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2013 Chevrolet Impala: Will it Kill Your Kids?

We like our cars. We like our kids. The question we have is, shall they ever intertwine? Unfortunately, they shall, for we’ve got to get our children from here to there and back again. There’s just no getting around that… well outside of sealing them into the basement with a television and a PlayStation, but that’s a decision they can make on their own.

No more can we transport the tykes from place to place in the back of the pickup next to the Labrador. No, these days, kids are cherished. Freedom, not so much. 

So, a whole army of Chevrolet Impala owners are eager to know, “Will their 2013 Chevrolet Impala kill their kids?” The short answer is, probably not. Well, not at any quicker rate than any other full-sized sedan. Sure, it may frustrate parents who have to install a child-safety seat into the center seat due to the anchors being somewhat swaddled beneath the seat cushions. However, according to, the average driver will be able to install a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat, and a Graco high-back TurboBooster seat to any of the three rear seats while leaving enough room in front for a six-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger.


Minivan Lift-Gate Struts Under Investigation

U.S. auto safety regulators are trying to find out which vehicles may have been fitted with possibly-failure-prone gas-filled struts on rear lift gates.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made a filing saying that gas struts made by Germany-based Koblenz have already been the cause of four previous recalls impacting around 276,000 minivans sold in America. The concern is that the struts that support and lower lift gates could suddenly spring a leak that could lead to an injury if the lift gates drop unexpectedly.

The previous recalls have been for the 2004-2006 Mercury Monterey, the Honda Motor Co. Odyssey for model years 2005, 2008 and 2009, the 2004-2006 Ford Freestar, the 2008 Toyota Sienna, and the 2004 to 2006 Toyota Motor Corp. Sienna.


Dodge Dart: Top Crash-Test Rating

The childishly-named Dodge Dart has earned a top crash-test rating by the Insurance institute for Highway Safety.

Being named IIHS’s Top Safety Pick will surely help Chrysler’s dream of the Dart becoming the automaker’s top selling car turn into a reality. To get such a rating, a vehicle has to perform well in front, side and read impact crash tests along with rollover tests. Talking about the honor, Reid Bigland, chief of Chrysler’s Dodge brand, said, “We had high expectations for the Dart and our engineers delivered.”

However, Chrysler should not grow too proud of the achievement. After all, being awarded the Top Safety Pick designation is not an unusual event. For the 2012 model year, 132 of the 180 vehicles that IIHS evaluated were given this designation.


MIT Study: READING KILLS (While Driving)

A new study from MIT AgeLab and Monotype has discovered that reading kills. The white coats looked into how different typefaces on dashboard navigation systems affected drivers and their ability to pay attention to the task at hand: driving safely while texting and keeping the kids from poking at one another. 

It turns out that fonts that are more difficult to read can lead to more accidents. The researchers had “square grotesque” font battle “humanist” font. In the study, folks reading the grotesque font had to look at the navigation longer since the font is made up of tightly spaced letters that tend to blend together. About this finding, one lab rat said, “difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed.”

The researchers refused to comment on their study of the notorious wingding font or the allegations that all of the study’s subjects had been killed during that part of the research.


Motorcycle Lane Sharing Laws: Save Lives

A recent report released by the California Office of Traffic Safety titles “Motorcycle Lane Share Study Among California Motorcyclists and Drivers 2012” makes the case that motorcycle sharing laws can effectively reduce motorcyclists’ deaths.

The report found that more than three-quarters of the riders surveyed do lane share on freeways, while 64% do the same on urban multi-lane roads. The positive news is that 84% of the riders surveyed have never had an interaction with a car while lane sharing and of those who have only a small percentage were injured. This highlights one of the advantages of lane sharing, it prevents rear end accidents. The last main takeaway from the riders is that only 1% of them had been given tickets for law sharing. 

Car drivers meanwhile are less in the know about lane sharing. Nearly half of the drivers in California did not know that lane sharing was legal. Only 5% of the drivers reported that they had had an contact event with a lane-sharing motorcyclist, with most of those just being a mirror contact or a minor scraping.

The report summarizes that lane sharing saves lives since it gives motorcyclists more avenues of escape while they are using unoccupied sections of the roads and helps keep them from being rear ended.

According to Motorcycle Consumer News, California needs to be a part of any lane sharing studies since it is the only state where motorcycle lane sharing is allowed and also a state with a long motorcycle riding season.


Safety Exemptions Given to Wheego Life Electric Car

The U.S. government has granted exemptions from having to meet some Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Regulations to Wheego Electric Cars so that it can sell its $32,995 Wheego Whip LiFe two-seat car in the U.S.

This is the second temporary exemption granted to the electric car maker. The first one ran out on August 1. The exemption means that the little car does not need to meet advanced airbag and electric stability control standards. An unnamed U.S. government spokesperson denied that the exemption was an indication that passenger safety has taken a back seat to electric car technology. He went on to deny that it was standard practice for exemptions to be given to products made in China.  

There is no word as to whether or not Wheego Electric Cars will receive an exemption for its naming convention.


Less Than 30% Luxury Sedans Pass New Insurance Crash Test (!)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has created a new insurance automobile crash test that is tougher and may, according to one automaker, go too far.

The complaints, it turns out, may have some validity. After all, of the 11 luxury sedans that have sat the IIHS new front crash test, only three passed: the Volvo S60, the Infiniti G Series and the Acura TL. The others failed due to many of their safety features failing to act properly. 

The test has the cars slamming their driver’s sides into a soft wall at 40 miles per hour. This is a new type of test. Automakers have been making cars that could pass the head-on collision tests. Talking about this new type of sideways test, Adrian Lund, head of the IIHS, said, “These are severe crashes, and our new test reflects that. Most automakers design their vehicles to ace our moderate overlap frontal test and NHTSA’s full-width frontal test, but the problem of small overlap crashes hasn’t been addressed. We hope our new rating program will change that.”


Warm Weather Killing Drivers: NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator is blaming warm weather for the increase in traffic deaths during the first three months of the year. The NHTSA says that traffic deaths jumped by 13.5% during this three-month period to reach its highest point since 2008. The rate of increase for the quarter is the steepest since 1979 and the second highest since the NHTSA started tracking road deaths per quarter in 1975.

For the first quarter of 2012, there were a 1.1 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled, which means that you are completely safe as long as you don’t drive more than 99,999,999 miles in a quarter. In total, 7,630 folks died on American roads this quarter, a solid increase from the 6,720 who died for the same quarter in 2011.

The NHTSA pointed out that an unseasonal warm quarter led to more people on the roads, which led to more accidents and deaths.


Inflatable Seatbelts Not Kool for Kids

Many car child safety-seat makers are warning parents not to strap seats or boosters in with inflatable seat belts.

However, car makers, such as Ford, say that their inflatable seat belts are safe for all rear-seat occupants. Writing about this technology, Ford said in a 2011 press release, “The advanced restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries.”  

Inflatable seat belts work by inflating within milliseconds of a crash to reduce the force of the impact upon the occupants’ bodies. Ford claims the belts lessen the force a body receives by 500% or more. 

As of the time of this writing there have been no reports of the belts interfering with the performance of a safety-seat or booster. Some say the seat makers are merely being cautious. Matthew P. Reed, Ph.D., research associate professor and head of University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s biosciences group, said, “The child restraint manufacturers are concerned that the energy of the inflating seatbelt could damage the booster or alter its performance in adverse ways. Inflatable belts are not included in U.S. federal regulatory tests of belt-positioning boosters and no standard test procedures are available to determine how they affect safety for children in boosters.”


ABS to be Standard on All BMW Motorcycles

BMW has announced that it is making anti-locking braking systems (ABS) a standard option for all of its motorcycles as part of its Safety 360 plan, a much larger program that focuses on rider safety by offering increased safety technology in the motorcycles themselves, safer riding equipment, and better rider training.  

In addition to being a portion to its Safety 360 initiative, many believe the move is being made in a pre-response to the probable passing of laws that will require all motorcycles in the European Union to be equipped with ABS by 2016. Not only is BMW the first bike maker to make ABS standard on all its bikes, it is also the first to fit ABS on production bikes, something it did in 1988.