Automobile Safety Archive

Made ya look!

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When we hear the term “distracted driving” we usually think of people texting or talking on the phone when driving. There’s been many campaigns against the two, especially texting. We all know texting while driving is stupid, so don’t do it. But what about other distractions? There is always going to be some element of distraction when you are driving; it’s just part of life. That’s why it’s so important to drive defensively, be aware of your surroundings, and keep tabs on multiple things. If you think about it, driving is full of multi-tasking. You’re always listening (is that a fire truck coming up behind me?) and watching. You should be watching multiple things. The traffic signals, your position on the road, your route, the car in front of you, and if you are turning you may be watching for oncoming traffic in one direction and potential pedestrians in another. So what happens when we add in more items to occupy our attention, maybe items that aren’t conducive to driving?

We’ve already acknowledged phone use. What about the radio? “Not Taylor Swift AGAIN!”- click. Click. Click. Still trying to find a song that doesn’t make you stabby. Your eyes are on the road. But is your brain? What about food? Are you eating? I’m guilty of this. I leave my house for work at 6am and believe me, I like to eke out every last minute of sleep. Therefore I usually end up nomming on a cereal bar while driving. Simple bars are pretty easy to mindlessly eat but I’ve seen people dipping french fries while driving. How many of you have seen women putting on make up in traffic? Am I the only one that envisions her lightly tapping the brakes and sending her eye pencil through her cornea?

Kids. For the love of everything holy, the kids. Endless talking, crying, kicking of your seat. Liam, bless his heart, screamed for the duration of every car ride from birth to 18 months. It’s seriously a miracle I didn’t drive over a bridge. For those of you with babies that are currently doing this, my heart goes out to you. I promise it does end. Stay away from bridges.

Seriously though, your kids are probably the most distracting “items” in your car. The grabbing of a dropped sippy cup or toy at a red light. Handing them snacks. Turning around to threaten them with removal of everything near and dear to them if they aren’t quiet this instant! So what can you do? Not much. Sure, you can give them busy books or play music or let them watch the evil DVD players. But I guarantee you they’re still back there, taunting you.

We can’t completely rid ourselves of distractions. It’s life. But we can take action to minimize them as much as possible. Eat before you leave your house or when you arrive to your destination. Set your GPS before you start driving, not while you are leaving your neighborhood.  Ladies, you’re beautiful the way you are without a pencil through your eyeball. Keep your car neat and clean with everything in a visible place so you aren’t rummaging at red lights to see if you remembered to bring whatever it is you need.

Think about your distractions. Think about what you can do to minimize or remove them. You’re worth it, your kids are worth it, and your friends on the road are worth it. Remember, you’re only as safe at the most distracted driver out there. If that isn’t an incentive to spread the word, I don’t know what is.

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?

2015 Kia Sedona Minivan Video Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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2015-2016 Kia Sedona Minivan Review

2015KiaSedonaThe all-new Sedona is a big improvement for Kia’s new “Multi-Purpose Vehicle.”  It’s arguably the sharpest looking minivan on the market with a tastefully upgraded interior and exterior.  It is also more flexible for families than before.  For example, all trim levels offer three full LATCH seating positions, two in the 2nd row captain’s chairs and a third on the passenger side of the back row.  The third row center seat has a 4th top-tether location as well.  The Slide-N-Stow feature in the 8-passenger trim offers the easiest 3rd row door access in any minivan.  There’s a lot to like with the new Sedona, but does it stack up to the family favorite, Honda Odyssey?

Let’s start with some basic information and features. Please note that since this video was made, the NHTSA awarded the 2015 Sedona a 5-star overall safety rating.  The IIHS updated its ratings methods for 2015, requiring an auto-brake front crash prevention system for its 2015 Top Safety Pick “Plus” award.  The new Sedona did very well in all the IIHS crash tests but did not earn the “Plus” award, since it lacks such a front crash prevention system.  Visibility is decent, with a standard rear-view camera on all but the lowest trim level.  SX versions get the nicer Surround view monitor.  Our Sedona also came with the accessory tablet holder is a handy feature, but it protrudes and is very hard so it seems like a potential risk to a child in a frontal crash.

In Part II of the video, we discuss some of the aspects of the second row in the 8-passenger trim as well as the third row that is common to both 7- and 8-passenger models.  In the 8-passenger trim, the second row should fit various 3-across carseat configurations, as the middle seat is wide enough for some carseats.  Since there is no LATCH or tether in the middle, that seat is best suited for a booster seat or a seatbelt installation of a narrow, rear-facing carseat.  The seat cushion and seat back side bolsters may affect placement of wider carseats in the second row.  In the third row, the middle seat is quite narrow and 3-across will be a challenge, but might be possible with a selection of very narrow carseats/boosters.

Photo Gallery:

A Maxi-Cosi RodiFix booster and a Britax Frontier 90 combination seat (below, left) work well in the 7-passenger lounge captain’s chairs.  A Graco 4Ever carseat fits in the third row.

Review: Big Fun! The 2015 Chevy Suburban: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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suburban stockUsually I jump at the chance to do car reviews. I hesitated about the Suburban, though. For one thing, it’s so big. I’m already afraid of bumping into things with my minivan, and the Suburban is longer by almost two feet, not to mention generally more imposing. My real hesitation, though, was because of my husband. He wants a Suburban so badly, I worried that he’d fall in love with it and then sink into a depression once it was time to let it go.

But duty calls.

Our full review (including car seat compatibility!) follows, but if you want a quick video overview of some features, you can watch here:

Features

burb side viewThe 2015 Chevy Suburban is a behemoth—tons of room for passengers and cargo, tons of power for towing. But it has been redesigned to feel more like a luxury car, with a sleeker exterior and plush interior. It’s also available with an astounding array of safety features, plus lots of convenience features, too.

The model I had was a fully loaded LTZ 4-wheel drive version. Mine was a 7-passenger model, with captain’s chairs in the first and second rows, and a three-seat 60/40 bench in the third row. Depending on trim level, the Suburban is also available in an 8-passenger (two benches) and 9-passenger (bench in all three rows) version. We’ll discuss what that means for car seats later.

For comfort and convenience, the LTZ comes standard with leather seats, power-adjustable front seats with two programmable memory settings, heated and cooled front-row seats, heated second-row seats, power-adjust pedals and steering wheel, automatic folding second- and third-row seats, a heated steering wheel, push-button ignition, keyless entry, and remote start. That was enough to make me want to kiss my current vehicles good-bye.

Additional options include automatic retractable running boards, sunroof, navigation, two rear-entertainment screens, and adaptive cruise control.

But it’s the safety features that really win out. There are side-impact and head curtain airbags for all three rows, plus frontal airbags for the front seat AND an inboard seat-mounted airbag for the driver. That means that an airbag deploys in the center of the front seat to better protect in side-impacts. Other safety features standard on the LTZ model are:

  • Forward Collision Alert 
  • Lane Departure Warning 
  • Lane Change Alert
  • Backup camera with distance indicators and Parking Assist (Parking Assist is also available for the front of the car)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Mine also included Adaptive Cruise Control (more on this shortly), which meant it also had the Active Emergency Braking System and Automatic Collision Preparation System, meaning that the vehicle could brake automatically if it senses an imminent collision, to either avoid a crash or reduce the impact.

The IIHS has not crash tested the suburban but the 2015 model received average results in NHTSA crash testing.  It earned a 4-star rating overall.  While it earned 5-stars in the Driver and rear seat Passenger Side Barrier Ratings, it earned 4 out of 5 stars in both frontal brarrier crash ratings and also the Side Pole crash test rating.  It received only a 3-star rollover rating.  These safety ratings fall shy of minivan competition from the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna.

Fuel economy isn’t going to be great on the Suburban. It averages 18 mpg (15 city, 22 highway), with the 2-wheel drive version getting one additional MPG.

Driving

So how was driving it?