auto body news

Drivers Education from Experience

Passing a driver’s test and getting an official drivers license is only the first step in car ownership. All the little details from written laws to unwritten, much gets missed in driver’s education. Here are a few tips to help you or your young driver with the things they didn’t teach you in school.

There are many unwritten rules of the road that are learned from empirical education.

  • Flashing headlights – Fast flashes of headlights is a way to warn of a serious concern ahead such as a car accident or major road hazard. Some people will also flash their headlights to warn that they aren’t planning to slow down which is often a behavior of aggressive driving, however in the rare case of a busy intersection with a large vehicle such as a semi-truck, the truck driver may flash their headlights to warn that they aren’t able to stop the vehicle as the light turns from yellow to red. Many drivers will flash their lights once to warn of a speed trap, this is illegal in many states and honestly unethical. Speeding causes accidents and those who speed need a reminder to slow down. A headlight flash is also used sometimes to warn you that your headlights aren’t on or that you have a vehicle issue such as a low tire.

  • Stopping at a red light isn’t an opportunity to check your phone. Don’t hit the gas when the light turns green but be ready to go. If the person in front of you doesn’t take off the second the light turns, don’t immediately honk. It’s rude and aggressive, give them a few seconds before sending one quick reminder.

  • When it’s safe to do so, let people into your lane. On the same note, when you see that your lane is about to end get over, if you rudely rush up to the merging point no one will want to let you in.

Common courtesy

  • Unless your vehicle uses diesel, avoid the few pumps at the gas station that provide diesel.

  • If you are at a busy gas station and plan to go inside after filling up, drive your vehicle to a parking spot so that others can fill up.

  • Give a thank you wave when people are nice.

  • If you have to drive much slower than the speed limit, stay in the right lane, use your hazard lights and when safe pull over to let others pass.

Prevent the wreck

  • Don’t tailgate. It’s not just annoying to the person in front of you, it’s not safe. If the person in front of you is forced to hit their brakes you have no where to go but into them. Keeping a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you prevents unintentional accidents, this is ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT when you are driving behind a motorcycle.

  • We were all taught to use our turn signals, however too many seem to think this is only necessary to prevent getting a ticket. Turn signals are a warning to the people driving around you that you are about to slow down or merge. By not using them you are increasing the chance of being hit by another car.

  • Stop signs aren’t suggestions. You have to stop and look for pedestrians that are about to walk or ride their bike in front of you. Blind hills and driveways are called blind, because no matter how much x-ray vision you may think you have, you won’t be able to see oncoming vehicles until you stop at the sign.

  • Don’t pass on the right and unless you are passing or about to make a left turn, stay out of the left lane. The left lane is needed for emergency vehicles to safely and quickly arrive at their destination. When you see or hear an emergency vehicle, immediately get out of the way. Someone’s life is dependent upon that firefighter, EMT and or police officer getting to them as quickly as possible.

  • Stay off your phone, again this is common knowledge, and yet there are 1.6 million accidents every year caused from cell phone use while driving.  Drivers who use their phones are even more impaired than drivers under the influence of alcohol. Bottom line, don’t allow any distractions, no phones, no alcohol, no carload of friends.

Be prepared…always

  • Every car should have the following:

    • An emergency first aid kit, a blanket, a window glass breaker, current insurance card, a flashlight and a map.

    • If you are in an accident pull over, stay calm and follow these steps before leaving the scene of the accident.

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

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

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.

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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

 

 

 

When Water and Cars Don’t Mix

We see the scene on the news every time heavy rains come. The car, the police, the fireman and the water. Sometimes a flash flood will surprise a fully unexpected driver, though quite often this scene is the result of the driver thinking “I can get through that”. Followed by a call to 911. Our most recent statistics show 64% of flood related deaths happen to people in vehicles. A small car can be carried away by just 12” of moving water, nearly all vehicles can be carried away in 2’ of moving water. That one foot of moving water can create 500 pounds of force. 500 pounds.

Your vehicle might be able to handle or pull that much weight though only when the tires are gripping the ground. Moving water doesn’t allow for any kind of control no matter what type of vehicle you may be driving. Discover what to do if you find yourself caught in a flood event at the American Safety Council site. So, everyone reading this- you’ll never attempt to drive through water right? Great! Moving on to other water woes…

Wet roads

Any amount of rain, especially after a dry spell can create an oily mess on the surface of roads. Experts recommend you don’t use cruise control, reduce your speed and increase traveling distance between other cars to avoid an accident caused by either yourself or someone else hydroplaning. Obviously as in any inclement weather, check tire pressure, wipers and use your headlights.

Car damage

Over one million vehicles were damaged by last years hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Without doing a little homework, one of those vehicles could be your next used car purchase. Flood damaged cars can have electrical damage that may not start creating problems for months as well as trapped mold and mildew and rusting to many of the car’s components.

Understanding rivers

Just because it isn’t raining doesn’t mean your nearby river won’t flood. The Missouri River for example starts in the Rocky Mountains, flows east to North Dakota then south to the Mississippi River. A heavy rainstorm anywhere along that route can increase the rivers levels further down. Tributaries to the Missouri River will drain quickly into the Missouri until the high water pushes flooding back into those smaller rivers and streams. A small stream can easily go from a quaint walk-able waterway to a raging river during flooding, then just as quickly back to the peaceful stream you know and love.  

Other causes of flash flooding

Concrete doesn’t absorb water, so as rain falls on largely developed areas that water keeps moving looking for its eventual path to the ocean. Our States, Counties and Cities do their best to prevent flooding with smart planning and engineering, however mother nature will and does remind us we always have more to learn.

So the next time you clean out the car and come across that little window breaking tool in your drivers side door, remember some common sense can help keep you from ever having to use it. May all your travels be safe and dry!

*If you have flood damage to your vehicle call Richards’ Collision Center for quality, reliable auto body services: 816-767-0707. We work with your insurance company.

Blog by: Allison Green