Safety First

Actionable quick tips for making sure your child stays safe in the car

Parents can be distracted by many different factors when they're driving with a child in a car seat.

Photo by Getty Images

You're driving along, when suddenly little Sally hurdles her Cheerios at you from the back seat and begins screaming at an ear-splitting decibel level comparable to the last concert you went to (and you haven't been to one since she was born). You quickly look back at your precious daughter, averting your eyes from the road. Despite her wails, Sally seems alright, so you focus on the road again, just in time to swerve to avoid hitting a piece of tire.

Your child is your most precious cargo, yet also a distraction. This is a juxtaposition parents face when driving with their children. Even if you're not distracted by your child, you might get distracted by any number of other things. It's no wonder 69% of parents and 73% of new parents reported that they "actively worry about their children's safety in a car," according to a new study from Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll conducted this study on Volvo's behalf from May 21-29, 2019. For the study, The Harris Poll surveyed 2,000 licensed drivers ages 18 and older. Of these drivers, 1,236 (61.8%) were new parents – parents who had children age 2 or under at the time of the study. The remaining 764 (38.2%) drivers were adults of all ages. The survey results were published in "Volvo Reports: Child Safety in the Back Seat."

Historically, safety has always been a prime focus for Volvo. In 1959, the automaker invented the three-point safety belt, in 1964 they tested the first child restraint prototype, and in 1978 Volvo introduced the child safety booster cushion. Volvo and Britax, a car seat company which started in Europe and expanded to the United States in 1996, have partnered to come up with a variety of practical tips for parents based on the survey results.

Car Seat Research and Installation

Do your homework.

Sixty-six percent of new parents found researching car seats and car safety tools to be overwhelming. The amount of time and effort required to narrow down the many car seat options may be daunting, but it is crucial that you make the right decision. You must find a car seat that works with your vehicle, child, and budget.

Contact your car seat and/or vehicle manufacturer if you have questions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that 59% of child seats are not installed correctly. Read your car seat instructions and your vehicle's owner manual to determine whether the car seat should be secured using the seat belt or the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system. Using both simultaneously is ineffective and discouraged, as it can lessen the security that each separately provides. Be sure to check your vehicle's manual and contact your vehicle manufacturer if you have further questions.

Use third-party resources if needed.

Safe Kids Worldwide offers a variety of resources for parents, including car seat checkups to ensure you've installed your car seat correctly. Parents can also meet with a Certified Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician, who will teach them to install their car seat. Often, local police departments and fire stations have a CPS technician on staff who can help for free.

Car Seat Use

Properly secure your child's harness.

NHTSA found that nearly 60% of child harnesses were too loose. Don't allow your child to wear a thick jacket or be covered by a blanket while in the car seat, as either of these means the harness can't be as snug as it should be. Additionally, make sure you position the harness correctly – it should be on your child's pelvis and around their chest and shoulders.

Your child's weight and height are more important than their age.

Car seat and booster seat (or "child passenger restraint system") laws vary by state. Your child's weight and height are more important than their age when deciding when to allow them to face forward in their car seat, move to a booster seat, or begin sitting in the front passenger seat.

Keep your child facing backwards in their car seat "until they reach the maximum height and weight restrictions for the seat, as rear-facing seats spread crash forces more evenly across the back of the child seat, and thereby better protect their vulnerable neck." Likewise, even once your child reaches the age at which they are technically allowed to begin sitting in a booster seat rather than a car seat, or in the front seat rather than the back seat, do not make either change if your child does not yet weigh enough and/or is not yet tall enough.

Other Tips for Parents

Always wear your seat belt.

According to the study, 71% of parents and 87% of new parents have unbuckled their seatbelts while driving with their children. This is unsafe. If you want to comfort your child or pick up their toy, pull off the road to a safe area and park before you unbuckle.

Reduce and contain loose items.

Don't keep too many items, especially large ones, in your car. Ensure that the items you do have in your car are contained as much as possible. If your child throws something at you while you're driving, this can distract you – 20% of parents report that their child has thrown a toy at them from the back seat. During a crash, objects flying through the air can cause serious harm to you or your children.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is here.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

After years of development, test mules, and spy shots, Ford has finally pulled the wraps off its long-awaited Mach E all-electric crossover. Set to go on sale in late 2020 and early 2021, the Mach-E made its debut in Los Angeles just days before the 2019 L.A. Auto Show. Here's a quick look at everything you need to know.

There will be five variants (and lots of numbers).

Select: Available in early 2021, this base model will start at $43,895 (all prices exclude $1,100 destination and any state or federal tax incentives). The Select will come with rear-wheel-drive and 230 miles of range, while the AWD will have 210 miles of range. Both versions will have 255 horsepower; RWD will have 306 pound-feet of torque and AWD will have 417 pound-feet of torque. It's worth noting that this is the only Mach E variant that will not allow for 150kW DC fast-charging so beware if fast-charging is your jam.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The rear of the Mustang Mach-E has some of the design hallmarks of the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Premium: This second-tier version will be available in late 2020 and will start at $50,600. It will come in standard range or extended range as well as RWD or AWD. Standard range will have 230 miles of range in RWD guise; 210 miles in AWD. Extended range will have 300 miles of range in RWD, 270 miles in AWD. Standard-range models will have 255 horsepower, extended-range RWD will have 282 horsepower and extended-range AWD will have 332 horsepower.

California Route 1: This trim level is essentially the Premium Extended Range RWD plus some added options, so its number line up: 300 miles of range and 282 pound-feet of torque. It will start at $52,400 when it goes on sale in early 2021.

First Edition: This limited-edition model starts at $59,900 and will be available in late 2020 (order soon). It features similar specs as the Premium Extended Range AWD: 270 miles of range and 332 horsepower. It also adds a variety of interior and exterior trim upgrades and limited availability to the mix.

GT: It's the big daddy of the Mustang coupe lineup (excluding Shelby versions) so it's the big daddy here. For $60,500 buyers get AWD, 235 miles of range and a healthy 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque, good for 0-60 runs in the mid-three-second range. This version adds the requisite 20-inch forged wheels, Brembo brakes, an adaptive Magnaride suspension, and exterior trim upgrades.

Gobs of tech will be standard.

This includes a 15.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system (ala Tesla) that will run Ford's Next-Generation Sync operating system and will feature over-the-air updates (also ala Tesla). Drivers will have the option of using their smartphone as a key; the Mach E will detect phones paired via its bluetooth system and unlock and adjust settings to that driver's preference.

The Mach E Premium and GT models also come pre-hardwired with a driver-monitoring system, which Ford will activate at a later date to provide a hands-free driving system. The system uses an infrared camera mounted on top of the steering column to watch the driver's attentiveness.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The interior is sparse in design but full of high-tech features.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Three drive modes are included.

Here's another Tesla-inspired feature: three drive modes that alter the nature of the Mach E's performance. 'Whisper,' 'Engage' and 'Unbridled' will each allow increasingly aggressive performance and handling features. Not unlike Tesla's well-documented Ludicrous mode. Fun fact: the 'Unbridled' mode in the Mach E was originally to be called 'Stampede' and one of the test-mules we rode in on a media briefing in LA last week still had this setting name. Within each drive mode, numerous elements of the Mach E will be configurable, including regen levels for one-foot driving, if drivers so choose.

Yes, there's a Frunk.

Would it be an EV without one? But Ford says theirs is better since it has a drain plug at the bottom; apparently owners of other EVs told Ford researchers that they often found themselves wanting this.

Room for everyone.

The Mach E seats five adults comfortably, with plenty of legroom and headroom for the six-footers out there (we know since we've sat inside). This, despite the sloping, coupe-like profile of the crossover. Most models also come with a fixed panoramic glass roof that does wonders for opening up the cabin.

The Nissan Titan has been significantly refreshed for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Forget the challenge of having the fastest lap around the Nürburgring. There may be no greater feat in the automotive industry at the moment than gaining full-size truck market share from the Big Three. That's exactly what Nissan is aiming to do with its refreshed 2020 Titan.

To get to the 2020 Nissan Titan, the automaker listened to its customers, who were vocal about a number of issues they had with everything from the truck's infotainment system to the dealership experience.

2020 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Nissan has given the PRO-4X trim a distinct new exterior design.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

On the outside of the truck there are more differences between trim levels than before. The PRO-4X grade is the most aesthetically robust with a big, black grille that features a blacked-out Nissan logo for the first time alongside 18-inch wheels; lava red badging, stitching, and tow hooks; and a skid plate. Other trim levels got flashy chrome trim and new chrome grilles.

There are numerous other highlights of the refresh. The Titan's new headlight design doubles the light output on low beams and reduces the glare for oncoming traffic. There are new LED fog lights that add an additional 15 degrees of visibility. Nissan has also given the Titan an available panoramic moonroof that is the largest in the segment. The company also employed new acoustic laminated glass to keep road and engine noise at bay.

2020 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve headlights front Nissan showed off their new LED headlight design as part of the first drive event.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Each trim level of the Titan is powered by a 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine that has 413 pound-feet of torque. That's a significant upgrade from the 2019 model and makes the engine the most powerful base offering of all full-size pickups. In testing on the roads and trails of Utah, Titan's nine-speed automatic transmission was sufficiently smooth shifting and its improved ratios worked in the Titan's favor. With 4,500 pounds of weight towed behind the truck and when traveling up steep off road climbs, the 2020 Titan did not show any strain while being tested.

2020 Nissan Titan Platinum Reserve With its powertrain enhancements, the Nissan Titan didn't flinch when towing 4,500 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Inside, the Titan is improved where it matters. A new 9-inch touch screen is available and features the latest version of Nissan Connect and hardware. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The system looks good, especially in its handsome housing, and works as advertised with much more responsiveness and quicker command activation than what you'll find in any other Nissan infotainment system to date.

Nissan has included numerous safety and driver assistance technologies in the Titan as part of the automaker's commitment to what they call "intelligent mobility." Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, high beam assist, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, and eight airbags are standard equipment on every 2020 Titan.

2020 Nissan Titan infotainment screen system The truck now comes with an available 9-inch infotainment screen.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

With the revisions, the Titan is a complete package that doesn't feel left behind. It's not as nice on the inside as the Ram 1500, nor is it as easy to drive. It's also not as capable as the Ford F-150. However, the Titan is nicer all-around than the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, mainly because of its interior.

Pricing and fuel economy numbers will be released closer to the model's on-sale date in early 2020. Those factors will be the tipping factor as to whether or not Nissan truly boast about its improvements and value. Either way, the Titan is worth cross-shopping, especially if you're getting into a full-size truck for the first time.