auto body news

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

 

 

Distracted Driving Awareness Month!

With as much attention having been raised in regards to distracted driving over the past several years one would think this top cause of preventable accidents and deaths would be on the decline. Since 2015 vehicle deaths are up 6%, killing over 40,000 people this last year. Unfortunately, it is on the rise.  The National Safety Council  (NSC) has an entire page devoted to tools, information and statistics dedicated to educate drivers about the severity of this crisis.  So what will it take to reprogram our brains to ignore every little beep, buzz and ring from our cell phones? Well, for starters here’s a few of those NSC statistics for some terrifying motivation:

  • Drivers talking on handheld or hands free devices don’t see 50% of their surroundings
  • 1.6 Million crashes per year are attributed to drivers using their cell phone
  • 1 out of every 4 accidents is caused by texting and driving
  • Using voice to text is actually more distracting than texting
  • 7% of all drivers of cars on the road are on their phone

So why are we seemingly incapable of turning off that need to immediately respond? For many smart phone owners, the answer is addiction. In CNN’s article, “Smartphone Addiction Could be Changing Your Brain” study after study reveals just how addicted many of us are to that digital rectangle in our pockets and purses.  Per a 2010 Pew Research Study half of American adults send or read texts while driving. For 16 to 17 year olds that number increases to one in three. Even walking while distracted has been blamed for putting the walker at ten times the risk of being injured. Distracted drivers combined with distracted walkers simply can’t have a good outcome.

But wait, the term distracted driving isn’t anything new. We’re simply more distracted than ever before. The hashtag #JustDrive has been created to make the point that the only way to keep ourselves and others safe on the road is to do just that…drive. Lest we forget, our cell phones, texts, calls, and social media updates are only one aspect of the driving behaviors that keep us from being focused on…driving. NSC has several links on information to remind us of all those other preventable causes of accidents still exist such as driving drunk, under the influence of drugs and driving while drowsy, not to mention the simple things that take our eyes off the road just long enough to miss a swerving car or a darting bicyclist.  Eating, applying makeup, flipping through a folder, even just changing the radio station are all seemingly benign activities until one day, one second without focus becomes one accident that never should have happened.

We hope that each and every one of you will take this year’s pledge to #JustDrive.  Share your commitment to that pledge on social media with the #JustDrive hashtag. Spread a life-saving message! 

Blog by: Allison Green

Road Rage!

Oh, that moment your adorable toddler is sitting on the staircase, Frisbee in hand pretending to drive.  Soon his/her right foot jaunts out towards an imaginary brake followed by a few choice words... yes, that came straight from you.

It’s a crazy world we live in and almost everything we do involves taking to the concrete wilds otherwise known as the highway system. Here we join hundreds, maybe thousands of other humans in giant machines made of steel, plastic, and aluminum with nothing between us but the hopeful sensibility of each person in the driver’s seat.  When it all goes wrong and we react hitting the brake or swerving or speeding up to avoid a crash we are at that point experiencing subconscious behavior.  This goes back to our more instinctual days of human existence. Our lovely brains come fully equipped with a survival section and when the body decides it is needed, it takes over. Our steering wheel gripping, hand throwing, horn-beating is the same fight or flight stress reaction as when one of our ancestors realized he/she was being chased by a hungry saber-tooth tiger. 

For most of us, this split second experience ends at this point leaving us with a dizzying head and maybe a fast heart rate or shaking that we know is going to quite possibly still be with us when we reach our destination. It’s when it doesn’t end like this that we get road rage.

According to the NHTSA 2000 report on road rage; two main contributing factors to aggressive driving are running late and traffic delays. Safe Motorist reports the following statistics:

  • 218 road rage murders in seven years
  • 66% auto related deaths result from aggressive driving
  • A gun is present in 37% of these altercations

Sadly, a sense of being disconnected from one's community is considered the catalyst in many of these situations. We sometimes forget that those drivers are real people. People that we pass at the grocery store, sit near at a restaurant or visit with in line at the DMV.  When we get behind the wheel we are not suddenly in a movie or a video game. It’s real life all the time.

So what can we do when confronted with an aggressive driver? The same thing we do when we don’t like the weather, understand we have no control. The kindergarten lesson, two wrongs don’t make a right couldn’t be more appropriate. Know we can’t control the other driver, take a deep breath, don’t make eye contact and don’t respond.

Being a stickler for the speed limit and living out in the country, it is a common occurrence for some vehicle to seemingly appear out of thin air only to attach itself to my rear bumper.  It’s okay to pull over to a safe spot on the road and wave them past. Don’t let someone else’s decision to miss out on living each beautiful moment take away yours.

As for the toddler on the staircase, I remind myself that someday I’ll be old. Someday it will likely take me longer to turn into a parking lot or even make it to the minimum speed limit. In that someday the toddler might be behind me. Setting a better example for the next generation is a pretty good investment in a future of safer roads.

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Emrick Elder

Greener is Better! Top Vehicle Picks in the Green!

If you are looking to go “Green” in your next vehicle purchase, we have laid out some of the best Green models available in the US! Recently awarded as the top Green pickup in the US is the RAM 1500 Eco-Diesel truck. The award was given by Green Car Journal at the 46th annual San Antonio Auto & Truck Show in San Antonio, Texas in November 2015.  This magnificent truck has a 28-mpg rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

The RAM 1500 is at the top of the charts for highway-cycle test result ever achieved by a full-size, half-ton pickup. The RAM also exceeds the EPA highway rating for the top-ranked small pickup. The RAM 1500 leads the way in pickup trucks in EPA's current highway fuel-economy rankings.  Learn more about this award winning pick-up truck at Auto Body News.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, D.C. rates the greenest vehicles with many elements in mind:  “We analyze automakers' test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, along with other specifications reported by automakers. We estimate pollution from vehicle manufacturing, from the production and distribution of fuel and from vehicle tailpipes. We count air pollution, such as fine particles, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and other pollutants according to the health problems caused by each pollutant. We then factor in greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) and combine the emissions estimates into a “Green Score” that runs on a scale from 0 to 100. The top vehicle this year scores a 63, the average is 40 and the worst gas-guzzlers score around 20.”

hybrid.vehicle

Electric vehicles win over with all 12 slots in the annual “Greenest Cars” list by the ACEEE.  Another favorable point for Green vehicle purchasers of full-electric and plug-in hybrid cars are still eligible for a federal tax credit as rich as $7,500, in addition to any state and local incentives that may apply.

For the third year - the ACEEE says the greenest car sold in the U.S. is the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, which receives a top “Green Score” of 63, and is EPA rated at the electric equivalent of 107 mpg in combined city/highway driving. In addition, receiving a Green Score of 63 is the Chevrolet Spark EV with an “e-mpg” rating of 119 city/highway. Toyota leads the list with three hybrids represented, with Chevrolet placing two electric cars among this year’s greenest models. See the full list at Forbes.com

You can find the Greenercar ratings for any vehicle between 2000 and 2016 and you can even build custom lists to compare vehicles at greenercars.org.  Happy Greener vehicle shopping! 

 

Rise in Counterfeit Auto Parts Cause Safety Concerns

When consumers have their vehicles repaired at auto body shops they expect to receive OEM Parts (Original Equipment Manufacturer) car parts or at the very least quality Aftermarket parts. According to Bruce Foucart, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center for Homeland Security Investigations report that counterfeit auto parts are on the rise with 85-95% of all counterfeit goods coming from China.  "We’ve seen counterfeit safety belts that weren’t secure and air bags that have exploded so dramatically they probably would have done harm had they gone off.  Some of them even failed to deploy."  

Counterfeiting auto parts is a global issue that proposes health and safety concerns for consumers.  Bruce Foucart urges auto body shops to protect consumers by being certain that their parts are legitimate and checking that it is a reputable distributor and confirmed with the manufacturer.  An unusually cheap part may be a warning sign to a body shop or consumers that may look for parts on their own.  

To combat the problem is a newly formed coalition:  The Automobile Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition—the A2C2. It’s made up of nearly every automobile manufacturer and they meet four times a year.   To discover more about this coalition from Bruce Foucart, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center for Homeland Security Investigations click here to read the entire article written by Stacey Phillips at autobodynews.com

Many car manufactures are passionate in the pursuit to thwart those that put lives in danger through their counterfeiting activities. February of this year Hyundai launched a campaign warning Americans about counterfeit parts and the hazards that they can cause to all of us on the roadways. This Youtube video showcases a roulette wheel showing that it is a gamble not to double check the authenticity of auto parts in this day and age of difficult to detect counterfeit parts.  

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that counterfeit automobile parts cost the global automotive parts industry $12 billion in lost sales a year, including $3 billion in the U.S. alone. The FTC also estimates that the U.S. auto parts industry lost sales to counterfeit parts correlates to approximately 200,000 - 250,000 fewer manufacturing jobs. (Prnewswire.com)

With coalitions being formed to combat counterfeiters and an informed public working together we can authenticate our parts, and essentially maintain greater vehicle safety moving forward.