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Archive for the ‘Car Safety’ Category

10 NHTSA 5-Star Safety Picks for Any Lifestyle

April 29th, 2016

2016 Volvo XC90

Cars and safety have had a long and difficult relationship, but it became way more complex with the arrival of the smartphone. A Pew survey last year determined that 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and anyone who’s spent any time on American roads within the last couple of years knows many people use those phones while driving. In fact, we’re just concluding April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month, during which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.

We strongly urge everyone reading this post to take NHTSA’s recommended steps to minimize their distractions while behind the wheel and avoid getting pulled over–and not just in April, but year-round. Unfortunately, there’s very little any driver can do about to prevent other drivers from getting distracted. So here are ten 2016 cars that should meet the needs and budgets of a wide variety of drivers, all with 5-star overall safety ratings from NHTSA. We hope none of you will ever have to test your car’s safety features, but just in case….

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Ford’s Intelligent Speed Limiter: Controversial, but Necessary

April 28th, 2016

ford-speed-limiter

Claiming ignorance will never get you out of a speeding ticket.

Speed limit signs are there for a reason, and not seeing one isn’t an excuse for flying through a 35-mph zone at 49. Sometimes, though, speeding is a genuine mistake rather than an intentional offense.

That was the case last time I got pulled over. The speed limit had dropped from 45 to 35 and I somehow missed the sign. Thankfully, the police officer let me off with a warning, along with the kind advice to not speed anymore.

Noted.

Had I been driving a Ford equipped with its new Intelligent Speed Limiter feature, the car would have seen the speed limit sign for me and slowed down accordingly. It seems like a great feature, but there’s a lot of fuss about it online. Why?

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Can Cars Drive Better Than People? Elon Musk Says Yes

April 27th, 2016

tesla-autopilot

This is a topic that’s come up before, but it’s becoming more and more relevant as time goes on. We’re talking about autonomous and semi-autonomous driving.

First, let me recount a quick conversation with my wife yesterday morning as she drove to work:

Wife: “I may be becoming too comfortable in the abilities of my car.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Wife: “I don’t even have my feet on the pedals. I’m vaguely aware that the car in front of me is slowing down, but I don’t even move my feet. I assume the car will stop for me.”

Me: “You know, that’s meant to be a safety feature that stops for you if you aren’t able. You’re not supposed to rely on it like that. Please don’t do that.”

Wife: “But it always works, and I don’t have to think about it.”

Her car is equipped with adaptive cruise control which does indeed slow down and even stop to accomodate traffic ahead. However, my lovely wife uses it all the time, whether cruising at 70 down the Interstate or in stop-and-go traffic on city arterials. Is she right to rely on her car?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says yes.

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Best Car Tech Features for Geeks

April 14th, 2016

A new Geek Squad Prius c

Geek Squad has bought 1,100 new Toyota Prius c models. Best Buy’s Geek Squad made the switch because it wants to improve its carbon footprint. It also wants to disassociate itself from Volkswagen, according to Automotive News, in part because of the ongoing emissions scandal.

That got us to wondering what’s the best geeky technology available in modern cars. Well, the answer depends on your definition of geekiness, but here are my four top choices.

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Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 on Opposite Ends of Crash Test Ratings

April 13th, 2016
Ram 1500 (left) and Ford F-150 after IIHS small overlap front crash test (Photo courtesy IIHS)

Ram 1500 (left) and Ford F-150 after IIHS small overlap front crash test (Photo courtesy IIHS)

The bigger the truck, the safer the truck. Right?

We assume the big pickups on the road are some of the safest automobiles available, and that a collision between one and a midsize sedan would end quite poorly for the sedan.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted tests of some of the big rigs, and the results are surprising. It turns out we’re right to assume that the big pickups are safe, as long as we’re referring to Ford trucks.

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IIHS Study Shows Your Headlights May Be Doing a Poor Job

March 31st, 2016

IIHS headlight study

Headlights are not something most people think about when buying a new car. But considering half of all accidents take place at night, you might want to pay attention to what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has to say in its ranking of headlights.

The bad news, according to the IIHS, is that the Toyota Prius v is the only midsize car out of 31 tested that receives a good rating. Throw in the various trim levels among those 31 cars, and the Prius v is the only midsize car of 82 variants to get the rating.

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Day Two at the Javits Center: The New York International Auto Show

March 25th, 2016

Honda Civic Hatchback Concept

Day Two began with the World Car Awards. Backed by a surprisingly loud, club-ish soundtrack and some odd song choices (maybe intended to help attendees wake up after a very long Day One?), the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle got the World Green Car Award, the Audi R8 Coupe took the World Performance Car Award, and the BMW 7 Series won the World Luxury Car Award. Mazda managed to take two trophies, as 2016 World Car Design of the Year and World Car of the Year, with its MX-5 Miata, and having driven the car ourselves, we heartily applaud the WCA jurors’ decision.

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Automatic Braking: 99 Percent of Cars by 2020

March 21st, 2016

automatic braking

Automatic braking is cool, but it doesn’t always work.

Maybe it will by 2022.

Twenty automakers have agreed to make automatic braking standard on the vast majority of vehicles within six years, an effort that is drawing wide praise for its potential to vastly reduce car accidents.

However, there are still a couple of possible problems on the horizon.

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Ford F-150 Being Investigated for Brake Failure

March 10th, 2016

2014 Ford F-150 STX SuperCrew

Ford sells more trucks in America than any other brand. Most of the Ford trucks sold are the F-150 model, 700,000 of which left dealer lots last year.

The truck is popular with suburban families, city-dwelling contractors, rural ranchers, and pretty much anyone else who wants a capable, comfortable, rugged vehicle for his or her personal fleet.

There’s a problem emerging, though, in Ford’s perfectly calibrated sales machine.

The U.S. government is investigating certain 2013 and 2014 F-150 pickups amid complaints that the trucks can suffer from a sudden and complete loss of braking.

Keep reading for more details, and what to do if it happens to you.

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Would You Trust a Self-Driving Car?

March 3rd, 2016

google-self-driving-lexus-rx-450h

For the first time, a Google self-driving car is at fault for causing an accident.

On Valentine’s Day a Lexus RX 450h with Google’s self-driving technology leaned in a little too close to a city bus in Mountain View, California. The two vehicles collided at low speed.

Google has acknowledged at least 17 other accidents involving its cars, but this is the first time it has admitted at least some fault.

This news comes as a new AAA survey claims 75 percent of drivers wouldn’t feel safe in a self-driving car.

Automakers and tech companies are scrambling to make autonomous cars a reality, but are they forcing the issue before anyone is really ready for them?

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