traffic deaths

Happy and Safe 4th Of July!

From morning parades to fireworks in the night sky, here are a few tips to keep everyone on and off the road…SAFE!

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), Independence Day is the most dangerous day of the year to be on the road.  IIHS finds the cause of the largest number of crashes in one single day of the year to be mainly caused by alcohol impairment. The take-away? Be aware that some drivers on the very same road as you’re on might not be sober. A little extra caution and attention to details can go a long way whenever driving, especially in potentially dangerous situations. Imagine you are driving in a heavy thunderstorm, of course you’re going to slow down a bit to pay more attention to where the other vehicles on the road are. Impaired drivers aren’t always as obvious as torrential rain.

USA-LightBeams.jpg

With an average of 26 deaths on the holiday, IIHS also notes that motorcycles are the most likely to be involved in Fourth of July accidents. Wearing protective gear- specifically a regulation helmet is obviously highly advised, but what about what us drivers of cars and trucks can do to help prevent a motorcycle involved crash?

1.  Look before you turn or change lanes- especially checking your blind spots. Really look, not just a quick glance, something the size of a trash truck can’t be missed. Noticing a two wheeled bike takes a little more effort.

2.  Manage your speed along corners. Having more time to react to a sudden surprise on the other end of the curve could save someone’s life.

3.  Back Off! Tailgating any vehicle is a recipe for an eventual disaster- for a small vehicle driver it can be deadly.

And now for the the fireworks safety conversation. According to a 2016 Consumer Product Safety Commission report almost 12,000 people were treated for firework injuries in 2015- most of which happened around the Fourth of July. The previous link includes safety tips to avoid a not-so-happy holiday.  Not only are fireworks potentially very dangerous to ourselves and loved ones, they can also be dangerous to our landscapes and homes. Because of this many municipalities have specific laws regarding which, if any fireworks are allowed.  For a Kansas City Metro list click here.

Last but not least, always remember your pets don’t have a clue what this whole popping and booming is all about. The sound of fireworks terrifies most of our furry friends sending them off into a sometimes unrecognizable place far from home.  Already two days before the celebration officially begins and social media community groups are filling with posts of missing dogs and cats.

As the final note of “Stars and Stripes” pours from the piccolo- As the last shower of black powder falls through the air in glowing red, white and blue- As the silent still hot darkened sky hangs heavy with the thick smell of sulfur that remains in our memories from childhood into eternity- As you slowly eke your way out of the parking lot and into the snails-pace traffic jam- recall your feelings of gratitude for this day.  Get home safely, two wheels, four wheels and all fingers superbly intact.  

Keeping Teenage Drivers Safe on the Road

Having a teenage driver in the family might just be the most terrifying part of your child transitioning into an adult. Many teens are involved in several extracurricular activities in their school, have jobs and always a busy social life.  My husband and I scrounged up enough money to buy our son an old pickup truck when he was in high school mainly so he could get our daughter back and forth to school for band practice, tennis, student council and seemingly a hundred other obligations. Where most of us as parents can relate to and remember our high school days being a life of constant doing and little sleeping, those of us that did have cars had fewer distractions simply because the technology wasn’t there yet. 

My parent’s minivan had a bag phone in 1990. I never used it, I can’t even remember why- maybe it cost too much to make a call. Either way, I could have never imagined that when my own children became teenagers, they and everyone they knew would have their own phone always on their person.

Any distraction is a potential accident for any driver, though for someone who is still learning the ropes it’s tenfold. The radio, eating, and passengers could all result in a wheel jerk or slam to the brake. A text, a phone call, a notification from social media or a video game yelling at your teen to make his/her move is a new kind of distraction. The kind that nightmares can be made of.

A recent NBC news report refers to the beginning of summer as “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teenage drivers.  The video is primarily based on AAA statistics which state that “16 & 17-year-olds are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash and those fatal accidents involving teens jumps 15% over the summer”.

So what can you do as a parent to help keep your teen safe? My husband always says “Nothing good happens after eleven”. He based our teen’s curfew on that believing that by eleven the roads became an even more dangerous place to be. Beyond finger-crossed parenting, the same technology that brought our kids the smart phone has also brought us as parents “apps for that”.  OnlineDriversEd.com has a list of the best apps for parents to keep track of their driving and smartphone use. Some block calls and texts during driving while some notify parents when their teen exceeds the speed limit or breaks a driving law. The site warns that even an app to prevent an accident could become its own distraction. As a parent, I also wonder if there’s a point of being too invasive into a teenagers life. Gauging between a possible life threatening situation and letting them learn to make good choices on their own is hard. I experienced those nights where I sat in the living room at midnight with a cup of coffee in one hand and my phone in the other waiting for my teen to walk in the door or send the prayed for text, “Mom I’m okay”.  We didn’t have the technology then that we have today, and that was only three to five years ago.

So let’s look at the numbers; “11 teens die each day due to texting and driving. 21% of teens involved in a fatal accident were distracted by their cell phones” –AAA. 

Here’s another thought to take into consideration, it’s not just our teens who are being distracted by that world at our fingertips. A 2014 USA Today article (the most recent on the topic) states that 26% of all accidents are related to smartphone use. According to ATT’s It Can Wait, 7 out of 10 people are using their smartphones while driving, 10% on a video chat and a shocking 17% taking “selfies”.

Accidents happen.  Cars can be repaired. Turn the phone off and enjoy the scenery! Lives are precious- we can all do a better job to get everyone home…safe and sound.

Blog Author:  Audrey Elder, Past to Present Research, LLC

Winter Driving Tips & The Impact of Driving Impaired...

As we embark on another winter in Missouri we at Richards' Collision decided to share with you the tips for staying safe during bad road conditions.  MoDot's Winter Driving Tips share everything you need to know to weather any storm or condition.  

In addition, as we prepare for traveling around the holidays we want to remind everyone to drive carefully,  secure your seatbelts and take it slow.  Last not least, drive sober.  During the holidays it can be tempting for some to push the limits. See the Save MO Lives website and a snippet below from that site regarding the loss of life in MO to impaired driving last year. 

Photo:  Save MO Lives 

Alcohol affects everyone differently.  Influencing factors include food consumption, medication, health and psychological conditions.  The best plan is to always designate a sober driver. 

• Save MO Lives website

"The sobering fact is that impaired driving contributes to 22.5 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities.  In 2015, 192 people were killed, 655 seriously injured in crashes that involved at least one impaired driver. 

Many drunk drivers are under the age of 21. From 2011-2014, there were 69 fatal crashes and 211 serious injury crashes involving an impaired driver under the age of 21. There were 85 people killed and 324 seriously injured in these crashes."

Winter Driving Tips from MoDot

Driving on snowy or icy roads requires special attention to safety. Although it's impossible to have ideal road conditions 365 days a year, there are certain precautions you can take to make winter driving safer. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get ready for the hazards of winter. And check the links at the bottom of this page for information on MoDOT Plowing Priorities and tips on shoveling your driveway.

Before the Trip

  • Check out road conditions before you go. MoDOT's Traveler Information Map offers current views of road conditions and is available as an app for iPhones and Android phones.
  • Call MoDOT's toll-free customer service center for current road condition information at 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636). The Customer Service Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Winterize your car with fresh antifreeze, a good battery, a properly operating exhaust system and oil that will withstand the rigors of cold weather.
  • Do a thorough pretrip inspection of your vehicle, paying special attention to your tires, brakes, windshield wipers and windshield wiper fluid.

Equip Your Vehicle With:

  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Extra mittens or gloves, socks, a warm cap and rain gear
  • A small sack of sand to use for traction under your wheels
  • A small shovel
  • Booster cables
  • Small tools - pliers, wrench, screwdriver
  • A brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
  • Nonperishable foods
  • Bottled water

During the Trip

  • If possible, postpone your travel until roads have been plowed, treated, and cleared. You don't want to slide off the road, and we don't want to plow around disabled vehicles.
  • Slow down and adjust your speed to the conditions.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room, and don't pass them.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Remember that driving is most dangerous when temperatures are near 32 degrees.
  • Watch for other vehicles having problems with road conditions.
  • Keep mirrors, windows and lights clean; keep your lights on.
  • Don't pass other vehicles on or near bridges.
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full.
  • If you don't feel comfortable driving, pull off of the highway and park at the first safe place.

If You're Trapped in Your Car

  • Stay in the vehicle. Don't leave to search for help. It's easy to become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
  • Display a trouble sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the antenna.
  • Run the engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater and turn on the dome light only when the vehicle is running.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a window slightly for ventilation.
  • Clap hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Don't stay in one position for too long.
  • If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
  • Huddle together for warmth.
  • Use newspapers, maps and even car mats for added insulation.

Learn more about MoDOT's winter operations, check major road conditions, and find out how to keep your driveway clear by following the links below.

Traveler Information Map
Go here to see a map of road conditions for major Missouri routes

Who's First? MoDOT's Plowing Priorities
How does MoDOT decide whose road gets plowed first?

How to Keep Your Driveway Clear
There is a right way to shovel your driveway

 

We at Richards' Collision Center wish you and your family a very Safe & Happy Thanksgiving!!  

 

 

 

Watch out for Deer!

deer.running.richards.collision.center.blog.kansas.city.mo

That time of year is once again upon us, a time to be vigilant and aware of our white tailed woodland friends sprinting across highways and country roads.  As much as it might seem like an odd phenomenon it’s actually a normal part of a deer’s life and to be expected.  As the daylight hours quickly wane and temperatures begin to drop we all feel a sense of calm and serenity during those breezy, cooler autumn days amid yellow, orange and red tree lines.  Well, all of us except those magnificent forest dwellers - the deer.  While birds react to this seasonal change by flying south for winter and hibernating creatures such as the groundhog begin storing up fat to sleep the coming frost filled months away, these subtle changes in temperature and daylight set off a course of action of what can only be described as insanity for our Missouri white tailed deer.

A deer’s gestation period is 201 days, so it is imperative that her new fawns will be born at the perfect time in the spring to be large enough to survive the following winter. She sends this once a year mating signal to her male counterparts with a scent referred to as estrus which creates a month plus long game of hide and seek with the veracity of a sense of life or death in the minds of the mindless hormonally overloaded buck.  In the summertime bucks actually roam the forest and grasslands together much like a group of men searching for a brat and a Pale Ale at a summer craft festival. Come autumn it is each man for himself and even the hint of competition is likely to end in a bloody brawl. The winner gets the doe, and in Darwinian terms, it’s a gene thing.  The biggest strongest bucks get to pass their genes on to the healthiest does, and consequently the next generation.  Once the chase is on, nothing and I mean nothing stands in the way of the chasing buck or the running doe, including your car.  This crazy breeding season is referred to simply as… The Rut.

According to the Missouri Federation for Conservation the onset of the rut (pre-rut) begins around September 12th, with the peak of the rut occurring around the first week of November and not entirely ending until sometime in late November. The most recent report from the Missouri Highway Patrol from 2011 details deer involved traffic accidents at 3,563 with 376 injuries and 4 fatalities.  Most of these accidents occurred between 5:00 pm and 6:59 am. Per The Insurance Journal, the United States has 200 deaths per year that occur from car accidents involving deer at a cost of $4 billion dollars a year. According to the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration 2014 saw 3,720 deer related Missouri accidents- one every 2.4 hours.  The site offers advice on how to ensure your insurance covers any damage caused by such an accident after changes in Missouri vehicle insurance laws from House Bill 1022.  There is also the recommendation to not swerve to avoid hitting a deer when that could in turn create yet another accident.

So what do you do if you hit a deer? You treat it like any other accident, report it to your local police department and call your insurance company- though as mentioned earlier now is the time to make sure your insurance policy fully covers this type of accident.  If you would like to consume the deer or have it donated for food for the underprivileged, you must first contact your county conservation agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation for authorization. 

Bottom line- be vigilant, especially in the low light and dark hours of the day.  It doesn’t hurt to slow down a little during those hours which give you a better chance to avoid hitting a deer.  If you see a deer, expect there to be more to come.   Does especially travel together and fawns stay with their mothers for up to two years.

Here’s to safe and happy travels!

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Elder - See more of Audrey's blogs at Past to Present Research 

Vehicle Accidents...Who is Responsible?

Have you ever been in a vehicle accident?  Many people can unfortunately say yes to that question with millions of accidents occurring in the US every year.  Insurance companies often offer a basic list of steps to take after an accident to reduce liability, such as, calling the police immediately to file a report, contacting your insurance company and not discussing the accident with the other party.  Although, are those steps enough to protect you in the event that there is question as to whether it is your fault?  

car accident

According to our research, no, it is not enough, and without taking the following additional steps you may find yourself in court.  According to Yahoo.com, there are 5 additional steps you should take immediately after an accident, assuming, that you are able.  

In summary, take pictures from your view point behind the wheel right after the accident.  Also take other pictures at various angles to show a clear picture of the damage.  Be patient for the police to arrive, as it can take up to an hour, specially in a rush hour situation. In the mean time practice what you will say even recording yourself beforehand. It is also lawful to record your conversation with the police officers at the scene.  Most of all be calm and collected as possible awaiting the police to come to you at the accident scene.  

In addition, the police report is not in stone once created and can be changed, so, if the police officer erroneously quotes a statement you can request a correction.   

Another helpful site with quality information regarding this serious issue is Findlaw.com.  Who better to know what to do than experienced attorneys. Of course, their first point is not to leave the scene until you have spoke with the police.  Check on the condition of all people involved in the accident, and, exchange information without going into conversation regarding the incident. Also, speak to any witnesses present and gain their personal contact information.  

Lastly,  check out the Findlaw.com site to learn other important details about what to do after a vehicle accident.  We at Richards' Collision Center want to do what we can to inform and protect the public in case of an accident to reduce liability and expense.  We hope that you will share this blog with those you love and care about so that they will know the right steps to take in an accident situation.