Posts Tagged ‘Erin Stepp’

Erin SteppLower Gas Prices Help Fuel 2 Percent Decline From 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 28, 2015) – Due to declines in gas prices and finance charges, the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle has fallen to $8,698, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study.  This research examines the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges associated with driving a typical sedan 15,000 miles annually. In the United States, a driver can expect to spend 58 cents for each mile driven, nearly $725 per month, to cover the fixed and variable costs associated with owning and operating a car in 2015.

Additional Resources

“Fortunately, reduced gasoline and finance costs more than offset rising costs in other areas,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.  “As a result, car owners can look forward to saving approximately $178 this year.”

Based on 15,000 miles

Small Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

Minivan

SUV (4WD)

Annual Total Cost

$6,729

$8,716

$10,649

$8,698

$9,372

$10,624

Annual Cost Per Mile

$0.449

$0.581

$0.710

$0.580

$0.625

$0.708

 

Fuel: DOWN 13.77 percent to 11.2 cents per mile/$1,681.50 per year (-$268.50).

Compared to last year’s study, the average cost of regular unleaded fuel fell nearly 13 percent to $2.855 per gallon. This decline, coupled with improvements in vehicle fuel economy, resulted in an average 11.21 cents-per-mile fuel cost.  Due in large part to this decrease, the cost of owning and operating a sport utility vehicle is slightly less than that of a large sedan this year.

Finance Charges: DOWN 21.02 percent to $669 per year (-$178).

With rising car sales and stiff competition among dealers, many manufacturers are offering low finance rates to attract buyers.  In 2015, average vehicle finance rates dropped 21 percent, which equates to approximately $15 per month on a typical five-year loan. However, rates vary widely with borrower credit scores.

Depreciation: UP 4.10 percent to $3,654 per year (+144).

The single largest ownership expense, depreciation, rose for 2015 due to increasing new car sales that are causing an influx of used and off-lease vehicles entering the marketplace. This increased supply has resulted in lower values and selling prices for used vehicles, thus driving up depreciation costs.

Insurance: UP 8.99 percent to $1,115 per year (+$92)

Insurance rates vary widely by driver, driving habits, insurance company and geographical area. AAA’s calculations are based on low-risk drivers with excellent driving records. While premium calculations are confidential, this modest increase of $7.67 per month may be due in part to high-cost modern vehicle features such as infotainment systems, advanced safety features and lightweight materials that can be more expensive to repair and, therefore, insure.

Maintenance: UP .99 percent to 5.11 cents per mile/$766.50 per year (+$7.50)

Annual maintenance, including labor time and repair part costs associated with factory-recommended maintenance, was factored into the 2015 survey along with average costs of an extended warranty.  Maintenance costs varied widely by vehicle type but, on average, were up slightly from 5.06 cents to 5.11 cents per mile. A recent survey of AAA-Approved Auto Repair shops found that the majority of drivers are behind schedule in routine maintenance, including oil changes, tire maintenance and battery inspection/testing.

License/Registration/Taxes: UP 3.74 percent to $665 per year (+$24)

Vehicle prices rose modestly in 2014, contributing to an overall increase in state and local tax costs.  Additionally, some states increased fees related to vehicle purchasing, titling, registration and licensing.

Tires: UP 1.03 percent to .98 cents per mile/$147 per year (+$1.50)

Due to the competitive and dynamic nature of the tire market, tire costs in 2015 remain relatively unchanged, rising by just .01 cents per mile.

In addition to calculating the driving costs for sedans, AAA determined annual costs associated with both minivans and sport utility vehicles. Owners of these vehicles will benefit from annual driving costs nearly four percent lower this year, at $9,372 and $10,624 respectively, due to lower gas prices and finance rates.

“When shopping for a vehicle, smaller isn’t always cheaper,” cautioned Nielsen. “A minivan, for example, can carry up to 7 passengers, yet costs $100 less to own and operate each month compared to a large sedan.”

AAA has published Your Driving Costs since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppORLANDO, Fla., (April 20, 2015) – The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D earned the top score in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide, the motor club announced today.  The Palo Alto-based automaker’s car is featured with more than 80 other green vehicles in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.  The best green car value award went to the 2014 Nissan Versa SV.

To help those in the market for a green car or truck, the 160-page, comprehensive fifth annual AAA guide reviews 88 battery electric vehicles, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, clean diesels, hybrids, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs), and vehicles with high fuel economy.  These vehicles were tested and scored by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) in 13 categories (braking, fuel economy, emissions, handling, ride comfort, etc.). The report also contains comprehensive information about green technologies from the ARC evaluators.

Additional Resources

“Low-emission vehicles and hybrid choices vary in quality, price and size.  The AAA Green Car Guide is one of our ongoing programs to help consumers navigate the wide-ranging green car marketplace,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.  “AAA’s expertise and history of automotive research with alternative fuel vehicles continues to benefit AAA members and the public today.”

“The center also has a long-term interest in helping motorists cut their fuel bills and clean the air,” said ARC Manager Megan McKernan. “Green vehicles offer motorists a way to reduce emissions and save fuel and, depending on the choice of green vehicle, can help motorists save cash, especially when gas prices are high,” she added.

“For the 2015 guide, the research center divided the vehicles into six car classifications and identified the winners and finalists in each category,” said McKernan. “We also recognized overall ‘Green Car’ and ‘Best Value’ winners,” she said. “The Tesla took two awards – best overall and large car category.”

In describing the top-scoring green vehicle manufacturer, which held onto the top spot from last year, McKernan said, “All evaluators rated the Tesla high for comfort and ride quality. It handled well on our slalom course, and it has the best acceleration times of all the vehicles.”

The Tesla P85D has a 253-mile range, but even with a 240-volt charger, it can take 12 hours to fully re-charge, according to McKernan.  “Despite charging time, the Model P85D was our top-scoring electric vehicle this year.”

The 2014 Nissan Versa SV tops the 2015 guide list as the best green car value when price is factored in, according to McKernan. “It’s priced under $17,000, averages about 35 miles per gallon and has a spacious interior making it an affordable fuel-sipping car,” she added.

The research center tracks significant changes to a vehicle from model year to model year. If no significant changes were made to the power train in 2015, a prior model year’s results were used. For example, staff tested a 2014 Mazda3 sedan. No significant changes were made to its powertrain in 2015, so the 2014 results were include in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.

Overall Top Scoring Green Cars:

  1. 2015 Tesla S P85D Performance (Electric)                                                              94.87
  2. 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)                                                 85.50
  3. 2014 BMW i3 (Electric)                                                                                                   85.40
  4. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Partial Zero-Emissions                            83.86
  5. 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Clean Diesel                                                            80.91

 Best Value: Cost-Per-Point Scores:

  1. 2014 Nissan Versa SV  (Gasoline)                                                                             $249
  2. 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV (Gasoline)                                                                   $260
  3. 2013 Hyundai Accent GLS (Gasoline)                                                                      $269
  4. 2015 Toyota Yaris LE (Gasoline)                                                                                 $273
  5. 2014 Kia Soul+ (Gasoline)                                                                                            $276

2015 AAA Green Car Guide Category Winners:

  • Large car: Tesla Model S P85D (Electric)
  • Midsize: Audi A7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic (Clean Diesel)
  • Compact: Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)
  • Subcompact: BMW i3 (Electric)
  • SUV/Minivan: Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (PZEV)
  • Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 Supercab Lariat (Gasoline)

The ARC’s engineers and technicians – who have more than 100 years combined experience – evaluated the vehicles. Each category was scored on 0-10 points.  Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles.  Then, each vehicle’s total score was divided by its “as-tested” price to determine its cost per point for best value.  The guide lists vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations in one-page summaries.

Tested vehicles were selected based on emission certifications from the California Air Resources Board and U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings.  Tests were performed at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and on Southern California roads.  Testing procedures were developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the EPA and the Auto Club.

The guide will be available to AAA members at no charge at AAA branches while supplies last.  It also can be downloaded on the iPad or on the AAA web site. More information can be found at www.AAA.com/greencar.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Tesla_exterior news-2014-audi-a7-TDI-sedan-exterior-beauty-002 F-150 Is Truck Trend Magazine’s 2015 Pickup Truck of the Year The All-Electric BMW i3. BMW_i3_full_length BMW_i3_charging 2015SubaruOutback-15 2015 Ford F-150 2015_VW_Golf_TDI_IMG_9563 2015_e-golf_4196 2015_BMW_i8_slalom 2014_Nissan_Versa_SV_IMG_9280

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey Reveals High Tolerance for Drug-Impaired Drivers

Erin SteppWASHINGTON (December 29, 2014) – With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia, safety advocates are increasingly concerned that drugged drivers pose a very serious threat to the safety of American road users.  New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly half of Americans share this concern and report feeling that drug-impaired drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago. With 85 percent of Americans supporting marijuana-impairment laws, the survey reveals that while there’s awareness of this serious issue, Americans are unclear on impairment thresholds, safety implications and legal ramifications.

Additional Resources

“While all states prohibit driving under the influence of drugs, there’s significant variation in the minimum acceptable levels of marijuana or its traces in a driver’s system,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Sixteen states forbid any presence of prohibited drugs, while five others have specific limits for marijuana. With a lack of uniformity, it’s no surprise we found that more than half of American drivers are unaware of the laws that exist in their state.”

The Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index also revealed that, compared to alcohol, American drivers are significantly less concerned about the threat of drug impairment behind the wheel. The survey found that while two-thirds feel that those who drive after drinking alcohol pose a “very serious” threat to their personal safety, just over half feel the same way about drug use.  In fact, one-in-six Americans report that, where they live, most people feel it’s acceptable to drive one hour after using marijuana.

“Federal government research suggests that marijuana can impair driving performance for up to 3 hours,” warned Kissinger.  “Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times and sleepiness have all been documented driver impairments that result from marijuana use.”

When it comes to prescription drug use and driving, Americans report feeling even less concerned, with just over a quarter reporting feeling the same “very serious” threat to their personal safety.  However, many of these drugs, along with over-the-counter medications, can impair a driver in similar ways as alcohol. Previous studies have found that a single dose of some cold and allergy medications can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, and certain antidepressants have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent.

“Just because a doctor prescribes a drug, or you can purchase it over-the-counter doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use while driving,” says Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “Always discuss potential side effects and interactions with your doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.”

To educate drivers on the impact that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have on safe driving ability, the AAA Foundation developed RoadwiseRX – a free, interactive tool that allows users to input various medications and check for side effects and interactions that can lead to driver impairment.

Each year, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveys Americans ages 16 and older about their driving behaviors and attitudes. The goal of this annual Traffic Safety Culture Index is to foster a social climate in which traffic safety is highly valued and rigorously pursued.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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Erin SteppAAA Foundation research reveals opportunities to produce smarter, safer drivers

Washington, D.C., (September 9, 2014) – Although vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens, fewer new drivers are participating in what used to be considered a rite of passage – driver education.  State funding and requirements for these programs have declined over recent decades, leaving uneducated teen drivers vulnerable on America’s roads. New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that teens that skip this important step are involved in more crashes and receive more traffic convictions compared to their peers that participated in driver education.

Additional Resources

  • AAA Foundation: Large Scale Evaluation of
    Beginner Driver Education Programs – Fact Sheet

“This research confirms what conventional wisdom tells us – driver education makes a difference,” said Dr. William Van Tassel, AAA manager of Driver Training Programs. “Despite recent declines in participation, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe new drivers should take part in this critical step of the learning-to-drive process.”

This study assessed examples of U.S. and Canadian driver education programs using a variety of evaluation methods including surveys, driver’s licensing tests, driver simulators and the review of driving records. The results revealed that several key differences exist between teens who receive driver education and those who do not, including:

  • Driver education is associated with a lower incidence of both crashes and convictions – reducing crashes by 4.3 percent and convictions by nearly 40 percent.
  • Teens that completed driver education not only scored higher on the driving exam, they also demonstrated modest increases in knowledge over their peers who did not take any formal training.

“Overall, the findings suggest that driver education can make a difference, but there is still much room for improvement in most existing programs,” noted Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This underscores the need for states to adopt the NHTSA-supported Standards that are designed to enhance the scope and quality of driver education.”

AAA, a vocal advocate for teen driver safety for nearly 80 years, works at the state level to improve driver education programs and prioritizes five of the NHTSA-funded Novice Teen Driver Education and Training Administrative Standards, owned by the driver education community:

  1. Requiring a teen’s parent/guardian to attend an educational seminar
  2. Ensuring that classroom instruction is completed in no less than 30 days
  3. Requiring annual continuing education for driving instructors
  4. Ensuring standards are met by public and private driving schools
  5. Adopting a comprehensive graduated drivers licensing (GDL) system that integrates driver education

AAA and the AAA Foundation are committed to helping teens stay safe on the roads and have developed comprehensive resources including TeenDriving.AAA.com, a state-specific website to help parents navigate the learning-to-drive process, DriversZed, an interactive tool designed to teach teens how to react in various driving scenarios and the StartSmart Online Parent Session, a two-hour webinar that explains the licensing process and parents’ role, and demonstrates how to maximize the practice driving that parents/guardians are required to do with their teen.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit http://www.aaafoundation.org/ for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppHarris Poll EquiTrend® study names AAA Insurance highest among competitors in familiarity, quality and purchase consideration

ORLANDO, Fla., July 29, 2014 AAA Insurance has earned “Brand of the Year” status for its property and casualty insurance offerings, according to the 2014 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study.

“AAA is honored to be recognized by American consumers as the highest-ranked property and casualty insurance brand,” says AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall L. Doney. “AAA’s century-long commitment to provide our now 54 million members with top-notch service and member value extends to our automobile and home insurance offerings.”

Using an academically-vetted brand equity model that examines familiarity, quality and purchase consideration, Harris’ annual survey captures and analyzes over 40,000 American opinions on 1,500+ brands from 170 different industry categories.  Brand perceptions, such as emotional connection, functional attributes, brand awareness, influence and familiarity are measured and ranked against key competitors in each category.  In 2014, AAA Insurance ranked highest among 12 competitors in the Property & Casualty Insurance category, scoring 13 percent higher than the category average.

“For more than 100 years, AAA has been committed to offering superior insurance products at very competitive rates,” continued Doney. “Whether at home, on the highway, or in preparation of life’s unexpected changes, AAA Insurance provides our members with peace of mind for the road ahead.”

AAA Insurance received the highest numerical Equity Score among Property & Casualty Insurance brands included in the 2014 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study, which is based on opinions of 41,806 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over surveyed online between January 3 and January 31, 2014.  Individual opinions may differ.  “Highest Ranked” was determined by a pure ranking of a sample of Property & Casualty Insurance brands. To learn more about AAA Insurance, visit a local AAA club, or online AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppMajority of car seat installation experts encounter weight-related errors

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 25, 2014) – A final rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced this week, revises weight-limit labeling for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)-installed car seats to include both the weight of the child and the car seat itself, unlike current guidance which only accounts for the child’s weight. Caregivers, unaware of weight limit restrictions, may be unknowingly exceeding weight limits by neglecting to factor in their child’s weight along with the increasingly-heavy car seat. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), those certified to check and educate parents on the installation of car seats, found that 85 percent of CPSTs have encountered LATCH weight limits that exceed recommendations, and nearly one in five report seeing this often.

Additional Resources

“In the event of a crash, exceeded weight limits may cause the lower anchors and tether to perform improperly, leaving children vulnerable to injury or death,” warned AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety Research & Advocacy Jake Nelson.  “Clear labeling is a step in the right direction, but standardization of equipment and proper education of caregivers remain the priority.”

The primary purpose of LATCH, required as of 2002, was to increase the likelihood that caregivers could achieve a correct car seat installation more often than when using the seat belt.  However, according to the AAA Foundation’s survey, more than half of CPSTs report caregivers are less likely to install a child seat correctly using LATCH.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • 80.5 percent of CPSTs report that LATCH installation errors are not obvious to caregivers.
  • Nearly one-third (29.7 percent) of CPSTs feel LATCH is more complicated than it needs to be.
  • More than half (54.6 percent) of CPSTs believe LATCH needs to be improved.

In addition to the CPST survey, and to help shape federal regulations, the AAA Foundation project included an expert panel and human factors analyses of the LATCH system. The panel rated various LATCH usability issues based on the frequency that the mistakes occur and the severity of the injury potential.

RATING SEVERITY  

RATING

FREQUENCY

1

Negligible: Less than minor injury to the child.

1

Improbable

2

Marginal: Minor injury to the child, including minor abrasions and contusions.

2

Occasional

3

Critical: Severe injury, including broken bones, spinal damage, head injuries, internal organ damage, and/or loss of life.  

3

Frequent

 

Examples of frequent mistakes with marginal-to-critical  consequences:

  • Confusion/misinterpretation of weight limit; not factoring in weight of both car seat and child.
    • Consequence:  Lower anchors, connectors and tether may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision.
    • AAA Recommendation:  At a minimum, set the lower anchor weight limit to 65 pounds for the combined weight of the child and the car seat; require standardization and clear labeling of car seat weights and limits.
  • Using LATCH in the center position of the rear seat by using inner bars of outboard lower anchors when not specified as an option by vehicle manufacturer.
    • Consequence: Lower anchors and connectors may not adequately restrain the car seat and child during a collision.
    • AAA Recommendation: Make lower anchors available in all preferred seating positions, including the rear center seat – generally the safest seating position.
  • Not securing or stowing the tether when a convertible seat is used in a rear-facing position.
    • Consequence: In a collision, the loose tether strap/hook may swing freely, injuring the child or other passengers (e.g., projectile hazard).
    • AAA Recommendation:  Manuals should emphasize need to store the tether and indicate where it should be stored.

The full research report and white paper were provided to NHTSA in December 2013.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

NHTSA LATCH Images

Are Car Seats Getting Any Easier to Install?

September 17th, 2012 by AAA

One decade after LATCH mandate, AAA finds misuse prevails

Erin Stepp(WASHINGTON, September 17, 2012 )– Installing a car seat correctly is no easy task.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly three out of four car seats are not properly installed. Despite technologies, such as Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH), aimed at simplifying the car seat installation process, many parents are still missing the mark.  AAA’s recent survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), those certified to inspect and properly install car seats, reveals that LATCH misuse is cause for concern.  Nearly three quarters of CPSTs surveyed observe parents misusing the LATCH system more than half of the time.

Additional Resources

“While strides have been made to make car seats easier to use, the overwhelming majority of car seats are still not installed properly,” cautioned Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager, Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “AAA reminds parents to protect their most precious cargo by having their car seat installations inspected by a professional.”

LATCH has been required in nearly all vehicles and car seats since September 2002 and is touted as a user-friendly alternative to the seat belt.  According to NHTSA, 75 percent of parents with experience installing car seats using both methods prefer LATCH.  Despite this preference, LATCH does not guarantee a perfect installation; a recent IIHS survey revealed that only 13 percent of parent volunteers were able to use correctly use LATCH to install car seats.

The top misuses reported by CPSTs in the AAA recent survey:

Using LATCH in the rear-center seating position when not permitted by the vehicle manufacturer.

Safety experts have long promoted the rear-center seat as the safest seating position for children. However, in an IIHS study of 2010-11 model year vehicles, only 7 of the 98 top-selling vehicles supported LATCH use in the rear-center seat. Many parents make the mistake of using the inner anchor for each outboard seat to install a car seat in the center seat using LATCH.  If the vehicle does not support a LATCH installation in the rear-center seat, use a seat belt to secure the car seat, or move the car seat to an outboard seat. Be sure to always consult the vehicle owner’s manual before installing a car seat in any vehicle.

Using both the seatbelt AND the LATCH system to install the car seat.

While parents may think using both the seat belt and the LATCH system will provide additional protection, the opposite may be true.  In the event of a crash, belts are designed to expand and absorb crash forces.  If both systems are used, the crash forces may be distributed improperly, resulting in injury or death. Unless both the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat manufacturer’s manual approve using both methods together, select either the seatbelt or the LATCH system.

Using the wrong belt path with the LATCH attachments to install the car seat.

Convertible car seats have belt paths for both rear-facing and forward-facing installations.  When installing the car seat, consult the car seat manufacturer’s instructions to determine which belt path to use.  Selecting the incorrect belt path will leave the seat improperly secured.

AAA’s recent survey also revealed that installation “difficulties” go beyond choosing which installation method to use.  CPSTs have reported well-intentioned parents using all types of everyday items, from bungee cords and plywood to zip ties and shoe laces to secure car seats. “Not only do these common items interfere with proper installation,” warned Huebner-Davidson, “but they can become projectiles in the event of a crash.”

Proper installation of a car seat provides children with the best protection in a crash.  Consulting an expert can be critical to ensuring that children are secured in the safest manner possible. Experts are available to help parents with their car seat installation by visiting your local AAA club, www.seatcheck.org or calling 866-SEATCHECK (866-732-8243). For additional information on AAA’s child passenger safety resources for parents and caregivers, visit SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

Erin Stepp

Revised recommendations prompt one third of parents to make changes.

WASHINGTON (March 21, 2012) –On the one year anniversary of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) updated car seat recommendations, a AAA survey reveals that outreach efforts are working and parents are getting the message. Over ninety percent of parents with a child under 13 reported being aware of the new guidelines, many having heard of the change from their child’s pediatrician.

By advising parents to keep toddlers rear-facing until age two, or until reaching the maximum height and weight for the seat, and recommending that older children between eight and 12 remain in a belt-positioning booster seat until 4 feet 9 inches tall, the AAP reinforced what safety groups had long advocated. According to AAA’s survey, parents heeded the group’s advice, with one in three (35 percent) changing the way their children under 13 ride in the car.

“It’s encouraging to find that many parents are aware of the recommendations and are taking these safety interventions seriously,” said Jill Ingrassia, managing director, AAA Government Relations and Traffic Safety Advocacy.  “Parents are getting the message that moving a child to the next step prematurely is actually a downgrade in safety.  Children should remain in their car or booster seat until they outgrow it.”

According to AAA’s survey, when parents with a child under two were asked why they had not made a change based on the new recommendations, 82 percent reported no change was needed as they were already meeting or exceeding the new guidelines. Other reasons commonly cited included parents reporting their child was uncomfortable or unwilling to sit rear-facing, parents’ reluctance to return a child to a rear-facing position after “graduating” to a forward-facing seat and the belief that the new recommendations were unnecessary.

With car seat manufacturers offering a wide array of car seats designed to accommodate larger toddlers in a rear-facing position, AAA reminds parents that the safety benefits of keeping children rear-facing far outweigh the convenience of a forward-facing seat.  Studies show that children are five times less likely to be injured in a crash when they are properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat.

Surveyed parents of older children offered similar answers. Of those who did not adopt changes based on the new recommendations, 77 percent reported their child was already meeting or exceeding guidelines. Other reasons cited for not making a change included the belief that the recommendations were too strict, their unwillingness to return their child to a booster seat after “graduating” to seat belt and concern over whether the child’s friends also used a booster seat.

“Seat belts are designed for adults and do not typically fit children until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall,” warned Ingrassia. “Graduating a child from a booster seat too soon may result in injury, or even death, in the event of a crash.”   

AAA developed a series of informational videos in which experts walk parents step-by-step through the new car seat and booster seat guidelines as well as proper seat belt use. With three out of four child safety seats not properly installed, consulting an expert can be critical to ensure that children are secured in the safest manner possible. Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are available to help parents with their car seat installation through local AAA offices, by visiting http://www.seatcheck.org/ or calling 866-SEATCHECK (866-732-8243).

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 29, 2011

AAA offers back-to-school advice that could save a child’s life.

Erin SteppAs more than 55 million students across the United States gear up for the 2011-2012 school year, AAA reminds motorists to slow down in school zones and watch for children heading back to school. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at a reduced school zone speed of 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.

 “School zone speed limits are in place to save lives,” said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA manager of traffic safety advocacy. “Motorists need to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when school children are walking to and from school.”

 AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign was launched in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In addition to slowing down, AAA offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones.

  • Ditch distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  • Stay alert.  Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods.
  • Stop at stop signs. It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
  • Watch for bikes. Children on bicycles are often unpredictable; expect the unexpected.
  • Brake for buses. A recent National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services survey showed that over 75,000 vehicles pass stopped school buses on a typical day, with more than three percent passing on the right. Not only is it dangerous, it’s against the law.
  • Plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. If possible, modify your route to avoid school zones.
  • Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. With more than 600,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers at 31,000 schools across the country, they’re a sure sign you’re approaching a school zone.

 

In addition to AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign, AAA has teamed up with Richard Scarry’s Busytown Mysteries with characters like Lowly Worm offering tips on to help keep children safe. 

 As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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