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The Best Vehicles for Child Safety Seats

Car seats. We curse at them. We fight them. We pound them and pull at them. However, we can’t live without them. We all know that our relationship with child safety seats is a troubled one; but does it need to be this way?

Do car seats really need to be so difficult to install and move from one vehicle to another? No, no, no, cry consumer advocates and safety monitors such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. They say that carmakers need to do more to make their vehicles car-seat friendly. They point to the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system that should be the industry standard and should make the installing and removing car seats a breeze.

Unfortunately, a recent survey of the top model year 2010 and 2011 passenger vehicles found that only 21 of 98 were equipped with easy to use latch systems. Speaking about the insidious evilness of the 77 vehicles possessing unfriendly latches, Anne McCartt, the Insurance Institute’s senior vice president for research, said, “Installing a child restraint isn’t always as simple as a couple of clicks and you’re done. Sometimes parents blame themselves when they struggle with latch, but oftentimes the problem lies with the vehicle, not the user.”

McCartt and others have put together a report and listing of which cars are the friendliest to child safety seats. To determine which vehicles are the best the evaluated how the clearance, depth and force needed to install the seats in each vehicle. Their findings are below.

2011 models that meet all 3 easy-installation criteria:

  • Audi A4 Quattro
  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Chevrolet Equinox LT
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab LT
  • Chevrolet Suburban LT; Chevrolet Tahoe LS
  • Chrysler Town & Country (2010)
  • Dodge Caliber Mainstreet; Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab
  • Ford Escape XLT
  • Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab
  • GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab SLE
  • Honda Pilot EX-L
  • Kia Sedona LX
  • Land Rover Range Rover Sport
  • Mercedes-Benz C300
  • Mercedes-Benz E350
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe GS
  • Mitsubishi Lancer ES
  • Toyota Tacoma extended cab

The 2011 models that don’t meet any easy-installation criteria: Buick Enclave CX; Chevrolet Impala LT; Dodge Avenger Express; Ford Flex SEL; Ford Taurus Limited; Hyundai Sonata Limited; Toyota Sienna XLE.

Thanks for this guest post goes out to the team at and


BMW Trunk Mat Fire Hazard

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and BMW have both warned owners of certain BMW 5 and 6-series cars not to park their vehicles inside until a hazardous battery cable problem has been resolved.

In an effort to identify the wayward cables and replace them, BMW is recalling nearly 400,000 of the cars in America from the 2004 to 2010 model years. The problem is that the battery cable connector can work itself lose in the trunk and overheat, which could lead to the trunk floor mat fire. Worldwide, around 1.3 million vehicles could be affected.

Interestingly and thankfully, as of the time of this writing, only a single fire has been caused by the loose cable. No one has been injured by the defect.  The automaker initially found out about the problem in 2006 according the NHTSA documents, though the specific source of the problem was not identified until April 2011 when a special task force found it.

So if you are in the market for a used car loan, you might want to avoid 2004-2010 Bimmers.


2013 Mazda CX-5 Compact SUV IIHS’s Top Safety Pick

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded the CX-5 its number one honor by naming it a Top Safety Pick. This all-new vehicle replaces Mazda’s larger CX-7 and also its Ford Escape-based Tribute.

Not only is the CX-5 compact SUV a safe vehicle, it is a highly fuel-efficient one hitting the highway with a 35MPG. This rating is the top fuel efficiency of any SUV in America. 

The IIHS awards are given to those vehicles that perform well on frontal, side and rear impact, rollover and roof-crushing testing.

The CX-5 was engineered to compete with Ford’s totally-new Escape, the Kia Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson.

Audi A3

Top 10 Safest Small Cars: Forbes, the publication that knows all things moneyed and business, has released another one of its useful lists: its ranking of the 10 safest small cars. This information is especially needed these days as more people are going small, since smaller cars are more at risk on the road than are larger vehicles. Audi A3

Although there were more than 32,000 road deaths in the U.S. in 2010, overall road deaths are forever ebbing lower and lower due to vehicles being safer and DUI and seatbelt laws stricter, road accidents are still the top killer of people between three and 34 years of age. Forbes’ list was made to help those interested in smaller cars remain on the roads. It was made through consultation with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a non-profit financed by the insurance industry, and its 2012 model-year list of “Top Safety Picks.”

Vehicles were evaluated for their performance in side, rollover, rear-end and front collisions. The vehicles were given scores of good, acceptable, marginal or poor for each type of collision.

Forbes’ top 10 safest small cars are:

  • Audi 3
  • Buick Verano
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Lexus CT 200h
  • Mazda Mazda3
  • Scion tC
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Toyota Prius

Texting while Driving to be Banned in Florida?

Lawmakers within the panhandle state are mulling over proposed legislation that will ban texting while driving just a year after similar legislation failed to pass. However, word from within the house and the senate is that opposition to this year’s proposed ban seems to be absent.

The strange thing about Senate Bill 416 is that insurance insiders are divided as to whether or not it is needed and whether or not the ban would make texting and driving any safer. Despite the lack of agreement on the effectiveness of such legislation, it is thought that unless a groundswell of opposition develops, the law will pass.

[Thanks to Auto Loans Florida for the tip!]


California Attacks Freedom, the Poor with New Car Seat Law

California law makers continued its fight against freedom and the state’s poor by passing a new car seat law at the beginning of the year.

The law, which took effect on January 1, made it mandatory for all children eight or younger or shorter than 4 feet 9 inches to ride strapped to car seats. This new naked assault on freedom supersedes the law that now seems quaint that all kids weighing fewer than 60 pounds or six-years-old or younger. Though no one from the car seat industrial complex has yet to officially comment on the new law, the rumor is that once they take a break from counting their money, they will give the law two thumbs up.  To be fair, other states have instituted similar regulations; and apparently, problems are arising with obese 7-8 year olds fitting into child car seats.

Two previous similar bills were vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man as well-known for his penchant for maids as he is for his knowledge of legislation. The California Office of Traffic Safety says that the penalty for standing up against the draconian law will be at least $479.

As of this writing, no members of the state senate or the house of assembly have spoken up in defense of the state’s poor, which, considering the Golden State’s unemployment rate is close to the nation’s highest, are legion. Lawmakers have yet to explain how they are going to assist those who are living from paycheck to paycheck come up with the cash necessary to meet the new driving requirements.

The California Highway Patrol has yet to clarify whether or not parents and guardians shall be required to travel with their children’s birth certificates and whether or not its officers, made famous by Ponch and John, will be issued bathroom scales.

California Highway Patrol

Image by javazetti


NHTSA ‘Comfortable’ With Chevy Volt Safety Changes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration feels that recent safety changes suggested and tested by General Motors should help prevent future Chevrolet Volt battery fires. The fires, that have thus far only found purchase during safety crash tests, have been such a perceived threat to GM that the automaker has recently taken the proactive step of offering loaner vehicles to owners of the plug-in vehicle.

The changes are the adding of steel reinforcement around the battery and the installation of a monitor to keep an electric eye on coolant leakage, which is thought to be the cause of the fires. Though the investigation is still open, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, speaking at the recent Detroit Auto Show, said that the agency was “comfortable” with GM’s proposed corrections.

In the four safety tests GM ran with the changes in place in December, no coolant leaked and no fires started.

2011 chevy volt

Image by swirlspice


New Safety Technology to Slash Accidents by 80%: NHTSA

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration says that its five-star crash assessment testing may be modified to reflect the positive impact that new collision avoidance technologies have had on vehicle accidents.

As the technologies, such as lane departure assistance systems and forward collision warning systems, become more commonplace and more effective, experts believe that the national accident numbers will plunge.

Speaking at the Detroit auto show, NHTSA administrator David Strickland said, “Crash-worthiness has been the guiding star for NHTSA [since its formation]. But if there’s an opportunity to prevent a crash—that is the goal.” Strickland added that since 80 per cent of all crashes are caused by driver error, this technology could eventually cut accidents involving non-impaired drivers by 80 percent.

It’s just surprising that these technology has not made the list of top automotive innovations of 2012.  Surely it’s as important, if not much more important, than all of the smartphone connectivity gizmos that are garnering all of the attention at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.


Cars Grow More Connected As Regulators Cry Louder for Tougher Regulations

There will be 5.8 million smartphone and integrated connectivity devices embedded in new light trucks and cars in America in 2012, according to QUBE, an England-based company. From the 4.5 million vehicles in 2011 that had the same, this is a 29 per cent increase. QUBE believes that within 14 years, virtually all new vehicles will be thus connected.

Vanessa Scholfield, a telematics and connected vehicle technology analyst for QUBE, was quoted as having said, “They [the automakers] are all looking to personalize the services you receive in the vehicle.”

However, not everyone views this progress as something that is either positive or inevitable. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has recently urged for research to be done on how connectivity devices such as Bluetooth hands-free and in-car communications systems may distract drivers.

The National Transportation Safety Board goes a few giant leaps further than does LaHood with its call for all 50 states to ban the use of handheld and hand-free connected devices. Thankfully, the NTSB has no regulatory or enforcement teeth.

Some observers argue that we need to be careful about any additional regulation. Christopher King, a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. telecommunications analyst in Baltimore, said, “Restricting what drivers should and shouldn’t do behind the wheel is ‘a slippery slope,’ It’s difficult to argue that anyone should be using Facebook while driving a car. But at some level, glancing down at a dashboard is part of driving whether it’s checking speed or air conditioning or the radio.”

There is no doubt that young drivers are the most distracted; however, there is evidence that over 60% of adults used a handheld device WHILE teaching their teenagers to drive.  Like many problems, the solution starts at home.

texting while driving

Image by Writing On The Mall


Run Red Lights And You Could Become A Viral Video Star

Finally, someone has found a good use for those ever-watching red light cameras. American Traffic Solutions, the top supplier of red light cameras in the U.S., has started posting online videos of cars speeding through red lights.

The thought is that people will think twice about running red lights if they know that by doing so they may become, albeit against their will, online video stars. “There are so many people that think their time is more valuable than your life,” said Russ Rader, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in an interview with ABC 7 News, Washington.

Though there remains some controversy over these cameras, with some claiming that they cause rear-end collisions as people quickly stop to avoid having their photos taken, at least one study by the IIHS determined that the cameras have saved lives by reducing the number of deadly accidents in intersections.


Image by samantha celera