Study: Pedestrian Fatality Rates Still High in 2014


"This is clearly a good news, bad news scenario," Jonathan Adkins, executive director for the Governors Highway Safety Association, said in a statement about the latest report from the nonprofit safety body on pedestrian fatalities. The study — Spotlight on Highway Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State — finds the number of fatalities has gone virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to the year previous, but 2013 and 2014 are still up 15 percent over 2009.

"While we're encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven't increased over the past two years, progress has been slow," Adkins continued.

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States with large metropolitan centers reported the greatest number of pedestrian fatalities, with California, Florida, Texas and New York representing 43 percent of the overall 2,125 deaths reported in the first six months of 2014.

By Mark Stevenson | February 27, 2015 | Comments (1)

California Leads Country in Gas Price Increases


Gas prices have increased for 31 days in a row, raising the national average for regular unleaded to $2.34 per gallon, as refinery maintenance and an explosion at a Southern California refinery reduced gasoline production in some areas.

Related: Research Fuel-Efficient Cars 

The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Thursday that the national average for regular increased 7 cents the past week and has been rising at better than a penny per day the past four weeks, increasing 31 cents during that period. It is the longest streak of daily increases since last spring, AAA said.

By Rick Popely | February 27, 2015 | Comments (1)

Protect Yourself From Skin Cancer Even in the Car


We all know not to head out for a day at the beach without sun protection. But what if your only sun exposure throughout the day is in your car while shuttling your family to all of their commitments? Surely you're safe, right? Surely your car's windows are loaded up with both UVA and UVB protection, right?

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Wrong! On average people spend one to two hours everyday inside their cars with only the car windows between their skin and the sun's damaging rays? Ultraviolet protection varies widely from car to car, and the type, thickness and color of car windows all impact UV filtration. Most windshields have a sun protection factor of around 50 while most side windows only have about 16 SPF, said Debra Levy, Auto Glass Safety Council president.

What can we do to protect our skin while driving? I reached out to Dr. Scott W. Fosko, professor and chairman of Saint Louis University's dermatology department to answer this very question. Here are some of his top suggestions:

By Kristin Varela | February 23, 2015 | Comments (2)

More Details Emerge on Possible Apple Car


Another day, another development in the news that took the industry by storm this week — the possibility of a car from tech giant Apple. Sources told Bloomberg News that Apple's car will be electric and could see production as soon as 2020.

Related: Will Apple Build its Own Car? 

That suggests current development is still in its early stages, given it often takes five years or longer for an automaker to bring an all-new car to market. But Apple has already hired experts from a broad range of battery and electronics manufacturers, prompting a battery maker to sue the company.

By Kelsey Mays | February 20, 2015 | Comments (2)

Prices at the Pump May Level Off Soon


Just when it looked like crude oil prices would continue ticking upward and push gasoline prices higher, the oil market hit a speed bump, increasing chances that motorists might soon pay less at the pump.

Related: Research Fuel Efficient Cars

U.S. crude oil prices fell Thursday morning and were trading below $50 on news from the Energy Information Administration that domestic oil and gasoline stockpiles were well above typical levels for this time of year. If that glut continues, the steady increases at the pump that motorists have experienced in recent weeks could come to a temporary halt.

The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge said Thursday the national average for regular unleaded gasoline has increased 25 days in a row, climbing 23 cents to $2.27 a gallon. Diesel fuel has increased 6 cents over the past two weeks to a national average of $2.85.

By Rick Popely | February 20, 2015 | Comments (0)

Who Has the Worst Commute?


As you spend your morning stuck in rush-hour traffic, wishing your office was just a few miles closer to your house so you could've slept in an extra 20 minutes, are you wondering who might be worse off than you? It's OK; you can admit you're perversely pleased just thinking about those poor suckers in SoCal commuting twice as long as you do each morning. I won't tell them. I promise, I won't.

Related: Long Commutes Can Wreck Marriages, Health

This interactive map from FlowingData will either make your day or reinforce what you already know: You spend entirely too much time in your car each day. As said, "Input your counties, America! And then begin your gloating/seething."

As I sit in my office, having commuted down the stairs from my bedroom and then down the hall from my kitchen (in my fluffy slippers), I'm leaning more toward gloating. I feel for you, northern Virginia and Maryland. I'm sympathetic northeastern Illinois, and I can't help but say a little prayer for you, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

I'm going to send you some safe-commuting vibes while I work my way back into the kitchen for a cup of hot tea.

FlowingData map

By Kristin Varela | February 18, 2015 | Comments (1)

Will Apple Build its Own Car?


Your smartphone and your car could someday come from the same company. The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 13 (subscription required) that Apple has assigned "several hundred employees" to work on an Apple-branded vehicle.g

Related: Should You Use the Apple Watch in Your Car?

The news comes less than a year after Apple unveiled its CarPlay automotive multimedia platform. One source told WSJ that the project, code-named "Titan," will result in a car that resembles a minivan. The newspaper notes that Apple often creates prototypes of new technologies and products without ever building them, but sources indicated that the project's scale and seniority suggest the company is serious about it.

Still, it could take years to bring such a car to market unless Apple is already far into development or has a deal with an established automaker to share parts or a platform. It often takes an automaker five years and more than $1 billion to develop and market a car from scratch; that's including everything from factory tooling to certifying through a swath of federal safety standards. That's before it's even crash-tested by third parties.

Apple has the money to do it, having reported $178 billion in cash as of late 2014, according to WSJ. An Apple car wouldn't be the first to emerge from California's Silicon Valley. Tesla is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., about 10 miles from Apple's Cupertino offices. It builds the Model S in Fremont, just across the San Francisco Bay. And Google, which introduced a small fleet of self-driving prototypes in 2014, is headquartered in Mountain View — just minutes from both companies. photo by Jenni Newman

By Kelsey Mays | February 16, 2015 | Comments (5)

Only Three States Left With $2 Gas


Gasoline prices have increased 18 days in a row, and $2 per gallon gas is now just a recent memory for millions of U.S. motorists.

The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Friday that the national average for regular unleaded was $2.24 per gallon, 7 cents higher than a week ago and 20 cents higher than two weeks ago.

Research Fuel Efficient Cars

Regular gasoline averaged less than $2 in only three states Friday compared to 25 states two weeks ago. Idaho had the lowest statewide average, $1.91, followed by Utah, $1.93, and Montana, $1.96.

AAA said that February typically is when seasonal refinery maintenance starts ahead of the summer driving season when demand for gas increases. The maintenance temporarily reduces gasoline supplies in areas served by those refineries and causes pump prices to rise.

By Rick Popely | February 13, 2015 | Comments (0)

Study: Drivers Admit to Bad Behaviors


A recent AAA study suggests a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude toward risky driving behaviors is a major contributor to more dangerous roads. In addition, nearly half of drivers sampled don't believe certain distractions even warrant being called a distraction, AAA's 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index found.

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Of 2,705 licensed drivers surveyed, here are the most glaring highlights:

  • Running red lights: 73 percent responded by saying it's completely unacceptable, while 36 percent said they'd run a red light in the past 30 days.
  • Texting: 79 percent of drivers say texting or emailing while driving is a serious threat, while 27 percent of drivers do it regardless.
  • Drowsy driving: 81 percent of respondents believe drowsy driving is completely unacceptable, but 29 percent have done so in the last 30 days.
By Mark Stevenson | February 11, 2015 | Comments (1)

School Bus Seat Belts May Save Lives


When I was little my friends and I entertained ourselves on the school bus with a little game of "seat ejection." We waited for the bus to hit a bump and then launched ourselves as high up out of the seat as possible. Whoever went the highest, won. With three children of my own now who also occasionally ride the school bus, these types of games terrify me. When I hear of tragic school bus accidents, often due to children being unrestrained, I really start to worry. "GMA" Investigates, from "Good Morning America," was also concerned and spent some time digging into the question, "Can seat belts on school buses save lives?"

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Current laws require that all small school buses (less than 10,000 pounds) must have seat belts in them. There are only six states that require all school buses, regardless of size, to have seat belts: California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Why aren't there more?

By Kristin Varela | February 10, 2015 | Comments (2)

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