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Plenty of us dislike driving at night.  High beams shining in your eyes are an annoyance and dangerous.  Fatalities on the road occur at a rate three times greater at night than during the day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While only a quarter of all driving is done at night, more than half of all driving deaths occur at that time.

Drivers middle-aged and older are more sensitive to glare than younger drivers because their eyes take longer to adjust to changing light levels. For example, a 55 year old takes eight times longer to recover from glare than a 16 year old. As the population ages, the number of older drivers will continue to rise as will the number of complaints about glare. Lighter-colored eyes are more sensitive which means the lighter your eyes are, the more glare will bother you. Certain other conditions such as having had vision-correction surgery that affects the corneas may also increase your sensitivity to glare.

Behind the Wheel Tips

  1. Avert Your Eyes

When oncoming vehicles shine light directly into your eyes, look down and to the right. Turn your gaze to the white line on the right side of the road, or to where pavement meets shoulder, until the vehicle goes by. You can still see the vehicles around you with your peripheral vision but the glare won’t bother you as much because you are not using the most light sensitive part of your eyes.

  1. Learn to Use Your Mirror’s “Night” Setting

All cars have “day/night” interior mirrors to reduce reflected glare from vehicles directly behind you. You can change the mirror to its “night” setting by flipping the small lever at the bottom of the mirror. This changes the angle of the reflective surface and appears to dim the mirror. Lights will show up in the glass but they’re much less bright and not so bothersome.

  1. Use Your Lights Courteously

In fog, use only your low beam headlights.  High beams reduce your own ability to see and may temporarily blind other drivers. If your car has fog lamps, only use them if there is fog and in conjunction with your low beams. Avoid using your high beams when you see oncoming vehicles or when you drive in urban areas.

  1. Take Frequent Breaks

If you’re driving at night for a long time, stop often to reduce fatigue and give your eyes a chance to recover. Take a short nap, or at least a brisk walk and some caffeine to help you stay alert.

Get regular eye exams and stay safe out there friends!

rainy-driving

Florida is in the middle of daily monsoons and driving is difficult when you can hardly see two feet in front of you.  We do not always drive in ideal conditions. Heavy rains, thunderstorms, and flood conditions make for difficult driving, and drivers must develop special skills for handling these conditions. Here is some great advice from the web when approaching any of these adverse conditions:

  1. Unlike the 2-or-more-seconds rule used in good road conditions, in any inclement weather situation the driver should increase following distance to at least 4 seconds or more. It takes longer to stop in adverse conditions.
  2. Don’t use cruise controlwhen driving in inclement weather. If a car begins to hydroplane, for example, the car will shoot forward at an erratic speed. Inclement weather situations call for driver control, not automated systems.
  3. Do nothing abruptly. Start, stop, turn and change lanes more slowly than normal.
  4. Be more meticulous about signaling so other drivers will know your intentions. Because your brakes may be less effective, increase your following distance.
  5. Apply the brakes earlier and with less force than normal to increase the stopping distance ahead of you and let those behind you know you’re slowing down.
  6. If possible, drive in the center lanes or stay in the middle of the road to avoid standing water. Most roads in the USA are “crowned” (slightly higher in the center than on the sides) so water will collect at the edges before it drains away.
  7. Avoid driving through pools of water in the road by driving around it or choosing a different route if at all possible. It could be just water, but it could also be hiding debris or a pothole.
  8. Don’t attempt to cross running water. If the force of the water is greater than the weight of your vehicle, your car could become buoyant and actually float off of the road. After you drive through standing water, tap on your brake pedal lightly to dry off some of the water on your rotors.
  9. Turn on your headlights even when there’s a light sprinkle to help you see the road and other drivers see you. But don’t blast your high beams in rain or fog because the light may be reflected back at you.
  10. Watch out for pedestrians. The rain will create more distractions and deaden sounds, so they’ll be less able to watch out for you.
  11. Never drive through a rain so heavy that you can’t see the road. If it’s raining that hard, pull over and wait it out. If your vehicle stalls in deep water, leave it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

Collisions are more likely to happen in the rain, so remember, if you or someone you love is in a collision, get medical help immediately and call me for your free consultation.  We are available 24/7 to help you.  Marianne Howanitz PA, where we put the Passion in Compassion.

Stay safe out there friends, Marianne

blowntire

Getting ready for that long-awaited road trip to a great vacation?  Along with finding that perfect bathing suit and downloading the perfect playlist, you should also be preparing your car for the trip.  Tires are an important part of your car’s safety and tire blowout season begins in the middle of May and runs through early October.  The reason for this is simple.  It is during this time frame that the temperatures outside are the hottest and motorists are taking longer road trips in heavily loaded vehicles.  It is this combination that can push a damaged or neglected tire past its breaking point.  Even if you have been lucky enough to avoid tire problems, you have likely seen “road gators” (treads of blown out tires) littering the highways throughout this time frame.  Though blowouts are most common during these months, they can happen any time of year, especially in warmer climates like Florida.

The NHTSA estimates that 8,000+ car accidents every year can be attributed to tire blowouts.

These are the most common causes of tire blowouts, and how you can prevent them according to Virginia Tire Service in Arizona:

  1. This is the number one tire killer and something so easy to remedy. Air is what allows the tire to carry the weight of your vehicle and all of its cargo. The internal parts of the tire:  fabric, rubber, composites and steel flex beyond their limits when the tire is improperly inflated. They will weaken, over-flex and eventually fail, which results in a blowout.  The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door jamb.  Most vehicles manufactured in 2007 and newer are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), however, you shouldn’t rely solely on the system. The system issues an alert only when a tire is significantly underinflated.  Regardless of what your TPMS says, you should check your tire pressure at least once a month, maybe twice from May through October.
  2. Worn tires.  The heat of the roads in the summer will easily rip away at the remaining tread resulting in a blown tire. Today’s tires almost always have a wear bar built into the grooves.  If the wear bar is even with the tread of your tires, they need to be replaced.  Another way to tell is the penny test.  Basically, you place a penny head down between the tread.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then the tread is dangerously low and you need a new tire.
  3. Too much weight. Overloading your vehicle and applying too much weight to the tires can also critically damage them.  When hauling a heavy load, you may need to reconsider the number of passengers along for the ride or if you need to carry a lot of passengers you may need to limit the amount of cargo you bring on board.  You can find your vehicle’s Gross Vehicular Weight Rating in the same places as the recommended tire pressure.  The maximum recommended weight your tires can carry is based on tires that are properly inflated.  If they are underinflated, the number would drop significantly.
  4. Potholes and other road hazards. Slamming into a pothole, driveway lip or other road hazards are another way to injure your tire leaving it prone to a blowout.  These impacts can pinch the internals of the tire between the wheel and the object.  If the impact is hard enough, it can even fray or cut the tires internals.  Sometimes, the damage is immediately apparent and other times, it could take days, weeks, or even months for the damage to become apparent.  Which leads us to the next potential cause of a blowout.
  5. Slow death. It is not uncommon for a tire to suffer damage that causes its demise long before it fails.  Often motorists neglect to check their tire pressure or fail to realize they have a slow leak.  When summer vacation comes along they will load their family into the car and head off for a fun-filled vacation.  The combination of the heavy vehicle load, the high summer temperature and highway speeds add stress to the already failing tire and it blows. Monthly or bimonthly tire checks can prevent such a situation.

When a vehicle has a defective tire, this may significantly compromise a driver’s ability to maneuver the vehicle.  This may lead to a single-vehicle or multi-vehicle collision that leaves drivers, passengers and even nearby pedestrians or bicyclists seriously injured.  Should this happen to you, make sure that you call an experienced dangerous and defective products attorney to help you get compensated for your medical bills, lost wages and ruined vacation.

And as always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne

 

 

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Did you know that one person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes? 

The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year. More than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle.

Did you know that typically the injuries to the victims are severe and often fatal?

Large trucks account for only about 3% of auto accidents, yet because of their sheer size and weight, a semi-truck or 18-wheeler can cause incredible damage to the other vehicles involved and their passengers.

Do you know what to do if you are injured in an accident involving a commercial truck?

Seek medical help immediately, make sure everything is documented, make sure that law enforcement has responded to the accident and made a report.  Never take any calls from insurance companies without consulting with an attorney that specializes in trucking accident collisions first.  Often these accidents are the result of trucking safety or driving law violations. State and federal regulations often come into play in a truck collision. Truck accident cases can be complicated because the truck, trailer and contents can be owned by different companies and operated by yet other independent companies. For this reason, it’s imperative that you work with a Florida truck accident attorney who is skilled in this area of litigation.

Do you know what to do if someone loses their life in a trucking accident?

Once again, it is important that you speak with a skilled truck accident attorney.  There are many processes that the families of the deceased must go through and it can be very overwhelming given the grief and stress they are already enduring.  Having the right attorney and her staff helping them through the process can provide a lot of relief at that time.

Did you know that Marianne Howanitz is a nationally recognized truck accident attorney?

I am always available to answer any other questions or concerns you might have about a truck accident. And, as always, there is no charge to you at any time until or unless a settlement is reached.  You may reach me at 352-512-0444 or through my website: www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com.

Did you know this fun fact?

The world’s most solitary tree is located at an oasis in the Tenere Desert in Central Africa. There’s not one other standing tree within 31 miles. In 1960, it was smashed into by a truck.

As always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #truckaccidentattorney, Marianne

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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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Marianne Howanitz

 

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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!

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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.

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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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

asheville
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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.[1]

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.[2] 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.
  • Activate your emergency flashers.[3]

What to Do After a Tire Blowout

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.[4] 

So head on out for a great fall adventure, and stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

[1] http://www.safercar.gov/tires/index.html
[2] http://www.ntb.com/tires/Tire-Blowout-Education.j

[3] http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Pages/WhattoDoIfYouHaveaBlowoutontheHighway.aspx
[4] http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/repair/why-blowouts-happen-and-how-to-avoid-them-15832078