What Every Driver Should Know about Red Light Traffic Cameras

 

Red light cameras are for traffic law enforcement, and they are able to take photos of vehicles illegally passing through intersections when the light is red. By doing this, these cameras provide evidence for law enforcement officials. Cameras are synced with the light’s changing patterns to ensure they will only go off when there are red lights. The camera is able to take a photo of the license plate, which is scanned for an address. Law enforcement then mails a ticket to the offender. These cameras are now being used in many countries throughout the world.

While authorities remain firm in their stance that these cameras contribute to public safety, many drivers say they only scare them into making sudden stops that could cause rear-end collisions during a yellow light. They also say they believe the cameras are more for financial gain by law enforcement than for public safety. It seems they are somewhat correct about rear-end crashes. Researchers say that rear-end crashes are more common in intersections with red light cameras, but they also tend to have fewer right-angle crashes. The overall rate is mixed enough they cannot provide a definitive average by lumping the two together.

History
Red light cameras originated in the Netherlands but have been used since the 1960s worldwide and since the 1980s in the United States. Older types of red light cameras used film for their photos, which was sent to law enforcement officials to view. Digital systems started appearing in the 2000s and have gained popularity since then.

How Red Light Cameras Work
These devices are usually installed inside metal boxes, which are affixed to intersection poles in locations prone to accidents. In addition to the camera boxes, there are usually inductive loops set below the pavement to measure the vehicle’s speed as it travels through the intersection. This helps determine whether the vehicle would have been able to stop before going through the intersection. Two photos are taken for each incident for this purpose.

Some of the details the camera records are the location of the incident, the time, the date and the speed of the vehicle. In some cases, the entire incident may be captured in a video clip instead of a series of photos. However, the incident must include a photo of the vehicle entering the intersection and passing through it. Whether the images come from film or a digital device, they are sent to local law enforcement. An officer or clerk will review the data and images to determine whether a citation should be mailed. Vehicle owners can still challenge the citations if they feel the information is incorrect.

Researchers say that nearly 40 percent of violations happen within one-fourth of a second of the light turning red. About 80 percent of incident happen within one second of the light changing to red. There are grace periods permitted by some red light camera systems, which allow up to one-half of a second if drivers go through the intersection at the same time the light is changing to red.

Some states have their own laws regarding the timing of red light cameras, which vary from the averages. However, some states have laws against the use of traffic camera enforcement. People who are curious about the laws in their own states should discuss any concerns with an agent. Laws can change from one year to the next, so it is important to stay current on this issue and to know what to expect.

If you have any questions please call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Losing Everything Due to Inadequate Auto Liability Coverage

 

While there are minimum legal requirements for auto coverage, this minimal coverage may not get you off the hook in many cases should you actually be involved in an accident.  The state’s goal is to make the required insurance affordable, but in many cases this results in minimum coverage that is not adequate for most people to drive on the road and meet their true financial obligations. Even limits that are several tiers above the minimum may not be adequate for some drivers, because once those limits are exhausted, any remaining damages must be paid out of pocket.

Bankruptcy is the first thought that comes to the mind of some, but bankruptcy does not come without problems. Bankruptcy will probably hurt or even eliminate your chances of getting credit in the future; even if credit can be obtained, it will cost you a lot more and come with conditions. In addition, many employment backgrounds checks include a credit check. Also, bankruptcy is not always an available option, especially if you have assets or own property. Because the costs and lost opportunities that result from bankruptcy are significant, it’s not an option most people want to or should choose. For that reason, this article discusses your obligations and how to minimize your risk of ever filing for bankruptcy, losing your home, or paying for damages that could be covered by higher liability limits.

Let’s look at an example of how coverage applies. Suppose that you have $100,000 of coverage, your car’s brakes fail, and you rear-end the car in front of you with very high impact, paralyzing the driver. Do you think $100,000 would be sufficient to pay for a lifetime of medical care and lost wages? Would you settle for that amount if you were paralyzed? Chances are most would not. Accidents like this can happen to anyone, and planning in advance can help you to avoid serious trouble and serious financial consequences if an accident should occur.

Once your limits have been paid by the insurance company, it becomes your obligation to pay for any further damages. In the example mentioned in the previous paragraph, if the injured party is justified in asking for $3 million, your insurance company would pay the $100,000 for which you are covered and you would then be expected to pay the remaining $2.9 million. Alternatively, the injured party could take you to court and this could easily cost you hundreds of thousands in legal fees in addition to any judgment granted to the plaintiff.  Filing for bankruptcy would also be an option, or, if you have assets, you would have to pay what you have and possibly lose everything. Your wages also may be garnished to pay any judgment.

In any case, not having adequate liability let alone minimum limits set by the state are not really a solution. Premiums in most cases are not significantly more, and also an umbrella policy available in increments of a million would cover liability for all the cars in your household for one low premium. With such options available, why risk damaging your future with a bankruptcy or, worse yet, losing everything you own because you did not plan in advance to set up coverages that would protect you?  It does not cost you anything to discuss the options with your agent. You may also wish to consult with your attorney or a personal injury attorney who can point out the importance of making sure you properly address your liability limits. For more information, call ACBI at 203-259-7580 or visit our website.

Passenger Car Drivers More Likely to Die in Crashes With SUVs Regardless of Safety Ratings

Most consumers who are shopping for a new car depend on good crash safety ratings as an indicator of how well the car will perform in a crash. But a new University at Buffalo study of crashes involving cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) has found those crash ratings are a lot less relevant than vehicle type.

The study is being presented May 16 at the annual meeting of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine in Atlanta.

In head-on collisions between passenger cars and SUVs, the UB researchers found that drivers in passenger cars were nearly 10 times more likely to die if the SUV involved had a better crash rating. Drivers of passenger cars were more than four times more likely to die even if the passenger car had a better crash rating than the SUV.

“When two vehicles are involved in a crash, the overwhelming majority of fatalities occur in the smaller and lighter of the two vehicles,” says Dietrich Jehle, MD, UB professor of emergency medicine at Erie County Medical Center and first author.

“But even when the two vehicles are of similar weights, outcomes are still better in the SUVs,” he says, “because in frontal crashes, SUVs tend to ride over shorter passenger vehicles, due to bumper mismatch, crushing the occupant of the passenger car.”

When crash ratings were not considered, the odds of death for drivers in passenger cars were more than seven times higher than SUV drivers in all head-on crashes. In crashes involving two passenger cars, a lower car safety rating was associated with a 1.28 times higher risk of death for the driver and a driver was 1.22 times more likely to die in a head-on crash for each point lower in the crash rating.

The UB researchers conducted the retrospective study on severe head-on motor vehicle crashes in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database between 1995 and 2010. The database includes all motor vehicle crashes that resulted in a death within 30 days and includes 83,521 vehicles involved in head-on crashes.

“Along with price and fuel efficiency, car safety ratings are one of the things that consumers rely on when shopping for an automobile,” says Jehle. These ratings, from one to five stars, are based on data from frontal, side barrier and side pole crashes that compare vehicles of similar type, size and weight. The one to five star safety rating system was created in 1978 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jehle notes that after manufacturers addressed the roll-over problem with SUVs that plagued these vehicles in the 1980s and 1990s, rollover crashes are now much less common in SUVs.

“Currently, the larger SUVs are some of the safest cars on the roadways with fewer rollovers and outstanding outcomes in frontal crashes with passenger vehicles,” he says.

Jehle says that prior studies on frontal crashes have found that compared to passenger cars with a 5-star crash rating, cars with a rating from one to four stars have a 7-36% increase in driver death rates.

“Passenger vehicles with excellent safety ratings may provide a false degree of confidence to the buyer regarding the relative safety of these vehicles as demonstrated by our findings,” says Jehle. “Consumers should take into consideration the increased safety of SUVs in head-on crashes with passenger vehicles when purchasing a car.”

Co-authors with Jehle, all from UB, are: Albert Arslan and Chirag Doshi, MD candidates in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Joseph Consiglio, data manager/statistician for the UB Department of Emergency Medicine and a graduate student in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health and Health Professions; Juliana Wilson DO, a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Christine DeSanno DO, a resident in the UB Department of Emergency Medicine.

 Source: University of Buffalo, Shared via Claims Journal, by Denise Johnson

Consumer Alert: Windshield Repair Scams

You’re getting your car cleaned at the carwash. Suddenly a stranger walks up and insists on replacing your windshield for free.

How odd, you think. Your windshield’s in good shape. It doesn’t need replacing.

Your auto insurance will pay for everything, the stranger says. He also promises you free movie tickets and a nice cash rebate that covers your deductible.

Careful — this is a windshield swindle that can create a serious safety hazard for you and your passengers, fleece your insurance company, drive up your auto premiums, and land you in jail.

THE SCAMS

Replace undamaged windshields. Typically, crooks will convince drivers to replace perfectly good windshields. The crooks then lie to your insurance company that the windshield was seriously damaged and needs repairing. Next they’ll charge your insurer needless and inflated repair costs.

Inflate real damages. Swindlers might replace an expensive windshield that only has a small crack or nick that could easily be repaired at little cost. They might also charge insurers to replace several chips when only one chip was repaired.

Charge for phantom damages. Some con artists charge your auto policy for several windshield replacements without you knowing it. Once they have your insurance information, you’re at their mercy, even after they’ve long disappeared.

Fly-by-night operators. Often the swindlers are fly-by-night operators. They’re poorly trained, work out of pickup trucks in parking lots, and disappear after quickly finishing shoddy repairs. They often approach people at car washes, gas stations, parking lots of convenience stores, or booths at county fairs. The con artists can be aggressive, and continually pester you to do the bogus repairs.

Crooked body shops. Most body shops are honest, but crooked operators may try to involve you in similar windshield scams when you bring your vehicle in for repairs.

High-volume business. Windshield swindlers make their profits from high-volume business. They can replace a windshield quickly and easily, then charge large and costly markups.

Offer freebies. To succeed, the crooks must convince motorists to take part. The con artists make the scam seem innocent, harmless and risk-free. They usually offer an inducement, like free steaks, movie tickets or car washes.

Offer cash rebates. They also may offer you a cash “rebate” or inflate the repair bill to cover your deductible. In states that require insurers to waive the deductible for repairing windshields, crooks may mention this loophole to convince you the repairs really are free.

THE PRICE YOU PAY

You and your passengers face a serious safety risk. First, the replacement windshield could be cheap, substandard glass that easily cracks or shatters while you’re driving. Poor optics also may distort your view of the road and hazards. Second, the crook may install the windshield poorly. The windshield thus can pop out if you’re in a crash. Incoming debris then could strike occupants; drivers and passengers could be ejected; and the roof might collapse during a rollover because the windshield is a vital structural component of your vehicle. Third, real repairs can be shoddy. This could make small cracks or nicks quickly grow bigger.

Your auto premium can increase. You’ve just added a needless claim to your insurance record, which could raise your premiums. Fly-by-night operators also can disappear, leaving you without a warranty or contact person if you have a problem.

You could lose your auto insurance. If a crook secretly charges several windshield replacements against your auto policy, you could lose your coverage because multiple claims within a short period can be grounds for cancellation. Then you’ll have the hassle of trying to straighten out your insurance record with your insurer.

Everyone’s auto premiums increase. Windshield swindles increase everyone’s auto premiums in the longrun because fraud losses get passed onto honest policyholders everywhere.

You could face jail and fines. Making a repair claim for a windshield you know is undamaged could get you convicted for insurance fraud. This can mean jail, fines and a permanent criminal record.

FIGHT BACK

• Just say no if you’re approached by a salesperson in a parking lot or other public place… or if the repair firm offers to replace a windshield that isn’t damaged… or they offer you cash rebates to offset your deductible, or promise freebies like free car washes.

• Report the incident to your state insurance department.

• Ask your insurance agent and company for reputable windshield-repair firms.

• Some insurance companies will repair small cracks or chips free of charge. You’re assured of good — and safe — workmanship at no cost. Contact your insurer instead of an untrained con artist if you have a small ding.

Visit our website or call ACBI at 203-259-7580 if you have any questions or would like the name of a reputable glass repair professional.

Top 10 Driving Distractions Involved in Fatal Car Crashes

Of the more than 65,000 people killed in car crashes over the past two years, one in 10 were in crashes where at least one of the drivers was distracted. That’s according to police report data analyzed by Erie Insurance in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Erie Insurance consulted with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its analysis.

Erie-Insurance-Distracted-Driving-Infographic-725x1024

“Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving safely,” said Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance. “We looked at what law enforcement officers across the country reported when they filled out reports on fatal crashes and the results were disturbing. We hope the data will encourage people to avoid these high-risk behaviors that needlessly increase their risk of being involved in a fatal crash.”

The analysis, which looked at data from 2010 and 2011, showed police listed the majority of drivers who were distracted as “generally distracted” or “lost in thought.” Police also listed several more specific types of distractions.

Below are the top 10 distractions involved in fatal car crashes:

Rank Distraction Type Percentage of
Distracted Drivers
1 Generally distracted or “lost in thought” (daydreaming) 62%
2 Cell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting) 12%
3 Outside person, object or event, such as rubbernecking 7%
4 Other occupants (talking with or looking at other people in car) 5%
5 Using or reaching for device brought into vehicle, such as navigational device, headphones 2%
6 Eating or drinking 2%
7 Adjusting audio or climate controls 2%
8 Using other device/controls integral to vehicle, such as adjusting rear view mirrors, seats, or using OEM navigation system 1%
9 Moving object in vehicle, such as pet or insect 1%
10 Smoking related (includes smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in ashtray) 1%

Smith added that because FARS data on distraction is based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of the crash, and because some people may be reluctant to admit they were distracted when being interviewed by police after a fatal car crash, the numbers are difficult to verify and may, in fact, under-represent the seriousness and prevalence of driving distractions.

The data is meaningful, however, because unlike surveys in which consumers self-report the types of distracted behaviors they engage in, the FARS data is based on actual police reports on fatal crashes.

Mobile Phone App Data Reveals Top 10 Worst Cities for Driving

iOnRoad, the android and iPhone app that improves driving in real-time, collected comprehensive data from the app to determine the worst U.S. cities to drive in.

The data is collected from iOnRoad drivers and over 100 drives nationwide to determine the results. The iOnRoad app uses the smartphone’s native camera and sensors to detect cars in front of the vehicle, alerting drivers when they are in danger.

iOnRoad’s VisualRadar, maps objects in front of the driver in real-time, calculating the user’s current speed using native sensors. As the vehicle approaches danger, an audio-visual warning pops up to warn the driver of a possible collision, allowing them to brake in time.

Below is the list of the top 10 worst cities to drive in based on actual driving history reported by iOnRoad rather than insurance-based accident reports.

1. Brooklyn

2. Queens

3. Pittsburgh

4. New York

5. Philadelphia

6. Irvine

7. Houston

8. Los Angeles

9. Boston

10. Washington

 Source: iOnRoad, reprinted from Claims Journal online.

Feds warn of counterfeit airbags being installed as replacements

Car owners who have replaced a vehicle’s airbag in the past three years, take note: That new airbag could be an unsafe fake.

Federal officials on Wednesday warned motorists and auto shops that counterfeit airbags pose a danger to consumers, saying the bags could fail to deploy or even hurt people in car wrecks.

Concerns over counterfeit airbags heightened last month when authorities tested 10 fake airbags seized as part of a criminal investigation. All 10 failed, authorities said. Some failed to inflate, others partially inflated and one exploded, showering the crash test dummy with metal shrapnel.

To date, there are no known injuries or deaths resulting from the counterfeits, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. But officials said they fear the counterfeits could hurt motorists and passengers if they go undetected.

“These seemingly genuine airbags are in fact shoddy fakes,” said John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which seized 2,500 counterfeit airbags during fiscal 2012. “These airbags don’t work. They’re not going to save you in an accident. They are a fraud and a danger from start to finish, and you don’t want them in your car, period.”

Officials cautioned that only a small fraction of all cars — estimated at 0.1% — have the counterfeit airbags.

“They are good fakes. They look like the real thing,” said David Strickland, administrator of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “And frankly, a consumer is not going to be in a position to figure out whether they have a fake or a real airbag.”

The agency said the following people may be most at risk:

— Those who have had airbags replaced in the past three years at a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership.

— Those who have purchased a used car but are not familiar with its history.

— Those who own a car with a title branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed.

— Those who have purchased replacement airbags over the Internet, especially at unusually low prices, such as less than $400.

If motorists suspect they may have a counterfeit airbag, they should contact call centers established by car manufacturers to have their vehicles inspected. A list of call centers is available at www.SaferCar.gov.

Government and industry officials noted that consumers will bear the cost of inspections. “The bad actors here are the counterfeiters,” said A. Bailey Wood Jr., a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association.

Wood estimated the cost of inspecting airbags at between $100 and $200, and the cost of replacing a steering wheel airbag at between $750 and $1,000. “And some cars have eight airbags,” he said.

Strickland said his agency is working with automakers to develop a system to verify authentic replacement parts and to raise awareness of the potential risks of counterfeit parts.

Morton said earlier this year that customs agents arrested a Chinese broker selling nine brands of counterfeit airbags in the United States. That broker has been convicted and is in prison, Morton said, and multiple investigations into other brokers are continuing.

Reprinted from CNN

5 Things to Discuss with Your Teen Driver

Driving can open up new opportunities for teens but with those opportunities comes responsibility. It’s important for teens to understand those responsibilities and for parents to set appropriate expectations. With school starting shortly it’s a good time to sit down with your teen driver and have a discussion about your rules and expectations on how they use a car, whether they have their own or borrow yours. Here are five subjects you’ll want to cover with your teenager when it comes to driving. 

1) Distracted Driving. According to the FCC, distracted driving accounted for 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008 and 21% of accidents involving injuries. Distractions can include texting, talking on the phone and even scrolling through a playlist on your MP3 player. When you’re in a car, remember that no text or phone call is worth injuring or killing yourself, your passengers and others on the road. If you need to call or text someone for directions or to let them know you’re on your way, pull into a parking lot or a safe area along the road with plenty of room between your vehicle and moving traffic

.2) Driving under the influence. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, with one third of those deaths being alcohol related, according to the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Avoiding situations with alcohol and drug use is the best way to avoid driving under the influence or riding with someone who is under the influence. If necessary make arrangements to have a designated driver or call someone else for a ride. There are no consequences that are worse than injuring or killing yourself or others.

3) Passenger Safety. As a driver, you have a responsibility for the passengers in your vehicle. Make sure you and your passengers all have their seatbelts on before leaving and during all trips- whether down the street or outside town. A driver should make sure that passengers don’t lean out of windows, throw things from a moving vehicle or engage in other horseplay.

4) Obeying traffic laws. While this seems obvious, making an effort to follow all the laws as a new driver will help establish good driving habits and avoid bad ones like excessive speeding and rolling through stop signs.

 5) Protecting the vehicle and its contents. Whether going to the mall or driving to school, remember to lock the car doors. Thieves look for easy targets, and if they see a GPS unit, a phone, CD’s etc. in an unlocked car you’ve made their job easy. Remember to do a quick scan for anything that might be tempting to a thief and either take it with you or stow it in the glove box, or under a seat.

If you have a teen driver, talk with ACBI about how you can insure your teen driver and your options for obtaining coverage if they have their own car. We can also help explain how the coverage works and what they should do in the event of an accident.

Insurance Institute Names 4 Car Models Top Safety Picks

The Dodge Dart, the model Chrysler is betting on becoming a top-selling small car, was among four new vehicles on the U.S. market to receive a top crash-test rating by an influential safety group on Wednesday.

The 2013 Dart, the first model jointly engineered and designed by Fiat SpA and Chrysler Group LLC, was named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Three other 2013 models, each one redesigned from previous model years, also earned the top rating: the Hyundai Motor Co. crossover Santa Fe, the Lexus ES 350 midsize luxury sedan, and the Subaru XV Crosstrek hatchback.

The rating means that each vehicle performed well in test crashes evaluating front, side and rear impacts as well as rollovers.

“We had high expectations for the Dart and our engineers delivered,” said Reid Bigland, chief of Chrysler’s Dodge brand.

Of the 180 vehicles IIHS tested for the 2012 model year, 132 were awarded the Top Safety Pick designation, said Russ Rader, spokesman for IIHS.

The IIHS will issue in December its annual list of the safety report for vehicles sold in the U.S. market. These four models were tested after manufacturers requested the tests ahead of the normal IIHS schedule, Rader said.

Each of the four models were introduced to the U.S. market within the last several months.

Hyundai’s Santa Fe sold the most among the new models in September, at 7,378, an increase of 19 percent over last year, a marked improvement over August sales of 4,524, indicating the attractiveness of the newer model.

Hyundai last month said that it aimed to sell 100,000 of the newly remodeled Santa Fe vehicles in the 2013 model year in the U.S. market.

The Lexus ES, from Toyota Motor Corp , sold 6,553 vehicles in September in the U.S. market, up 81 percent from a year ago. A Lexus spokesman said that 80 percent of the cars sold in September were the new 2013 model.

Dart’s September U.S. sales were 5,235, up from August sales of 3,045.

In its first full month of sales, Subaru’s XV Crosstrek’s September sales were 192.

While 73 percent of the models IIHS tested last year received the top safety rating, next year’s test will be more stringent.

The new front crash tests will evaluate a vehicle’s safety in a crash that impacts the front corners. This will be more demanding because most manufacturers create a structure for vehicles that can better absorb middle-front collisions.

In a recent test of 11 luxury midsize cars by using the new corner-front crash evaluation, only two models earned the top safety ranking, the IIHS said.

Subaru is owned by Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan.

(Reposted from Reuters and Insurance Journal)