New Road Designs, Crazy or Crafty?

If you have ever driven through a traffic circle or found yourself driving on a road that suddenly forces you to cross into what feels like the wrong lane there is a good chance you have wondered, what were they thinking?

As it turns out there’s a method behind all that road twisting madness and an intention to get everyone from point A to point B with a few less crashes than our highway designs of the past. There is one thing for sure, any unexpected turn, twist or curve certainly slows us down a bit, and right there my friends is the entire reason for the new designs.

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Obviously, we all know by now that driving while distracted is a terrible idea. However, even if you are an exemplary example of the fully focused driver, there is a good chance that many of the other drivers sharing your route are engaging with their smart phone or their vehicles built in technology. As a society we have tried just about everything imaginable to convince people to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Public education on the dangers of distracted driving to laws that prohibit the use of cell phones/smart phones while driving have both helped the situation but by no means solved the problem of well, humans being human.

The unfortunate statistics show that this situation is only growing. 3,450 people were killed in accidents in 2016 that were caused by distracted drivers and 391,000 injured from the same cause in 2015. The World Resource Institute created a “Safe System” design approach that has begun to be implemented around the world. This system is already proving to significantly reduce crashes and fatalities.  Whether you love them or hate them, roundabouts or traffic circles provide the following benefits that have shown to make driving safer:

1.     Vehicle speeds are typically reduced to 10 to 20 miles per hour.

2.     Because there are no traffic lights, accidents normally caused from someone trying to get to the others side of a stale yellow are eliminated.

3.     Traffic flows one way only resulting in a reduction of head on collisions.  

Of course, as these designs only work so long as everyone follows the rules, which just like the rule of putting the phone away before starting the car is not exactly followed by everyone. Our world is constantly changing, as is our technology, our vehicles and even the infrastructure we travel on. Who knows what the roads of the future may look like. For now, if anything, we at least know why they are the way they are.

As we embark on the holidays we at Richards’ Collision Center wish everyone a Safe & Happy Holiday and Journey! https//:www.richardscollisioncenter.com

 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!

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

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.  

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!

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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