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.
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!
A black box. Also known as event data recorder it is traditionally associated with airplane accidents because it helps the investigators to determine what went wrong. But the technology is no longer limited to aircrafts. In fact, you most likely have a black box beneath your seat or behind the dashboard in your car. Almost all new cars are already equipped with one of these small devices and if you drive a car that is not older from 5 years, you most likely have one yourself. If you are not sure whether your car is equipped with a car black box or not, you can check the owner manual. The data from the car black box is a reliable record of the driver’s actions few seconds before the accident and is an important piece of evidence when there are no witnesses of the accident or/and the drivers are blaming each other for causing the collision. It records various data depending from one car to another, most often the speed, turning, braking, accelerating, decelerating, etc. about five seconds before the collision. However, those five seconds are usually enough to get the necessary information about the events that led to the accident. Even more, the data from the car black box has been also used as evidence in the courts and had a major influence on the outcome of the trial.
It is vitally important to contact an experienced Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible after your accident in order to preserve as much evidence as possible.
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.
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: