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Traffic Deaths Highest in Lenient States

Study shows lax states suffer with highest fatality rates.

by on Jul.19, 2016

A new study shows that there is a correlation between lenient driving laws and a high rate of driving deaths.

America’s in the midst of the 100 most dangerous days of the year for teenager drivers across the country, and a new study shows that lax driving laws directly correlate to increased traffic fatalities.

Conducted by the Auto Insurance Center, this new study shows that states with least restrictive laws related to teen driving, speed limits and other areas have the highest incident rates.

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For teenagers, Wyoming reported the highest rate of deaths for teen drivers and the state has only mild restrictions on teen drivers. However, the next two states on the list, Montana and North Dakota, have some of the least restrictive rules for teen drivers, granting them full privileges at age 16. (more…)

Teen Inventor Aims to End Hot Car Deaths

Feds develop guidelines for parents after testing devices.

by on Aug.08, 2014

The death of Cooper Harris, who was left in a hot car by his father, Justin Roy Harris, has renewed efforts to develop devices to warn drivers when they have left a child in a vehicle.

The problem of parents leaving children in hot cars because they forgot they were in the back seat has spurred the development of devices to prevent this tragedy, including a high schooler in New Mexico.

Motivated by the reports she’d heard over the years, Alissa Chavez developed The Hot Seat for her eighth-grade science fair in Albuquerque. The hot seat is a pad that slides underneath a child seat’s cushions that senses the weight of the child in the seat.

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Once activated, it links via bluetooth to a key fob, smartphone and the car. If the child is not removed from the seat and the fob is more than 40 feet away from the car, an alarm sounds on the fob, phone and car alerting the parent. (more…)

Technology Joins the Fight Against Distracted Driving

Fighting fire with digital fire.

by on Oct.15, 2013

Automakers are turning to high-tech solutions to address both high- and low-tech distracted driving issues.

In an era where everything from text messages to sliding briefcases to spilled coffee and crying babies can distract a driver, one of the biggest jobs of automotive engineers is to help find a way to to keep a motorist’s attention focused on the road.

With federal safety regulators estimating that more than one in 10 U.S. highway fatalities results from distracted driving, many states are beginning to crack down with laws that limit the use of hand-held cellphones and texting while behind the wheel. But there’s a growing interest in using high-technology solutions to battle against distracted driving.

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Carmakers are deploying a variety of strategies, including the wider use of voice commands that will allow a driver to change stations or request directions to a specific location. Head-up displays that put information, such as vehicle speed, on the windshield are also becoming more common.  HUD is available on a number of high-line products, including the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, and at the other extreme, on the new Mazda3, while Mini plans to roll the technology out on a wide range of models.

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Stability Control Systems Yielding Dramatic Drop in SUV Death Rate

Sport-utes now safer than passenger cars thanks to anti-skid, anti-rollover technology.

by on Jun.09, 2011

A new study finds that with the increased use of anti-rollover technology SUVs now have a lower death rate than comparable passenger cars.

Your odds of dying or being seriously injured in the crash of an SUV – especially a rollover accident – has dropped sharply in recent years, according to a new report by an insurance industry trade group that gives much of the credit to the electronic stability control systems that are now becoming standard equipment.

While many motorists tend to view big sport-utility vehicles as a safe option because they sit higher, offer broader visibility over traffic – and have plenty of sheet metal surrounding the passenger compartment – utes have traditionally had higher death rates than comparably-sized sedans and coupes.  The big problem has been rollovers, which are far more common in truck-based vehicles, and which are responsible for a significant share of SUV deaths and injuries.

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But the situation has reversed itself now that a large and growing number of sport-utility vehicles come equipped with electronic stability control, a technology designed to help maintain control in poor driving conditions or when a driver makes an error like over-accelerating into a corner.  Most of the digitially controlled ESC systems used in trucks add software to minimize the risk of rollovers.

“The rollover risk in SUVs used to outweigh their size/weight advantage, but that’s no longer the case,” thanks to electronic stability control, or ESC, said Anne McCartt, the senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Pound for pound, SUVs have lower death rates.”

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Highway Deaths Plunge to Lowest Level Since 1949

Data could challenge assumptions about distracted driving “epidemic.”

by on Apr.01, 2011

Improved vehicle design gets some of the credit, experts say, for declining highway fatalities.

While officials caution it’s still a sizable toll, U.S. highway deaths dropped to 32,788 last year, the lowest level since 1949, continuing a relatively steady decline that safety experts credit to a variety of factors.

The 2010 number was a 3% drop from the year before, when 33,808 Americans were killed in motor vehicle and pedestrian collisions.  And the 2009 number was itself a nearly 10% decline from the year before that.

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Despite the decline, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood sounded a cautionary note when releasing the data, stressing, “Too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”

Exactly what is behind the latest dip in highway deaths is likely to trigger a flurry of debate.  Often, in years past, sharp declines in the overall death toll accompanied economic downturns, when American motorists reined in discretionary driving.  But that wasn’t the case in 2010.

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