Best Vehicles for Teens in 2021

Best Vehicles for Teens in 2021

Teenagers and vehicles can be a deadly combination. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in teens ages 15-20 in the United States.

It’s a terrifying thought that as a parent you can’t always be there to keep them safe when they are behind the wheel. Give yourself peace of mind by taking steps to educate your teen and give them the proper tools they need before they take off on their own.

This includes taking driver’s safety or education courses, practicing in all driving conditions, knowing what to do in an emergency, talking about the dangers of distracted driving; and most importantly doing your research and purchasing (or letting them purchase) a safe and reliable vehicle.

Now, we know looking for a new car can be stressful, especially with your teen who probably wants new-new and not new-to-them, so we’ve done the research for you.

Here are the best vehicles for teens in 2021 according to IIHS and Consumer Reports.


Small cars Model years Price
Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $8,100
Toyota Prius 2014 or newer; built after November 2013 $8,600
Hyundai Elantra GT 2018 or newer $15,200
Subaru Crosstrek 2017 or newer $17,900
Honda Insight 2019 or newer $18,200
Toyota Prius Prime 2017 or newer $18,200
Toyota Corolla hatchback 2019 or newer $18,300
Kia Niro 2019 $18,600
Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon 2019 $19,400
Midsize cars Model years Price
Subaru Outback 2013 or newer; built after August 2012 $8,700
Subaru Legacy 2013 or newer; built after August 2012 $8,800
Mazda 6 2014 or newer $10,100
Lincoln MKZ 2013, 2016, 2018 or newer $10,300
Honda Accord sedan or coupe 2013 or newer $10,900
Volkswagen Passat 2016-17 $11,400
Toyota Prius v 2015-18 $11,600
Volkswagen Jetta 2017 $12,900
Volvo S60 2016, 18 $14,100
BMW 3 series 2017 or newer; built after November 2016; 4-cylinder only $17,900
Large cars Model years Price
Ford Taurus 2014 $9,600
Hyundai Genesis 2016 $18,700
Small SUVs Model years Price
Mazda CX-5 2014 or newer; built after October 2013 $9,300
Nissan Rogue 2014, 2016-18, 2020 $10,100
Subaru Forester 2016 or newer $13,500
Honda CR-V 2015 or newer $14,800
Kia Sportage 2017, 2018, 2020 $14,800
Toyota RAV4 2015 or newer; built after November 2014 $14,900
Honda HR-V 2017 or newer; built after March 2016 $15,400
Hyundai Kona 2018 or newer $15,800
Buick Encore 2018-19 $16,300
Hyundai Tucson 2018 or newer $16,800
Mazda CX-3 2019 or newer $17,800
Volvo XC60 2017 $19,200
Midsize SUVs Model years Price
Chevrolet Equinox 2017, 2019 $13,700
Nissan Murano 2015 or newer $14,800
GMC Terrain 2017, 2019 $15,100
Lexus NX 2015-16, 2018 or newer $16,000
Kia Sorento 2017-18 $16,500
Hyundai Santa Fe 2017-19; built after March 2016 $18,700
Ford Edge 2018 or newer $19,600
Mazda CX-9 2017 or newer; built after November 2016 $19,600
Audi Q5 2016-19 $19,800
Minivans Model years Price
Toyota Sienna 2015-16 $13,900
Honda Odyssey 2016 $15,400
Kia Sedona 2017 $15,600


Remember, when looking at vehicles talk to your insurance agent to see what will save you the most with your teen on your policy. And don’t forget to look out for recalls or damage from previous owners.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. California Casualty does not own the data table show above. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Safety Tips for Driving in the Fall

Safety Tips for Driving in the Fall

Fall brings cool, crisp weather, and beautiful colors, but it also brings its share of driving hazards. Autumn is damp and foggy in many places and temperatures tend to drop at night. These seasonal changes can impact road conditions.

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe when driving this fall.


Tip #1: Be aware of changing light patterns during shorter fall days.

Fall days naturally are shorter.  The sun moves closer to the horizon, creating increased glare during sunrise and sunset hours. Once we end Daylight Savings Time on November 7, it will get darker earlier in the evening. “While we do only one-quarter of our driving at night, 50% of traffic deaths happen at night,” according to the National Safety Council. That’s because depth perception, peripheral vision, and color recognition are reduced in the dark.

    • Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car for times when the sun’s blinding glare can obstruct your vision. In the fall, this often happens during morning and evening rush hour.
    • Keep your windshield clean so that dirt streaks don’t contribute to the glare.
    • Be especially careful driving in neighborhoods during dusk or dawn hours. The low light can make it harder to see children playing or people walking their dogs.
    • At night, the glare of approaching headlights can be blinding. Do not wear sunglasses as they can obstruct your vision at night. The best strategy is to avoid looking directly into the lights of oncoming traffic. Glance toward the right and look for the white painted road line.


Tip #2: Slow down for leaves, which can make roads hazardous.

Autumn leaves are beautiful to behold but they’re also dangerous. Driving on wet leaves is as slippery as driving on ice. Leaves may be slippery when wet but If temperatures fall, those wet leaves actually become icy. Even dry leaves are dangerous. They can reduce traction and cause skidding. They can cover up road markings and potholes.

    • Clean leaves off your windshield so they don’t get stuck in your wiper blades and block your vision.
    • When driving on roads with leaves, slow down. Imagine hidden potholes under the leaves, which you would not want to hit at higher speeds.
    • Give yourself plenty of distance between yourself and the car in front to avoid braking suddenly on a slippery surface.
    • This is prime time for leaf gazing. Be aware that some drivers will have their eyes on the colorful fall foliage, rather than focusing on the road.
    • Never drive through a leaf pile. Children love to jump and hide there.
    • Do not park over a pile of leaves. It could create a fire hazard from the heat in your exhaust system.


Tip #3: Take care to see, and be seen, in fog.

Chilly fall mornings can create foggy conditions which reduce your visibility and the perception of distance when driving. You can take measures to see and be seen in fog.

    • Keep your headlights on, even during the daytime in fog. Use fog lights if you have them. They are designed to shine low along the road.
    • Avoid using your high beams. They do not work well in dense fog and will create a glare, making it harder for you to see.
    • Keep moving at a safe speed, but put lots of distance between yourself and other drivers.
    • Reduce distractions so you can focus completely on the road.
    • Use your windshield wipers and defroster to keep your glass clear. Set your defroster to warm to help dry out any moisture.
    • If you need to, pull over to a safe spot. However, you will want to turn off your lights. In a fog, other drivers may see lights and think you are in a traffic lane. That could cause a collision.


Tip #4: Slow down on bridges and overpasses, which can freeze before roads.

As overnight temperatures drop below freezing, you can expect morning frost. That frost can impact your commute.

    • Warm-up your car and clear away any morning frost on your windshield and windows before driving.
    • Slow down on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas. Like the signs say, they really do freeze before roads.
    • Be aware of black ice. It doesn’t have to be snowing to create those slippery surfaces.

Tip #5: Be alert for deer at dawn and dusk.

Fall is breeding season for deer. That means you may see them more as they travel to find mates. You are more likely to hit a deer in November than at any other time of year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. An adult deer can range from 150 to 300 pounds, so hitting a deer can cause significant damage to your car as well as kill the animal.

    • Deer are most active during dusk and dawn. Be watchful of the side of the road movement during those times, especially in areas where there are deer crossing signs.
    • Deer travel in groups. If you see one cross the road, chances are there are others following.
    • If you see a deer, avoid swerving. Try to come to a controlled stop and wait for the animal to pass by. Put on your hazard lights to alert other drivers that you are stopped.

Tip #6: Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.

Keeping your vehicle in top condition will help you navigate the challenges of fall driving more easily.

    • Check your vehicle’s headlights, turn signals, and tail lights to make sure they are working. Make sure your headlights are aligned.
    • Check your car’s wipers and replace the blades if they are showing signs of wear.
    • Check your car’s heating system to make sure it’s working.
    • Make sure your tires have enough tread and are inflated. As temperatures rise and fall, your car tires may expand and contract. This causes loss of air pressure. You will want your tires to be inflated to manufacturer specifications. Check your owner’s manual.
    • Finally, make sure you have the proper car insurance. Coverage will give you peace of mind should anything happen.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


Staying Safe and Visible This Halloween

Staying Safe and Visible This Halloween

Get ready for a scary good time! Halloween is nearly here and kids everywhere will be out trick-or-treating. Remember a safe Halloween is a Happy Halloween; make sure your children are out and about in a way that they can be easily seen.

The ghosts and goblins (or more likely known as little trick-or-treaters) come out after the sun has gone down.  Which is fun when you’re behind the mask, but not so fun if you are behind the wheel. When it’s dark, it’s harder for drivers to see pedestrians in the street. Add to that, excited children who may run out suddenly, and the results could be tragic. In fact, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

That’s why it’s important to decide carefully on the costume your child will wear to ensure he/she is the most visible. And before they leave the house, you’ll also want to go over important pedestrian safety rules. You may even decide that accompanying your child is the best thing to do (recommended for children under 12).

Here are some more Halloween safety tips to consider for every vampire, witch, and werewolf!


Tip #1: Use reflective tape on your child’s costume.

Increase your child’s chances of being seen by adding pieces of reflective tape to his/her costume and/or jacket. Do so creatively and you may have a skeleton with glowing bones or a superhero with a gleaming emblem. Reflective tape works by reflecting light back, so wearers will be easily seen in a car’s headlights even in the pitch dark.

Tip #2: Add a glow stick or a clip-on light.

Decorate your child’s costume or candy bag with clip-on lights. These can be Halloween-themed lights or any small clip-on. Consider giving your child glow stick bracelets or necklaces; these are a festive, fun, and bright addition to any costume.

Tip #3: Select costumes with light colors.

Darker color costumes may be spooky but they are hard to see when it gets dark. When possible, choose lighter-colored outfits. If your child insists on a dark color, use tip #1 to lighten it up.

Tip #4: Choose face paint over masks.

Masks can block your child’s vision and depth perception. They also cover up your trick-or-treater’s face so it may not be easily seen. Face paint is a great alternative. You can even find glow-in-the-dark varieties for more visibility. Choose a face paint that is labeled safe for use with children. Test it on your child’s arm before Halloween. If you want a natural version, you can make homemade face paint.

Tip #5: Travel in groups and carry a flashlight.

Whether you walk around with your kids, or they travel with their friends, insist that they go in groups. Large groups – especially with both adults and children – are easier to see. If one or more group members carry a flashlight, that’s added protection. Having an adult also will help keep trick-or-treaters safe. The excitement of Halloween can overtake a child’s focus on safety.

Tip #6: Don’t walk and text.

You may often text while you’re walking but it’s not a good idea –and while supervising children on Halloween, it’s an especially bad idea. A study from Stonybrook University showed that we are 61 percent more likely to veer off course when we are walking and texting. Not only could you walk into traffic – or other people – or step off the curb, but your attention is distracted from the trick-or-treaters in your care.

Tip #7: Choose safe, lighted routes.

If you are able, choose a residential neighborhood with street lights and sidewalks for trick-or-treating. Walk on the sidewalk and cross at the corner, looking first for cars. If there are no sidewalks, and you need to walk in the street, you should keep to the left and walk facing cars. This will ensure you see cars coming toward you. Halloween is not the time to jaywalk; it can be especially dangerous. Do not walk out between cars, and definitely do not run into the street for any reason.

Tip #8. Watch for cars.

Watch for cars that are turning corners or pulling out of driveways. They could surprise you if you’re not expecting them—and you could surprise them by being in their path. If you’re the one driving at night on Halloween, look out for pedestrians.

For more safety tips, see our blogs on Halloween fire safety and Halloween safety tips for pets.

Have a Happy Halloween!



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


How to Put Out a Fire Without an Extinguisher

How to Put Out a Fire Without an Extinguisher

You’re used to seeing fire extinguishers in public buildings such as offices and schools in case of an emergency. But would you be prepared if a fire broke out at home?  Almost 400,000 home fires happen every year in the U.S., causing thousands of deaths and millions of dollars in losses, but still,1 in 4 Americans say they don’t have a fire extinguisher in their home. 

While you may not be able to predict a house fire, you can protect your family by being prepared. That includes owning fire extinguishers, knowing how to use them, checking your smoke alarms, and having a family disaster plan. 

If you are one of the families that currently doesn’t own any fire extinguishers – we strongly recommend purchasing one as soon as you can. Don’t worry, there are other steps you can take to safely contain a small home fire. Here are some helpful home fire safety tips and guidance.  


Know not all fires are the same.

Some fires are oil-based. Others are sparked by electricity or chemicals. Still, other fires are non-chemical. The way you put out a fire depends upon the type. It’s very important to know the kind of fire. In some cases, if you choose the wrong way to try to extinguish a fire, it could make it even worse.


Here’s how to put out a cooking fire.

Kitchens are common places for home fires. When you turn on your stove, you ignite a flame. If that flame combines with cooking grease, a fire can erupt. Fires also can easily start if you leave a stove unattended and the food or liquid in the pan or pot starts to burn. 

Water will not work on kitchen fires- which are oil or grease-based. Upon contact with the oil, the water molecules quickly heat to steam and cause the oil to explode in all directions. 

The best way to put out a cooking fire is to “snuff it out”. You want to cut the flow of air to the fire. Here are some options:

    • If the fire is small enough, cover it with a metal cooking lid or cookie sheet. Keep it covered until it has cooled.
    • Cover the fire with a fire blanket, a large piece of fire-resistant material such as fiberglass. 
    • Don’t swat at the flames. This could create airflow and make the fire worse, or ignite your clothes.
    • Pour a large quantity of salt or baking soda over the fire. Make sure it is salt or baking soda and not flour. Flour adds fuel to the fire and will cause it to burn (or even explode).
    • Turn off any heat source.
    • If your fire is in the oven or microwave, keep the door shut. While it may look scary, the lack of air will eventually extinguish the fire.


Here’s how to put out a chemical fire.

Many common household items are chemical-based and highly flammable. This includes alcohol, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, products in aerosol cans, nail polish and remover. Exposing any of these chemicals to an open flame is dangerous. Even doing your nails near a lit candle can spark a chemical fire.

Chemical fires are similar to cooking grease fires. You never want to use water to put out a chemical fire. It could cause the fire to spread. 

Here’s how to handle a chemical fire:

    • Cover the fire with a fire blanket. 
    • Pour a large quantity of baking soda or sand on the fire. 


Here’s how to put out an electrical fire.

There are many possible causes of electrical fires. They can start due to overloaded circuits, faulty electrical outlets, and outdated appliances. Worn or frayed cords can cause heat to reach flammable surfaces in your home such as curtains and rugs. Installing a light bulb with a wattage that is too hot for the fixture can ignite fires. Electric space heaters also are known for starting fires when their coils are placed too close to couches, curtains, bedding, and rugs.

Never use water to put out an electrical fire. Water conducts electricity, and if you douse an electrical fire with water, you could be electrocuted. 

Here’s some guidance on how to put out an electrical fire.

    • If it is safe to do so, unplug the device causing the fire. 
    • Turn off the electricity on the house’s breaker box.  
    • Smother the flames by pouring baking soda onto them.


Here’s how to put out ordinary fires.

Ordinary fires involve paper, wood, clothing, trash, or plastic. This type of fire may occur if you knock over a candle or get a spark from the fireplace.  

Unlike the other fires, these do respond well to water.

    • Grab a bucket and fill it with water. Douse the flames.
    • If you’re dealing with a wood-burning fireplace, you may wish to skip the water. That will create a mess and spread ashes throughout the room. Consider spreading out the logs and embers, and covering them with sand or baking soda.


Don’t try to put out a large fire by yourself.

If the fire becomes larger or out of control, you do not want to try to contain it. Your safety comes first. Get out of the house and call 9-1-1. 


A fire extinguisher is a good investment for your home. 

Finally, if your home does not have a fire extinguisher, you should invest in one. Fire extinguishers use either water, foam, dry powder, CO2, and wet chemicals to extinguish fires. Some use a combination. The basic classifications for home use include:

    • Class A – This type is used on any fire that may be extinguished with water.
    • Class B – This type is used for flammable liquids and grease fires.
    • Class C – This type is used for fires involving electrical equipment.

Review your coverage with your homeowner’s insurance to know how you are covered in the event of a fire. 

To help prevent fires in your home, see our blog on home fire safety tips.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Top 10 Car Seat Safety Mistakes

Top 10 Car Seat Safety Mistakes

Vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children between the ages 1 and 4. Your child’s best chance to come out of an accident unscathed is if they are in a car seat that has been installed correctly.

Here are the top car seat safety mistakes.

Price isn’t Everything, Especially when it comes to safety.  When it comes to purchasing car seats, the more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean “safer”. There are car seats for every budget. A lot of that extra cost could just be additional features, easy to use, or brand popularity.  Find compare and rate car seats using the  NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) car seat finder here. So what’s the determining factor on which seat to get? Get the one that has the best rating that fits your budget, vehicle, can be properly installed and used.

Your Child is Too Big for the Seat.  You bring your new bundle of joy home in the infant seat, they grow quickly, when do you move up to the next size. Sometimes it might be easy to judge if they outgrow the seat. When they pass the height or weight limits you will need to change seats to accommodate these new changes. You can check the manufacturer’s site for specifics on whether your car seat is still a good fit. Or follow this guide.

Moving to a forward-facing or booster seat too soon.  The AAP policy says it’s best to keep kids rear-facing until they turn 2 or meet the maximum height and weight for the seat. Studies say that children under 2 are less likely to be severely injured (or worse) if they are riding rear-facing. Newer car seats are equipped with higher height and weight limits to help encourage rear-facing.  But, just because the child meets the minimum weight requirement for a booster seat does not mean they are ready to move up. It comes down to if they can sit correctly in the seat and maintain proper belt positions at all times.

More is not merrier in this case.  Do not use both LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) and the safety belt, use the incorrect LATCH anchors, or use a LATCH past its weight limit. What you need to use will depend on your car and the type of seat. One or the other may be the best option, but you shouldn’t need to use both. Double-check your car seat manual to make sure you’re using the correct anchors. You should also note that the lower anchors have weight limits, so you have to switch to vehicle seat belt installation if/when the weight your child + car seat exceeds 65lbs.

Used Seat = Better Deal.  Expiration dates, prior accidents, cleanliness- there are all sorts of reasons why to purchase a new seat instead of buying a used one. If you are tight on money, research and see which local organizations offer inexpensive options. You’re carrying precious cargo remember, don’t skip the small stuff!

Taking kids out of car seats too soon.  When does a child get to ride like a normal passenger? Great question!  When the child can sit all the way back with knees bent over the edge of the seat with their seatbelt properly across the shoulder and the thighs. They need to be able to maintain this position throughout the ride, even if asleep. Check your state requirements, most require the use of a booster through age 8 or 9 (or once they hit a certain height or weight requirement).

Incorrect use of the chest clip.  Don’t brush this piece off. It’s actually a crucial feature to the seat, that could end up saving your child’s life. The clip holds the straps so that if an accident happens, the straps will remain secure on the child’s shoulders, allowing full protection from the seat. A clip in the wrong spot could result in ejection, internal injuries, or even death. 

Straps need to be snug.  One rule to remember: if you can pinch excess strap between your fingers, or if the straps are twisted or gaping, they are too loose. The child’s clothes should never be buckled in while wearing them. You may think it adds “padding” but in an accident, it will compress and leave space that could cause injury.

Wrong harness slot.  The manual for the car seat will be specific to your exact seat, but usually, placement depends on the direction the seat is facing. Rear-facing: straps should thread into harness slot at or below the shoulders. Forward-facing: straps should thread into harness slot at or above the shoulders.

It’s ONLY a car seat.  Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children. Car seats save lives.

Take the time to properly install your car seat before use and have it inspected by a certified technician for assurance.

Again, your child is precious cargo, take precautionary measures now before you could regret it later.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

How to Sign up for Severe Weather Alerts

How to Sign up for Severe Weather Alerts

Many things in life come without warnings. But fortunately for us, severe weather isn’t one of them.

Meteorologists are constantly tracking dangerous storms and weather patterns. Tapping into their early warnings is key to protecting your home, your possessions, and your family. Here’s what you need to know to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature.


First, let’s take a look at severe weather.

There are many types of severe weather. Examples include thunderstorms, snowstorms, hail storms, blizzards, hurricanes, tornados, and cyclones. High winds and flooding associated with some of these weather events can do great damage to your home and belongings. Having a disaster plan is great, but knowing when disaster is going to strike is crucial. That’s where early warning systems come in.


Chances are you already have an emergency alert system.

The U.S. government has the capability to send wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) right to our cell phones. Agencies like the National Weather Service and FEMA are among the organizations that can do so. There is no signup required and you are not charged for the data used. Alerts come automatically with a special sound and vibration. Most phones are enabled for these alerts; to find out if your particular model is, check the WEA enabled list or contact your wireless carrier.


Check to see that your phone is enabled for alerts.

WEAs may be free but if your phone isn’t enabled to receive them, you won’t. Fortunately, it’s easy to activate this setting.

Apple (IOS) phones

    • Go to settings, then notifications.
    • Scroll down to government alerts.
    • Slide the circle so that it is green for the alerts you want. For severe weather, you will want emergency alerts and public safety alerts.

Android phones

    • Go to apps & notifications.
    • Click on notifications.
    • Turn on “allow alerts.”
    • Make sure each alert that you want is enabled. For severe weather, you will want extreme threats, severe threats, public safety messages, and state and local tests.


While WEAs are good ways to get information, generally these alerts won’t arrive until there is an emergency. You may find value in getting advance notice.


Other ways to get emergency information:

If you do not have a WEA-capable phone, you can still get critical and timely information from NOAA Weather Radio, local media broadcasts, and the emergency alert system on your TV or desktop and mobile devices. Make sure to tune in if you suspect an impending weather emergency. In addition, your local utility company, township, city or state may offer free alerts. Check with your electric or gas company, and with city hall or municipal government. Find out how to sign up for their free alerts.


There’s an app for that, and it’s free.

You can get advance notice and more robust information by downloading a weather app on your smartphone or mobile device. Here are some popular free options.

    • AccuWeather: Weather Alerts provides hourly forecasts, news, and updates as well as weather-tracking radar.
    • AlertSense offers public safety alerts as well as severe weather warnings. You can set quiet hours so only emergency alerts are sent with sound.
    • Emergency: Alerts is free from the American Red Cross. With this app, you can look up Red Cross shelters and alert loved ones you are safe. It also comes with a flashlight, a strobe light, an alarm, and preloaded content on everything from hurricanes to disasters that is accessible without an Internet connection
    • FEMA offers real-time weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations of your choice. It also provides information on storm preparedness and filing a flood claim.
    • Storm Shield is free with options for paid upgrades. This app provides alerts in text and voice and tracks conditions in up to 5 locations.
    • WeatherBug is free with options to purchase in the app. It offers forecasts in real-time as well as weather maps, and more.
    • The Weather Channel for Apple or Android offers live radar updates and local weather forecasts.


Stay one step ahead of Mother Nature with coverage from California Casualty.

No matter how well you prepare for severe weather, unfortunately, sometimes Mother Nature gets the upper hand. That’s why having the correct home insurance coverage is so important. Make sure you and your family are fully protected. For questions on home insurance or ways, you can save on your own insurance policy, call a California Casualty agent today at 1.866.704.8614 or visit our website



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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