Did you know there was an estimated 9.5 percent increase in traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2015? Or that there has been little progress in improving the fuel economy of vehicles since the early 1990s?
Factoids such as these come through my e-mail pretty much daily and, while each one does not merit a full article, combined they do offer something interesting for everyone. Here are some recent news items drivers will find of interest.
-- Despite advances in fuel-saving technologies in the last 25 years, the on-road fuel economy for all vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles) has improved by less than 1 mile per gallon during that time, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Part of the reason is that it takes many years to turn over the fleet. The average age of a light-duty vehicle on the road is currently 11.4 years. So, many people are still driving older, less fuel-efficient models.
The picture is better for light vehicles only (cars, pickup trucks, vans, and sport-utility vehicles) but still isn't good: Fuel economy of all light-duty vehicles improved 52 percent from 1973 to 1991, but only 10 percent since then from 19.6 to 21.6 mpg.
-- An estimated 7,500 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in the first three months of 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This estimate represents an increase of about 9.5 percent as compared to the 6,850 fatalities that were projected to have occurred in the first quarter of 2014. These counts will be revised as more data comes in for both 2014 and 2015 later this year and next.
-- Pedestrian deaths have increased by 15 percent since 2009, as noted in a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The most recent full year of data indicates that 4,735 pedestrians died in the U.S. in 2013, which translates to one pedestrian killed every two hours. Among the findings: The average age of a pedestrian killed in a traffic crash in 2013 was 46 years -- and males accounted for 70 percent of those deaths.
-- As new vehicle prices rise, more consumers are extending their loan terms to keep their payments down, especially for used vehicles, according to a second-quarter report from Experian Automotive. The report shows that the number of used vehicles financed for 73 to 84 months increased by 14.8 percent from the same period in 2014 to reach 16.1 percent -- the highest on record. New vehicles financed for the same length of time climbed 19.7 percent from the previous year to reach 28.8 percent.
-- It is much cheaper for young adults to stay on their parents' car insurance, according to a new report by InsuranceQuotes.com, a company of Bankrate.com.
An 18-year-old driver adds an average of 77 percent to a parent's car insurance bill, which isn't great. However, it costs even more, an additional 18 percent, to get their own car insurance. According to the report, 18-year-old teens in Rhode Island pay an average of 53 percent more for individual coverage. They pay 47 percent more in Connecticut, 47 percent more in Oregon, 41 percent more in Nevada, and 40 percent more in Maine for individual coverage. Insurers in Illinois, Alaska, and Florida only charge 18-year-olds an average of 7 percent more.
-- Nearly 80 percent of consumers think that vehicle hacking will be a frequent problem in the next three years, according to a new online Kelley Blue Book survey. And 58 percent do not think there will ever be a permanent solution.
By Cheryl Jensen, for Motor Matters. Cheryl began writing about the auto industry in 1996. Her reports have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Better Homes and Gardens magazine. She has covered rallies in South America, Australia, the 1992 Paris-Moscow-Beijing Raid, and in 1996 was the first American woman to finish the Dakar Rally. She has a bachelor's degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Cheryl resides in New Hampshire.