Distracted Driving Awareness Month!

With as much attention having been raised in regards to distracted driving over the past several years one would think this top cause of preventable accidents and deaths would be on the decline. Since 2015 vehicle deaths are up 6%, killing over 40,000 people this last year. Unfortunately, it is on the rise.  The National Safety Council  (NSC) has an entire page devoted to tools, information and statistics dedicated to educate drivers about the severity of this crisis.  So what will it take to reprogram our brains to ignore every little beep, buzz and ring from our cell phones? Well, for starters here’s a few of those NSC statistics for some terrifying motivation:

  • Drivers talking on handheld or hands free devices don’t see 50% of their surroundings
  • 1.6 Million crashes per year are attributed to drivers using their cell phone
  • 1 out of every 4 accidents is caused by texting and driving
  • Using voice to text is actually more distracting than texting
  • 7% of all drivers of cars on the road are on their phone

So why are we seemingly incapable of turning off that need to immediately respond? For many smart phone owners, the answer is addiction. In CNN’s article, “Smartphone Addiction Could be Changing Your Brain” study after study reveals just how addicted many of us are to that digital rectangle in our pockets and purses.  Per a 2010 Pew Research Study half of American adults send or read texts while driving. For 16 to 17 year olds that number increases to one in three. Even walking while distracted has been blamed for putting the walker at ten times the risk of being injured. Distracted drivers combined with distracted walkers simply can’t have a good outcome.

But wait, the term distracted driving isn’t anything new. We’re simply more distracted than ever before. The hashtag #JustDrive has been created to make the point that the only way to keep ourselves and others safe on the road is to do just that…drive. Lest we forget, our cell phones, texts, calls, and social media updates are only one aspect of the driving behaviors that keep us from being focused on…driving. NSC has several links on information to remind us of all those other preventable causes of accidents still exist such as driving drunk, under the influence of drugs and driving while drowsy, not to mention the simple things that take our eyes off the road just long enough to miss a swerving car or a darting bicyclist.  Eating, applying makeup, flipping through a folder, even just changing the radio station are all seemingly benign activities until one day, one second without focus becomes one accident that never should have happened.

We hope that each and every one of you will take this year’s pledge to #JustDrive.  Share your commitment to that pledge on social media with the #JustDrive hashtag. Spread a life-saving message! 

Blog by: Allison Green

Vehicle Damage Insurance Instant Photos Claims – Is it a Good Idea or Not?

According to the Auto Body Repair Industry relying just on your photos of your vehicle accident to make a claim with your insurance company could prove to drastically shortchange your final estimate. Especially if something is damaged under the vehicle and is not apparent in the photos.  

According to insurance data, 2 out of 3 claims can be “underpaid” if the claims are paid within 48 hrs.  In an “I want it now” world it may seem super convenient to have the freedom to simply submit photos via a cell phone to your insurance company to speed up the estimate so that you can gain your repair quickly.

Auto body experts across the Country are cautioning people to allow your Auto Body shop experienced technician to offer your insurance company a firm estimate to be certain that you are not owed more money than the insurance estimate given from submission of only photos.

According to a CNBC.com article instant insurance crash claim cell phone apps are becoming popular and allow you to take photos or video and simply instantaneously send to your insurance claims department:

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“Insurers benefit, from, reduced costs of sending out adjusters to handle what turns out to be cosmetic damage, said Loretta Worters, a vice president at the Insurance Information Institute. "It helps to get the claims filed, and their resources are utilized where they're needed most," she said.  

The article goes on to explain that the apps are for minor fender benders and any claim that involves an injury or fault that is not certain will likely involve further investigation. Another thing to take note of is your cell phone camera/video quality. Most insurance companies require superior quality photos.

So, yes, taking photos of your accident scene is important but it is not the end all.  At Richards’ Collision Center, for example, we offer free estimates that we personally submit to your insurance company listing any other damages that the photos did not capture.  This can significantly increase your estimate value thereby gaining your vehicle a proper and efficient repair.

We want to be sure that our customers and customers around the Country are receiving all the money that is owed for their collision repairs.

Learn more about this important subject at Body Shop News

 

 

Self Driving Cars

The Jetsons broadcast into American living rooms in 1962. The futuristic cartoon was based on how we all might be living in 2062. Flying cars, housecleaning robots and video calls…hmmm… looks like we’re right on track. Motor Trend listed the Buick as the best car of 1962, which came standard with an AM radio.  

Twenty years later Night Rider was created in 1982, by this point, cars had advanced to include AM/FM radios and tape players.  

Today our vehicles are essentially equal parts computer/machine. A voice command can start off verbal directions to anywhere, a beep tells us we’re too close to another car or object and can hit the breaks for us. We’re currently to some degree co-piloting with our cars. It makes absolute sense that the next level of auto-evolution would be self-driving cars which ironically rename the dash, the cockpit.

A recent Verge article asks and answers the question, where are the autonomous cars?  As it turns out, the technology is here, though the profit is not. Much like the manufacturing of fast cars has an extremely small American market due to the still remaining popularity of large vehicles, self-driving cars fall into the same category. They’re small.

The article continues to include a few urban locations where these cars are being tested on real streets in real traffic, more specifically for use of delivering products and people.

 Google Lexus Self-Driving Car

Google Lexus Self-Driving Car

Either way, the race is still on to bring the car of the future into our driveways sooner than later. Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and even Kia are all digging their mechanical and software engineering heels into the starting line. According to Market Watch, we’re ready and set, GO however is not expected to happen for another 15-20 years.

For many of us, that’s a crushed dream of anxiety-free parallel parking and nap to work wishes. For most, however, we’re psychologically not so sure about the idea. A report compiled by AAA in 2016 found that 75% of people are afraid of letting their car do the driving; although psychologists feel it will be a fairly easy fear to defeat. Somehow we all got over the Computerphobia of the 1980’s, we’ll likely do the same with our phobia about self-driving cars in the 2030’s. 

In the meantime, we can expect to see more and more cars with self-driving aspects such as self-steering and breaking. Phasing into trusting our car to do all the driving might just be the best way to go. 

Guest Blogger: Allison Green

 

 

Being Ready for Winter Driving

I doubt anyone is excited about a forecast of 30 below with the wind chill and a possibility of snow. Still, you can be as best prepared as possible for traveling in these kinds of winter conditions.

Here are a few tips for preventing an accident this icy, snowy, cold season: 

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  • Check tire pressure and tread. New tires can seem like an expensive purchase but can keep you from a catastrophic expense later on. It is normal for tire pressure to lower during winter months so be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended winter psi.

  • Slow down in inclement weather no matter what vehicle you are driving. This may seem like some Captain Obvious advice here, however we have all seen that big 4x4 flying down the highway on a sheet of interstate ice. Four wheel drive may get you over hills and through difficult terrain much more easily than without, however when it comes to stopping and turning being in four does you no favors. No matter what vehicle you may drive, keeping a moderate speed can prevent having to hit the brakes which will always prevent slipping around to where you don’t want to go.

  • Making sure your wiper blades are in good shape and functioning properly along with checking wiper fluid and anti-freeze levels can keep you moving forward with full visibility. While everyone knows this, taking the time to do a winter maintenance check can be difficult to accomplish in a busy world.

    • If the unfortunate does happen, make sure to have an emergency kit readily available in your vehicle. Here are a few ideas for your kit:

      • Every vehicle should have a standard emergency kit with first aid supplies, flares, jumper cables, flashlight, high protein food and water (not frozen) no matter what time of year it is.

        • Ice scraper

        • Blankets

        • An extra pair of gloves and hat

        • Cat litter for traction in case you get stuck

Last but not least, before you head out the door there are a few things you can do to give yourself and everyone you know a little extra piece of mind.

Check with your insurance company to see if you have towing coverage. Some policies offer very affordable coverage for this service.  Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive.

Additionally, smartphone apps such as “Find My Friends” allow you to share your location. If you decide to use such an app be sure to turn your location settings on and know the app may not work if you have no signal,  Fill up when you get to or below half a tank.

Hopefully, you’ll never be stuck in the snow,  but if you are you’ll at least be warm!  When the weather looks frightful and you're in doubt - Don’t go out!  Our team at Richards' Collision Center wish everyone a Safe & Happy New Year!! 

 

 

 

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

New 2018 Vehicles to Dazzle Your Holidays!

Whether you're a driver that prefers a sedan, coupe, convertible, SUV, truck, pickup, van, minivan, crossover, wagon or hatchback, charting all of the redesigned changes can lead you to pick out the best new vehicle option to suit your preferences. Some models are all-new while others are redesigns.

Read More

Keeping Halloween Safe & Fun!

By Audrey Emerick Elder 

 Wilma & Barney - Halloween 2016

As the cold northern winds blow the last day of October off the calendar, the American tradition of #Halloween will usher in November in a grand masquerade. Keeping the adorably costumed little ones to the costume contestant adults safe must indeed take priority over the battle between chocolate bars and candy corn.

Halloween can be a nightmare as more drunk drivers experience fatal crashes and that these crashes are three times more likely than on New Year’s Eve! A must-read blog for anyone who plans to find fun and mischief on Halloween. Know how to be SAFE and keep those you love SAFE. 

 

Trick or Treating

 A good costume - This little Monster High  character can see perfectly and her costume does not drag on the ground. She has glow light bracelets and necklace to be easily seen in the dark. 

A good costume - This little Monster High  character can see perfectly and her costume does not drag on the ground. She has glow light bracelets and necklace to be easily seen in the dark. 

AAA Exchange has created a guide filled with great tips for Halloween safety for both safe costumes and safe driving. This list reminds us all that this is the one day a year that our neighborhoods and communities will be filled with disguised children that are not only more difficult to see, particularly after dark, but also, more likely to dart out into the streets. Parents can take steps to ensure their child is more visible to drivers with reflective or partially reflective costumes and costumes that aren’t a tripping hazard. Simply adding a few strips of reflective tape to a child’s outfit can add a layer of safety to the evening’s fun.

For drivers, the guide suggests keeping speed several miles per hour under the speed limit. Though heartbreaking, every Halloween has a tragic story of children being hit by cars. The National Safety Council reports children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year.

 

Halloween Drunk Drivers

Another startling Halloween statistic is that of drunk driving incidents on Halloween. The holiday is far from just for children and sadly many adult festivities end in drunk or buzzed drivers on the roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that fatal crashes on Halloween are three times more likely than on New Year’s Eve.  Getting the kids home at an early time in the evening helps ensure they aren’t on the same roads as impaired drivers. If you’re hosting a party with alcohol, you know the rules - only designated drivers should gain their keys back.

A Few Fun Ideas

1.  Many organizations host trunk or treats. Plenty of candy for the kids and a safe way for them and their parents to show off those creative costumes!

2.  Some cities offer specific trick or treating hours to promote getting the kids back home before the sun goes down.

3.  And finally, you could host a safe kid-friendly party with candy, games, and activities that will be sure to live in those children’s memories for years to come. Who doesn’t love bobbing for apples and bowling with tiny pumpkins?

 

WE AT Richards' Collision Center WISH EVERYONE A VERY SAFE & HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! 

 

Autumn in the Park!

Destination West - The White River National Forest

Western Colorado becomes seas of sparkling gold that cover the mountains as the aspen trees turn from summer green. Within the 2.3 million acres which include ten mountain peaks you will find the ability to hunt, fish, camp, hike and rock climb. One of the most popular sites (and most photographed in the United States) within the forest is the Maroon Bells of Aspen. Nearby day trips well worth the time include the historic towns of Redstone and Marble and the Rifle Falls State Park.       

Rifle Falls State Park

If you take I-70 west through Kansas I recommend setting Hays or Colby as your stop for the night destination point. I also recommend taking along a book written just for this trip. “Driving across Kansas” by Ted T. Cable & Wayne A. Maley tells the history of Kansas in mile marker increments. St. Fidelis Church, better known as “The Cathedral of the Plains” is located in Victoria, KS just east of Hays. The church was built in 1911 and is open to the public daily.

For a memorable and scenic lunch experience I recommend stopping in Idaho Springs just west of Denver. This Gold Rush mining town has a fantastic historic downtown filled with local shops and dining choices. If you’re looking to take a stab at a little gold panning, you’ll have no trouble finding supplies.

Destination East - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Northern Michigan and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula become a picture perfect rainbow of color as the states hardwoods turn their leaves from green to yellow, orange, and red. Though peak color has passed for the most northern regions of the state there is sure to be some beautiful scenes along the way.  The Lake Superior lakeshore is filled with giant sandstone cliffs and offers hiking/walking trails as well as camping.

Whether you take a southern or northern route the foliage from central Missouri all the way through Illinois is picture worthy. If you do take the northern route I highly recommend lunch at O’Griffs Irish Grill and Brewhouse in one of Quincy, Illinois’ historic downtown areas.  Just outside of the Grill is the October 13th, 1858 site of the sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate.

On the topic of history, a favorite destination from far and wide is Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. The 80 acre village is a well lain collection of historical experiences and buildings including the Noah Webster home moved from New Haven, Connecticut where the first Webster Dictionary was written.

Heading north on 75, Christmas enthusiast will love the town of Frankenmuth, Michigan is a must stop. Here you will find Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland which is as large as one and half football fields with the feel of a giant museum full of themed displays, except everything is for sale

On the way (at least somewhat directionally) to Pictured Rocks it is well worth the time to spend at least a day at Mackinac Island (Pronounced “mackinaw”). The island was occupied by French Missionaries in the late 1600’s and by the late 1700’s became a Fort of British occupation. Most of the island became America’s second National Park after Yellowstone. Today that acreage is a Michigan State Park. If you have heard of this Island and wonder if it is true that no cars are allowed you are correct! In an effort to freeze history in time only bicycles, horse drawn carriages and shoes are allowed methods of travel.

Destination Day Trip - Ozark National Scenic Riverways

A little closer to home, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways are not only a scenic destination but an invitation to adventure. Canoeing, camping, hiking, bicycling and discovering caves are all just some of the ways to experience the Ozarks any time of year. Along the river the primary color will be yellow as Sycamores leaves turn in Mid-October.  Adventuring beyond the river will add reds and oranges from Birch, Maples, Oaks and Hawthorns as well as extend your fall color viewing as these trees peak nearer to the end of October.  

Missouri is filled with wonderful little historic towns, so choosing which ones to stop at on the way might be best accomplished by throwing a dart at a map. Just in case that won’t work for you here are a few suggestions.

Any stop along Missouri’s Wine Country is a sure bet for a fun day in a beautiful fall setting. Many of these towns will have fall festivals including the Hermann Oktoberfest that runs every weekend during the entire month of October. Keep in mind though getting a room in town this late in the year might be impossible. Hermann’s bed and breakfast lodging is often fully booked by February.

Missouri's Wine Country

Last stop before jumping into that Ozark adventure is the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home in Mansfield. There are two homes on the property, the first being the farm home the Wilders lived in after moving to Mansfield in 1894. The second being a home Laura’s daughter Rose had built for her in 1928. Laura wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” books in both homes. She and Almanzo missed living in the little farmhouse and later moved back to live out the rest of their years.

So, wherever the road may take you may it be safe, fun and colorful!
Blog by Audrey Elder - Past2PresentResearch.com 

Our Love of the First Car!

Cars and trucks may come and go over our adult life, and yet there’s just something about that first (and sometimes second) car that remains a point of attachment for all. Ask anyone what their first car was and you’ll receive no hesitation and no difficulty in remembering. Instead a literal off the cuff automatic response of a year, a model, make and color. If you’re lucky…a story and there’s no better place to find a few of those than in a coffee shop on a Thursday morning.

Cliff’s first car was a Mercury four door painted black metallic, which didn’t exist at the time so he had to make it out of aluminum paint. His second car however (as turned out to be the case for many I talked to) was his favorite. A black 1953 Mercury of which he pulled the motor and replaced it with an Oldsmobile motor to make it run fast. In 1959 Cliff and his car could be found speeding down a quarter mile drag race strip at Front Street and 435 in Kansas City. Though the original was replaced he still has the car to this day.

Steve started off his driving years with a 1955 Rambler which he described the top as an “upside down bathtub” and the seats as capable of folding all the way down. His second car was a 1965 red Olds Cutlass. Hence a love for that car ever since. He’s owned five of them now.

Steve’s wife Sue’s first car was a 1958 Nash Rambler, and the second she verbalized this the room responded in awe and a few “Really’s ?!”.  Apparently the car only fit a few people comfortably though she once managed to fit 8 people in it. Oh to the days of high school car clowning. Sue’s next car was a 1964 Ford Thunderbird, and yes she still has it in the garage. The Silver exterior, black top and black interior remains in perfect condition although the engine and transmission have been removed.

Bob’s first car was a 1956 2 door Ford custom sedan. His second a 1954 pink and white two-door Ford Continental he picked up for $3000 in the 60’s. It actually had a glass top and power seats. The car managed to even survive running into a ditch when he let a friend drive it. Bob survived the potential backlash of his father seeing the damage.

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John’s first car was a 1967 Mustang 289 automatic with a center console that rolled open. This gem was painted Oldsmobile blue with blinkers in the hood and to this day still in his garage. His father brought it home for him in July of 1986 leaving him to only dream of driving it for a month and a half until he turned 16.

Gina’s first car was as she put it “Nothing to talk about”, however the young man who drove a 1974 Plymouth Satellite was. It was the car she fell in love with at the same time she fell in love with the driver. He bought this first car when he was 16 after finding it out in an old country field on a local farmers land. The front fender was rusted as well as the left passenger door, including a few dents. Keith worked hard to be able to restore the car himself. As for Gina, she became his wife.

My first car, a 1980 sun faded blue Dodge Challenger didn’t show up in my life until after I was married. We bought it for $300 in 1993 and drove it for six years including two trips back from a hospital with a new baby in the back seat. The clutch cable snapped one day in the middle of nowhere on I-70 in Western Colorado. My husband in quick action removed the lace from his boots, tied up the clutch and got it home. I truly wish I still had it.

Often a first car is whatever you can afford that will get you where you want to go. For many it’s the first taste of personal freedom and independence while saving up for the second car- the one you really want. What was your first/second car? Do you still have it? We would love to hear your story!

By: Audrey Elder - Past to Present Research

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence to Make Your Drive Safer & Even More Fun!

Do you have one of the many personal assistants through Amazon’s Alexa, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, or a Google Assistant that can communicate with other devices at your home and control them?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take your personal assistant with you on the road? Artificial Intelligence is expanding through the universe at furious speeds with a German Company, called German AutoLabs offering up the first personal assistant to compliment our driving experience.  This will also be the first male personal assistant with the name Chris.

Chris will allow you to make calls, listen to voicemail, checkout your Facebook, What’s App, or even check your email messages all while safely keeping your hands on the wheel.  (Yahoo Tech)

According to the company it will also include assistance with navigation and allow you to listen to your favorite music with merely a simple voice command. “Chris, play the Lumineers.”  Wala! Discover more about Chris through the informational video on Youtube.com.

According to Forbes.com:  “Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015, a 746% increase in five years. In 2016, this continued to increase with roughly another $1.5 billion being invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies in 2016.”

It's not only Chris making a splash in this competitive industry, another report from @FordOnline delves deeper into the future of AI in our cars through Cloud-based voice control that will be available on 75% of new vehicles by 2022. The future personal assistants will do everything for us in our cars as they do in our homes with smart technology taking over the world! 

 "This summer, Ford’s in-car connectivity system SYNC 3 will enable drivers to connect to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa and offers 23 different languages and many local accents. By accessing cloud-based resources, cars of the future could enable even more drivers to speak their native language…” 

“Voice commands like ‘I’m hungry’ to find a restaurant and ‘I need coffee’ have already brought SYNC 3 into personal assistant territory,” said Mareike Sauer, voice control engineer, Connectivity Application Team, Ford of Europe. “Eventually, drivers will not only be able to use their native tongue, spoken in their own accent, but also use their own wording, for more natural speech.”  

Discover more about a research project Ford is currently running with RWTH Aachen University which includes using multiple microphones to improve speech processing and reduce the effect of external noise and potential disruptions. Nuance says that within the next two years, voice control systems could prompt us with: “Would you like to order flowers for your mum for Mothers’ Day?” “Shall I choose a less congested but slower route home?” and “You’re running low on your favorite chocolate and your favorite store has some in stock. Want to stop by and pick some up?”  

"Future gesture and eye control would enable drivers to answer calls by nodding their head, adjust the volume with short twisting motions, and set the navigation with a quick glance at their destination on a map." @FordOnline.com

Lastly, the future of AI is meeting us coming and going in a world of fast paced answers to every question.  In addition, it will provide more safety and security in our daily commutes. As AI grows our cars will even be able to sense our moods through facial recognition software. Learn more about this amazing AI feat at nytimes.com.  The future looks bright with the advancement of AI! 

 

Happy and Safe 4th Of July!

From morning parades to fireworks in the night sky, here are a few tips to keep everyone on and off the road…SAFE!

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), Independence Day is the most dangerous day of the year to be on the road.  IIHS finds the cause of the largest number of crashes in one single day of the year to be mainly caused by alcohol impairment. The take-away? Be aware that some drivers on the very same road as you’re on might not be sober. A little extra caution and attention to details can go a long way whenever driving, especially in potentially dangerous situations. Imagine you are driving in a heavy thunderstorm, of course you’re going to slow down a bit to pay more attention to where the other vehicles on the road are. Impaired drivers aren’t always as obvious as torrential rain.

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With an average of 26 deaths on the holiday, IIHS also notes that motorcycles are the most likely to be involved in Fourth of July accidents. Wearing protective gear- specifically a regulation helmet is obviously highly advised, but what about what us drivers of cars and trucks can do to help prevent a motorcycle involved crash?

1.  Look before you turn or change lanes- especially checking your blind spots. Really look, not just a quick glance, something the size of a trash truck can’t be missed. Noticing a two wheeled bike takes a little more effort.

2.  Manage your speed along corners. Having more time to react to a sudden surprise on the other end of the curve could save someone’s life.

3.  Back Off! Tailgating any vehicle is a recipe for an eventual disaster- for a small vehicle driver it can be deadly.

And now for the the fireworks safety conversation. According to a 2016 Consumer Product Safety Commission report almost 12,000 people were treated for firework injuries in 2015- most of which happened around the Fourth of July. The previous link includes safety tips to avoid a not-so-happy holiday.  Not only are fireworks potentially very dangerous to ourselves and loved ones, they can also be dangerous to our landscapes and homes. Because of this many municipalities have specific laws regarding which, if any fireworks are allowed.  For a Kansas City Metro list click here.

Last but not least, always remember your pets don’t have a clue what this whole popping and booming is all about. The sound of fireworks terrifies most of our furry friends sending them off into a sometimes unrecognizable place far from home.  Already two days before the celebration officially begins and social media community groups are filling with posts of missing dogs and cats.

As the final note of “Stars and Stripes” pours from the piccolo- As the last shower of black powder falls through the air in glowing red, white and blue- As the silent still hot darkened sky hangs heavy with the thick smell of sulfur that remains in our memories from childhood into eternity- As you slowly eke your way out of the parking lot and into the snails-pace traffic jam- recall your feelings of gratitude for this day.  Get home safely, two wheels, four wheels and all fingers superbly intact.