashes doesn’t necessarily correlate to the severity or outcome of crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has broken down statistics from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System to show traffic fatalities by state, in terms of both population and miles driven. The national average of fatalities per 100,000 people is 10.3. The national average per million miles traveled is 1.11.

Which areas fared the best and worst?

Well, in terms of both population and miles traveled, Washington, D.C., had the fewest fatalities (3.1 deaths per 100,000 people, and 0.56 deaths per 100,000 miles traveled). The state with the most traffic deaths was Montana, with 22.6 fatalities per 100,000 people and 1.96 deaths per million miles traveled.

MontanaWhen you think about it, this isn’t surprising. Washington, D.C., is small and entirely urban. Crashes there might be frequent, but they’re probably fender-benders in congested traffic. Montana, on the other hand, is largely rural: 98% of their traffic fatalities were in rural areas. (Perhaps some lives could have been saved with quicker access to emergency responders or facilities?) It has varied terrain that includes mountainous roads and flat, wide-open spaces where people might be tempted to speed up. Montana also doesn’t have a ban on cell phone use or texting while driving.

Washington DCLet’s go back to that list of “worst drivers” based on frequency of crashes alone. The four worst cities were Washington, D.C., and three cities in Massachusetts. But as we just saw, Washington, D.C., has the lowest fatality rate. Second-lowest? Massachusetts. So crashes in those areas might be more common, but they’re not likely to be fatal.

The states/districts with the fewest fatalities per 100,000 population are:

  • 1. Washington, D.C. (3.1)
  • 2. Massachusetts (4.9)
  • 3. (tie) New Jersey and New York (6.1)
  • 5. Rhode Island (6.2)

The most fatalities per 100,000 people:

  • 5. (tie) Alabama and Oklahoma (17.6)
  • 4. West Virginia (17.9)
  • 2. (tie) Mississippi and North Dakota (20.5)
  • 1. Montana (22.6)

Keep in mind that several factors play into these statistics. Rural vs. urban areas, distracted driving laws, drunk driving laws, types of licenses, weather and road conditions, etc., so it’s not always possible to compare places as apples-to-apples. Don’t let statistics keep you from visiting Glacier National Park.

If you’re driving, don’t drink. Put down the cell phone and the mascara or razor. Obey the speed limit and slow down in bad weather. Have emergency provisions handy. And as always, use seat belts and appropriate child restraints.

 

2016 Subaru Forester Review: Safety and Performance

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Subaru Forester StockI keep hearing such good things about the Subaru Forester: It gets a 5-star rating in government crash tests, and it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, so it’s hard to beat for safety. Forester owners I’ve talked to seem to love theirs. I wanted to try it out for myself, though, especially since my husband and I are in the market for a secondary car to replace our existing Honda Civic. Could the Forester be a contender?

Here’s a quick video overview, with more detailed information below.

Vehicle Features and Driving

I drove the 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited for a week. As I’ve mentioned in other vehicle reviews, I’m not a “car person” in the sense that I know a lot about fuel injectors or rear suspension. But I do know what I like, and I like a vehicle that feels responsive, as the Forester does.

First, this thing has amazing acceleration. I’d barely touch the gas pedal and it would take off—but not in a bad way. It was nice knowing I could pull out into traffic without worrying about my engine lagging behind. I didn’t do anything crazy, but it handled turns nicely, too. I’m not the kind of person who typically says, “Wow, I really enjoyed driving that,” but I really enjoyed driving that.

Forester EyeSight

EyeSight Cameras on either side of center windshield

The safety features are a big consideration with the Subaru. Foresters equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight technology earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+. (Foresters without EyeSight are still a Top Safety Pick, just not a “plus.”) EyeSight technology is available on mid-level trim options, which is nice considering that some manufacturers offer similar safety packages only on their top trim levels.

EyeSight includes a frontal crash avoidance system that alerts drivers (through a sound and a dashboard light) when they get dangerously close to a vehicle or object in front of them. If necessary, the vehicle will apply the brakes to avoid or minimize a collision. Also included with EyeSight is a lane departure warning. If the vehicle detects dedicated lanes in the road, it can alert drivers when they veer over the lines.

The warning systems in the Forester seemed a bit more subtle than in some other cars I’ve tested. They’re still noticeable but not startling.

The Adaptive Cruise Control, which allows you to set your speed but then slows down or stops the car based on traffic ahead of it, worked perfectly the few times I tried it out. You can adjust your following distance (close, far, or in between) to your preference.

The only feature the Forester lacked that I would have appreciated is a blind-spot detection/avoidance system.

Subaru ForesterOne other nice safety feature of the Forester was adaptive headlights. My husband took the car out at night and came home to report that the headlights were flashing on and off. After doing some research, we realized it was actually the fog lights. When the headlights are on and the car turns or goes around curves, the fog light on that side of the vehicle lights up to give the driver a better view and a bit more reaction time in case something is around the bend. We were surprised that even just a slight turn of the steering wheel would activate the lights—it worked even on very subtle curves in the road, not just on tight curves. I wouldn’t say the feature was distracting, per se, but it was unusual for us. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing we would have gotten used to and not even noticed after a while.

The Forester’s fuel economy is 24 MPG city/32 MPG highway, for a combined MPG of

Car Seats and Kids

Take Back Your Drive

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640px-Cell_phone_use_while_drivingApril is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Safety Council wants you to “Take Back Your Drive.” What does that mean? It means you do a little something for yourself while you’re driving: You give yourself the gift of safety.

The NSC is urging people to focus on being less distracted. By now we all know it’s bad to text and talk on hand-held phones, but more than 30 studies have shown that hands-free devices are just as bad—and might even be worse. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Drivers talking on hands-free devices can fail to see 50% of their surroundings
  • Activity in the part of the brain that detects movement decreases by 1/3 when listening or talking on the distracted drivingphone (hands-free or hand-held)
  • Hands-free features in dashboards can increase distraction
  • Using voice-to-text features can be more distracting than typing them, in part because of frustration with the feature “hearing” things incorrectly

The NSC says that people believe hands-free systems must be safe if they’re built into cars, but the reality is that they’re not. The organization is urging people to take its Focused Driver Challenge, which includes pledging not to have any phone conversations in the car, not to send texts by typing or dictating them, and not to enter GPS destinations while the car is moving, among other things.

You can’t control what other drivers do, but you can go a long way in making yourself and your family safer by being the best driver you can be.

Extended Rear-Facing Recommendations Updated

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IMG_1135Nearly all current convertibles will keep most kids rear-facing to 2 years old (the minimum recommend age to turn forward-facing). But if you want to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, we have some recommendations for you.

We’ve recently updated our list of “Super Extended” Rear-Facing Seats to include relative newcomers like the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air.

We have also updated our list of Best Convertible Seats for Extended Rear-Facing to include the new Graco Extend2Fit.  Stay tuned for our full review of the E2F!

Check them out to find the seat that’s right for you!

If you need more information on why you should keep your child rear-facing, you can check our post on Why Rear-Facing is Better.

Worried that a rear-facing seat would be hard to fit in your vehicle? We have a comprehensive Space-Saving Guide that compares how much room convertible seats take up. Many are very compact and are great for smaller back seats.

You don’t need to keep your kids rear-facing through college, but rear-facing them through at least a good chunk of preschool is easy to do!