June is National Safety Month

As our loved ones file out the door each morning, the one wish we all have for each other is for everyone to safely return home each evening. Having some good sensible knowledge on how to help ensure that wish is granted every day will help put your mind at ease and help your loved ones to be more cognizant of dangers that exist in the world around them. The National Safety Council (NCS) has made June National Safety Month to provide you with everything you need to live as safely as possible.

NCS aims to prevent injuries and accidents with online resources for every potentially dangerous situation from falls to vehicle accidents. Their website provides articles, tips and information that can be downloaded and printed. The NCS encourages participation in National Safety Month in nearly every application. Because every possible safety hazard is addressed within the NCS website the following is a basic breakdown of the most common hazards:

At home: The number one cause of injury or death is poisoning, mainly from prescription drug overdose. This is followed by car accidents, falls, choking, drowning, fires and finally natural or environmental disasters. NCS has tips to prevent each of these tragedies as well as seasonal specific safety tips such as preventing firework injuries and safe bicycling practices during summer months.

At work: The same hazards that exist at home also exist in the workplace, however the likelihood of being injured by machinery or equipment is greatly increased in the workplace. NCS offers training to companies to help their employees prevent injuries from happening as well as first aid and medical response training.

NCS suggest that for both the workplace and in your community, participating in National Safety Month is a good opportunity to host safety presentations, lunch and learns or even have a fun safety trivia game.

On the road: NCS lists alcohol, distracted driving and speeding as the top three causes of vehicle related deaths that claimed over 40,000 lives in 2017.

Defensive driver training and other workplace programs are suggested to not only keep employees safe but everyone else on the road safe as well. With our recent severe flooding and rain it is also imperative that we all make a promise to abide by the well known saying, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

To learn more about what you can do to keep everyone in your life and community safer NCS is offering online webinars during the month of June. Wishing you a SAFE & HAPPY Month!

Missouri License Plate Renewals Simplified

Well, as simplified as possible. There is always a bit of confusion surrounding exactly what you need to have to renew your license plates every year or other year depending on how long you last chose to renew. The following is what you will need with explanations and tips!

1.     Personal Property Tax receipt - You can print a copy of your paid tax receipt from the county website or you can go to the county tax office and purchase a copy. If you have never had to pay personal property taxes before getting your first vehicle you will need to go to the county tax office to get a Certificate of Non-Assessment. Note that you will need to bring your drivers license and proof that you are who you say you are. If you can’t go in person you will have to provide your substitute with a copy of your drivers license and the title to the vehicle for them to be able to take care of the tax matter for you. If your personal property tax bill didn’t list the vehicle you are wanting to renew it is either because you bought it so recently (within the last year) that you haven’t generated the first tax bill on that vehicle or you didn’t get your assessment updated. You won’t be able to renew your plates without the vehicle (unless recently bought) being listed on your tax receipt. Tax tip - be sure to fill out your yearly personal property assessment on time. Many counties place hefty fines on late filing. Most counties allow you to file online before the filing due date, however after that date it’s a trip to the county office and that can take quite a long time to get the assessment filed.

2.     Inspection - Inspections especially as of late can be the most confusing of all the items you need to bring to the DMV. Right now, inspections are required for vehicles based on the model year, so if your vehicle was made in 2013 you will need an inspection for every odd year if made in 2014 you will need and inspection for every even year. If you choose two year plates you will likely need an updated inspection with each renewal. Inspections can’t be more than 60 days old before renewal. Call your mechanic with plenty of notice for your inspection - inspections require minimum amounts of time per vehicle therefore your mechanic can only perform a limited number of inspections per day.

 
 

Vehicles less than five years of manufacturing date are exempt from inspection requirements. There are a few other exemptions such as vehicles with historic plates, for more click here. There is also legislation being considered in Missouri to change inspection requirement laws, although, at this point none of them have become law.

3.     Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice - This is a small blue card that comes to your home in the mail. It includes a pin number that will allow you to renew online. If you renew in person you will have to have this card with you. If you lose this card you will have to fill out an Application for License form found here. Although this form looks like it is only for a newly purchased vehicle it is also used for renewals.

4.     Proof of Insurance - Use the proof of insurance card issued by your insurance company, the same one you keep in your vehicle. A picture on your phone or a copy of a bill can be rejected as proof. However according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Missouri will allow you to use an e-card accessible by your insurance providers smart phone app.

Lastly, if you are looking for a personalized or specialty license plate there is something for everyone. If you’re a qualified disabled Veteran or were a former Prisoner of War you may qualify for a free license plate. Check out the entire list of personalized and specialty plates available at the Missouri Department of Revenue.

 

Blog by: Allison Green

Increased Old Car Thefts in Missouri

Each year a new “most stolen” list of cars preferred by thieves is released and in years back most that made the unfortunate list were very new or close to new models. That list however is changing. Nationally, the most stolen car is the 1998 Honda Civic followed closely by the 1997 Honda Accord. According to Forbes, there’s a simple explanation, these cars are easier to steal because they don’t have smart key technology. Following the Hondas are a list of newer vehicles such as 2006 F-150 at #3 and the 2017 Toyota Camry at #4.

Kansas City police arrest a woman in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Car thefts in Missouri have skyrocketed following a change in scrap yard laws in 2012. Photo Credit: SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3.

Kansas City police arrest a woman in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Car thefts in Missouri have skyrocketed following a change in scrap yard laws in 2012. Photo Credit: SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3.

Here in Missouri however, older cars have seen an unusual increase in being stolen. This oddity is considered to be directly related to a 2012 Missouri Law allowing for anyone to sell a vehicle over ten years old for scrap even without a title. The law was originally passed to help rural farmers and land owners who needed to remove abandoned vehicles without titles from their property. Since this law went into effect auto thefts are up by one third in Kansas City while St. Louis has seen a 37% increase of old cars stolen since 2012. Even the state of Kansas has experienced a 24% increase in car thefts. To curb the increase cities and legislators are looking for ways to ensure the scrapyards that accept vehicles are enforcing the rule that these vehicles are not operable. Some municipalities are also working to create ordinances that require scrapyards to collect identification information from the seller of the vehicle. Many scrapyards have already voluntarily applied these suggestions and work with law enforcement to help curb theft for scrap. Although most vehicles only provide $200 - $500 in scrap value, the amounts are enough to keep the bad apples out looking for the next car to cash in on.

How can you protect your older vehicle from being stolen? Here are a few tips:

  • Be wary of unmarked (no company name or logo) tow vehicles. This is the most common way older vehicles are stolen.

  • Don’t leave a broken-down vehicle in an area that it could be easily towed away and when possible make the necessary repairs to the vehicle quickly to avoid the temptation. Even a flat tire can be regarded as making a car inoperable at a scrapyard that doesn’t thoroughly check what is brought in.

  • Install a GPS system to track your vehicle in the case it is stolen.

  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight.

Blog by: Allison Green

When it’s Time to Stop Driving

Driving is freedom. Losing the ability to drive can be devastating for anyone. The ability to take care of oneself, to have no need to rely on anyone and to come and go as they please is one of the greatest examples of the kind of freedom that driving allows. Keeping that in mind, how do we know when it is time to consider telling an aging loved one that their driving days are over? Beyond that what can be done to help them cope with that decision?

This conversation might be the most difficult of any you’ve had with your parents or grandparents. Keep in mind that neither of you are alone. Even recent international news brought up the subject of aging drivers. After being involved in a car crash while driving, Prince Philip was soon convinced to give up his keys at the age of 97. Around 20% of American drivers are over 65 years of age though within that age range very few have been responsible for any kind of accident. The rate of crash related deaths sees a significant increase for those over 75 years of age, even more so for those over 80. Here in Missouri, 2017 saw accidents involving drivers over 65 result in 183 deaths and 736 severe injuries. Keep in mind however, health conditions that can impair driving can happen at any age, so exactly how do you know when it is time to intervene?

The good news is According to AAA, most senior drivers decide themselves to change their own driving habits. Many begin by avoiding high traffic times of the day, driving in bad weather and often keeping within a small range of travel. Also, in the state of Missouri, drivers over 70 are required to renew their license every three years to ensure their eyesight is sufficient for safe driving and the ability to recognize road signs. If there is still concern regarding a loved one’s safety on the road, AAA offers the following list of reasons to insure that a loved one no longer drives:

  • Delayed response to unexpected situations

  • Becoming easily distracted while driving

  • Decrease in confidence while driving

  • Having difficulty moving into or maintaining the correct lane of traffic

  • Hitting curbs when making right turns or backing up

  • Getting scrapes or dents on car, garage or mailbox

  • Having frequent close calls

  • Driving too fast or too slow for road conditions” ~ AARP.org Kyle Rakow

This article also includes this link for a free online seminar on how best to have that conversation. When and if this moment occurs remember to be empathetic to what they will be experiencing, the loss of what will feel like a main source of independence. Allow them to be a part of the plan for new means of getting around. It is also important to note that getting to doctor’s visits and the grocery store is just as important to your loved ones health as maintaining friendships and social opportunities.

Do the best you can to find out what their normal life routine is before driving abilities are removed to ensure they aren’t left in a lonely situation afterwards. Where again it might be one of the most difficult moments in your relationship with your loved ones, remember the loving care you have for each other will see you through just as it always has.

Blog References: Department of Transportation, Centers for Disease Control, Missouri Department of Transportation

Blog by: Allison Green

Managing Vehicle Recalls

There’s a little stack of recall notices on my small desk in the kitchen. At least one for each vehicle each family member owns. Two for the Jeep, three for the Toyota, two for the Dodge and one for the Ford. I’m pretty sure everyone’s airbags are recalled at this point.

It seems hardly a day goes by without the evening news including a vehicle recall notice, most recently that Kia and Hyundai engines can catch on fire.  I wonder, were these defects not noticed years back? Maybe it was harder to find owners to send the notices to if they were, or has the fast-paced world of pumping out the latest and greatest caused quality control to go out the window altogether?  

As it turns out there are two answers, and they both confirm that yes, we are seeing more recalls than decades past. The first reason is that, just like every complex machine we own from washing machines to motorcycles, many of the parts that make up these machines are coming from the same manufacturer. Brands are names and logos with some defining characteristics in what the products looks like on the outside, though under the hood and beyond the dashboard many of the gidgets and gadgets that make the machine run are somewhat standard issue. Take the washing machine for instance; you have a box with a drum inside. You push buttons or turn knobs at the top of the box, put the clothes in the drum, and viola- you’ll soon have clean clothes. Most washing machines spin that drum of dirty jeans into clean pants via a motor, pump, belt, transmission, and a computer board. Back in the day most of these components were made by the manufacturer of the box, the one with the brand and the logo. Today, that motor might be made by company ABC and happens to be the same company that makes the motors in half a dozen washing machine brands. Same story with the rest of the parts that make the drum spin. Vehicle manufacturing is no stranger to this modern mode of mass production.

A great example of this is the Takata Air Bag. Twenty-two separate vehicle manufactures are listed as having Takata air bags, I couldn’t find the list of how many in total have their air bags recalled or not. This is just one example how one part on one make/model could be a small part of a recall on thousands of parts in dozens of makes and models. The air bag recall affected 42 million vehicles made by everyone from Chrysler to Volkswagen.  Which leads us to the second reason we’re getting so many notices of these recalls- it’s too dangerous to not pay attention.

Too many recalls were being discovered after the defect had caused a tragedy. This lead to a demand for more oversight into the safety of our vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped up its efforts to find defects before more people got hurt. Now, it is up to us as car owners to stay on top of getting those recall issues taken care of.  It is also important not to assume that if you haven’t received a notice you don’t have a recall. 

Experts suggest checking your VIN number for possible recalls becomes a maintenance habit. Checking each time you change your oil for example will ensure you are staying on top of things. Heck, since we’re already thinking about it why not check now? Click here to enter the NHTSA recall search site. I need to get off this computer and get those appointments made.

 Blog by: Allison Green