Wishing you a Safe Shopping Season

You’ve all heard or seen the warnings every year informing everyone to be aware that their cars are often a target during the holiday shopping season. Any would-be thief knows that there is a good chance your vehicle has plenty of valuable offerings from your own personal items to all those purchases soon to be heartwarming gifts. Only adding to vulnerability, the sun has gone to bed by around 5:30 p.m. Just in time for you to get off work and head to the stores. Adopting the following tips can help keep yourself, your car and your belongings safer so that you can simply enjoy the holidays.

Lady Shopping
  • Remove ice or snow from windows and roof before heading out so that you aren’t forced to take care of winter woes in a parking lot.

  • Park in areas that are well lit. If possible, park in a spot that puts the driver’s door in direct sight of the store.

  • Create a way to be sure you can remember where you parked. Look at the store signage before you get out of the car to see what you can reference to find your car when you get back out. For instance, if a store has named sections such as grocery, pharmacy, coffee, entrance- remember which one you’re car is parked near. Or look at the name of the store “THE SAVINGS STORE”, remember which letters or word you are closest to. For large parking lots or garages, take a photo of the nearest lot/row sign. There are also downloadable apps for your smartphone to help you locate your car such as Find My Car Smarter and Anchor Pointer.

  • Don’t leave valuables or shopping bags in plain sight.  Put purchases in the trunk.

  • Don’t leave the vehicle running when you aren’t in it. A running vehicle is an invitation for theft.

  • Obviously, lock the doors and make sure all windows are rolled up! Take a few seconds before getting out of your vehicle to get focused- being in a rush can make us forget even the simplest things such as making sure the doors are locked.

  • Keep your phone easily accessible, however stay vigilant, undistracted and be obviously aware of your surroundings. Make eye contact with those you pass as you enter and leave the store. 

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

  • Keep your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket. Don’t let purses or bags hang where they can easily be grabbed.

  • Have your keys in your hand before you leave the store. Most key remotes only unlock the drivers side door with the first unlock click. If shopping alone, don’t unlock all doors.

  • When possible, don’t shop alone. Having someone with you can significantly reduce the likelihood of you being robbed.

All the while you are protecting yourself keep an eye out for others and call 911 immediately if you see a crime occurring. With all these valuable tips in mind everyone can be a little safer during the hustle and bustle of the greatest shopping months of the year!  Happy & Safe Shopping!

Blog by: Allison Green 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Water and Cars Don’t Mix

We see the scene on the news every time heavy rains come. The car, the police, the fireman and the water. Sometimes a flash flood will surprise a fully unexpected driver, though quite often this scene is the result of the driver thinking “I can get through that”. Followed by a call to 911. Our most recent statistics show 64% of flood related deaths happen to people in vehicles. A small car can be carried away by just 12” of moving water, nearly all vehicles can be carried away in 2’ of moving water. That one foot of moving water can create 500 pounds of force. 500 pounds.

Your vehicle might be able to handle or pull that much weight though only when the tires are gripping the ground. Moving water doesn’t allow for any kind of control no matter what type of vehicle you may be driving. Discover what to do if you find yourself caught in a flood event at the American Safety Council site. So, everyone reading this- you’ll never attempt to drive through water right? Great! Moving on to other water woes…

Wet roads

Any amount of rain, especially after a dry spell can create an oily mess on the surface of roads. Experts recommend you don’t use cruise control, reduce your speed and increase traveling distance between other cars to avoid an accident caused by either yourself or someone else hydroplaning. Obviously as in any inclement weather, check tire pressure, wipers and use your headlights.

Car damage

Over one million vehicles were damaged by last years hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Without doing a little homework, one of those vehicles could be your next used car purchase. Flood damaged cars can have electrical damage that may not start creating problems for months as well as trapped mold and mildew and rusting to many of the car’s components.

Understanding rivers

Just because it isn’t raining doesn’t mean your nearby river won’t flood. The Missouri River for example starts in the Rocky Mountains, flows east to North Dakota then south to the Mississippi River. A heavy rainstorm anywhere along that route can increase the rivers levels further down. Tributaries to the Missouri River will drain quickly into the Missouri until the high water pushes flooding back into those smaller rivers and streams. A small stream can easily go from a quaint walk-able waterway to a raging river during flooding, then just as quickly back to the peaceful stream you know and love.  

Other causes of flash flooding

Concrete doesn’t absorb water, so as rain falls on largely developed areas that water keeps moving looking for its eventual path to the ocean. Our States, Counties and Cities do their best to prevent flooding with smart planning and engineering, however mother nature will and does remind us we always have more to learn.

So the next time you clean out the car and come across that little window breaking tool in your drivers side door, remember some common sense can help keep you from ever having to use it. May all your travels be safe and dry!

*If you have flood damage to your vehicle call Richards’ Collision Center for quality, reliable auto body services: 816-767-0707. We work with your insurance company.

Blog by: Allison Green

 

 

Buyer Be Prepared Before a New Vehicle Purchase!

Whether off the line new or new to you, there are several things you can and should do to prepare to buy your next vehicle. We have compiled a few key items you can check off to help you be a smart and savvy shopper and hopefully a few steps ahead of the game.

Where to buy:

For sale by owner- For vehicles sold by the current owner you’ll need to take a few extra steps and precautions before even going to take a look at a vehicle for sale by these means.

  1. Only meet in public places where you are sure you will be around many other people. If possible only meet during daylight hours, if not ensure this place is well lit. 
  2. Take someone with you, know the sellers' name, phone number and description before you get there.   
  3. Ask for the VIN number and do your homework ahead of time.   
  4. Ask the seller if he/she has a clean title. If not, this is a red flag and it’s best to move on.

Dealerships- One of the best ways to find a good dealership is to talk to your friends! Where have they purchased a new vehicle and had a good experience? Check with the Better Business Bureau, and online reviews for dealerships.

Buy Here Pay Here- Payday loan’s little cousin offers almost anyone a car with often no income or credit verification. That comes with a big cost. According to Road and Track, the average interest rate at one of these dealerships is 19% and as high as 29%. They also often have a “one strike you’re out” late payment policy and will repossess your vehicle after one late payment.

Understanding financing:

Buying a vehicle on credit is the most common way American’s buy their rides. Getting the best deal on financing while protecting your credit requires a bit of being in the know.

  1. Credit Union, Bank, or Dealership financing? Per Bankrate, Credit Unions typically beat banks by 1%. Sometimes dealerships will have financing specials that are the best route to take, however, check with your bank or credit union first to see what they have to offer. Be sure to find out if there are better rates with a higher down payment as well.
  2. Know your credit scores before you go shopping. A low score finance approval may come with such a high-interest rate you might be better off spending a few months cleaning up that credit report before you buy.
  3. Protect your credit in the process of getting approved. Dealerships will often have your credit pulled by multiple lenders to shop for the best rate to offer you. When done in the same day they count as one hit against your credit score, however, if you go to several dealerships over a period of time and apply for a loan it could have a larger negative impact on your credit.

Used vehicle safety:

  1. Recalls- Go to: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls. This site allows you to search by VIN number.
  2. Vehicle history reports- There are several online sites that provide full history reports that can provide police reports, repair documents and insurance claims. Many of these reports are free and will help you to know what previous issues and or potential issues exist with the vehicle you are looking to purchase.

Insurance:

Sleep on it and call your insurance company before you buy! Any salesperson who pushes you to leave the lot in one of the lots vehicles is one to be concerned about. Get your data, go home, decide tomorrow. Get an insurance quote on the vehicle you’re thinking about picking up and making your own. There’s nothing worse than finding out the insurance policy is beyond your budget after you’ve already purchased your vehicle.

Blog By: Allison Green

HOT VEHICLES KILL KIDS!

Summer may be almost over however August often brings some of the hottest days of the year. Most children left in hot cars were done so by accident by loving parents. So how can this happen? A recent Texas Public Radio story delved into the subject. The personal interview with a father who had left his son in the car after dropping his wife off at work was the case in point of how our brains could forget something so important as a child in a hot vehicle. Our modern lives are busy, often filled with daily repetition and innumerable distractions. In this particular story, the father normally dropped his child off at daycare before dropping his wife off at work. One simple change in routine, taking his wife to work first was enough to convince his brain that the routine could continue on as normal. Thankfully it occurred to him that his son was in the car soon enough that although the boy suffered six strokes, he survived the incident.

Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) is responsible for an average of 37 children’s deaths per year and the death of 43 children in 2017. [1] A car parked in the sun with an outside air temperature of 80* - 100* can reach 103* - 172*. In just 10 minutes a car's temperature can increase by 20*[2]. Just 60* outside is hot enough for a child to die from PVH[3]. Being an absolutely preventative situation, the experts have several tips you can follow to ensure the children in your lives are never left in a hot car.

Keeping the kids out of a parked car:

1/3 of car-related heat deaths in children are caused by children unknowingly getting into hot cars. Once you have parked a car and are sure the kids are out- lock it and put the keys where the kids can’t get them![4]

Avoiding leaving kids in a hot car:

Make a habit of leaving a needed item near your child when you put them in the car. Your smartphone, purse, laptop or tools can act as one more reason to check the back seat before getting out of your vehicle. [5]:

Ask your child care provider to contact you if you haven’t dropped your child off by your normal drop off time. You can also create a notification in your phone to go off right after that normal drop off time to remind you to check.

Many new vehicles now come with rear seat reminder technology. Anytime a back door is opened and closed the reminder will afterward alert the driver to check the back seat.

SensorSafe Technology connects to your child’s car seat strap and will alert you when you stop your car that the child is still in the seat.

See something, do something:

Several states, including, Kansas now have laws that allow you to break into a car to rescue a child or pet as long as you call 911 first. No matter what State you are in always call for emergency help if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle. This video brings it all home and shows a bystander that reaches out to help an 8-month-old child that would've been left in a hot car for 24 minutes. https://www.10tv.com/article/two-deaths-and-video-close-call-bring-new-attention-kids-hot-cars

Lastly, please share this blog to help us spread awareness and save many children's lives. 

Blog by: Allison Greene


Happy & Safe 4th Of July Tips!

From the delight of parades, joyful parties, to exhilarating fireworks in the night sky, here are some very important tips to keep you and those you love safe and happy this week as we celebrate the birth of our GREAT Country!   

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), Independence Day is one of the two most dangerous holidays 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? If you notice someone swerving in front of you or behind you, avoid them by changing lanes or taking an exit. If there's a passenger in your vehicle ask them to jot down their license plate number and call the police to let them know their location. By doing so you may save their life and others in their path. 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 located. Impaired drivers aren’t always as obvious as torrential rain so keep your eyes peeled.

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Another important topic is fireworks safety. Download this safety tips flyer from Americanpyro.com and share with those who will be leading up the backyard fireworks show. According to a 2017 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, there were an estimated 12,900 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries and 8 deaths in 2017.  Parents take note as 14% of those injuries were because of SPARKLERS. 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 social media community groups are filling up 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 the great freedoms we enjoy.

We at Richards' Collision Center wish you, your family and friends a very Happy & Safe 4th of July!  #CelebrateSafely!

Motorcycle Season Safety

It’s the time of year that the nearly eight and a half million motorcycle owners in the United States have been waiting all winter for. Chaps, boots and helmets have emerged from basements and garages of bike enthusiast from coast to coast to get as many rides in throughout the summer as possible. For those traveling on four wheels, an extra effort of diligence is required to keep everyone safe.  Whereas motorcycles only account for 3% of all vehicles owned in our country, motorcyclists are 6 times more likely to be killed in an accident than people in passenger vehicles. The shocking statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the most recent motorcycle safety report from 2015 remind us all that watching for motorcycles could mean the difference of life and death.  

Eight percent more motorcyclists were killed in 2015 numbering 4,976 compared to 4,594 in 2014.

  • 93% of fatalities involved two-wheeled motorcycles
  • Of all vehicle fatalities in 2015, 14% were motorcyclists
  • 94% were riders and 6%, passengers
  • 55% were in urban areas, 45% in rural areas
  • 90% were on non-interstate roads

The following are some great tips you can use to help prevent these types of accidents.

  • Use your turn signal far ahead of the turn. Motorcyclists need that extra time to prepare to slow down.
  • Stay further back when behind a motorcycle. Try to find a following distance that allows you plenty of room to react and at the same time doesn’t invite the driver that will dive in front of you far too close to the back of the motorcycle.
  • Be extra watchful at night and during inclement weather. Motorcycles can be harder to see and the driver might have a difficult time controlling the bike in a fast reaction situation.
  • Double check blind spots, especially when making a left turn and backing up.
  • Don’t drive in the same lane as a motorcycle. This seems like common sense but we’ve all seen it happen.
  • PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN! In our last blog, we discussed the dangers of driving while distracted by technology.  Any distraction is even more dangerous for smaller vehicles such as motorcycles on the road.

 According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 1,815 motorcyclists lives were saved by helmets. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 37%. If you own a motorcycle you know why it’s commonly called a “brain bucket”.  Missouri has had a helmet law since 1967, however a current Senate Bill would remove the requirement to wear a helmet for motorcyclists over 18 years old with specific insurance coverage. Kansas and Oklahoma do not require helmets for adults over 18 while Arkansas does not require them for adults over 21. Wherever you might stand as a motorcycle owner on this issue, wearing your helmet does reduce risk.

So now that we have all that out of the way- get out there and enjoy the ride no matter how many wheels you may travel on! And…just like the signs relay:  Watch For Motorcycles.

Blog by: Allison Green

 

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!!