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Hybrid Parking Spots: Reserved or Free For All?

It’s hard to believe anyone is against improved fuel economy.  From the politics and economics of importing oil from unfriendly states in the middle east, to burning a limited resource and spewing smog and carbon emissions into the air.  It’s all bad.

Still, when does encouraging fuel efficient vehicles go too far?  Many get tax breaks, often federal and state.  Some allow you to drive in reserved lanes on the freeway in some metropolitan areas.  Charging stations for plug-in vehicles take premium parking spaces.  Some cities and shopping centers even have prime parking spots dedicated to hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles.

Such parking spots may be enforced by municipal ordinances, while others may be simply suggestions.  While hybrids usually have a badge of some sort to identify them, what defines a “fuel efficient” vehicle?  Is it a clean diesel?  A sub-compact?  Anything better than average for its class?  Who decides?  The city?  The parking enforcement officer?  Maybe you do?  Suppose you drive a monster SUV but that hybrid spot is the last one in the lot and you’re running late to bring in a few sick kids to the doctor’s office.  It’s a lot more fuel efficient for you to park there than to drive around for 5 minutes spewing toxic stuff into the air, right?

So, what do you think?

earthdestroyer

 

How Are We Doing?

In 2001, Car-Seat.Org and Car-Safety.Org were founded to help parents keep their kids safe in automobiles.

In that year, according to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes were the #1 overall cause of death for kids ages 1 to 4 years old, killing 558 children that year, just above “congenital anomalies.”  A total of 520 kids ages 5 to 8 died in crashes that year, by far the #1 overall cause of death for that age group as well.

Ten years later, the most recent year in WISQARS for data in 2011, crash fatalities to children ages 1 to 4 years old dropped to 330.  That is the 5th leading cause of death for this age group, after congenital anomalies, drowning, homicide and cancer.  Similarly, car crash fatalities dropped to 285 for kids ages 5 to 8 years old, making it the #2 cause of death for that age group behind cancer.  We credit automobile manufacturers, child restraint manufacturers, child passenger safety organizations, advocates and parents for this trend.

There is still a long way to go.  Combined, for children ages 1 to 8 in 2011, motor vehicle crashes are still the #1 unintentional (and therefore preventable) cause of death.  Back in 2001, unrestrained kids accounted for more than half of these fatalities.  By 2011, education had dropped the percentage to about one-third of all crash fatalities from unrestrained kids, according to the CDC.  For infants, only about 25% of kids under 12 months old died because they were unrestrained in a car crash.  We’ve made a little progress, but we can do a lot more.

Heather, Kecia and I started blogging regularly in 2008.  Since then, our kids have nearly outgrown carseats, with the exception of some boosters. Maybe you think that takes some of the stress away from keeping your own children protected from one of their leading killers?  I’m sad to say it doesn’t.  In fact, all three of us will soon have a child with their own driver’s license.   How scary is that?  Pretty scary.  Every single one of those 285 grade school children ages 5 to 8 that died in crashes in 2011 is a tragedy.  Now consider this:

In 2011, almost 2,600 children ages 16 to 19 died in motor vehicle crashes.  That is roughly double the 1,300 children ages 1 to 15 that died in motor vehicle crashes that same year, and 5 times the approximately 500 children ages 12 to 15 that died in crashes that same year.  As you can see, the risk of a child dying in a motor vehicle crash increases significantly when they turn 16.  Fortunately, this number is trending downward as well.  It dropped from 4,700 deaths in 2001 to 2,600 deaths to teen drivers in 2011.  Still, traffic safety advocates have a lot more lives to save!

An Update to our Convertible Carseat Comparison for Compact Cars

Just a note that we have updated our Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparsion blog.  It’s one of our most popular articles and for good reason!  If you are installing a rear-facing convertible behind the driver or passenger, especially in a compact vehicle, you already know why!  Not all carseats are created equal.  Some take up a lot more room than others and this is a big deal if you are tall or have a small car.  In our chart, we assign a “Space Grade.”  This is not an overall rating of the carseat, but only a guide to show which models may conserve some legroom for front seat passengers or in other vehicle seating positions with limited space.  It is also not an indicator of compatibility for any particular vehicle.

poor MattSo what is it?  It’s a guide to give you an idea of what carseats may be worth trying in small cars or cramped positions.  We carefully measured many popular models, including most from our Recommended Carseats list.  It’s not all inclusive, but we will add more in the future.  New additions include the Clek Foonf, Diono Rainier, Graco 4Ever and Safety 1st Guide 65 among others.  We emphasize that our results only apply to our test vehicle.  Your vehicle will vary, because of the contour of the seat, different geometry or adjustment of the front vehicle seat and head restraint or simply because installations can vary from one person to the next.  So, as always, YMMV! (Your Mileage May Vary)

Viewing on a small phone or device?  Try rotating to landscape mode.

Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparsion

Thanks to Kecia for all her hard work on this project!  Measurements are subjective and good comparsions usually mean that one person must do most of the dirty work.

Conquering Roads

The next time you’re stuck in construction, instead of getting frustrated you could spend some time contemplating how far America’s road system has come since 1937.

This great throwback video from 1937 demonstrates novel construction techniques and road features, all designed to eliminate hassle and make roads safer for modern vehicles. At the time this video was produced, New York’s Triborough Bridge (touted as a solution to bottleneck traffic) was only a year old. The Interstate Highway System wouldn’t be authorized for another 20 years.

Things had come a long way since the days of horses and buggies, but in an age where the cloverleaf was considered a marvel of traffic engineering, you have to figure they’d be blown away by some of the multi-level, dozens-of-lanes freeway interchanges of today.