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Helping cars see better at night

Helping cars see better at night is key to reducing pedestrian deaths

No one was crossing Kercheval Avenue on The Hill in Grosse Pointe Farms as a minivan made its way through the shopping district one evening this fall, but people were clearly nearby.

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They could be seen there on the laptop screen from inside the vehicle, their presence confirmed by glowing images captured by a thermal camera.

But the pedestrians weren’t on the street, and it took a moment to realize that they were actually on the sidewalk, obscured by decorative plantings and the darkness that coated everything not illuminated.

It wasn’t a great night for spotting pedestrians on this particular weeknight on a drive through a couple of the Grosse Pointes and the east side of Detroit. Maybe the pandemic was keeping people inside. Those who were out, however, were not hard to see, at least on the screen.

The eyeball view through the windshield was a different story, with darkness providing an effective camouflage. And darkness can be deadly for pedestrians.

In fact, most pedestrians who die in crashes are killed at night, but nighttime has been when the technology designed to prevent pedestrian crashes struggles most.

Last year, AAA revealed some startling deficiencies in driver assistance systems designed to protect pedestrians.

Thermal imaging company FLIR recently conducted testing in Michigan to show how its sensors could help advanced driver assistance systems detect pedestrians in dark conditions. (Photo: FLIR)
Thermal imaging company FLIR recently conducted testing in Michigan to show how its sensors could help advanced driver assistance systems detect pedestrians in dark conditions. (Photo: FLIR)

At night, several test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems and pedestrian detection were found to be “completely ineffective.” Rather than bash the automakers’ efforts, AAA encouraged continued development of these systems because of the scope of the pedestrian death crisis in this country.

But finding a solution as the deaths of so many Americans on and along our roads has continued to rise — 6,283 men, women and children in 2018 alone, according to federal statistics — has become more urgent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even designated October as the first national Pedestrian Safety Month, an acknowledgment of the dangers faced by vulnerable road users. A 2018 Detroit Free Press/USA Today investigation highlighted the role the increase in large vehicles, such as SUVs, has played in the rising number of deaths.

The Best and Worst Drivers by State

The Best and Worst Drivers by State

The Best and Worst Drivers by State

In the five years we at QuoteWizard have been publishing our best and worst driver study, we have learned one thing: No matter where you live and drive, those drivers are the worst. California annually ranks among the worst drivers, according to our data, and they are generally in agreement that Californians are the worst drivers. When talking to Floridians about their continually great record of being among the best drivers, it’s met with utter disagreement. “Are you kidding me? Every day I get run off the road on my commute on I-95 from Boca Raton to Fort Lauderdale!”

What’s great about our best and worst driver study is that we’re using millions of data points to determine where the best and worst really are. While Florida may disagree with our findings, they can find solace in knowing it could be worse in other states. On the other hand, our data confirms what Californians have known for years. Everyone’s most popular opinion reflects the quality of the drivers around them. Many people have experienced driving in all parts of the country and have their thoughts on who is among the best or worst. What is your favorite and least favorite state to drive in? Do our rankings do it justice?

Best and worst ranking methodology

We analyzed over 2 million insurance quotes from QuoteWizard drivers to see which states had the best and worst drivers. To get rankings, we built a composite score between four driving incident factors:

  • Accidents
  • Speeding tickets
  • DUIs
  • Citations

Rankings are a composite score based on the rate of occurrence between the four ranking factors. States considered to have the worst drivers had the highest rates of each incident factor. States considered to have the best drivers had the lowest rates of each incident factor.

Rank (Worst to Best) State
1 Wyoming
2 Virginia
3 Colorado
4 New Jersey
5 South Dakota
6 Vermont
7 Maryland
8 Washington
9 Ohio
10 South Carolina
11 Georgia
12 North Dakota
13 Oregon
14 California
15 Delaware
16 Nebraska
17 Wisconsin
18 Arkansas
19 Indiana
20 Idaho
21 Maine
22 Utah
23 Alaska
24 Kansas
25 Connecticut
26 New York
27 Tennessee
28 Iowa
29 Pennsylvania
30 Louisiana
31 Minnesota
32 Alabama
33 Massachusetts
34 New Hampshire
35 Rhode Island
36 Hawaii
37 Mississippi
38 North Carolina
39 Arizona
40 Oklahoma
41 Montana
42 Nevada
43 Kentucky
44 Illinois
45 Florida
46 Texas
47 New Mexico
48 Michigan
49 Missouri
50 West Virginia

Most accident-prone states

Our ranking of the most accident-prone states means our data saw accidents occurring most often in these top five states. Geographically, it looks like the northeast carries the highest rate of accidents. Starting on I-95 in Boston, down through Providence, all the way to Baltimore appears to be the hotbed for accidents in the most accident-prone states.

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Maryland
  3. Massachusetts
  4. South Carolina
  5. Utah

Most lead-footed states

The most lead-footed states are those that speed the most and get caught doing it. No surprises here if you’ve ever driven in California. Californians tend to treat speed limits as more of a suggestion than the law. California Highway Patrol knows this too, so they’re always around the next turn. New York City traffic is brutally slow, but the open roads heading upstate can feel like a racetrack after getting out of the city.

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. Delaware
  4. Hawaii
  5. North Dakota

Drunkest-driving states

When it comes to the drunkest-driving states, they’re all neighbors. While it may seem like a coincidence that the top four states are all next to each other, CDC data confirms it is not. The CDC’s BRFSSP data on alcohol consumption by state has the highest-consuming states all in the same neighborhood. It’s likely something about the cold northern states where people like to drink and the rural cities don’t have much of a cab service.

  1. Wyoming
  2. North Dakota
  3. South Dakota
  4. Nebraska
  5. Alaska

Worst driving habits (most citations)

The common citations we see while analyzing driver history tend to be tickets for things like texting while driving, not wearing a seatbelt, failure to signal and other minor citations. While minor in nature, they are bad driving habits that lead to accidents. States that ranked poorly for citations coincide with those with the worst driving behaviors. We could imagine citations for texting “Roll Tide” while driving landed Alabama on the top of our list.

  1. Alabama
  2. Arkansas
  3. Wyoming
  4. Kansas
  5. South Carolina

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Chevy Suburban HD

Will there be a Chevy Suburban HD?

Ever since General Motors introduced the all-new, T1-based 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, many have wondered whether GM would offer a new heavy-duty version of the SUV as well. Now, GM’s vice president of Global Product Programs, Tim Herrick, has hinted that a new Chevy Suburban HD could be on GM’s radar.

If you are looking for a new Suburban, please don’t hesitate to contact Ron Westphal Chevrolet at 630-898-9630 or visit us online.

Chevy Suburban HD prototype pic
Chevy Suburban HD prototype pic


General Motors recently announced that it had delivered the first unit of the Chevy Colorado-based GM Infantry Squad Vehicle to the U.S. Army. During the announcement, Herrick was asked how GM would bring its various technologies into the defense market. His response mentioned a new Chevy Suburban HD model.

“I have full-size truck stuff in my blood, right? So I understand what it takes to make a light duty truck, a heavy duty truck, an SUV, make them all together architecturally work, and then expand that architecture, whether it’s putting batteries in, or different engines and the like,” Herrick said. “Expanding the architecture architecturally would be great. And with that, then you bring, maybe a heavy-duty Suburban.”

Chevrolet Suburban 3500HD

Chevrolet Suburban 3500HD

There hasn’t been a Chevy Suburban HD in production since the end of 2018 following the discontinuation of the K2-based Suburban 3500HD. Previously, the Suburban 3500HD was available exclusively to fleets, starting at $80,215, $30,000 more than the $49,915 starting price of the standard Suburban model. Powered by the 6.0L V8 L96 gas engine, the Suburban 3500HD is motivated by 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, which was directed to all four wheels by way of the six-speed 6L90 heavy-duty automatic transmission.

Compared to the standard model, the Suburban 3500HD came with substantially greater payload capacity, specifically 4,405 pounds from an 11,00-pound GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), as compared to the 1,670 payload rating and 7,500-pound GVWR offered by the standard Suburban.

As such, the HD model was a great choice for armoring and bulletproofing.

Although Herrick’s recent comments are from an official confirmation, they are still the first time we’ve heard anything related to a new Chevy Suburban HD model from GM brass. That said, we fully expect a new, T1-based Chevy Suburban HD to launch for the 2022 model year.

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