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

 

 

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

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!! 

 

 

 

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

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!! 

 

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.