How do you feel about driving roundabouts? I know there was a lot of initial opposition to the new roundabouts on Fort King here in Ocala a while ago, but after a bit a research on the subject, I found out a few things that I didn’t know about them and thought you might also find it interesting.
Did you know that roundabouts are a safer alternative to traffic signals and stop signs? The tight circle of a roundabout forces drivers to slow down, and makes the most severe types of intersection crashes — right-angle, left-turn and head-on collisions — unlikely. At traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, these types of collisions can be severe because vehicles may be traveling through the intersection at high speeds. With roundabouts, these types of potentially serious crashes essentially are eliminated because vehicles travel in the same direction and at low speeds —generally less than 20 mph in urban areas and less than 30-35 mph in rural areas. The vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts that do occur at roundabouts generally involve a vehicle merging into the circular roadway or in the case of multi-lane roundabouts, conflicts also occur as vehicles exit.
Did you know roundabouts improve traffic flow and are better for the environment? Research shows that traffic flow improves following conversion of traditional intersections to roundabouts. Less idling reduces vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.
Did you know roundabouts generally are safer for pedestrians? Pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the perimeter and cross only one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distances are relatively short and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections.
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:
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.
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.
Do nothing abruptly. Start, stop, turn and change lanes more slowly than normal.
Be more meticulous about signaling so other drivers will know your intentions. Because your brakes may be less effective, increase your following distance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Watch out for pedestrians. The rain will create more distractions and deaden sounds, so they’ll be less able to watch out for you.
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.
In the last week, I have received calls from three different people who have been involved in accidents with uninsured motorists. This means that I cannot help them recover all their medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. I feel so badly for them and wanted to let you all know what you could do to help protect yourself.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 drivers in Florida are not insured? And nationally, the rate is about 1 in 7. A partial answer to this horrifying statistic is that I would highly recommend everyone carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It is relatively cheap to purchase when renewing your auto insurance and a real-life saver should you be involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is basically what the name suggests, a driver and vehicle without an auto insurance policy. But, what does it mean to be underinsured? Let’s say you’re involved in a crash in which the other driver is at fault. You find out the other driver only has $10,000 in bodily injury liability coverage and that amount is not enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. In this case, the other driver would be considered under-insured—meaning that they have an auto policy but it’s not enough to cover all of your damages.
This is something you’ll need to think about, as the limits for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can range from $10,000 to over $1 million. Some people choose a limit equal to their bodily injury liability limit, but that’s not always a requirement. For help deciding, you may want to consider a number of factors, including what kind of health insurance you have and whether you have access to short- and long-term disability through your employer to ensure you don’t lose out on wages if you’re too injured to work.
What does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage typically cover? With this added coverage, your insurance company basically steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver, therefore, it covers the same damages as bodily injury liability insurance: past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages and, if you are permanently injured, past and future non-economic damages like pain, suffering, scarring, disfigurement and loss of the ability to enjoy life.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage to the driver and all passengers in the insured vehicle. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also follows the insured. For example, if you are a passenger in your friend’s car and an uninsured/underinsured motorist injures you when he crashes into your friend’s car, your policy will cover your damages not covered by the at-fault driver to the limits of your own underinsured/underinsured motorist policy.
Should you be involved in an accident, be sure to get medical help immediately and if you have questions about the accident, please give me a call for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to help you.
I see the tents popping up all around town to sell fireworks. Are you planning to buy some? Fireworks are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day and I fondly remember being a child and the thrill of setting off sparklers and bottle rockets. Yet, the thrill of fireworks can also bring injury and pain. On average, 230 people go the emergency room every day with fireworks related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.
I am always surprised at how powerful the fireworks that my neighbors shoot off each year are. Manufacturers, and those that sell their products, have a responsibility to meet certain standards of health and safety, to include proper instructions and warnings on a product, and to remove potentially dangerous products from the market. If a person is injured due to a defective product or inadequate warnings, they may make a claim against the manufacturer or those in the chain of distribution of the fireworks.
When people carelessly use fireworks or don’t follow the instructions, innocent people may pay the price. When this happens, the injured party has the right to file a claim for damages against those that injure them. Many times homeowner’s insurance will cover such claims. It takes an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to successfully pursue justice in such cases.
Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of defective fireworks, inadequate warnings or someone’s negligent use of fireworks? It is important that you contact legal counsel as soon as possible. The preservation of evidence needed to prove your claim is of utmost importance and may be lost or destroyed if not preserved immediately.
We wish all a happy and festive Independence Day and remember to stay safe out there.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I know that I am looking forward to a great vacation with my family this summer, are you? Even when we don’t go anywhere there are lots of things to do in my neck of the woods here in Ocala, FL. Or, lots of ways to get injured, if you look at it with my world view as an accident and injury attorney!
In the past we have represented clients with injuries from the following accidents over the summer:
Personal watercraft, jet-ski, and water ski accidents.
Boating and cruise ship accidents.
Scuba diving and parasailing accidents.
Swimming pool and spa drowning accidents and slip and fall accidents.
Hotels escalator and elevator accidents and slip and fall accidents.
Injuries due to violence caused by negligent security or inadequate security.
Acts of crime leading to injuries including sexual assaults and assault and battery.
Rented vehicle crashes, car accidents, bus and public transportation accidents.
Amusement park, theme park ride and attraction equipment failure or maintenance accidents.
Negligent hiring and employee training.
Business owners, hotel owners, rental companies, and theme parks owners who cater to vacationers have a responsibility to do more than just open their doors for business. They must provide reasonably safe premises, protection from dangers, and adequate warnings about hazards. Rental equipment and machinery must function properly.
These types of accidents really require a good personal injury attorney to make sure that you recover your health, finances and life back again. And remember, call one quickly, as evidence is likely to “disappear” while you deal with your injuries!
June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. Most people don’t associate PTSD with vehicle collisions, but it is something that I see all the time. Todd Buckley, PhD, on the website U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, says that researchers are looking more closely at motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) as a common cause of traumatic stress. In one large study, accidents were shown to be the traumatic event most frequently experienced by males (25%) and the second most frequent traumatic event experienced by females (13%) in the United States. Over 100 billion dollars are spent every year to take care of the damage caused by auto accidents. Survivors of MVAs often also experience emotional distress as a result of such accidents. Mental health difficulties such as posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety are problems survivors of severe MVAs may exhibit.
How many people experience serious motor vehicle accidents?
One unfortunate consequence of the high volume of commuter and personal travel in the US is the number of accidents that result in personal injury and fatalities. In any given year, approximately 1% of the US population will be injured in motor vehicle accidents. Thus, MVAs account for over three million injuries annually and are one of the most common traumas individuals experience.
How many people develop MVA-related PTSD and other psychological reactions?
Studies of the general population have found that approximately 9% of MVA survivors develop PTSD. Rates are significantly higher in samples of MVA survivors who seek mental-health treatment. Studies show that between 14% and 100% of MVA survivors who seek mental-health treatment have PTSD, with an average of 60% across studies. In addition, between 3% and 53% of MVA survivors who seek treatment and have PTSD also have a mood disorder such as Major Depression. Finally, in one large study of MVA survivors who sought treatment, 27% had an anxiety disorder in addition to their PTSD, and 15% reported a phobia of driving.
When do you 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.
I hope this will help those of you out there who are suffering after a collision. Please remember that we are always available to listen to you should you feel the need.
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!