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.

 

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Graco Tranzitions Combination Seat Review

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Tranzitions ProofMy son, like most four year olds, had a few specific items he wished for Christmas this past year.  But unlike most four-year olds, he was pleased with his gift of a new 3-in-1 combination carseat, the Graco Tranzitions!

Carseats are not a regular gift given in our home, but it seemed appropriate this year for a few reasons. For one, his convertible car seat was going to be passed down to his little sister. Secondly, he needed a very narrow seat when a new baby brother boots him to the 3rd row between his two older booster-using brothers. And so, on Christmas morning, my four year was correct when he guessed that the oddly wrapped, chair-shaped package with his name on it was, in fact, a new car seat! Luckily, upon opening this unconventional and totally practical gift, the sleek all-black design, TWO cupholders and extra padding did not disappoint him!

Tranzitions Weight & Height Limits:

  • Forward-facing with 5-pt harness: 22-65 lbs.
  • Highback Booster: 30-100 lbs.
  • Backless Booster: 40-100 lbs.

Features:

  • No-rethread harness with 8 height positions
  • Dual cup holders (outer plastic portion can be dismantled if space is more important than a functioning cupholder)
  • Machine washable cover
  • Optional body cushion and harness covers
  • Open loop shoulder belt guide for high-back booster mode
  • Lifespan is 7 years from date of manufacture

Tranzitions Proof Tranzitions Frills

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

Harmony Defender 360° Combination Seat Review

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DefendermainHarmony Juvenile Products brings us the Defender 360° combination harness-to-booster seat, a solid performer alongside Harmony’s excellent line-up of booster seats both in Canada and the US.

US customers can purchase from Amazon.comWalmart.com or Burlington Coat Factory for $99-119, and Canadian customers can purchase from Walmart.ca for $159. The Defender is a well-priced seat that comes with features seen more often with a higher price tag.

Samples shown in this review are primarily Canadian. Differences between countries will be noted where relevant.

Defender 360° Specs:

  • With 5-point harness: forward facing from 22-65 lbs. and 27-57″ tall
  • As a booster (high back or backless with lap/shoulder belt): 30-110 lbs. and 34-57″ tall (US) / 40-110 lbs. and 34-57″ tall (Canada)

Features:

  • No-rethread harness height adjustment through nine positions
  • Smooth harness adjuster
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • EPE energy-absorbing foam in headrest, backrest and base
  • Harness covers included
  • May use lower LATCH anchors in booster mode
  • Cup holder swivels and can be used on either side of seat
  • Infinite recline system to best mesh with the vehicle seat shape
  • Approved for use on aircraft (in harness mode)
  • Machine washable cover
  • Ten year life span before expiration
  • Available in three fashions: Pirate Gold (black/grey/yellow), Raspberry (pink/grey), and Moon Rise (US only – black/grey/red)

Harmony Defender Pirate Gold Harmony Defender Raspberry Harmony Defender Moonrise

Measurements: