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Volvo Concept Car: Keep Your Kid in the Console

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At the Shanghai Auto Show, Volvo revealed it’s new Flagship “Excellence” model based on the XC90. The XC90 Excellence eliminates the third row to create more luxurious and roomy seating. The reclining rear seats come with massage and ventilation. Volvo also created a lounge console concept for this model by eliminating the front passenger seat in favor of a handy console. Although still a concept, this console was designed for executives or socialites on the go: It can hold jewelry and valuables, transforms into a desk or vanity (great for productivity—maybe not so great in a crash), holds shoes, and contains a full-size screen for “infotainment.”

Volvo_XC90_Excellence_Lounge_Console volvo-xc90-lounge-console-concept-mirror

volvo-xc90-excellence-child-seat-concept-1More interesting to us, though, is the version of the console that also holds a Volvo-designed infant seat. The seat swivels so parents can easily load the child or attend to his needs while standing outside the car. The seat then locks into a rear-facing position, much like the Orbit Infant Seat. With no seatback, a parent sitting in the second row can easily interact with the child during the ride.

volvo-xc90-excellence-child-seat-concept-2The first question on everyone’s mind: What about airbags??? Airbags can be deadly to a rear-facing child in the front seat. No need to worry (much) though: This model doesn’t have a front passenger airbag. It should be noted that the rear seat is still considered the safest place for a child, but the absence of an airbag does make the front seat an acceptable option, and putting rear-facing children in the front seat is a common practice in some countries where the frontal airbag can be easily disabled.

No word yet on whether the infant seat can be replaced later with a rear-facing convertible, which would certainly make for a longer-lasting solution.

You won’t find these cars in the U.S. anytime soon—if ever. Right now the child-seat model is just a concept, and it was designed with the Chinese market in mind, specifically the segment of the market that makes use of chauffeurs (hence all the cool stuff you can do from the back seat).

What do you think? If this car were available in the U.S., would you want one?

SCOSCHE MagicMount Review

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Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.48.28 AMI have a confession to make: I use my cell phone in the car.

Before you jump on me, though, I use it in place of a navigation system. I don’t play Candy Crush while I’m driving.

The problem I’ve had, though, is finding a good way to mount my phone so I can glance over at the map. Until recently, I’ve had to keep my phone in a console down low under the dash board, meaning I’d either have to grope around and raise the phone up when I needed to see it, or I’d have to glance very far down, without even my peripheral vision on the road. Not safe.

I’ve tried a couple cellphone mounts before, the kind that stick to my windshield with a suction cup, and then have a clamp to put the phone in. I found the suction cups fell off a lot, and it was a pain to get the phone in and out of the clamp.

Then I found the SCOSCHE MagicMount system. There are various mounts available, but they all contain a powerful magnet that clings to a metal plate you stick onto your phone or set inside of your case. This means that the phone can be put on or taken off the mount in a split second.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.17.46 AMI chose the dashboard mount, which sticks onto the car with powerful 3M adhesive. The nice thing about this mount is that it can be placed on a horizontal or vertical surface, or even a curved surface. The face of the mount can swivel in any direction, meaning you can place it pretty much wherever you need it. There are also mounts that use the suction cup, a gooseneck that sits in a power outlet, and one that clips to a vent.

FullSizeRender-2Each mount comes with two adhesive metal plates about the thickness of a business card. The small plate can adhere directly to the back of a phone or phone case. Or, if you’re like me and aren’t thrilled with the idea of sticking something to your phone, you can simply place the larger plate (without removing the cover from the adhesive side) between your phone and its case. I worried it might not be strong enough, but it’s worked perfectly on my CandyShell case and my husband’s Otterbox.

IMG_0789  FullSizeRender

Since I needed two of the large plates (one for my phone and one for my husband’s), I ordered a replacement kit, which comes with a small and large plate for the phone, a mini-size metal plate for any other small object you might want to display, plus extra 3M adhesive for the mount. All together, the original mount and replacement kit were less than $30. Once we figured out where we wanted to stick the mount, we were installed and ready to go in minutes.

We’ve been using the MagicMount for several weeks now, and I still get a little nerdy thrill each time I pop my phone onto the mount. It’s just so easy! It’s also nice that if you’d prefer a landscape view, you can just turn your phone before sticking it on—no adjustments necessary.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.17.33 AM FullSizeRender-1

Here’s a video showing how easy the mount is to use:

There is one important warning: Because the mount uses a strong magnet, you shouldn’t use it if your phone case also holds credit cards. It’s fine for smart phones, though, and since the metal plate you put on the phone isn’t magnetic itself, you don’t need to worry about it co-mingling with credit cards in your purse or pocket.

Now, readers of this blog probably have two main concerns with this product, and I’ll address them.

1) What about projectiles???

Yes, in a crash, the mount and/or phone could theoretically come off. That could happen with any mount, though. I’m not sure if it’s more or less likely with this one, but so far this one hasn’t fallen off at all, which is more than I can say for my previous clamp-style suction-cup mount, or the suction cup that holds our Garmin unit in our other vehicle.

And I have another confession: My car is not otherwise free of projectiles. I try not to keep excess stuff in there, but at any given time, we have water bottles and travel mugs in the cup holders, and my kids usually have books, toys, or tablets to keep them entertained. My phone would be somewhere in the car anyway.

2) Isn’t it a distraction?

Sure, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Like I said, I’m not texting or watching movies on it. I have a map displayed, which is no different than a display on a car’s built-in screen or a stand-alone navigation unit (except that it’s better positioned, in my opinion). Can I guarantee that other people won’t misuse it? No, just like I can’t guarantee they won’t misuse any other mount, or skip the mount all together and text away while driving. Anything has the chance to be misused–it depends on the person using it.

I can’t say how well this device will hold up over time, but so far I’m loving it.

CarseatBlog was not compensated in any way for this review, not even with samples. I spent my own money, and I’d do it again…and probably will when it comes time for holiday shopping. I’ll give the gift of magnets. The SCOSCHE MagicMount system used in this review can be found for under $20 at Amazon.

America’s Best and Worst Drivers

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The Best RibbonIt seems like everyone complains about how terrible drivers in their area are. But what cities are really the worst—and the best—when it comes to driving?

 

For the past decade, Allstate has compiled data from the 200 most populous cities to answer that question. For 2014, the 10 Safest Driving Cities were:

1. Fort Collins, CO

2. Brownsville, TX

3. Boise, ID

4. Kansas City, KS

5. Huntsville, AL

6. Montgomery, AL

7. Visalia, CA

8. Laredo, TX

9. Madison, WI

10. Olathe, KS

crash

The 10 Worst:

191. New Haven, CT

192. Philadelphia, PA

193. Alexandria, VA

194. Glendale, CA

195. Baltimore, MD

196. Providence, RI

197. Springfield, MA

198. Washington, DC

199. Boston, MA

200. Worcester, MA

What do these numbers mean? Well, on average, someone in Fort Collins, CO, goes 14.2 years between collisions. Someone in Worcester, MA, goes 4.3 years between crashes.

Of course, factors like population, city density, and weather play a role, and Allstate has adjusted for each of those variables as well. Even taking all that into consideration, six of the top 1o cities are still in the top 10, and eight of the bottom 10 are still in the bottom. (Fort Collins is still best; Worcester is still worst.)

We live halfway between Chicago (#139, 8.2 years between collisions) and Rockford, IL (#25, 11.2 years between collisions). In the two years we’ve lived here, we’ve been rear-ended once and our neighbor backed into our car. (We’ve also had five nails in our tires, so I think maybe we’re just jinxed.)

You can see the full report and find your city (or nearest larger city) here. What’s the data for your area, and how does it stack up for you?

Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around

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no-cell-phone-clipart-nTBGkMGgcBy now we all know that talking on the phone while driving poses a great distraction. But did you know there’s something even more distracting, and you probably do it all the time?

An Australian study found that driving with children in the car is twelve times more distracting than using a cell phone while driving.

When you think about it, that’s not surprising. Besides the normal conversation that children engage us in, there’s also crying, yelling, nagging, whining, bickering, singing annoying songs, and endless games of I-spy. And those are just the audible components.

Add to it the toy-dropping, punching of siblings, and frantic waving of hands for no particular reason. Then add in the help opening the snack package, the handing-back of the snack package, and then your desperate contortions as you try to retrieve the empty packet before your child dumps the crumbs all over his or her car seat.

Those kids are kind of distracting, aren’t they?

2013TraverseBritaxParkwaySGLGracoAffixThe study found that during a 16-minute trip, parents’ eyes were off the road for almost 3.5 minutes, mainly from glancing in the rear-view mirror at their kids. Some even positioned the mirror to focus on their children rather than on the cars behind them.

I felt very smug reading the study and some articles about it. I hardly ever look back at my kids. Maybe I’m lucky in that they’re generally pretty well behaved in the car, or maybe I’m just really good at ignoring them, but that aspect just isn’t an issue for me.

They’re also at ages now where I can pretty much rely on them to hold onto their trash, and they know that if they drop a toy, they’re out of luck. Reaching for a dropped item is something I will not ever, ever do while I’m driving.

But then there’s the part about conversation…and I’m guilty of that one. Just as with the other party in a cell phone conversation, kids aren’t usually aware of what’s going on outside the car. They have constant comments and questions that need answering, and not always at the best times. I remember recently when I was trying to explain the history of child labor laws to an inquisitive 5-year-old while also navigating a tricky highway interchange. When things get too intense or distracting, I do sometimes tell my kids to wait a minute, then get back to them once I’m done backing out or merging or whatever I was doing.

One conclusion made by the researchers (that likely won’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog) is that properly restraining children probably leads to less distraction by the parents. This particular study showed that the children involved were incorrectly positioned 70% of the time, which could certainly lead to a need for increased attention by the parents. Chalk up another benefit to child restraints: Besides protecting kids in a crash, they can help prevent them in the first place.