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driving-anxiety

Last week I wrote about a young client of mine who developed an intense fear of driving or being a passenger in an automobile after she was involved in a rear end collision that injured her.  Many of you expressed a similar fear, so this week I researched to find some helpful tips to overcome, or at least alleviate, this common fear.

If you are someone that would like to overcome a driving fear, these tips from Jennifer Johnson may be very helpful. If you are the type of person who would rather run in the opposite direction in order to avoid driving or if you find yourself wobbling on jelly-legs whenever you try to open the driver’s door, it is possible that you are suffering from driving anxiety. Here are some tips on how you can cope with driving anxiety…

Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective relaxation techniques for anxiety disorders.

Self-talking and positive affirmations are another relaxation technique that you can make use of while driving.  Tell yourself some words of encouragement such as “I can do this and I will be at my destination very soon and safely!”

Another self-talk technique is to tell yourself your reason for driving and outline the details or purpose for the trip.  The key here is to try to relax yourself by distracting your mind and keeping it away from any negative thoughts that will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety.

Think of the good points for your purpose of driving. Are you excited about your arrival or the event coming up?

There are also self-help driving programs that have been helpful to many.

Observe Mindfulness While Driving

You need to observe ‘mindfulness’ all throughout the duration of your trip. Don’t allow your anxiety to make you lose focus whilst driving! Once you notice your hands starting to grip the steering wheel more tightly and your mind is telling you about impending accidents…stop your thoughts and get back to rule number one. Use relaxation techniques.

Choose A Driving Companion

People who are suffering from driving anxiety should carefully choose someone to keep them company while driving.  It should be someone whom you trust and someone who is very much aware of your anxiety and completely understands your condition.

This person must also be prepared to help you relax and stay calm.

Avoid those people who do not understand your anxiety or those who will only be causing you more stress and anxiety behind the wheel. Even if it is a husband or wife…if they are not supportive…do not drive…let them. Only drive with people who can help…not hinder. If you also hate being a passenger, say positive affirmations and deep breathe.

Know When To Take Driving Breaks

If you are experiencing driving anxiety, it is best to take several breaks behind the wheel. For example, you can take a break every 30 minutes of driving. You can either have someone else drive the car or you can look for a safe place to park for a few minutes.

You may increase the length of time for driving and shorten the time for your breaks once you notice yourself improving. If you are in a hurry, allow a trusted friend or someone else to do the driving for you.

Anxiety First Aid Kit

Another important thing that you must remember before you start driving is to check whether your anxiety first aid kit is complete.  Make sure that you have your bottle of water, cell phone with its charger and your relaxation CD inside the car.  It would also be best to have your own GPS so you can easily find your way back especially when you are driving to unfamiliar places.

Avoid Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications may effectively relieve your anxiety. Unfortunately, most of these anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications cannot be taken while driving.  Taking these medications before or during driving is not recommended and will only increase your risk of accidents.

There are other tips too, such as progressive muscle relaxation for driving anxiety. There are self-help programs too and in my opinion these natural anxiety relief techniques are the best!

I sincerely hope this is helpful! Stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne Howanitz

 References

  1. http://www.theravive.com/blog/post/2011/09/25/Coping-With-Your-Driving-Anxieties.aspx
  2. http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/types/driving
  3. http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia
  4. Anxiety relief techniques blog by Jennifer Johnson

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The most dangerous thing you do daily is get into a vehicle. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the U.S., and the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it is estimated that the numbers for 2015 will come in even higher. While you cannot control what other drivers do, you can minimize your risk of being in car accident by modifying your own behavior and always being alert to red flag behavior on the part of other drivers.

Red Flags to watch out for on the road would include:

  1. Tailgating
  2. Failing to indicate
  3. Hogging the middle lane
  4. Dangerous overtaking
  5. Hogging the outside lane
  6. Jumping traffic lights
  7. Undertaking
  8. Being slow away from traffic lights
  9. Hesitant braking
  10. Last-minute braking

And this doesn’t even take into count the drunk, distracted and new and old drivers on the roads!

Stay safe out there friends!

car-accident-lawyer-in-las-cruces-nm

So, why should you hire me? Besides the fact that I like to eat? 🙂  Here are some good reasons to hire me, or another Personal Injury Attorney.

There are many benefits to hiring a personal injury attorney when you’ve been injured in a car accident, especially if your injuries are serious. See below for some of the ways hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you deal with your claim.

Experience with Car Insurance Companies

You don’t deal with insurance companies every day. These lawyers do. They understand the process of reaching a settlement, and because they’ve seen cases like yours, most personal injury law firms have a good idea of the type of settlement you can expect.

An attorney also understands how to negotiate with auto insurance companies to get you the fairest settlement possible.

Knowledge of the Law

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows the particular laws that apply to your accident. Because of this, they may see other avenues for settlement that you don’t. This can be especially important if the accident involved an uninsured driver.

Understanding of Accident-Related Injuries

Because lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases deal with injuries caused in car accidents frequently, a trained attorney may be able to make recommendations for medical tests and care you should explore.

More importantly, he will understand the long-term effects, if any, of your injuries. This is vitally important in deciding whether a settlement offer is a fair one.

Court Experience

Finally, if you are unable to reach a settlement with an insurance company, or if the cost of the injuries exceeds the insured amount, a personal injury lawyer can represent you in court.

This is essential if you have to sue the auto insurance company or others to get full coverage of your medical expenses and other pain and suffering.

Source:  DMV.org

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Many of us choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, traveling to visit relatives or taking a winter vacation, but with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, taking the family vehicle is dangerous. In 2013, 360 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 88 on Christmas Day, and 343 people on New Year’s Day  according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals. There are other dangers out there too friends.

Here are some great, simple tips from AAA and myself to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.

  1. Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
  2. Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  3. Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
  4. If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
  5. Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
  6. In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
  7. Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
  8. And lastly, but certainly not least, NO TEXTING!

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and arrive safely to enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

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240_f_101083585_cjje8ldsptf1ufbarckbxvajfqf3bqzd

Chances are that after an accident your first priority was to recover from the injuries your body sustained. Many of my clients struggle mentally in the wake of a crash. If this happens to you, it’s important to get help.

It might have been a crash where you were the driver, a passenger, a pedestrian or even just an observer.

Lynda Matthews, the Head of the Rehabilitation Counselling Unit at the University of Sydney, says that while many people will recover totally, even from severe road crashes, up to 30 per cent of people will have to deal with a negative psychological response.

“It’s not so much the severity of the crash or the severity of any resulting injury that counts – it’s how someone perceives it,” Dr. Matthews says.  “If you perceive the crash as life-threatening, or if someone is killed in the accident, then that can influence your response.”

The good news is that most people will recover from the anxiety which is a natural reaction to a stressful incident. Some people will have no symptoms of anxiety at all, others will have a few, while others will run the full gamut.

Common symptoms of anxiety include worrying, being very active, feeling irritable, unable to relax or sleep properly, having no energy, finding it difficult to concentrate, feeling upset, angry, confused, tired, helpless or ‘out-of-control’.

Anxiety can make a person feel unsociable and you may have unwanted thoughts or experience problems with personal relationships.

Dr. Matthews says that most people recovering from a crash generally focus first on physical recovery – treatment in hospital, visiting physiotherapists and the like. It’s also very important for people to tell doctors if they are feeling anxious or distressed.
And there are simple things you can do if you feel anxiety taking control.

“If you feel like it, it’s good to talk with people about the accident. One of the most important parts of recovery is having support from family and friends,” says Dr. Matthews.

“It’s also very important to try and re-engage with your social scene and get back to work – to get back to your pre-crash lifestyle.”

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

Here are some tips to look after your mental health following an accident:

  1. Give yourself time. Any difficult period in your life needs time to heal. Be patient with yourself and what you are feeling. Anxiety is normal for everyone.
  2. Talk to someone about the accident. It may be a friend, family member or someone you feel comfortable with. Just talking about your experiences, getting information about anxiety and meeting any practical needs is often all that is required to help you manage your anxiety.
  3. Look after yourself. When people feel anxious they often neglect themselves. Eat balanced meals and try to get plenty of sleep. Do some exercise, like going for a walk. Avoid increasing the amount of alcohol you drink and avoid drugs that have not been prescribed by your doctor.
  4. Take some time for yourself and do a hobby or other enjoyable activity.

WHEN TO SEEK HELP

You should seek medical advice if your symptoms:

  • Are worrying you.
  • Are preventing you from doing your normal activities.
  • Have lasted longer than three months after the accident.
  • Are causing your friends and/or relatives to be worried about you.

If your symptoms don’t ease after 3 months, or if your symptoms are severe enough to stop you living your normal life, then you have may an anxiety disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most people who are involved in a road crash won’t develop an anxiety disorder. If you do, you may experience extreme anxiety and disturbing irrational thoughts and fears. Every part of your life suffers and you seem overpowered by the experience of the crash.

Some people may:

  • Have flashbacks to the accident.
  • Dream about the accident.
  • Become distressed when exposed to reminders of the accident.
  • Feel like they are continually in a daze.
  • Be out of touch with the world or feel that their life does not seem real.
  • Avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations associated with the accident even when they may be beneficial.
  • Feel guilty about the crash.
  • Problems getting back in the car.

Dr. Matthews says that necessity will get most people back into a motor vehicle, but some people might experience difficulty.

“The general principle is, where there’s fear of something then it’s good to take it in small steps,” she says. “Make sure you have people with you to offer support, and take it slowly.”

TREATMENT AND SUPPORT

It’s important to know that, with the right treatment and support, you can recover from an anxiety disorder. Your Primary doctor is the best person to speak to first. Other health practitioners, like psychologists, social workers, counselors and psychiatrists, can help to treat anxiety disorders.

WHERE TO GET HELP

The following organizations and websites provide information on getting treatment for anxiety and help with driving anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America  www.adaa.org

National Center for PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia

http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/geared/your_driving_skills/car_crashes/after_the_crash.html

 

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tumblr_oavshcrm2v1roqv59o1_500

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in vehicle accidents across the country. The different injuries resulting from a car accident can be as varied as the individual circumstances of each collision, but there are some types of injuries that are more common than others.

Some car accident injuries may resolve within a matter of days without any medical treatment at all. More serious injuries might become permanent and result in some level of physical disability.

According to NOLO.com, the type and severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car accident depend on factors that include:

  • Was the person wearing a seat belt?
  • Did the person’s car get hit from the rear, side or front?
  • Was the occupant facing straight ahead in the seat? Or was the person’s head or body turned in a certain direction?
  • Was it a low-speed collision or a high-speed crash?
  • Did the car have airbags?

There are two broad categories of injuries caused by car accidents: (1) impact injuries, and (2) penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are typically caused when part of the person’s body hits some part of the interior of the car. Often this can be a knee hitting a dashboard or the head hitting the seat rest or the side window. Penetrating injuries are typically cuts and scrapes. Shattering glass or loose objects flying inside the car on impact often cause these types of injuries.

Soft Tissue Injuries and Car Accidents

A soft tissue injury is damage to the body’s connective tissue, which means muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is the most common type of injury resulting from a car accident. Soft tissue injuries can take many forms.

A “whiplash” type injury to the neck and upper back is a form of soft tissue injury. In that type of injury, the muscles and ligaments are stretched due to sudden movements imposed on the head and neck in the collision. These same mechanisms and forces can cause soft tissue injuries in other areas of the body such as the back. Car accidents often cause mid-back and low-back muscle sprains, and sometimes cause more serious back injuries because of the impact force against the spine.

Scrapes and Cuts

In a car collision, any loose objects inside the car immediately become projectiles thrown about the car’s interior. This includes cell phones, coffee mugs, eyeglasses, purses, books, dash-mounted GPS systems, etc. If any of these items hit your body, they can easily cut your skin or cause other injury.

Sometimes these scrapes and cuts are relatively minor and require no medical treatment. More serious injuries can result in loss of blood, and may require stitches.

Cuts or scrapes can also result if your airbag deploys in the collision.

Head Injuries and Car Accidents

Head injuries can take a number of forms, some relatively minor and others quite severe. A car’s unexpected stop or change in direction often causes the heads of the car occupants to experience sudden and unnatural movements. This can cause muscle strains in the neck and back (as discussed above). But the head itself can also be injured. Impact with a side window or steering wheel can cause scrapes and bruising to the head, or even deeper lacerations. More severe collision impacts can cause a closed head injury. In that situation, the fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged because of the sudden movement or impact of the head. Less severe closed head injuries often result in concussions, while the most severe impacts can cause brain damage.

Chest Injuries

Chest injuries are also a common result of a car accident. These injuries typically take the form of contusions or bruises, but can be more severe, such as broken ribs or internal injuries. Drivers often experience chest injuries because of their position behind the steering wheel, which allows very little freedom of movement before the chest collides with the steering wheel. If a person’s body is thrown forward in a collision, even though it might not impact the steering wheel or dashboard, the chest area will still experience a high level of force against the shoulder harness or seat belt, which can cause severe bruising.

Arm and Leg Injuries

The same forces that unexpectedly throw a person’s head about in car collisions act similarly on arms and legs. If your car suffers a side impact, your arms and legs might be thrown hard against the door. While positioned as a passenger in a car, your legs typically have very little room for movement. Car accidents often cause an occupant’s knees to hit the dashboard or seats in front of them. Depending on the nature of the collision, injuries to your arms and legs might be mere bruises or scrapes, but sprains and even breaks can occur.

Keep in mind that some injuries are not readily apparent following a car accident. Depending on the nature of the injury, it may take days, weeks, or even months for symptoms to appear. So, if you are in a car accident, it is best to seek medical treatment for even the slightest discomfort or early indication of injury.

Since we don’t look like “Graham” (at least I hope you don’t!), drive safely out there friends!

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clue-report-320x240

One of the best kept consumer secrets out there is the little-known CLUE report, which is made available to insurance companies on every single insurance consumer. I found this great information for my friends on the Blog 20somethingfinance.com by G.E. Miller. The CLUE report is the insurance-world equivalent of a credit report on insurance consumers and can have a profound impact on your personal property and auto insurance rates. However, despite its importance, only 1% of consumers said they were very familiar with the CLUE report and only 17% had ever heard of it. If you don’t know what a CLUE report is and how it can be used against you – I strongly recommend you read on.

Crusading for vulnerable consumers has become a deeply passionate pursuit of mine, so I decided to dig in to and find out answers to the following questions (and even ordered my own report in the process):

  • what is a CLUE report?
  • what information is reported?
  • when is information reported?
  • can your CLUE report be used against you to charge higher rates?
  • how far back do CLUE report claims and inquiries go?
  • when should you check your CLUE report?
  • how can you dispute any incorrect information?
  • how can you get a free CLUE report?

Hopefully you find this CLUE report overview helpful.

What is a CLUE Report?

CLUE is an acronym for the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange database, where insurers provide and obtain information regarding your insurance claims history. A CLUE report is a registered trademark of and generated by LexisNexis, an insurance consumer reporting agency (similar to credit reporting agencies like TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, but for insurance instead).

There are actually 2 types of CLUE reports:

  1. CLUE Property Claims Report (i.e. for homeowner insurance claims)
  2. CLUE Auto Claims Report

The reports cover your personal property and personal auto claims history and are used by insurers to document your claims and inquiries and determine your risk profile, which impacts your insurance premiums.

What Information is Included in CLUE Reports?

The following information is contained in CLUE reports for each insurance consumer:

  • name
  • date of birth (partially edited out for security reasons)
  • Social Security Number (completely edited out for security reasons)
  • policy holder
  • policy number
  • gender
  • claim number
  • claim date
  • driver’s license, vehicle make and model, VIN# in the CLUE Auto Claims Report
  • description of the covered property and/or address of property in the CLUE Property Claims Report
  • type of claim
  • amount of claim
  • loss status
  • possible related claims
  • list or record of companies that have inquired about your loss history in the last two 2 years
  • your inquiry history (if submitted by insurer)

When Does an Insurer Contribute to a CLUE Report?

Insurers report to LexisNexis in the following scenarios:

  1. when they pay a claim
  2. when they set up a possible claim
  3. when they formally deny a claim
  4. when they receive an inquiry into a possible claim (not all submit this)

Inquiry history is key. If you call your insurer merely to inquire about damage and whether you should file a claim, a notation will get made. LexisNexis advises insurance companies not to report claims information when you contact them to simply ask a question about coverage or your deductible. However, they often do. This could come back to haunt you if someone asks you for a copy of your report later, you want to change policies, or have another claim later on.

Can your CLUE Report be Used Against you to Charge Higher Rates?

Unfortunately, yes. Insurers will typically request a CLUE report when you apply for new coverage or request a quote. The company will use your claim history and/or the history of claims at a specific property to decide if they will offer you coverage and how much in premiums you’ll pay for that coverage. Past claims are used as an indicator of future claims and to determine your risk profile. If you’ve had auto or personal property claims, you will typically pay more for future coverage.

Here are just a few of the ways your CLUE reports can be used against you:

  • Inaccurate information can be included in the report.
  • Fraudulent insurance claims made by others in your name may be included in your report.
  • Any recent claims against the property that you are purchasing can increase your rates on that property.
  • A report may use information other than claims data to rate you as a risk – even if the company doesn’t pay a claim. For example, a loss may fall below your deductible and the claim is denied or you are advised not to submit a claim. Even simple phone calls to inquire can be used against you.
  • Even when repairs are made and the property is restored to the original condition or you are not at fault in an accident, the CLUE report can include information about the claim.

All of this information in the report can affect the premiums you pay as well as whether you are insured at all if you are deemed to be a high enough risk. Scary, right?

How Far Back do CLUE Report Histories go?

Given the impact on insurance premium rates, one would naturally wonder how far back CLUE report claims and inquiries go. In other words, what is the historical lookback period for CLUE reports? CLUE reports typically contain up to seven years of claim history. According to LexisNexis,

“If you have not filed a claim against your auto or property insurance policy in the last 7 years, you will likely receive a clear report.”

When Should you Check your CLUE Report?

After researching CLUE reports in depth, here is when I plan to review mine (and others) for accuracy (note: you’re entitled to one of each report for free once per year):

  1. Once a year prior to policy renewals.
  2. Whenever I go shopping for a new insurance plan.
  3. Whenever I am in a car accident and make a claim.
  4. Whenever I look to purchase a new home, I will check my CLUE Property Claims Report and ask for a copy from the property owner of the property I am looking to purchase. In some states, sellers are legally required to disclose any damage or repairs – but that doesn’t mean they will. And getting a report from a third party to confirm is a smart move in case they are withholding information.
  5. Whenever I sell a home (if I have a good record to show, this can be a selling point).

How to Dispute your CLUE Report

CLUE report errors are possible can have a costly negative impact on your insurance rates. Errors can range from a simple error in data entry or information reported by insurer to fraudulent claims made in your name. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone’s mistake or fraudulent activities. Thankfully, there is a means to dispute incorrect information in your CLUE report. LexisNexis has the following to say about filing CLUE report disputes:

Upon receipt of your dispute, we have 30 days to conduct a reinvestigation of the information disputed and to record the current status of the information on your file or, in some instances, delete the information from your file. We will provide you with notice of the results of our reinvestigation no later than 5 business days after the completion of the reinvestigation. This notice will be provided to you by mail.

You can dispute by contacting LexisNexis by phone at 888-497-0011 or mail at LexisNexis Consumer Center, P.O. Box 105108, Atlanta, GA, 30348.

If the matter isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, you have the right to add a statement summarizing the nature of the dispute, which will appear in future CLUE reports. If you still don’t get results, you can contact your state insurance commissioner or file a complaint with the FTC.

 

How to Get a Free CLUE Report

Similar to how you can get one free credit report per year from each of the major credit bureaus (tip: you can also get free updated TransUnion and Equifax credit reports from Credit Karma any time) – you can click here to order your free CLUE report online, which is probably the easiest way to obtain your CLUE report.

You can also order by mail, or call LexisNexis toll free: 866-312-8076, Monday – Saturday, 24 hours/day, Sunday: 10:00 am to midnight EST. Ordering online is easiest.

You can get one free CLUE Property Claims Report and one free CLUE Auto Claims Report per year – and they can be ordered separately or together at the same time.

 

Teen driver in good mood with black car, selective focus on eyes
Teen driver in good mood with black car, selective focus on eyes

When a teenager gets a driver license, it signifies freedom and the lure of the open road. But with this newfound freedom comes a host of new situations and possible problems that most teen drivers have never encountered before. It’s a good idea to review these scenarios with new drivers in your family, and discuss how to handle them before they happen for real.

From traffic stops to road rage, here’s a primer on what you need to tell teen drivers as they take to the roads.

  1. What to do when you’re stopped by a police officer
    Safely pull to the side of the road, turn off your car, roll down the window and keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves or argue with the officer. Do your arguing in traffic court.

 

  1. How to deal with a flat tire
    Pull completely off the road, even if it means destroying the tire. Call roadside assistance and let that person change the tire. If you have a spare (many cars now only have an inflation kit) and know how to change the tire, make sure you are out of traffic and in plain sight of oncoming traffic before changing it yourself.

 

  1. What to do when the “check engine” light comes on
    If there is any change in the car’s performance, any mechanical noises, smoke from the tailpipe or electrical smells, stop the car and call for assistance. If there are none of these symptoms, take the car to a dealer and let them diagnose the problem. However, if you just bought gas, the light might just be indicating that the gas cap is loose. Tighten the cap and continue driving. The light should go off on its own.

 

  1. How to deal with a friend who is about to drive under the influence
    Don’t get in the car. Do anything not to drive with an intoxicated person, and that includes calling your parents for a lift or paying for a taxi. Your next move is to try to prevent your drunken friend from hurting themselves or someone else.

 

  1. What to do after an auto accident
    If the car is drivable and there are no serious injuries, turn on your flashers and pull safely out of traffic. Call the police to report the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver but refrain from discussing the accident and who is at fault. Make notes and use your cell phone’s camera to take pictures of the cars involved.

 

  1. How to drive in rain
    Reduce your speed and leave more room between your vehicle and those in front of you. Understand how to handle skids. Understand that a car might hydroplane on a rain puddle on the road and learn how to react to driving with reduced traction and visibility.

 

  1. How to avoid road rage situations
    Understand the severe consequences to you, your car and your driving record when minor disagreements escalate to life-threatening situations. When someone offends you, take a deep breath and know that your anger will dissolve in minutes. Don’t anger other drivers by cutting them off or tailgating. If you’ve inadvertently angered another driver, don’t get drawn into interacting with them. Ignore them or, if necessary, change your route. Finally, repeat this phrase: It’s just not worth it.

 

And lastly, but most important of all:

  1. How to drive safely

Distracted driving is fast becoming one of the country’s biggest health concerns.

As more and more drivers text while on the road, distracted driving crashes are steadily increasing year over year. In fact, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 8 people are killed every day in the U.S. as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver.

However, distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting and driving. You can be distracted by one of many activities.

Distracted driving means driving while not fully paying attention to the road. Many people think of texting and driving or talking on the phone when driving; however, you can also be distracted by:

  • Reaching for your phone.
  • Changing the music.
  • Using an app.
  • Checking your GPS or map.
  • Taking a photo.
  • Checking email or posting to social media sites.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Putting on makeup/grooming.

Even talking to a passenger in your car can be a distraction. You are distracted ANY TIME your mind and/or your eyes are off the road.

Even if it’s just for a brief text, the results can be deadly. Consider the following statistics:

  • When you send a text, you take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. That’s the time it takes to drive the length of a football field going 55 MPH! (U.S. Department of Transportation).
  • At any moment during the daylight hours, about 660,000 drivers are handling cell phones or other electronic devices while driving in the U.S. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
  • You are 3 times more likely to get into an accident when distracted driving by manipulating a mobile device (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).

 

While these are all great tips for new drivers, I hope everyone found something of value in it.  I know I will be downloading an app for my phone!

 

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20121213hitandrun1

When you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you likely feel angry and confused, and it can be unclear how to get compensation for your damages and injuries. However, there are steps you can take to create a smoother experience, should you be in this unfortunate situation.

Gather as much information as you can to help police and your car insurance company identify the other vehicle. Try to find and get contact information for any witnesses.

If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and/or collision coverage, your provider may cover the damage in a hit and run and compensate you or any of your passengers for any injuries.

 

What Is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information.

Examples of hit and run accidents include:

  • A car hits you and speeds off.
  • A driver hits your unattended parked car and leaves no contact information or way of collecting damages.

What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident

While you’ll likely be feeling immense stress if you’re a victim of a hit and run, it will help to stay as calm as possible and gather as much information as you can.

Having more information:

  • Increases the chances that the police will catch the driver who hit you.
  • Helps your car insurance company make decisions about your claim.
  • First, get as much information as you can about the car that hit you, such as:
    • Make,
    • Model,
    • License plate number.

Finally, take the following steps before leaving the scene:

  • Write down the time and location of the accident.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene.
  • Take pictures of your car, especially if another car’s paint is visible on it. (This will help you prove that you are not attempting to defraud your insurance company.)

If the hit and run occurred when you were away from your parked car, jot down as much information as you can, such as:

  • Time,
  • Location,
  • Damage.

Who Pays for Hit and Run Damage and Medical Care?

This depends on certain factors, including whether the fleeing driver was identified and what state you live in.

Payment for hit-and-run claims usually comes through your own car insurance. In most states, the coverages in question are uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage, which essentially act as the at-fault (in this case, hit-and-run) driver’s liability coverage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury helps pay for injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident, while uninsured motorist property damage covers damages to your car.

The good news is that these coverages are relatively affordable, and they offer significant financial protection from the uninsured (or hit-and-run-committing) drivers up to the limits you select.

YOUR #accidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

Sources:  dmv.org and esurance.com

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Isn’t it wonderful that fall has finally arrived? With cooler air and beautiful, sunny days here finally, many of us are opting to get out our bicycles and head out for a ride after work or on the weekends. This is a great way to spend healthy time with friends and/or family.  Bicycle safety is a main concern for these rides as a report released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths of any state in the nation, 0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate of 0.23 per 100,000.

HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?

Deaths and Injuries

In 2013 in the U.S., over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries.

Cost

Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.

  • You always need a helmet wherever you ride. You can expect to crash in your next 4,500 miles of riding, or maybe much sooner than that!
  • Even a low-speed fall on a bicycle trail can scramble your brains.
  • Laws in 22 states and at least 201 localities require helmets, although few cover adults.
  • Make sure your helmet fits to get all the protection you are paying for. A good fit means level on your head, touching all around, comfortably snug but not tight. The helmet should not move more than about an inch in any direction, and must not pull off no matter how hard you try.
  • Rear stabilizers do not substitute for careful strap adjustment.
  • Pick white or a bright color for visibility.
  • Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme “aero” shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag or shatter in a fall.
  • Consumer Reports has some brand recommendations here.

So, get out that dusty bike and polish it up!  Grasp life by the handlebars! Because four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul. And thank you for not driving (in the bike lane).

Stay safe out there friends,

YOUR #accidentattorney, Marianne