Car Safety For Infants

infant car safetyWhile purchasing and using a car seat for your child is a no-brainer, many parents don’t know how to safely travel with their infant as they grow. Here is a helpful list of 10 common blunders parents make while ensuring their child’s safety—and how to dodge them.

1. Neglecting to investigate a used car seat before purchase:

If you’re thinking about getting a used car seat for your infant, be sure to also obtain the necessary instruction manual and the label displaying its manufacture date and model. Also be sure that the car seat hasn’t been recalled, isn’t expired or older than 6 years, is without noticeable damage or missing parts, and has never been in an accident.

2. Incorrect placement of the car seat:

Never place a child in a car seat in the front seat: if an air bag inflates, it could cause serious or deadly injury to your infant. Instead, always place your infant and his or her car seat in the back seat, particularly in the center if possible. If you do not have a back row of seats, be sure to deactivate your vehicle’s front airbags or inhibit your car’s ability to deploy its air bags during a crash.

3. Utilizing the car seat as a crib:

Your infant’s car seat is not a crib—don’t treat it as such. Sitting in a car seat for long periods of time can cause serious health issues for infants.

4. Installing the car seat or applying your child’s seat belt incorrectly:

Always make sure your child is safely secured and facing the right direction while in his or her car seat. When buckling up your infant, make sure the harness or chest clip are even with your child’s armpits and that the strap and harness are flap against his or her chest. Always refer to the car seat’s instructions.

5. Lying your child at the wrong angle:

To achieve the right position for your child, be sure to recline the car seat as instructed by the manufacturer. Placing a tightly rolled towel beneath the seat’s front edge is also helpful. To combat slouching, add rolled baby blankets on either side of baby.

6. Upgrading your child to a forward-facing car seat prematurely:

Children are advised to remain in rear-facing car seats until the age of two or the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer. Once your child is ready to face forward, be sure to install the car seat as advised by the manufacturer, use a tether strap for stability, and adjust the harness straps tightly.

7. Oversized outerwear for your child:

If outerwear is too bulky for your child, a car seat’s harness straps may not fit over him. Fit baby in lightweight clothes and provide a blanket instead.

8. Upgrading your child to a booster seat prematurely:

Many parents move their child to a booster seat too soon, allowing them to use adult seat belts. Remember to only move up to booster seats once your child has reached 40 to 80 pounds or the maximum height your car’s seat allows.

9. Not using a booster seat correctly:

Both lap and shoulder belts are necessary when using a booster seat. Be sure that the lap belt is installed tight and low on the upper thighs of your child. Also be sure that the shoulder belt is fixed across the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder. This is also the same for backless booster seats. You may want to invest in a high-back booster seat if your automobile is without a headrest for your child.

10. Utilizing your car’s seatbelt prematurely:

Once your child is between the ages of 8 and 12, they’re likely ready to use an adult seatbelt. You’ll know if they’re ready if they’re taller than 4’9”, able to sit comfortably against the back of the seat with legs bent snugly at the edge, and if your car’s lap belt rests flat and tight against their upper thighs with shoulder belt across the middle of their shoulder and chest.

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Debunking The Red Car Myth

Red Car MythA long-held and widely-perpetuated “fact” is that red cars cost more money to insure. Fortunately for red-loving auto enthusiasts, this “fact” is simply untrue.

A number of reasons have been proposed to explain why red vehicles allegedly have such a deep impact on insurance rates. While some people contend that red automobiles are more likely to be pulled over because of their standout color, others claim that red vehicles are usually sports cars and are therefore more likely to be involved in accidents.

Many experts in the field of color science would agree that color can affect one’s mood or behavior. Some experts also claim that cars in certain colors can prove safer in low-light environments depending on how noticeable the color is. However, there have been no definite studies conducted in the United States to link the effects of car color on car safety.

Australia’s Monash University conducted a study in 2007 regarding possible associations between car color and car safety. Research concluded that white cars were the least likely to be involved in automobile accidents while cars of less-noticeable colors (like black, blue, red, and gray) were more likely. Despite this research, it is not conclusive enough to prove a direct causation relationship between car color and crash risk. Rather, lighting conditions and vehicle type are bigger risk factors than a car’s paint.

While car color does not factor into your car insurance premium, a number of other elements do. Driving history, claims history, the make, model, and year of one’s car, and even one’s credit history are all variables in one’s insurance rates. Additionally, a person’s gender can affect the price they pay—statistically, women pay less than men on average. Age is also a dynamic as young people between the ages of 16 and 25 are considered more “high risk” than older drivers.

Red aficionados can rest easy: that new scarlet-colored sports car will not end up emptying your wallet. However, it is important to remember all the factors that go into determining one’s premium. Drive safe, own a good vehicle, and be on the lookout for discounts to achieve the cheapest rates you possibly can.

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From Complaint To Recall

Car Recalls

With so many news stories about vehicle safety recalls in the media, being a car owner can become a stressful occupation. Nevertheless, these recalls are critical in ensuring all vehicles and vehicle owners remain safe.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agency receives over 40,000 complaints from consumers every year and investigates every one of them. In fact, over the past seven years, over 900 recalls involving around 55 million vehicles assisted in significantly lowering the number of vehicle fatalities in the United States.

If you have a concern about vehicular safety, here are the steps to file a complaint with the NHTSA and how it could possibly become a recall:

Step 1: Apprehensions about your vehicle, associated equipment, tires, or a child-safety seat can be directed to NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation. The office can be reached online through www.safercar.gov or over the phone through 888-327-4236 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday. The office also has a smartphone app available called SaferCar available to download.

Step 2: Information about your vehicle is required, so be sure to have it on-hand. What will be needed is your vehicle’s year, model, odometer mileage, and vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN number can be found in various locations on your car, but is often located at the base of the windshield.

Step 3: An incident information form will need to be filled out. Necessary information includes the incident date, details about any accidents, fires, or injuries, which vehicle part you think is the cause of any problems, and the automobile’s speed when the incident occurred.

Step 4: The report you filed will show up in the NHTSA database. Investigators look for trends in complaints, and if a trend is found, you may be contacted by NHTSA for further inquiry.

Step 5: The Preliminary Evaluation phase begins, where investigators collect data from the vehicle manufacturer in question. This phase will end if a recall is piloted by the automaker or if no safety problem is found.

Step 6: The Engineering Analysis phase will begin if more information is required. The PE’s data is further analyzed and more data is taken from automakers and parts suppliers. If a problem is found, the automaker has a chance to address the supposed problem or it can be presented with a Recall Request Letter.

Step 7: After the recall is made, the problem will be fixed for free by the automaker and you will get a letter in the mail concerning the defect.

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New Safety Bill Proposes Life In Prison To Auto Execs For Negligence

Auto Exec Negligence

A new bill proposed by Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill could deliver a sea of troubles to auto executives—especially ones who have ignored cries for recalls.

The Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Enhancement Act was drafted in response to recent debacles involving recalls from General Motors and Toyota. The proposed bill would double the budget for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the next six years and also removes the $35 million maximum for fining automakers.

Additionally, negligent auto executives could find themselves with a punishment of life-in-prison if they are revealed to have delayed vehicle recalls.

The office of Senator McCaskill explains that the bill grants federal prosecutors a wider set of penalties to discipline guilty auto execs as well as more freedom to bring about criminal prosecutions for automobile safety violations. In addition to the life-in-prison sentence for violations that result in death, if a delayed recall is found to have led to serious bodily injuries, auto executives could be punished with 15 years in prison.

Both General Motors and Toyota have made their way into headlines recently after mishandling some high profile recalls. Toyota agreed to shell out $1.2 billion in March of this year for lying to the public about the safety problems behind their recalls. General Motors is facing similar scrutiny after it was discovered that GM executives had known about their cars’ faulty ignition switches a decade in advance. Now General Motors faces fines in the upwards of millions of dollars.

The removal of the $35 million limit for fining automakers increases the per-vehicle fine from $5,000 to $25,000. In the wake of General Motors’ controversial ignition switch recall, the company could find itself with a fine of $55 billion rather than $35 million. However, given that such a large amount of money would cripple any automaker, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would likely not hand out a fine that expensive.

Nevertheless, automakers would do best to stay alert if and when this bill passes and to practice more responsibility. With over 30,000 deaths on the road annually in the US, it’s time for automakers to step up and play their role in reducing the number of fatal accidents drivers succumb to each year.

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Volvo’s New Road Sensor Technology

Volvo Road Sensor TechnologyFatal collisions could become a thing of the past—or at least drastically reduced—with the introduction of Volvo’s revolutionary new safety features. The features are set to debut in Volvo’s new XC90 luxury SUV, which will be publicized this month. The car manufacturer’s new safety system boasts auto-braking and run-off-road protection, allowing the vehicle to detect when drivers go off-road and will automatically turn back onto pavement and away from danger.

The new system is part of Volvo Canada CEO Marc Engelen’s goal to eliminate deaths and injuries caused by car accidents by 2020. Fittingly, every new car released by Volvo after the XC90 will sport similar and more advanced safety features. However, the point has been made that Volvo—even with its world-class safety system—will not be able to end or reduce serious and fatal accidents, especially without the effort of the driver.

While Volvo’s new XC90 features an impressive safety system, it is not self-driving, and therefore the driver is still a critical factor. The new features will not resolve the dangers associated with drinking, texting, or talking on mobile devices while driving. Volvo states the philosophy of drivers still being the masters of their cars is important to them. Drivers can therefore opt out of the new security features if they desire: pressing down on the pedal will disengage the auto-braking system, for example.

The past few decades have seen a decline in the number of fatal accidents in Canada and other developed countries. Fatalities were at 3,500 in 1992 and down to 2000 in 2011. The reason for this drop cannot be attributed to just one cause. Along with improved vehicular safety features, Transport Canada claims better road infrastructure and engineering are also reasons behind the decline. Additionally, stricter laws regulating speed, seat belts, and drunk driving, upgraded trauma treatment, and evolving public opinion regarding road safety can be said to be responsible.

Despite Volvo’s advancements, Peter Frise, scientific director and CEO of the auto-related research network AUTO21, believes real road safety won’t be available until all cars include these features.

Frise also adds that because the average lifespan of a car in North America is 11 years, true road safety won’t be a reality for quite a while. Nonetheless, Volvo is spearheading the fight for safe driving, although it cannot be accomplished without the help of drivers themselves.

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