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

 

 

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

 

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!! 

 

Road Rage!

Oh, that moment your adorable toddler is sitting on the staircase, Frisbee in hand pretending to drive.  Soon his/her right foot jaunts out towards an imaginary brake followed by a few choice words... yes, that came straight from you.

It’s a crazy world we live in and almost everything we do involves taking to the concrete wilds otherwise known as the highway system. Here we join hundreds, maybe thousands of other humans in giant machines made of steel, plastic, and aluminum with nothing between us but the hopeful sensibility of each person in the driver’s seat.  When it all goes wrong and we react hitting the brake or swerving or speeding up to avoid a crash we are at that point experiencing subconscious behavior.  This goes back to our more instinctual days of human existence. Our lovely brains come fully equipped with a survival section and when the body decides it is needed, it takes over. Our steering wheel gripping, hand throwing, horn-beating is the same fight or flight stress reaction as when one of our ancestors realized he/she was being chased by a hungry saber-tooth tiger. 

For most of us, this split second experience ends at this point leaving us with a dizzying head and maybe a fast heart rate or shaking that we know is going to quite possibly still be with us when we reach our destination. It’s when it doesn’t end like this that we get road rage.

According to the NHTSA 2000 report on road rage; two main contributing factors to aggressive driving are running late and traffic delays. Safe Motorist reports the following statistics:

  • 218 road rage murders in seven years
  • 66% auto related deaths result from aggressive driving
  • A gun is present in 37% of these altercations

Sadly, a sense of being disconnected from one's community is considered the catalyst in many of these situations. We sometimes forget that those drivers are real people. People that we pass at the grocery store, sit near at a restaurant or visit with in line at the DMV.  When we get behind the wheel we are not suddenly in a movie or a video game. It’s real life all the time.

So what can we do when confronted with an aggressive driver? The same thing we do when we don’t like the weather, understand we have no control. The kindergarten lesson, two wrongs don’t make a right couldn’t be more appropriate. Know we can’t control the other driver, take a deep breath, don’t make eye contact and don’t respond.

Being a stickler for the speed limit and living out in the country, it is a common occurrence for some vehicle to seemingly appear out of thin air only to attach itself to my rear bumper.  It’s okay to pull over to a safe spot on the road and wave them past. Don’t let someone else’s decision to miss out on living each beautiful moment take away yours.

As for the toddler on the staircase, I remind myself that someday I’ll be old. Someday it will likely take me longer to turn into a parking lot or even make it to the minimum speed limit. In that someday the toddler might be behind me. Setting a better example for the next generation is a pretty good investment in a future of safer roads.

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Emrick Elder

Winter Driving Tips & The Impact of Driving Impaired...

As we embark on another winter in Missouri we at Richards' Collision decided to share with you the tips for staying safe during bad road conditions.  MoDot's Winter Driving Tips share everything you need to know to weather any storm or condition.  

In addition, as we prepare for traveling around the holidays we want to remind everyone to drive carefully,  secure your seatbelts and take it slow.  Last not least, drive sober.  During the holidays it can be tempting for some to push the limits. See the Save MO Lives website and a snippet below from that site regarding the loss of life in MO to impaired driving last year. 

Photo:  Save MO Lives 

Alcohol affects everyone differently.  Influencing factors include food consumption, medication, health and psychological conditions.  The best plan is to always designate a sober driver. 

• Save MO Lives website

"The sobering fact is that impaired driving contributes to 22.5 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities.  In 2015, 192 people were killed, 655 seriously injured in crashes that involved at least one impaired driver. 

Many drunk drivers are under the age of 21. From 2011-2014, there were 69 fatal crashes and 211 serious injury crashes involving an impaired driver under the age of 21. There were 85 people killed and 324 seriously injured in these crashes."

Winter Driving Tips from MoDot

Driving on snowy or icy roads requires special attention to safety. Although it's impossible to have ideal road conditions 365 days a year, there are certain precautions you can take to make winter driving safer. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get ready for the hazards of winter. And check the links at the bottom of this page for information on MoDOT Plowing Priorities and tips on shoveling your driveway.

Before the Trip

  • Check out road conditions before you go. MoDOT's Traveler Information Map offers current views of road conditions and is available as an app for iPhones and Android phones.
  • Call MoDOT's toll-free customer service center for current road condition information at 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636). The Customer Service Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Winterize your car with fresh antifreeze, a good battery, a properly operating exhaust system and oil that will withstand the rigors of cold weather.
  • Do a thorough pretrip inspection of your vehicle, paying special attention to your tires, brakes, windshield wipers and windshield wiper fluid.

Equip Your Vehicle With:

  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit
  • Necessary medications
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Extra mittens or gloves, socks, a warm cap and rain gear
  • A small sack of sand to use for traction under your wheels
  • A small shovel
  • Booster cables
  • Small tools - pliers, wrench, screwdriver
  • A brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
  • Nonperishable foods
  • Bottled water

During the Trip

  • If possible, postpone your travel until roads have been plowed, treated, and cleared. You don't want to slide off the road, and we don't want to plow around disabled vehicles.
  • Slow down and adjust your speed to the conditions.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room, and don't pass them.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Remember that driving is most dangerous when temperatures are near 32 degrees.
  • Watch for other vehicles having problems with road conditions.
  • Keep mirrors, windows and lights clean; keep your lights on.
  • Don't pass other vehicles on or near bridges.
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full.
  • If you don't feel comfortable driving, pull off of the highway and park at the first safe place.

If You're Trapped in Your Car

  • Stay in the vehicle. Don't leave to search for help. It's easy to become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
  • Display a trouble sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the antenna.
  • Run the engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater and turn on the dome light only when the vehicle is running.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a window slightly for ventilation.
  • Clap hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Don't stay in one position for too long.
  • If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
  • Huddle together for warmth.
  • Use newspapers, maps and even car mats for added insulation.

Learn more about MoDOT's winter operations, check major road conditions, and find out how to keep your driveway clear by following the links below.

Traveler Information Map
Go here to see a map of road conditions for major Missouri routes

Who's First? MoDOT's Plowing Priorities
How does MoDOT decide whose road gets plowed first?

How to Keep Your Driveway Clear
There is a right way to shovel your driveway

 

We at Richards' Collision Center wish you and your family a very Safe & Happy Thanksgiving!!  

 

 

 

Watch out for Deer!

deer.running.richards.collision.center.blog.kansas.city.mo

That time of year is once again upon us, a time to be vigilant and aware of our white tailed woodland friends sprinting across highways and country roads.  As much as it might seem like an odd phenomenon it’s actually a normal part of a deer’s life and to be expected.  As the daylight hours quickly wane and temperatures begin to drop we all feel a sense of calm and serenity during those breezy, cooler autumn days amid yellow, orange and red tree lines.  Well, all of us except those magnificent forest dwellers - the deer.  While birds react to this seasonal change by flying south for winter and hibernating creatures such as the groundhog begin storing up fat to sleep the coming frost filled months away, these subtle changes in temperature and daylight set off a course of action of what can only be described as insanity for our Missouri white tailed deer.

A deer’s gestation period is 201 days, so it is imperative that her new fawns will be born at the perfect time in the spring to be large enough to survive the following winter. She sends this once a year mating signal to her male counterparts with a scent referred to as estrus which creates a month plus long game of hide and seek with the veracity of a sense of life or death in the minds of the mindless hormonally overloaded buck.  In the summertime bucks actually roam the forest and grasslands together much like a group of men searching for a brat and a Pale Ale at a summer craft festival. Come autumn it is each man for himself and even the hint of competition is likely to end in a bloody brawl. The winner gets the doe, and in Darwinian terms, it’s a gene thing.  The biggest strongest bucks get to pass their genes on to the healthiest does, and consequently the next generation.  Once the chase is on, nothing and I mean nothing stands in the way of the chasing buck or the running doe, including your car.  This crazy breeding season is referred to simply as… The Rut.

According to the Missouri Federation for Conservation the onset of the rut (pre-rut) begins around September 12th, with the peak of the rut occurring around the first week of November and not entirely ending until sometime in late November. The most recent report from the Missouri Highway Patrol from 2011 details deer involved traffic accidents at 3,563 with 376 injuries and 4 fatalities.  Most of these accidents occurred between 5:00 pm and 6:59 am. Per The Insurance Journal, the United States has 200 deaths per year that occur from car accidents involving deer at a cost of $4 billion dollars a year. According to the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration 2014 saw 3,720 deer related Missouri accidents- one every 2.4 hours.  The site offers advice on how to ensure your insurance covers any damage caused by such an accident after changes in Missouri vehicle insurance laws from House Bill 1022.  There is also the recommendation to not swerve to avoid hitting a deer when that could in turn create yet another accident.

So what do you do if you hit a deer? You treat it like any other accident, report it to your local police department and call your insurance company- though as mentioned earlier now is the time to make sure your insurance policy fully covers this type of accident.  If you would like to consume the deer or have it donated for food for the underprivileged, you must first contact your county conservation agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation for authorization. 

Bottom line- be vigilant, especially in the low light and dark hours of the day.  It doesn’t hurt to slow down a little during those hours which give you a better chance to avoid hitting a deer.  If you see a deer, expect there to be more to come.   Does especially travel together and fawns stay with their mothers for up to two years.

Here’s to safe and happy travels!

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Elder - See more of Audrey's blogs at Past to Present Research 

Autonomous Driving Steering the Future

Many automakers have recently released their concepts of autonomous cars.  We are astounded by the profound technology that make the autonomous cars a much safer form of driving and ultimately the most efficient driving that the world has ever known.  

We will present some fine details of a few of our favorite autonomous cars and touch on the trust factor.  How many drivers and passengers will truly be comfortable giving ultimate control to their cars?  The stats are in and there is much work to be done to prepare the population for a new way of driving.   

The Swedish auto maker, Volvo, recently reported that they plan to launch their version of self-driving splendor and convenience in 2017 with a goal of 100 vehicles due to drive Swedish byways. Until then we are allowed to take a peek inside one of the most amazing self-driving concepts that we have seen to date. 

Through a study Volvo estimates that people lose approximately 26 minutes of productivity during their daily commute.  The concept packs convenience and efficiency by sporting a driver side digital desktop, with a desktop table and a 25” mega monitor controlled to pop up on the passenger side from a central, front, console touch screen. 

“The system was the first autonomous concept interior placed on a workable platform.” Learn more about this amazing autonomous dream at Yahoo.com/autos.  To see many of the new self-driving concept cars in action around the world check out these awesome videos: https://goo.gl/PhhOJZ.

Now, regarding the trust factor: with new concepts of self-driving cars coming out every year we wondered how many people trust the technology? 

“A Pew report last year showed that less than 50 percent of people wanted to ride in a driverless car. While this is not an insignificant portion of the population, for car manufacturers to fully commit to producing autonomous cars, they clearly will need to work on winning the trust of over half the population. Both Google and Ford have publicly stated that 2020 is a realistic date for when fully autonomous cars will be seen on our roads.”

The leader in building trust in the minds of would be driverless drivers has been primarily Google through their ongoing testing of their cars in California in some of the most congested city driving in America.  They have a strong belief that autonomous vehicles are safer without human intervention.  

Their coaxing has obviously paid off well as a letter posted online in February 2016 stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave its OK to the idea of a self-driving car without a steering wheel and so forth, that cannot be controlled by a human driver.  Discover more about the details of this very important decree by the NHTSA:  http://goo.gl/bTFNtt.

As we await 2020 we will be focusing on Google’s fleet of autonomous cars as they learn more about the many complicated driving scenarios that plague drivers every day.  Many people around the world have probably already heard about the Google Lexus-model autonomous vehicle ("Google AV") that hit a bus at slow speed last week.  The first to be partly the fault of a Google self-driving car.  No injuries reported, but, precisely why testing and constant tweaking of their autonomous software continues for several more years. Read more about this recent accident at endgadget.com.  

Lastly, as Google’s autonomous functional prototypes have cruised 1 million miles on the roads of California Google experts are continually discovering ways to perfect the genius software that make the future of self-driving cars most promising.  Until then we will keep dreaming of accident free driving that saves time and provides the best of technology without the wheel and worry. 

All about Google’s self-driving cars with monthly progress reports: https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/ 

 

 

Vehicle Accidents...Who is Responsible?

Have you ever been in a vehicle accident?  Many people can unfortunately say yes to that question with millions of accidents occurring in the US every year.  Insurance companies often offer a basic list of steps to take after an accident to reduce liability, such as, calling the police immediately to file a report, contacting your insurance company and not discussing the accident with the other party.  Although, are those steps enough to protect you in the event that there is question as to whether it is your fault?  

car accident

According to our research, no, it is not enough, and without taking the following additional steps you may find yourself in court.  According to Yahoo.com, there are 5 additional steps you should take immediately after an accident, assuming, that you are able.  

In summary, take pictures from your view point behind the wheel right after the accident.  Also take other pictures at various angles to show a clear picture of the damage.  Be patient for the police to arrive, as it can take up to an hour, specially in a rush hour situation. In the mean time practice what you will say even recording yourself beforehand. It is also lawful to record your conversation with the police officers at the scene.  Most of all be calm and collected as possible awaiting the police to come to you at the accident scene.  

In addition, the police report is not in stone once created and can be changed, so, if the police officer erroneously quotes a statement you can request a correction.   

Another helpful site with quality information regarding this serious issue is Findlaw.com.  Who better to know what to do than experienced attorneys. Of course, their first point is not to leave the scene until you have spoke with the police.  Check on the condition of all people involved in the accident, and, exchange information without going into conversation regarding the incident. Also, speak to any witnesses present and gain their personal contact information.  

Lastly,  check out the Findlaw.com site to learn other important details about what to do after a vehicle accident.  We at Richards' Collision Center want to do what we can to inform and protect the public in case of an accident to reduce liability and expense.  We hope that you will share this blog with those you love and care about so that they will know the right steps to take in an accident situation.