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.

Continue reading >>>

J.D. Power’s 2014 Ten Best for Initial Quality

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

The auto press usually focuses on new cars this time of year, but another reason the midwinter months can be exciting is from the used car perspective. Around this time of year, some of the cars that were brand new last year are starting to appear on used car lots. 2014 models have had their time in the spotlight, and now’s your chance to try to find one for a bargain. There likely won’t be a hugely significant price change, mind you, but you can (we hope) expect a barely year-old vehicle to be in decent shape. Even if these cars are still on new lots, you can expect the dealerships to offer some great deals to move that inventory and make way for the plethora of ’15s and ’16s they’re receiving.

Continue reading >>>