Eight "danger zones" create make teen drivers more likely to crash, pediatrician says

78225_driving.jpgEach year, car accidents account for one out of every three teen fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that novice drivers (from age 16 to 19) are four times more likely to crash than older drivers. Pediatrician Dr. Rima Himelstein examined the key factors that contribute to teen crashes, and found several common denominators - what she termed the "eight danger zones of teen driving."

1. Driver inexperience

Simple lack of experience is a contributing factor in numerous accidents involving teen drivers. Because they've spent less time behind the wheel, teens are less prepared to deal with the numerous unexpected situations that can present themselves on the road. Since crash risks are especially high during a teen's first year of driving, safety advocates recommend that teen drivers receive extensive supervised practice during that time. Teens need to gain experience driving at different times of day, in different kinds of weather, on different kinds of roads.

2. Driving with teen passengers

Research has shown that passengers can be an particularly dangerous distraction for teen drivers, especially when those passengers are also teens. A study conducted by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the risk of a fatal crash increases by 44% when a 16 or 17 year-old has just one teen passenger. With two teen passengers, the risk is doubled; with three or more, the risk is quadrupled. Missouri's graduated driver license (GDL) law places restrictions on the amount of passengers a teen driver can carry, but safety advocates urge parents to establish rules that reinforce those restrictions.

3. Driving after dark

Nighttime driving comes with its own set of challenges. In 2009, 61% of teen traffic fatalities occurred between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Furthermore, a 2010 study from the Texas Transportation Institute found that "it is the nighttime risk that ranks at the top of the list for the youngest motorists on the road, primarily due to a combination of the visibility challenges caused by dark conditions, slower response time brought about by fatigue, and a lack of experience driving under such conditions." Here again, GDL laws restrict nighttime driving in novice drivers, but parents will want to monitor their teens and ensure they receive ample supervised practice.

4. Driving without seatbelts

While teen seatbelt use has increased significantly in recent years, teens are still much less likely to buckle up than older drivers are. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "in 2009 the majority (56%) of young people 16 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled."

5. Driving while distracted

In today's world, distracted driving is the number one killer of American teenagers. In the CDC's 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 1 out of 3 teen drivers admitted to sending a text or email while driving within the past month. Missouri law prohibits texting in drivers 21 and younger, but parents should establish a zero tolerance policy at home. In addition, parents are urged to set an example for their teens and refrain from using their phones while driving.

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Auto accidents involving pedestrians commonly result in serious injuries, fatalities

crosswalk-sign-1431140-m.jpgAuto accidents involving pedestrians frequently result in serious, life-threatening injuries. In fact, you can be seriously injured or even disabled if you are hit by a car traveling at just 10 miles per hour. The faster the car is going, the greater the chances of critical or even fatal injuries. Our Springfield car accident lawyers want to remind both drivers and pedestrians to be cautious of each other throughout the warm spring months ahead.

Here are a few statistics related to collisions between pedestrians and automobiles, courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

• In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and approximately 76,000 were injured in traffic crashes nationwide.
• On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 120 minutes and injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes.
• Fatal collisions involving pedestrians are most likely to occur between 6:00 p.m. and midnight on Fridays or Saturdays.
• Alcohol is often a major contributing factor in pedestrian accidents. In 2012, 36% of pedestrians age 16 and older who suffered fatal injuries had BACs at or above 0.08%.

I've been involved in a pedestrian accident: What should I do?

If you have been hit by a car, truck, or motorcycle, do not move until you are sure you are not seriously injured. Often, the shock and adrenaline that follow an accident make it difficult for victims to realize how badly they're hurt. You will need to be assessed by a professional emergency medical technician, which means that you may need to wait as calmly as possible for help. If you can move and you are still in danger due to oncoming traffic, move to the side of the road and make sure someone has called 911.

If you have a cell phone, and you're physically able, take pictures of the scene and your injuries. Also, when possible, make notes of the road, weather, and traffic conditions. We recommend that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as is reasonably possible, so that witnesses and evidence can be located quickly.

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Prepare for Missouri boating season: Take a boating safety course

866863_seattle_boating.jpgThankfully, warmer temperatures have made their way back to the Ozarks this week, and it won't be long before boating season is upon us once again! To promote safe boating and help prevent boating accidents, Missouri law requires certain individuals to pass a state-approved boating education course before hitting the water.

These individuals include:

• Operators who were born after January 1, 1984.

• Operators who have been convicted of certain boating offenses, which include boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, negligent operation of a vessel, leaving the scene of an accident, and failing to yield to an emergency watercraft. Click here for more information.

Boating safety certification courses: What Missouri boaters need to know

• You are required to pre-register online in order to take a course. Courses have a maximum size and may also be cancelled if there is not sufficient interest. Click here to pre-register, or to view a complete list of boating safety classes offered throughout the state.

• You must be present at the course in order to receive certification.

• The course is free. If you pass, you can order a boating safety certification card for $15.

• There is also an online boating safety course available, which is approved by the Highway Patrol. Click here for more information.

Boating accidents: The statistics

• According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,588 boating accidents nationwide in 2011. These accidents caused 758 deaths, over 3,000 injuries, and $52 million in costs associated with property damage.

• Here in Missouri, the Patrol says 19 people were killed and 86 people were injured in 2011 boating accidents.

• Of 2011 boating accident deaths nationwide, 70% drowned, and of that number, 84% were not wearing life jackets.

• Only 11% of boating accident fatalities nationwide occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety training.

• The Coast Guard reports that the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are as follows: operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and equipment failure.

Here at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we encourage you to make safety a priority when you're on the water this year. Happy boating!

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Avoiding car accidents this spring: Tips for Springfield, Missouri drivers

February 28, 2014

1377780_highway_in_the_sky.jpgSpring is nearly here, and our Greene County personal injury lawyers know that many Missourians are looking forward to some relief from cold temperatures and wintry weather. However, springtime also brings certain changes that can also impact roadway travel. In this post, we discuss five useful safety tips for spring driving.

Spring driving safety tips for Missouri motorists:

• Use caution when traveling in unpredictable spring weather. As Springfield residents know all too well, springtime in the Ozarks can mean rain, sleet, hail, flash flooding, fog and widely varying temperatures, all of which can complicate roadway travel. When you encounter wet or slick roads, remember to slow down and increase your following distance. You'll also want to use your headlights and your defroster to help yourself see and be seen. Finally, avoid driving through large puddles, which can affect your brakes or cause you to hydroplane.

• Expect to see farming equipment on the road. With spring comes the planting season, which means more farming vehicles will be on the move. During the months ahead, drivers should expect to encounter these large slow-moving vehicles, especially on rural roads. Be sure to slow down and give them plenty of room, and be especially careful when passing. Remember that wide farming vehicles make extremely wide turns, so don't assume that a vehicle is moving to the right to allow you to pass. The driver may be preparing to turn left.

• Watch for increased recreational traffic. Missouri is home to a beautiful landscape, several rivers and lakes, and numerous state parks, so it's no surprise that many Ozarkers will be out enjoying the outdoors as temperatures continue to warm. Anticipate increased traffic, including local motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Also, expect more cars and trucks on the road, especially over the weekends.

• Have your vehicle serviced. Many drivers "winterize" their vehicle to prepare for traveling in cold temperatures, but spring is also an excellent time of year to ensure your vehicle is in good working order. Replace your windshield wiper blades, check your headlights and your tire pressure, and chance your vehicle's cabin air filter (especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies).

• Make safe driving a priority. Taking a few basic safety precautions can help ensure that you and your passengers are protected in the event of a crash. Buckle up, put your cell phone away, and don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking. It's common-sense advice, but it might just save someone's life.

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After a crash: What car accident victims need to know

February 14, 2014

broken-car-480202-m.jpgNo one expects to be involved in a car accident, but thousands of crashes happen every single day nationwide. If the unexpected happens to you, the aftermath can be confusing, overwhelming and just plain scary - so it's best to be prepared, just in case. In this post, our Springfield car accident lawyers discuss ten important things to do following a collision.

Ten Things to Do After a Car Accident

1. Call 911. Reporting the accident to the authorities will create an official record of your accident and provide documentation of important facts and info. A police record can be extremely important evidence, should you need to file a personal injury claim to recover your losses and damages.

2. Seek medical treatment for any injuries. You should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you think you're not really hurt. Symptoms associated with certain common car accident injuries may not appear right away - in fact, they may take hours or even days to appear.

3. Get insurance information from the other drivers involved. Always exchange insurance information at the scene: doing so can help you protect your rights in the future.

4. Get contact information from all parties involved and from any witnesses. As time passes, memories fade and evidence can be more difficult to locate. When possible, it's best to obtain this information immediately following a crash.

5. Do not discuss fault. Don't talk with the other drivers involved about who or what might have contributed to the crash. There may be contributing factors that you're unaware of - driver impairment or distraction, for example - and making an impulsive statement right after an accident could hurt you down the road.

6. Report the accident to your insurance company. Be sure to report the accident to your insurer as soon as possible - doing so will help protect your rights and expedite the claim process.

7. Photograph your injuries, your vehicle and the scene of the accident. Here again, this evidence can be invaluable. Document everything.

8. Keep records of your medical care and other expenses. You'll want to track any expenses you have that are connected to the crash, including doctor's visits, medical equipment, rehabilitation, and prescriptions.

9. Save all documents pertaining to the crash. Keep a folder that includes your police report, all insurance documents, and any other paperwork you receive that's related to your accident.

10. Seek advice from an experienced attorney. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the sooner you'll have a clear sense of your options - and the sooner you'll have an advocate working on your behalf.

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10 facts to know about car accidents in Springfield, Missouri & nationwide

January 31, 2014

480202_broken_car.jpgCar accidents happen in a matter of seconds, but they can have devastating long-term consequences for victims and their loved ones. In this post, our Springfield personal injury lawyers discuss ten facts about motor vehicle crashes and common contributing factors.

Ten facts about car accidents for Missouri drivers:

1. The average American has a 30% chance of being involved in a serious motor vehicle crash at some point during their life.

2. Annually, more than 30,000 people are killed in U.S. car accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the total societal cost of these fatal accidents is more than $200 billion each year.

3. Distraction is a leading cause of serious traffic accidents. A study conducted by Monash University found that drivers who use hand-held electronic devices are about four times more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in injuries.

4. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), speeding was a contributing factor in 31% of 2011 auto accidents. Since 2002, speeding has played a role in about one-third of all traffic crash fatalities nationwide.

5. Nearly 30 people are killed every day in U.S. crashes involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol - that's one death every 48 minutes.

6. Pedestrians accounted for about 14% of 2011 auto accident fatalities. Approximately 69,000 pedestrians were injured in car crashes and 4,432 were killed.

7. Younger and older drivers have an increased risk of involvement in accidents. Teens between age 16 and 19 have a higher crash risk than any other age group - in fact, they're three times more likely to crash than drivers over age 20. And the IIHS reports that 'per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at age 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older."

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Preventing child injuries: Safety resources for Springfield, Missouri parents

January 16, 2014

file0001704977235.jpgKeeping children safe on the road is a top priority for parents and caregivers, but learning to use car seats properly can be confusing and overwhelming. In this post, our Springfield car accident lawyers provide some useful tips and resources for drivers with little ones on board.

Traveling safely with children: What Missouri parents need to know about car seats

• Rear-facing seats are significantly safer for small children. Infants should always ride in rear-facing seats, and safety experts recommend that parents keep their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. A child's spine is made of cartilage that doesn't harden until around age 4, and for this reason, car accidents involving children can result in serious neck and spinal injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), toddlers are more than five times safer in rear-facing car seats up to age two, so it's best to hold off on switching to a front-facing seat until it's absolutely necessary.

• Proper installation is essential. Every car seat is different and will thus have different installation instructions. Consult the manual that came with your car seat and your vehicle owner's manual when installing a car seat, and remember that all car seats should be installed "using either the lower anchors of the LATCH system or the seat belt to secure it in place." A car seat should always be installed in a vehicle's back seat, and it should be secured so that it doesn't move more than one inch from side to side or front to back when you pull at the belt path.

• Make sure your child is fitted correctly in the seat. Safety straps should be flat, not twisted, and positioned appropriately to secure your child. According to safercar.gov, the seat's chest clip should be positioned at the child's armpit level, and the harness should be tightened so that extra material can't be pinched at the shoulder.

Seek help if you're not sure you're using your child's car seat correctly. There are numerous resources available online for parents who want to learn more about car seat safety or ensure that their seats are properly installed. For example, the AAP offers a useful guide, "Car Seats: Information for Families," that provides an overview of the different types of car seats and general guidelines for their use. You can also click here to review Missouri's Child Restraint Law (RSMo 307.182). And finally, if you'd like to locate a Child Car Seat Inspection Station, there are several in the Springfield area: click here to use the National Highway Traffic Administration's Inspection Station Locator tool.

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Drunk drivers threaten Missouri roadway safety for all motorists - including their own passengers

November 5, 2013

blk-cuffs-and-key-175957-m.jpgAs our Missouri car accident lawyers know, drunk drivers jeopardize the safety of everyone on our state's road - innocent drivers and passengers who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly, that includes young children who, in all too many cases, are riding in the same vehicle as the impaired driver.

This week, a Sparta man pleaded guilty to five criminal charges in connection with a drunk driving accident that resulted in the death of his three year-old son. After striking a plea agreement with prosecutors, 34 year-old John Clark pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and four counts of second degree felony assault. The charges stem from a three-vehicle crash on Highway 14 in November 2012: law enforcement officials say Clark was eastbound near Cheyenne Road when he crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Ford Explorer. The Explorer was then struck by another vehicle.

Three year-old Kohen Clark was pronounced dead at the scene, while four other vehicle occupants suffered injuries in the collision. A blood test performed 33 minutes after the accident revealed that John Clark's blood alcohol content was 0.102%. Highway Patrol Trooper Shane Rowe investigated the scene and noted "a strong odor of an intoxicating beverage emitting from [Mr. Clark]" and that "Mr. Clark said he couldn't remember how the crash occurred." Currently, Clark is being held in the Christian County Jail until his sentencing hearing in January. He is also the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit, filed in October by Kohen Clark's mother, who was a passenger in John Clark's vehicle at the time of the accident, and who also suffered injuries.

Drunk driving accidents and child injuries: The tragic facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 211 children age 14 and under died in 2010 U.S. accidents caused by drunk drivers. In over half of those accidents, the children who suffered fatal injuries were riding in the same vehicle as the drunk driver.

• The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that "drinking drivers are much less likely to make sure a child is properly restrained. Specifically, in fatal crashes, sober drivers had restrained their children 30.5% of the time, compared with only 18% for drinking drivers."

• Nationwide, 43 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws that create more severe penalties for drunk drivers when they are caught driving under the influence with children in their vehicles. The laws are widely varied in both their definition of what constitutes a "child passenger," and what penalties are imposed on offenders. Unfortunately, Missouri is one of the seven states that do not have such a law in place.

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"Life on Track" event aims to discourage drunk, distracted driving among Missouri teens

October 14, 2013

cone-659634-m.jpgLaw enforcement officials, safety experts and researchers agree: young drivers have an extremely high risk of being involved in serious car accidents, both here in Missouri and throughout the U.S. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American adolescents, and most accidents involving teen drivers occur because of "critical errors." Two factors that commonly contribute to these accidents are driver impairment and driver distraction. In recent surveys conducted by safety and wellness organizations, 24% of teen passengers admitted they "recently [rode] with a teen driver who had been drinking," and about one-third of teen drivers "[self-reported] texting or emailing while driving (in the prior month)."

Recently, a Branson business hosted an event designed to help teens understand the serious dangers associated with driving while distracted or impaired. From September 30 through October 3, the Track Family Fun Parks held its fourth annual "Life on Track" workshop, where teen drivers were invited to participate in a DUI simulation and a distracted driving exercise while operating Go-Karts. This year, about 400 local teens participated in the event, including junior high and high school students from Branson, Hollister, Forsyth, Reeds Spring and Taneyville.

"An important aspect of our company mission is to give back to our community and take an active role in enriching the lives of families," said Craig Wescott, President and co-owner of the Track Family Fun Parks, in a news release. "With our facilities and resources, we have the unique opportunity to offer a safe environment where our community's youth can learn some very important lessons. Our goal is that every student participating in the Life on Track program will realize what a bad idea distracted and/or drunk driving is for themselves and those around them."

At the event, participants attempted to navigate a Go-Kart track while wearing thick goggles, which were designed to mimic the blurred vision that drunk drivers often experience. In addition, organizers created an obstacle course and asked students to attempt sending a text message while navigating through the course. Following the exercises, local law enforcement officials showed safety videos and addressed the teens about these all-too-common roadway risks. "They get here and they have the fun, riding the go-carts, cheering each other on, seeing the activities here. Then afterwards we get into the more serious eye opener," said Officer Darold Donathan of the Branson Police Department. "They're learning how to text and they're doing it every day. They're doing it all day long, possibly. And then they're getting their driver's license."

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DOT facing lawsuit from consumer advocates after backup camera rule delayed

September 30, 2013

backupcamera.jpgOur Springfield personal injury lawyers know that backover accidents involving young children are all too common, both here in Missouri and throughout the U.S. Federal data indicates that, on average, backover accidents cause 292 deaths and 18,000 injuries each year. One tool that could dramatically reduce the number of backover accidents is the installation of backup cameras in all new vehicles: experts say these devices would prevent 95 deaths and more than 7,000 injuries annually. Unfortunately, despite this research, too many vehicles still lack this potentially life-saving technology.

Recently, media outlets announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is being sued by a group of consumer advocates for delaying the passage of a federal rule requiring backup cameras in new vehicles to improve rear visibility. The rule, which was signed into law in 2008, included a deadline of three years for the DOT. Now, in 2013, the DOT says it will complete the standards outlined in the rule by 2015, citing the need for additional research. However, the consumer advocates behind the lawsuit say that's simply not good enough. "When Congress ordered this rule issued in three years, they meant three years, not seven," said Scott Michelman, attorney for the plaintiffs. "It's time for a court to step in and make the Transportation Department issue the rule. No administration is above the law."

Facts about backover accidents from KidsandCars.org:

• Every week, at least 50 children in the U.S. become the victims of backover accidents. Research indicates that 48 of these children are treated in emergency rooms for backover-related injuries, while two children suffer fatal injuries.

• One year-old children are the most likely to suffer injuries in a backover accident.

• More than 60% of backover accidents involve a large vehicle like a truck, van or sports utility vehicle, and in more than 70% of these accidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel of the striking vehicle.

Avoiding backover accidents: Safety tips for parents, family members and caregivers:

• Be aware of the size of your "blind zone" - i.e., the area behind your vehicle that you can't see while sitting in the driver's seat. According to KidsandCars.org, a driver who is five-feet-one-inch tall and operates a pickup truck can have a blind zone that is around eight feet wide and 50 feet long.

• Walk in a circle around your vehicle before reversing out of a driveway or parking spot. If there are children in the area, know exactly where they are before you move your vehicle.

• Talk with children about the dangers associated with playing around vehicles. Since young children often act impulsively, it's imperative they are taught that parked vehicles may move without warning and that drivers may not always be able to see them.

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Fatal accidents down, injury accidents on the rise in Springfield

September 17, 2013

car-accidents-by-vward-4-145315-m.jpgNationwide, hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur every year. In Missouri alone, there were nearly 143,000 crashes throughout the state in 2011. Of those accidents, 716 resulted in a fatality and more than 35,000 caused injuries to vehicle occupants. As Springfield car accident lawyers, we know that a life-changing collision can occur in a matter of seconds, leaving victims to deal with the emotional and physical trauma of recovery.

Recently, the City of Springfield Public Works Department issued its newest traffic crash report card, which reflects accidents that occurred in the Queen City between January 1 and June 30 of this year. According to the report, there were seven fatal crashes in Springfield within that time frame, compared to 13 fatal accidents during the same time frame in 2012. However, while the number of crash fatalities has decreased, the total number of accidents has increased, with 94 more collisions occurring this year, as has the number of injury accidents, with 18 more crashes resulting in injury.

What causes Missouri auto accidents?

The Missouri Highway Patrol identifies several driving behaviors that commonly contribute to crashes throughout the state. For example, excessive speed was a factor in 17.3% of all 2011 Missouri accidents and in 38.2% of fatal crashes. Additionally, alcohol use was cited as a "significant contributing factor in Missouri's serious traffic crash experience in 2011," with alcohol playing a role in 26.8% of 2011 fatal crashes.

What factors have contributed to the increase in Springfield car accidents in 2013?

Dew. When temperatures drop during the overnight hours, dew and moisture forms on vehicles that are parked outdoors. Drivers are encouraged to "take time to clean windows and ensure the vehicle has warmed up to ensure good visibility."

Glare. In late March, when the season begins to shift from winter to spring, the sun is positioned in an east - west alignment, which creates increased glare that limits visibility. Officials say glare often contributes to crashes around two hours after sunrise and around two hours prior to sunset, because the sun is so low on the horizon at those times of day. When the sun is in front of you, it can be extremely difficult to see other vehicles, objects and pedestrians that may be in your path, which often forces drivers to shield their eyes. Alternatively, when the sun is behind you, other vehicles' signals and taillights are less recognizable, so it can be tough to recognize a vehicle that is turning, slowing, or changing lanes.

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New state law allows MO drivers to show electronic proof of insurance

September 3, 2013

coponbike.jpgAt the end of August, dozens of new laws took effect throughout Missouri. As Springfield car accident lawyers, we noted that one such law, which received unanimous approval from state lawmakers, aims to provide an added convenience to Missouri drivers.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, this new law allows Missouri motorists to show electronic proof of insurance when they are pulled over by law enforcement officials, attempting to register their vehicles, and renewing their license plates.. In the past, state law required drivers to provide a paper copy of their insurance card, and police were not permitted to accept proof of insurance via a driver's smartphone or tablet. Paper insurance cards will remain an acceptable as well. Several insurance providers have developed and provided smart phone apps that utilize this technology, and other nearby states - including Illinois and Kansas - have recently adopted legislation that permits acceptance of this form of proof.

State officials hope this new law will make it easier for drivers to store and keep track of their insurance policy information, rather than keeping and storing paper insurance cards for easy access. "Consumers are becoming more dependent on storing their important information on their smart phones or tablets for easy access," Missouri Department of Insurance Director John Huff told the Dispatch. And so far, drivers and lawmakers alike agree that the legislation makes it much simpler to provide insurance information when it's required. "It's a good common sense solution for drivers," Governor Jay Nixon told KY3. "It's a lot easier to get out your iPhone or your Blackberry and show them your insurance registration than it is to try to find that piece of paper that's down in your glove box.

Missouri motor vehicle insurance: State law requirements

In Missouri, both drivers and vehicle owners must carry some form of motor vehicle liability insurance, which covers your liability when an accident happens as a result of your actions behind the wheel. Here are the minimum levels of coverage required by state law:

• Bodily injury: $25,000 per person
• Bodily injury: $50,000 per accident
• Property damage: $10,000 per accident
• Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 for bodily injury per person
• Uninsured motorist coverage: $50,000 for bodily injury per accident

When traveling in Missouri, out-of-state drivers must carry coverage in accordance with their state's laws.

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Join us for the Cherish Kids 5K/10K on August 24!

August 19, 2013

running1.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Cherish Kids 5K/10K, which will be held this Saturday, August 24, at James River Assembly's South Campus in Ozark (at Highway 65 and CC). We'll be there handing out cold water to event participants, and we hope you'll come and join us for what promises to be a fun event - and 100% of all proceeds will go to a great cause.

Cherish Kids 5K/10K: Event details

• 7:30 - 10:30 a.m.: Cherish Kids Family Fun! This year's event features a number of fun activities for the whole family, including bounce houses, games, face painting, great giveaways, a silent auction and a hot air balloon launch. Special guests Sara and Ethan Forhetz will also be in attendance.

• 7:30 a.m.: Start time for the 5k/10K! Participants will receive a race T-shirt and bag and free snacks - and they'll also be eligible for over $3000 in prizes. Water stations will also be positioned along this year's flatter, faster course.

• 8:30 a.m.: Start time for the "Kids K" portion of the event! The Kids K is a 0.6 mile race for participants age 12 and under (and all participants 12 and younger will receive a medal, whether they run the 5K/10K or the Kids K).

• 9:00 a.m.: Award Ceremony! The ceremony will feature OMRR Triple Crown Event Awards; Overall 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Awards (for men and women); Masters 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Awards (for men and women); 1st Place Awards in each five-year age group (including 10 and under and 75 and older); and Overall Kids K Boy and Girl Trophies.

About Cherish Kids

• Founded in 2009 by Debbie Lindell, Cherish Kids works tirelessly to find homes for the nearly 2,000 orphans throughout the state of Missouri. Their mission is three-fold: to raise awareness about the needs of children in crisis, both locally and worldwide; to offer resources to people who want to help these children; and to provide support by helping meet these children's various needs and offering financial, emotional and spiritual support to families who wish to foster or adopt.

• The organization's efforts include supplying gift cards to children to purchase clothing when they are suddenly placed in foster care; providing summer camp scholarships to foster children; and hosting special events to encourage and support foster children.

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Fatigue and inexperience a dangerous combination for Missouri teen drivers

blurryroad.jpgAs Springfield personal injury lawyers, we know that teen drivers are at an increased risk for car accidents. Teens are especially likely to cause crashes because they're inexperienced and therefore prone to misjudging roadway situations and responding to them poorly. When this inexperience is combined with other risk factors, a teen's crash risk skyrockets.

Recently, a Pennsylvania teenager was trapped in her SUV for nearly 18 hours after the vehicle crossed a roadway center line, struck a utility pole, flew around 20 feet and overturned onto its roof in a culvert. According to the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, 18 year-old Brooke Spence was pinned in the vehicle from Saturday night until Sunday evening. Her SUV, camouflaged by underbrush in the culvert, went unnoticed until a neighbor, preparing to barbeque on his deck, noticed something glinting in the underbrush near his property. He went to investigate. "I was looking down in the driver's side window, and I saw something move," said Brad Shearer. "She was lying on her back and [moved her head]. Then I could see her face. I went, 'Oh my God, she's alive. There's someone in there.'"

Shearer called 911 - Spence had lost her phone in the crash and had been unable to call for help. She is reportedly in fair condition at a nearby hospital, although police declined to comment on the exact nature of her injuries. Authorities do not believe any of the usual factors - speeding, drinking and texting - played a role in the crash; rather, they suspect Spence may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Police Corporal Douglas Ober told the Intelligencer Journal that Spence had a "very busy day" leading up to the accident. "It is still my belief that inattentive driving was a contributing factor in this crash," Cpl. Ober said. "My investigation has found absolutely no indications that she was involved in any illegal acts prior to the crash and do not suspect texting was a factor as well."

Teen drivers and fatigue: Facts and statistics

• Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens. Over half of serious crashes involving teen drivers can be linked to three critical driving errors: (1) lack of scanning to detect/react to roadway situations; (2) traveling too fast for road conditions (particularly when navigating curves and turns); and (3) inattentiveness.

• Fatigue affects driving performance in a way that's similar to alcohol use: it impairs a driver's reaction time, attention span and motor skills. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation reports that being awake for an 18 hour time period is like having a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, which is legally intoxicated. Since teenagers also lack driving experience, a fatigued teen has an extremely high risk of causing a crash.

• According to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the majority of car accidents linked to fatigue are caused by young drivers under age 25. Teen drivers who get less than eight hours of sleep per night are one-third more likely to cause an accident than those who get a full night's rest.

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Hit and run accidents create serious consequences for at-fault drivers, injury victims

494062_that_hurt.jpgA hit and run accident occurs when one vehicle strikes another vehicle, causing property damage and/or personal injury, and the at-fault driver leaves the scene of the crash. As Springfield personal injury lawyers, we know that hit and run can have many serious consequences. Under Missouri law, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a class D felony if the accident resulted in one of the following: 1() physical injury to another party; (2) property damage in excess of $1,000; or (3) the driver has previously pled guilty or been found guilty of this offense. In addition to legal consequences, hit and run drivers may also be subject to personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits filed on behalf of their victims.

Unfortunately, the average number of hit and runs in Missouri has increased dramatically in recent months. According to KY3 News, 132 hit and run accidents were reported in Springfield during the month of May, and over the past 6 months, the number of reported hit and runs has averaged 120 per month. It is worth noting that these statistics only reflect hit and run accidents that were reported to authorities. Local police believe the actual number of crashes is much higher, and that the cause of many hit and run accidents is connected to drivers who are either under the influence or uninsured. Currently, an estimated 20 to 22% of Springfield drivers are getting behind the wheel without insurance.

Under state law, any motorist that is involved in an auto accident is required to pull over and provide the other motorist with their correct name, address, driver's license number, and motor vehicle number. Failing to provide the appropriate information can result in serious legal consequences. Further, drivers who are uninsured or under the influence create more severe consequences for themselves when they leave the scene of a crash.

When a collision occurs, the drivers involved should pull over immediately and contact emergency help for anyone injured. They should also contact local police to file a formal report. In some cases, a police officer may not be able to come to the scene of the accident. Under these circumstances, the involved parties should exchange the appropriate information and go to the nearest police station to report the crash. This step is especially important for accident victims: a formal police report can be an important piece of evidence in a personal injury claim connected to a hit and run crash. Victims should also contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

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