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

 

New Road Designs, Crazy or Crafty?

If you have ever driven through a traffic circle or found yourself driving on a road that suddenly forces you to cross into what feels like the wrong lane there is a good chance you have wondered, what were they thinking?

As it turns out there’s a method behind all that road twisting madness and an intention to get everyone from point A to point B with a few less crashes than our highway designs of the past. There is one thing for sure, any unexpected turn, twist or curve certainly slows us down a bit, and right there my friends is the entire reason for the new designs.

nick-fewings-589145-unsplash.com.jpg

Obviously, we all know by now that driving while distracted is a terrible idea. However, even if you are an exemplary example of the fully focused driver, there is a good chance that many of the other drivers sharing your route are engaging with their smart phone or their vehicles built in technology. As a society we have tried just about everything imaginable to convince people to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Public education on the dangers of distracted driving to laws that prohibit the use of cell phones/smart phones while driving have both helped the situation but by no means solved the problem of well, humans being human.

The unfortunate statistics show that this situation is only growing. 3,450 people were killed in accidents in 2016 that were caused by distracted drivers and 391,000 injured from the same cause in 2015. The World Resource Institute created a “Safe System” design approach that has begun to be implemented around the world. This system is already proving to significantly reduce crashes and fatalities.  Whether you love them or hate them, roundabouts or traffic circles provide the following benefits that have shown to make driving safer:

1.     Vehicle speeds are typically reduced to 10 to 20 miles per hour.

2.     Because there are no traffic lights, accidents normally caused from someone trying to get to the others side of a stale yellow are eliminated.

3.     Traffic flows one way only resulting in a reduction of head on collisions.  

Of course, as these designs only work so long as everyone follows the rules, which just like the rule of putting the phone away before starting the car is not exactly followed by everyone. Our world is constantly changing, as is our technology, our vehicles and even the infrastructure we travel on. Who knows what the roads of the future may look like. For now, if anything, we at least know why they are the way they are.

As we embark on the holidays we at Richards’ Collision Center wish everyone a Safe & Happy Holiday and Journey! https//:www.richardscollisioncenter.com

 Blog by: Allison Green

 

 

 

Wishing you a Safe Shopping Season

You’ve all heard or seen the warnings every year informing everyone to be aware that their cars are often a target during the holiday shopping season. Any would-be thief knows that there is a good chance your vehicle has plenty of valuable offerings from your own personal items to all those purchases soon to be heartwarming gifts. Only adding to vulnerability, the sun has gone to bed by around 5:30 p.m. Just in time for you to get off work and head to the stores. Adopting the following tips can help keep yourself, your car and your belongings safer so that you can simply enjoy the holidays.

Lady Shopping
  • Remove ice or snow from windows and roof before heading out so that you aren’t forced to take care of winter woes in a parking lot.

  • Park in areas that are well lit. If possible, park in a spot that puts the driver’s door in direct sight of the store.

  • Create a way to be sure you can remember where you parked. Look at the store signage before you get out of the car to see what you can reference to find your car when you get back out. For instance, if a store has named sections such as grocery, pharmacy, coffee, entrance- remember which one you’re car is parked near. Or look at the name of the store “THE SAVINGS STORE”, remember which letters or word you are closest to. For large parking lots or garages, take a photo of the nearest lot/row sign. There are also downloadable apps for your smartphone to help you locate your car such as Find My Car Smarter and Anchor Pointer.

  • Don’t leave valuables or shopping bags in plain sight.  Put purchases in the trunk.

  • Don’t leave the vehicle running when you aren’t in it. A running vehicle is an invitation for theft.

  • Obviously, lock the doors and make sure all windows are rolled up! Take a few seconds before getting out of your vehicle to get focused- being in a rush can make us forget even the simplest things such as making sure the doors are locked.

  • Keep your phone easily accessible, however stay vigilant, undistracted and be obviously aware of your surroundings. Make eye contact with those you pass as you enter and leave the store. 

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

  • Keep your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket. Don’t let purses or bags hang where they can easily be grabbed.

  • Have your keys in your hand before you leave the store. Most key remotes only unlock the drivers side door with the first unlock click. If shopping alone, don’t unlock all doors.

  • When possible, don’t shop alone. Having someone with you can significantly reduce the likelihood of you being robbed.

All the while you are protecting yourself keep an eye out for others and call 911 immediately if you see a crime occurring. With all these valuable tips in mind everyone can be a little safer during the hustle and bustle of the greatest shopping months of the year!  Happy & Safe Shopping!

Blog by: Allison Green