Safety First

Volvo, Uber proclaim today as first National Seat Belt Day

Volvo invented the three-point safety harness in 1959, 60 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Do you always buckle up when you're in a car? What about in a taxi or Uber? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, four out of five adults say they don't always use a seat belt when taking short trips or when in the backseat of a taxi or ride-share vehicle.

Volvo Car USA, Uber, and the Governors Highway Safety Association have joined together to proclaim November 14 as National Seatbelt Day, in an effort to bring awareness to the benefits that seats belts provide.

"The safety belt is still among the most important safety features in the car today," said, Jim Nichols, Product and Technology Communications Manager, Volvo Car USA. "We are proud that the three-point safety belt has endured over the years and is now featured in every vehicle sold."

60th Anniversary of the Seat Belt ad Volvo, Uber, and GHSA are using this ad to help make riders aware of the benefits of using a safety belt.Image courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The three-point safety belt was launched by Volvo in 1959 and celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Volvo estimates that the belt has saved a million lives since it debuted but notes that, " its effectiveness is only as good as its use."

In 2018 the rate of seat belt use in the U.S. was 89.6%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% were not wearing seat belts. NHTSA research indicates that buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.

It's important to remember that air bags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Safety belts and air bags, as well as modern safety and driver assistance technologies and strong frame materials, are all part of a modern safety system that works together to keep vehicle occupants safe.

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The 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan goes on sale in 2022

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The pinnacle of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup, the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan will make its way to U.S. shores in early 2022, bringing with it 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

Distinct features set this Mercedes-Maybach apart from others including a Maybach-exclusive front bumper, engine hood trim strip, illuminated seamless door handles, and stainless steel illuminated panels. Buyers can request a two-tone paint job from their choice of 10 different color combinations.

The flagship model's power plant is a 6.0-liter V12 biturbo engine that gets it from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The all-wheel drive sedan is able to deliver up to 31 percent of its toque to the front axle and 69 percent to the rear. Mercedes touts the car's rear-axle steering, which makes the model easy to drive on city streets. A special “Maybach" dynamic selects drive mode comes standard on the car.

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan The car has an available panoramic sunroof.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has fine-tuned the car to include active road noise compensation that the automaker refers to as headphones with noise suppression. The automaker says that the technology works like headphone systems with noise suppression tech by using counter-phased sound waves to balance out exterior sound waves. The technology is deployed via the car's Burmeister High-End 4D Surround Sound System.

The inside of the car also gets Nappa Leather upholstery and finishes including on the headliner, dashboard, instrument panel surrounds, armrests, glovebox, window frames, pillars, sun visors, backrest pockets, and door sill panel inserts. The rear seats feature diamond quilting, contrast piping, and the Mercedes-Maybach emblem. There's also wood trim, a Maybach pedal cluster, and Maybach-specific scent.

Owners can use the electronically-powered comfort doors at the rear, which can be controlled via a button or hand gesture. The same goes for the power sliding panoramic sunroof.

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan The 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan's interior is luxe.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Adaptive rear lighting in the back seat of the car changes the LED spotlights' position and size. This allows for everything from reading lights to lounge-style lighting.

Two 11.6-inch high-resolution entertainment screens sit in behind the front seats. Between the rear seats are available silver-plated champagne flutes and a refrigerated compartment. Two matching holders in the center console hold the flutes in place when the car is on the move.

Mercedes has installed new rear seat airbags are designed to deploy in a gentle manner when needed.

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Roundabouts are safer than traffic lights according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Photo by Pete Ark/Getty Images

New information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) points out that roundabouts are safer than traffic signals and stop signs. Roundabouts are one of 20 evidence-based safety countermeasures recommended by the Federal Highway Administration.

Studies of intersections in the United States converted from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts have found reductions in injury crashes of 72-80 percent and reductions in all crashes of 35-47 percent.

The logic comes down to engineering. The tight circle of a roundabout requires drivers to slow down so they can safety maneuver around the circle. Because of the ingress and egress of the roundabout's design, right-angle, left-turn, and head-on collisions are unlikely.

roundabout Europe Traffic circles, rotaries, and roundabouts are common all over the world.Photo by supergenijalac/Getty Images

Modern roundabouts build on the traditional rotary design. According to IIHS, the new style of roundabout requires vehicles to negotiate a sharper curve to enter resulting in slower speeds within the circle.

According to IIHS, research shows that traffic flow improves after intersections are converted to roundabouts. Additionally, there is less vehicle idling, which results in fewer vehicle emissions at the location.

Older traffic circles sometimes have traffic signals dictating the right of way but most modern ones only have yield signs. Some modern roundabouts feature flow-through lanes which allow shortcutting for partings simply going a quarter of the way around.

Roundabouts aren't just safer for vehicles. They have distinct advantages for pedestrians as well as they are able to walk on sidewalks around the perimeter rather than crossing only one direction at a time. Crossing distances are usually shorter than they would be during a traditional frolic through the roadway and vehicles are frequently moving slower than they usually would.

What we now know as the roundabout gained popularity in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and is seeing expanded use throughout the U.S. and Europe in modern times. The first modern roundabouts were popularized in Nevada in the 1990s.

While there are benefits for motorists and pedestrians, it comes at the cost of cyclists who are often required to ride in the road and can find themselves caught up amongst vehicles in the rotary when speciality lanes are not present.

Cycling races often bemoan the uptick in rotaries, which cause hazards to racers at speed while crashes often happening as the peloton splits to traverse the obstacle and the surrounding lane dividers.

Some states, including New York and Virginia, have adopted "roundabout first" policies requiring that roundabouts be considered a preferred alternative when building new intersections or upgrading older ones.

Up-front construction costs of roundabouts can be pricey, but the overall cost of maintenance once built is generally cheaper, according to IIHS. There is also the benefit of a lessened cost of police and firefighter time spent dealing with accidents at high-risk intersections in addition to the human life toll.

The service life of a roundabout is significantly longer, approximately 25 years, compared with 10 years for a typical traffic signal.

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