Charlotte’s Driving Mess

January 14th, 2019 by

You’re rolling down Providence Road, heading toward South Park Mall and the perennial Charlottean problem strikes you: traffic. It’s as typical to Charlotte as all the Range Rovers, Mercedes, BMWs, and pricey sports cars. You’re pulling up behind a long line, some 6 deep already, of cars waiting to turn from Providence onto Fairview, and you get to thinking: Am I driving the safest car? What features of my car help to ward off the evils of driving in Charlotte? When I am facing the driving mess that is the morning and evening rush hours in the Queen City, am I certain I have the safest and most dependable ride there is?

You pull up to be number two in line, in the turn lane, because the light switched from green back to red. You sit there listening to top 40 tunes and your eyes rove over the cars crossing through the intersection. You glance down at your odometer and see 96, 312 miles, and you think, “wow, it might be time to try something new!” So, what would you buy, what features would you want, and why would you choose what you would? And what about where you live, do the traffic patterns of your particular neighborhood matter to your day-to-day errands?

If you’re a typical soccer mom or a football dad, then your driving will be mostly pick-ups and drop-offs, shopping, and running errands within a few miles’ radius of your house. What features will help you with that sort of driving load? But if you’re a working woman, or if you’re a corporate-ladder-climbing man on his hustle, then your commute might be more of a haul than a few short miles to the nearest Chick-fil-A. What do you need to make your commute as smooth and as pleasant as possible?


Charlotte’s Most Dangerous Intersections

Thinking about the challenges or difficulties of driving in a growing city, with its growing traffic problems, is a good place to start when deciding what you most want, and need, in a vehicle. Some of Charlotte’s worst intersections might surprise you, as well as give you pause to reconsider what’s more important when purchasing a car: the bells and whistles alone, or those plus some solid, significant safety features. For example, the Charlotte Observer, in a November 2018 article, lists East 12th Street and North Davidson Street as its number 2 worst intersection. This means, running up to NoDa for some tunes and craft beer might be more dangerous than you first thought!

Another is that six-lane intersection in the Oakdale North area (Lawning, Miranda, Oakdale, and Sunset) which stands as number 4 in their list (they’ve planned a roundabout, to reconfigure traffic flow there). What about up near the University area, where North Tryon, East Sugar Creek, and West Sugar Creek, all intersect? Did you know that 64,000 vehicles pass through each day, making it one of the busiest intersections on the Observer’s list? Are you prepared to face that mass of traffic each day? Do you have the safest vehicle for your driving needs and habits?

What about squeezing into the daily lines at any Chick-fil-A, then doing battle with the line as it wraps around the building and you wrap around with it, in pursuit of that Spicy Chicken Sandwich you craved, how certain are you that your car could take a rear-end from a driving-while-texting or a driver lost in his blaring music? Does your vehicle come equipped with alert systems and rear cameras, which could notify you of the impending hit as you fumble for your money at the window, or a system that might record the incident for insurance reporting purposes? These are things to consider.


Safety First

Safety features are the most prevalent focus among car manufacturers who are industry leaders. Did you know, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, an organization that tracks data on wrecks, that 37,000 people die in road crashes in the US, and that an additional 2.35 million people are annually injured or disabled by a wreck? It’s also important to note that crashes cost $230.6 billion dollars each year, the share of each citizen being $820 per person. What safety features does your vehicle have to minimize your chances of being counted as one of those statistics?

buick WheelSome of the leading safety features in many new vehicles today include back-up cameras, helping drivers see curbs, pedestrians, and other vehicles in the space behind them, or anything else in their path. That’s a brilliant feature in preventing some very dangerous possibilities, such as running over scooters left in the driveway or hitting someone in NoDa on a rent-a-bike. And do you know about the latest in crash-avoidance systems, also called pre-crash systems, and what these systems can do to keep you safer? Such a system uses lasers, radar, and cameras strategically placed around the vehicle’s body, along with GPS sensors, to build a panoramic view around your vehicle as you drive it. It funnels all of that information into alerts and notifications, to warn the driver. And if you cannot avoid a wreck, the system steps in to affect the steering and braking, so that it works for you when you’re in split-second decision-making scenarios.

And how about lane detection systems, which can “read” your positioning on the road and inform you when you begin to veer out of the lane, or are drifting. It can also warn you if a driver is in your blind spot when you attempt to change lanes on 485 to get around that slow-moving snail-of-a-driver, in the center lane. How does it convey its alerts or warning? The system will use visual, audio, or vibration (like the haptic on your Apple watch) to tell you that you may be in a dangerous position when it comes to staying in the lane. If you try to change lanes, because you ignored or missed the warning of something in your blind spot on 77 North, the system will work to keep you in the lane, as well as, keep you centered within your lane. That’s not just a great feature for your own vehicle, but it also keeps you safe from the cars around you when those cars are equipped with this feature. Senseless wrecks from poor lane changes are totally avoidable with the lane detection system.

The complementary system to lane detection is blind-spot warning systems, which also use audio, visual, or vibration feedback to warn you if someone is in your blind spot as you cruise up North Tryon Street, heading for your craft beer in NoDa. And how about the virtues of Bluetooth technology, allowing for hands-free calling as well as being integral to many of the systems discussed above. It links to your dashboard or infotainment screen, so you can accept or place calls, or even be notified of a text message, which it can read to you, and then you can respond by audibly dictating a reply text, without ever moving your hands from the wheel or eyes off the road. Think about not just your safety, but your teen driver: such Bluetooth technology can be a great way to cut down on texting and driving wrecks, which are so unnecessary.

(Also, did you know that Bluetooth, when paired with Google Maps or Apple Maps, can record your parking location for you? Forgetting where you parked, whether in on-street parking or parking lots scenarios, can be a thing of the past when you turn on this feature in your smartphone app.)

And here’s another bonus to driving a vehicle with numerous safety features: lowered car insurance premiums. Many car insurance companies incentivize you to own the safest cars possible by building in credits to your premiums for every safety feature your vehicle possesses. Who doesn’t want to save on car insurance, as well as, have the safest driving experiences as they navigate the mess of Charlotte’s traffic?


Safest Vehicles

What sort of vehicles have most, if not all, of these features? The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) gives 4 of 5 stars to the 2018 GMC Yukon, noting its following safety features, which secured its 4 stars:

  • Forward Collision WarningCharlotte’s Driving Mess
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Crash Imminent Braking
  • Dynamic Brake Support.

The GMC Yukon has had no recalls, which further cements its place as a leader among the safest vehicles in America.

Consider the 2018 Buick Enclave SUV with FWD, which gained 5 out of 5 stars from NHTSA, in its overall safety rating:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Crash Imminent Braking
  • Dynamic Brake Support.

Again, no recalls, which tells you how solid and dependable the reputation of Buick, like GMC is. It’s built with American families in mind. It’s built with safety in mind. It’s built for the Charlottean soccer mom and her 3 kids, or for the family vacation to the Carolina coastline, taken during dad’s two weeks off in summer when everyone else is also hitting the roads.

US News and World Report, when assessing the safety of the 2019 GMC Terrain, looked to the NHTSA in its reporting. The Terrain gained an overall rating of 5 out of 5 stars, with the specifics of Frontal Crash and Side Crash carrying 5 stars, and Rollover getting 4 stars. For a compact SUV, the 2019 GMC Terrain has a great standing in the ratings for its class. The SUV has numerous airbags, 4-wheel ABS brakes, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, and Daytime Running Lights. These safety features help to rank it in the top third of its class of Compact SUVs, and its affordability puts safety within reach. It’s a great choice for parents looking to put their child behind the wheel of his or her first car.

Similar in ratings and price point to the Terrain is the 2019 Buick Encore, also a Compact SUV, which adds Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors to its list of standard safety features. It, too, has an overall safety rating from the NHTSA of 5 out of 5 stars, making it another leading option in outfitting your daughter with a dependable and safe compact SUV for her commute from south Charlotte to UNC-Charlotte.

Sure, that Fiat you saw on Woodlawn was cute, but isn’t a compact SUV like the Encore or the Terrain a better choice? And though the allure of a BMW is always going to be there, you cannot get your family, and all its gear where it needs to go, in it. You need a Yukon, with the same safety features and systems as that BMW, so that you can haul gear and kids and Chick-fil-A around on Saturdays, to matches and meets and practices.

Liberty Buick GMC wants to put you in the safest, most reliable vehicles available today. We are unique in that we are large enough to have the inventory our customers need but small enough to get to know our customers personally. We believe in doing what is right for our team and our customers while aiming to be Charlotte’s best Buick/GMC dealership with our state-of-the-art, family-friendly facilities and incredible team of trained professionals.