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May/June 2014 Issue

More motorists are buckling up

National seat belt usage inched upwards to 87 percent from 86 percent last year, reaching its highest level to date, the National Occupant Protection Use Survey found.

Seat belt use has been increasing since 1995, accompanied by a steady decline in the percentage of unbuckled passenger vehicle fatalities during the day. Some groups, however, are still less likely to wear seat belts, including teens, pickup truck drivers, and nighttime drivers.

The survey also found that use is higher in states with primary laws in which motorists can be pulled over for not using seat belts, as compared with states with secondary enforcement in which tickets can be issued for seat belt infractions only when the driver is pulled over for another offense. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi have primary seat belt laws.

Research has found that lap/shoulder seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent.



Recall mailings are now easier to spot

Typically about 30 percent of recalled cars are never brought in for repairs, amounting to millions of cars, so the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is making sure mistaking a recall notice for junk mail isn’t a reason for the failure to repair.

NHTSA now requires all manufacturers to use a distinctive label on required mailings that notify owners of recalled vehicles or equipment. The label was designed to help owners instantly distinguish important recall notices from other assorted correspondence and avoid mistakenly discarding critical safety notices.

Also, NHTSA is requiring automakers to offer free access by Aug. 14 on their Web sites to recall notices that consumers can find by typing in their vehicle identification number. More recall information is at




for casting your ballots in our Fifth Annual Best of the South poll, which was featured in the March/April issue of the AAA Southern Traveler this year. We’re tabulating the results right now, and we’ll publish the winners in our July/August issue so you can find out where your fellow readers suggest you find the best fried chicken in Arkansas, the best attraction in New Orleans, the best small town to escape to in Mississippi, and many more. You’re the experts because you visit these destinations and are passionate about where you spend your vacations–and your money. We can’t wait to share the top choices with you.

In the meantime, you can click on to read past issues of the magazine as well as new Web-only articles, including a look at the New Canal Lighthouse that has risen from the destruction of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to once again serve as a beacon of hope on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Restored about a year ago by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, this New Orleans landmark features a museum that brings attention to coastal restoration and to the significance of Louisiana’s seafood industry.

best of the south

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