Summer time and the driving is easy! Getting ready for a road trip this summer? Check out these timely tips to keep you and your family safe on the road to paradise.
Get your car serviced.
Regular maintenance such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns. If your vehicle has not been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with your mechanic right away.
Check your tires and replace your wiper blades.
Before a road trip, most people fill up the tank, gather snacks and make sure the kids are set up with movies and games. What about your tires? Even if not prompted by a warning light or unusual sounds, always double check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth before an extended trip, as healthy tires improve gas mileage and save money at the pump.
Keep your eyes on the road.
One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents, wrong turns or other highway mishaps is to stay focused. Cell phones are most often responsible for distracted driving, one-third (33 percent) of Americans regularly take phone calls while on the road, and one in 10 drivers (11 percent) admit to texting while driving. To help put this risk into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports texting while driving on the highway is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field.
Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
That being said, also, never drive too fast for conditions or overdrive your headlights.
Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
Most experts agree that you shouldn’t drive more than 2 hours without stopping for a break. Also, be aware of any medications that you may be taking, such as antihistamines, that may be impairing your ability to stay alert.
Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
Leave plenty of room between yourself and other cars. Be especially careful around semi-trucks, don’t cut in front of them too closely as they require much more room to slow down or stop than cars do.
Who ya gonna call?
Even the most prepared and proactive drivers can end up on the side of the road because of unforeseen driving events. Whether it’s a flat tire, dead battery or overheated engine, have a backup plan for a roadside service such as AAA.
By following these quick tips and guidelines to safety, you can go full steam ahead to wherever your destination this summer may be! And should you or someone you know be injured in an accident, remember me-YOUR #accidentattorney.
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…
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?
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.
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:
Failing to indicate
Hogging the middle lane
Hogging the outside lane
Jumping traffic lights
Being slow away from traffic lights
And this doesn’t even take into count the drunk, distracted and new and old drivers on the roads!
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.
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.
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.
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
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.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
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.
Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
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.
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:
CLUE Property Claims Report (i.e. for homeowner insurance claims)
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:
date of birth (partially edited out for security reasons)
Social Security Number (completely edited out for security reasons)
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
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:
when they pay a claim
when they set up a possible claim
when they formally deny a claim
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):
Once a year prior to policy renewals.
Whenever I go shopping for a new insurance plan.
Whenever I am in a car accident and make a claim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Heading out for a trip to see the fall foliage? Make sure that you check out the condition of your tires before you leave. For many drivers, there is nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since 2008, when all new vehicles were required to have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems, these numbers still remain high. The stats do not lie, as tire blowouts and flats result in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities each year.
With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? According to Traveler’s Insurance, one reason may be that since blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and react properly. When a tire blows out, it can take about ¼ second before your ride suddenly becomes a struggle to avoid an auto accident. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation resolves itself. The first step is staying calm and in control of your vehicle.
What Does a Tire Blowout Sound Like?
Expect to hear three key sounds that may vary depending on your specific situation. First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tire popping reverberating through your car. You may then hear a whooshing sound or the sound of the air quickly escaping from the tire, and finally, a repeated flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the road.
What Does a Tire Blowout Feel Like?
When a tire explodes at speed, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the left or right depending on which tire burst. If it was a front tire that burst, you will feel the force mostly within the steering of your vehicle. With a rear tire, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the car. Whether the blowout occurred in the front or back, your response should be the same in either situation.
How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout
According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, there are some important tips and best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout.
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Do not slam on the brakes.
Let your car slow down gradually.
Pull to the side of the road once you have slowed to a safe speed.
After a blowout, only exit your vehicle if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Turn your emergency flashers on to alert other drivers, and put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it is not safe to change the tire where you are, or you are unsure how, call for roadside assistance.
Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time to read your owner’s manual to learn where your spare tire and necessary tools are located. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.
How to Prevent a Tire Blowout
The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, resulting from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A simple, routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load light, within your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure), can help too.
So head on out for a great fall adventure, and stay safe out there friends!
A great many drivers on the road represent threats to your safety and well-being. But there are numerous ways of minimizing your chances of having a collision with an unsafe driver. Defensive driving is a big part of car safety and you should always be practicing it, until it becomes second nature.
A cardinal rule that will help you stay out of collisions is: Don’t tailgate. Tailgating is the cause of innumerable accidents, many of them serious. No matter how fast you’re going, you should be able to stop safely if the car in front of you were to slam on its brakes. Any closer than that and you are in a danger zone. So the faster you’re traveling, the more room you’ll want to leave between your car and the one in front of you.
More space gives you:
More time to react and brake or steer if something unexpected happens;
Better visibility around the vehicle ahead;
More room to maneuver and lane change if there is a delay or obstruction in your lane;
A smoother ride because you no longer need to brake abruptly;
Better fuel economy and reduced vehicle wear because you are now driving more smoothly.
Keep a safe distance. While it is never safe to tailgate any vehicle on the highway, following too close is particularly dangerous around large trucks and buses because the size of these vehicles prevents you from seeing the road ahead and having sufficient time to react to slowing or stopped traffic or another obstacle.
Following too closely is always the cause of multi car pileups on freeways and other roads. Besides, it’s illegal. So don’t tailgate. And if you’re being tailgated take action to get the tailgater off your back. If possible, move to another lane. If you can’t do that safely, slow down gradually. Don’t hit the brakes – you could cause an accident involving yourself, and you could also trigger a bad case of road rage. Just gradually slow down until the driver behind you takes the hint and decides to either back off or go around.
It seems everyone is joining in on the recent Pokemon Go craze. The game, which is as close to a real life adaptation of the Pokemon world as anyone could hope for, is played outside using your phone to track down Pokemon and battle other members of the community for ownership of Pokemon gyms. This has sparked a cultural phenomenon bordering on obsession.
The negatives of the game are a little scary, however, and I’ve noticed some bad habits which include people not being aware of their surroundings as they play, despite the game explicitly warning you to do so, people driving while playing, and in some instances bad people using the game to lure in unsuspecting patrons to rob them or worse.
Some lawyers say Pokemon Go, an “augmented reality” game, raises legal issues and public safety concerns. Alabama lawyer Keith Lee, writing at his Associate’s Mind blog, says his legal questions include:
Does placing a Pokemon character on a private property, without permission, affect the owner’s interest in exclusive possession of the property? Does it create an attractive nuisance? Does owning real property extend property rights to intellectual property elements that are placed on it? Is there liability for placing the characters on private property or in dangerous locations?
Michigan lawyer Brian Wassom raises other legal issues in a post for the Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq. blog. Augmented reality games can lead to competition for the use of the same physical spaces, disrupting the ability of players and non-players to enjoy the place, and possibly leading to violence, he says. Could government limit the players in a public space? Would that bring a First Amendment challenge?
Wassom also sees a risk of injury for players who are “wandering through the physical world while staring through a phone screen.” New York lawyer Peter Pullano makes a similar point in an interview with 13WHAM in which he raises the possibility of distractions for drivers. “Even though you may be looking for your Pikachu while you’re driving, that’s not going to impress your officer,” Pullano said.
LawNewz points out that the game’s terms of service disclaim liability for property damage, personal injury or death while playing the game, as well as claims based on violation of any other applicable law. The game also has a notice that generally requires arbitration of disputes.
My #1 Tip For Staying Safe While Playing Pokemon Go: DO NOT PLAY WHILE DRIVING!!!
This is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than texting and driving. Again, I don’t want you to end up in a car accident because you do a U-Turn and jump over a median to catch a Pidgeotto. I promise you there will be another chance to catch one that doesn’t involve you risking you being in an accident.
Stay safe out there friends!!
YOUR #ocalaaccidentandinjurylawyer, Marianne Howanitz