Tag Archives: Safety

What to Consider When Buying a Family Car

familycarFor many, buying a car can be a stressful experience. There are so many different options on the market, and families typically look for specific features. A family car needs to be able to accommodate everyone, as well as uphold safety expectations. Each family is different, but the following list is a great tool for you to use to identify what you are looking for in a family car to make your car search less stressful:

• Safety – This is the first and most important consideration. Before buying a car, do research by looking at crash-test ratings, airbag numbers and locations, seat belts, and other safety features. Check out http://www.safercar.gov/ for this type of information.

• Seating – It is important to consider how much seating space you already use, as well as how much you might need in the future. Perhaps your family will grow, or you will be helping out aging parents or grandparents. You may want to consider having extra space for kids’ friends, especially for carpooling or school sporting events.

• Accessibility – Assess how easy it is to get in and out of the car based on who will be riding in it regularly. Older adults may need a low step-in height and something to grab to get into the car. For smaller children, there will need to be enough room for a car seat, with space to spare to get the child in and out safely. For older children, you may want to see if they will be able to buckle their own seat belts and get into the car without bumping their head.

• Storage – The cargo area/trunk of the car should fit your specific needs. It may need to fit a stroller or luggage. You may want to make sure there will be enough room for family equipment, such as sporting goods, bikes, or skis. Cup holders and trays can also be an important storage aspect if children will be riding in the car.

• Simplicity –The car should make life easier, so a family may want a car that has simple controls, buttons, or touch-screens. Hands-free communication is also a feature that families look for to help eliminate distractions.

• Personal Preferences – There may be extras that you or your family would find helpful and worth paying for. For example, if you live in a colder climate, you may want remote start and heated seating. If you take long drives, you may want in-car entertainment and outlets or ports to charge devices.

Get a Car Check-Up for Safety

Most of us go to the doctor to get a regular check-up, but is your car, which you use so often, getting a regular check-up? Many people don’t get their car looked at until something has gone wrong, but it is important to do preventative maintenance and make sure everything is in working order. Use the following list to ensure that your car is being maintained properly:

Fluids – Important car fluids include oil, gas, power steering fluid, automatic transmission fluid, coolant, and brake fluid. Each fluid plays a key role in the function of your vehicle. With certain fluids, you may notice when it’s time to add more. For example, if you feel surges of resistance as you turn your wheel, you should check the power steering fluid. With other fluids, you can look at the reservoir or use a dipstick to check levels. Most fluids can be topped off as needed, but it is recommended to get the automatic transmission fluid and brake fluid changed about every 2 years. Always make sure you are using the correct fluid type and never ignore leaking fluids!

Brakes – Your brakes are probably one of the most important things to check regularly. Brake failure can be devastating. Check the brake fluid and brake-pads, and replace the pads based on how safe the thickness is.

Filters – The filters in your car are constantly working to ensure that other areas of your car work properly. The fuel filter prevents impurities from clogging injectors, and the average replacement time is about every 2 years. The air filter keeps the airflow to your engine free of contaminants and can be replaced about once a year or as needed.

Electrical – The electrical components in your car, such as the battery and spark plugs, are what help fire up your car and keep it running. A mechanic can help you determine when your car battery needs to be replaced. If you suddenly notice that your car mileage is suffering, your engine is running poorly, or you fail an emissions test, it might be time to replace the spark plugs. The average spark plug replacement time varies between 30,000-100,000 miles.

Tires – Eventually every car needs fresh tires. Safety can be compromised when your tire tread wears down. The best way to confirm that tires need replacing is to use a tread depth gauge. It’s also important to occasionally get your tires rotated and the alignment checked.

Belts – Engine Belts keep your alternator and water pump active and can be replaced about every 3 years. Timing belts keep car valves from knocking into the pistons and are replaced on average every 60,000-90,000 miles.

Physical Inspection – Parts on your car that you physically see, such as the windshield wipers and lights, should be changed or fixed as needed. If you notice your wipers leaving streaks or impairing your visibility, it may be time to replace them. Various lights on your car, such as the blinkers, brakes, headlights, and interior, play an important role in your safety. Generally, lights will get dimmer over time and should be replaced every 2-3 years. Occasionally check the air pressure in your tires, and always listen for any strange sounds, which may indicate that something needs maintenance.

Ignoring any of these important components can lead to expensive repair bills and compromised safety, so it is important to go through this list regularly. Since car maintenance varies by make and model, always confirm with your owner’s manual or a mechanic before changing or replacing anything.

When and How to Ask a Senior to Stop Driving

elderly-driver_2164765bIf you have ever been in the position of asking an elderly loved one to stop driving, you know how emotionally tolling it can be for everyone involved. Many seniors tend to be stubborn and reluctant to give up driving. They may continue to drive when it is no longer safe, and put themselves and others at risk, simply because they want to remain mobile and independent.

As people age, their physical, cognitive, and visual abilities decline, and medications associated with aging can impair driving ability. Even in the most ideal driving conditions, older drivers are more susceptible to injury and medical complications due to vision impairment, slow reaction time, and lost focus. According to the CDC, per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting between ages 70-75 and are highest among drivers 85 and older. On average, about 500 elderly adults are injured in car crashes daily. The sad, but honest, reality is that the risk of being injured or killed in a car crash increases as you age.

Only 19 states make senior drivers renew their licenses more often than younger drivers. Illinois and New Mexico are the only states that require annual renewal, and Illinois is the only state that orders drivers to retake road tests as they age. Many states avoid implementing laws regarding senior drivers, so family members often find themselves responsible to take action.

Dealing with a loved one who you do not believe should be driving can be challenging. Asking them to give up their perceived independence and freedom may cause them to get upset, refuse to listen to you, ignore you, or even lie to you. If you have an older family member or friend who refuses to stop driving, consider using these strategies:

•Take a ride with them. Note what issues they have while driving. Do they follow traffic signals and road signs? Can they follow directions? Do they drive at an appropriate speed? Do they park properly? If you notice a problem, address it right away.

• If problems stem from driving at night, driving on highways, or driving during certain weather conditions, suggest that your loved one limits any driving to daytime hours, driving on side streets, or driving when it is clear weather outside.

• Be discreet and considerate of your loved one’s feelings. Do not discuss the issue at an event or during a stressful time. Talk to them in a comfortable setting, and let them know that you are confronting them because you care. Emphasize safety!

• Talk with family members or friends who will back you up. Older drivers may be more likely to listen with an open mind to those outside of the family, so ask a friend for help. Hearing the same thing from more than one person may give them the reality check they need, however try not to bombard or overwhelm them with concerns.

• Ask your loved one to speak to a doctor about his or her ability to drive. If your loved one hears a professional opinion, they may feel more inclined to listen and respect the advice they are given.

• Research transportation options in the area. Public transportation may not be the friendliest option for seniors, but your area may have some sort of shuttle service that your loved one can benefit from.

• Offer to drive. Even if it is inconvenient to you at times, offering to give your loved one a ride whenever they need it can express to them that you care and are willing to help. Schedule weekly trips to the grocery store, bank, post office, or coffee shop, so they know that you will be there for them when they need you. This time can allow you to bond and re-gain trust if some of it was lost while asking them to give up driving.

• Talk to the DMV, and file a report. This may lead to a driving evaluation and intervention from transportation officials.

• If worse comes to worse and the person you are concerned about is not able to understand the danger that they pose to themselves and others, you can take extreme measures. You can disable the vehicle, hide their keys, or try to obtain legal guardianship over them. However, these measures may cause much more turmoil in your relationship with them, so be prepared to handle many emotions.

To see the laws in your state and more information about elderly driving safety, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com. Many people wait until a crash or incident happens to take action, but that can be too late, so if you are seriously concerned, act as soon as possible.

If you were injured in a car accident caused by an elderly driver, reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney. Call Davis & Gelshenen LLP at 1-866-427-2121 for a free initial consultation with one of our Experienced, Trusted, and Recommended Personal Injury Attorneys. Davis & Gelshenen LLP handles cases throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio, and will meet with you at your home to discuss your case.

Keeping Trick-or-Treaters Safe

Stock PhotoIt’s that time of the year! The temperatures are getting cooler, leaves are falling, and Halloween is approaching! Dressing up, going door to door, and eating yummy treats is fun for children of all ages, but can also be dangerous. Due to the excitement of trick-or-treating, children tend to be less careful and can move in unpredictable ways. On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween, compared to any other day of the year. Whether you are going trick-or-treating with young children, or you have older children who are going on their own, we want to provide you with some tips to keep the festivities safe for your trick-or-treaters.

Costume Safety

  • Costumes should be comfortable and weather appropriate. Halloween temperatures can get chilly, so make sure your child wears layers.
  • Masks, clothes, and shoes should fit well to avoid blocked vision, trips, or falls.
  • Costume accessories such as swords, canes, or knives should be short, dull, and flexible.
  • Light or bright colored costumes stand out to drivers. Add reflective tape to children’s costumes to ensure that drivers will see them.
  • Costumes should be flame resistant.
  • Test costume make-up on a small area before fully applying. Costume make-up should be removed after trick-or-treating to avoid skin irritation.
  • Avoid decorative contact lenses. They pose a risk for eye injury and infection.

Neighborhood Safety

  • Tell children to avoid going near any lit candles or jack o’ lanterns.
  • Give children flashlights to help them see and make them more visible to drivers.
  • Do not allow children to go trick-or-treating alone. Make sure they walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  • Children should only visit well-lit houses.
  • Help plan a safe route of areas you know well, and agree on a specific time for children to be home.
  • Make sure children know that they should walk (never run) from house to house, always look both ways before crossing the street, and use crosswalks and sidewalks wherever possible.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers and wait for them to wave before crossing in front of any cars.
  • Children should never enter a stranger’s house or accept rides from strangers.
  • Make sure your children have a way of contacting you if they need to. Either give the adult they are with your phone number or lend your child a cell phone for the night.

Treat Safety

  • Children should not snack while they are out trick-or-treating. Ask children to wait until they get home, so that you can inspect the contents of their goody bag before they dig in.
  • To prevent children from snacking, give them a meal or snack beforehand.
  • Only allow children to eat factory-wrapped treats. Avoid homemade treats from strangers.
  • Examine all treats for choking hazards before giving them to children. Parents of young children should remove items such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, and small toys.
  • Examine all treats for signs of tampering such as any discoloration, unusual appearances, tiny holes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  • Limit the amount of treats children eat. Incorporate healthy food to balance out their diet if they eat large quantities of sugar.

Davis & Gelshenen LLP would like to wish you a happy and healthy Halloween!

Don’t Be a Victim of Crime

womanvictimofcrime

It seems like every time we turn on the news, we hear about more people being mugged or assaulted. Crime can happen in large cities, as well as small towns. Every environment is different, but no matter where you are, there is no absolute guarantee of personal safety. However, if you know how to safeguard yourself from becoming a victim of crime, you’ll be able to reduce or eliminate opportunities that may make you a target. Here are some general safety precautions you should practice:

  • Use the buddy system whenever possible. Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Use well-lit, commonly traveled routes. Avoid dark, isolated areas and shortcuts.
  • Walk with confidence and purpose. Use your body language to show that you are aware and in control.
  • Vary your routes and schedules for walking to be less predictable.
  • Keep your cell phone readily available with pre-programmed police emergency numbers.
  • Trust your instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, find a safe place as quickly and discreetly as possible.
  • If you feel like you are being followed, cross the street to create distance, and go to a populated area, such as a store or restaurant.
  • If you are a student, know where all of the emergency telephones are located on campus.
  • If you are somewhere out of the ordinary, let someone know where you are and arrange for them to meet you or pick you up.
  • When parking, park in a well-lit area. Avoid parking in secluded areas of parking lots, parking garages, or streets.
  • Minimize the amount of money, credit cards, and valuables that you carry with you. If somebody attempts to rob you, give them your stuff. It’s better to lose materials than to lose your life.
  • If you are out shopping, conceal or condense large bundles, bags, or packages since carrying many items can make you a potential target of theft.

These are simple things you can do every day to lessen your chances of becoming a victim of crime. Overall, remember to be careful, vigilant, and use common sense. After all, it truly is better to be safe than sorry!