Car Safety 2016: Warnings, Assists, and Autopilot, Oh My!

Car scanning road ahead

We love cars, but find the fact that it took almost 1.6 million U.S. motor-vehicle fatalities to make wearing a seat belt mandatory in America troubling. Happily, annual fatalities have declined fairly steadily since their early-‘70s peak, despite the fact that Americans now drive well over one and a half times the number of miles they did then, often while using a smartphone. And with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing and rating vehicles for safety and crashworthiness, we have to admit it’s getting better.

Smartphones can, of course, pose huge risks to drivers, so much so that NHTSA partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation to create the distraction.gov website, and “distracted driving” now has its own Wikipedia entry. But the connectivity and processing power of smartphones can also be used to help drivers avoid accidents and to make sure authorities get alerted quickly and with all the information they’ll need to respond to an accident. And those capabilities will definitely be required for any future “self-driving,” “autonomous,” or Autopilot-equipped cars. As we learned at NEMPA/MIT’s recent panel on the intersection of technology and design, a whole new world of car safety and driver-assistance technologies is available–and evolving–so we’re going to take a look at some of the more important and effective new tech.

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Reliable Rides: 10 Used Cars You Can Count On

1969 Chevrolet C/K 20

Expected reliability is the single most important factor in deciding on a car, according to J.D. Power. Whether you want a vehicle for off-roading, track days, or everyday commuting, you definitely don’t want one that will cost you a lot of extra money, time, or frustration in repairs. J.D. Power’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study, now in its 27th year, polls owners of 3-year-old cars to determine the number of problems they experienced during the previous 12 months. The company then ranks each maker and model by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles.

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The Kings of New York

2015 New York International Auto Show

The 2015 New York International Auto Show will come to a close this weekend, and as usual, automakers packed the Javits Center with beautiful new vehicles in hopes of making as big a splash as they could during the crowded hypefest. We attended last week’s 2-day press preview, and we have to say it was a very fun but exhausting trip; the automakers like to keep the press moving around the venue. But we moved quickly and made it to nearly all the press conferences with help from plenty of free coffee and some life-saving free chairs.

Some of the biggest names in the business were there to show off what the next year of production has to offer the market. Automakers all more or less stressed the same common themes throughout the preview, but some of the more unexpected themes included fuel cells, semi-autonomous-driving features, and affordable luxury (with the exception of Land Rover and Jaguar, who touted their models’ steep price tags). Dozens of reveals took place at the press conferences, and we thought we’d share our impressions on some of the biggest.

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