Tuesday, February 18, 2014



Teaching your kids to drive safely may be one of the most important lessons you ever pass onto them. I do nothing but injury law, so I see injuries from car and truck accidents literally every single day. Driving is the most dangerous thing we do, much more so than flying, or even tornadoes and earthquakes. In fact, traffic accidents kill more than all natural disasters combined. So, sign your kids up for driving classes if you can. In any event, here are some critical things you, as the parent, can stress with your kids:

HANG UP AND DRIVE! It is reported that speaking on a cell phone while driving reduces focus on the road and the act of driving by 37%, regardless of whether it is hands-free or hand-held cell phone operation.

NO TEXTING! Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, while blind.

SLOW DOWN! Tell them any risky moves seen by anyone, and the car may be sold. You are the parent, not the friend.

BRAKING TAKES TIME! Go to a safe place and let them feel how long it really takes to go from highway speed to a stop. It might surprise them.

NOT EVEN A SIP! For drivers 21 - 44 alcohol plays a role in almost 50% of all fatalities! Tell them, not only are you likely to kill a friend drinking and driving, but you also get a felony conviction, never get to own guns or vote, you have to go to jail and your family likely loses their house.  All that for a beer or a buzz, is just crazy!

WEAR SAFETY BELTS! Almost 70% of people who die in vehicles are not properly wearing safety restraints.  You need to set the example. They won’t drive without their music, and they should not drive without their belts.

DON’T OVERCORRECT! This is critical. Let them put two wheels on a level stretch of the gravel shoulder and just hold. The sudden sound of gravel will often cause them to jerk left violently and lose control. Steady controlled movement will put them safely back on the asphalt. Do it until they do not panic anymore. By the way, it is sadly better to hit an animal than to wreck, so cover that, too.

LOOK TWICE! It is not enough to “look both ways.” They must do that, but twice! Motorcycles are much harder to see, and even cars can seem to hide. Many people who hit and injure my clients say they “never saw” our car.  They did not see it, because they did not look twice.  


CALL YOUR PARENTS: Anytime, anywhere –rather than ride with a risky or drunk driver.  You will be picked up without punishment…but alive.



There are some things that the justice system might do well, but we call agree it does not do everything well.  Such is the case one Kayla Michelle Finley.  

She was arrested recently, and spent the night in jail in South Carolina. 

Her crime? Robbery? Murder?  Not even close.

She just forgot to return a movie.  It gets better. 

The video rental place is no longer in business. Really. It gets better.

It was not even a DVD.  It was a VHS tape. (Kids, your parents can explain these. That is why we still say, “tape it” when we digitally record a show.)

It was rented in 2005. That was nine (9) years ago! It gets better.

It was "Monster-In-Law," with Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda, and was a forgettable movie according to critics.

While certified letters had apparently been sent to her old addresses, she claimed to know nothing about them, as she had moved away.

While law enforcement has to respond and carry out valid warrants, the law is just not a great solution to such a trivial issue.  What is next? Do you have old library books that are overdue? 

And, if they find the tape and she forgot to rewind the tape, who knows what she may face.  South Carolina may give her the chair!

Seriously, the law does not have a button to push to fix everything.

Thursday, February 6, 2014



We all know it is best simply not to drive at all during the deadly combination of precipitation and freezing cold temperatures.  But sometimes, there is little choice.  Medical emergencies still occur. Babies still need to be born. Schools sometimes dismiss in the middle of the day. Or, perish the thought, you might be out of that winter-time-necessity: milk and bread.

Here are a few tips that might make your next winter excursion a bit better, and maybe even safer:

Try to park under a garage or carport in winter.  This allows your windshield, side and rear glass to all to be ice-free, allowing you to see well.  If you do not have a covered area, you can try this: Turn off your car with your wipers pointed up.  Then tuck a large trash bag or pizza boxes underneath your wipers.  When you need to leave, the glass underneath should be clear. This allows you to see well without as much scraping.

Speaking of scraping, a can of spray-on de-icer is often handy.  Anything with alcohol with melt ice.  Warm up your car with the defrost set on high. Do not forget the rear defrost, if so equipped. If you must scrape, wear gloves. In an emergency, a credit card will clear the glass. Clear your headlights of snow, too.

If you must drive in the snow, there is usually one lane that is clearer.  Stay in it. Many winter accidents occur with a lane change.  Leave twice the distance you think you need to stop.  Do not follow closely.  There is no reason to do so.  And keep your speed down. Slippery ice and snow is not the surface you wish to lose control on.

Also, consider pre-packing a winter automotive emergency bag might contain: A first-aid kit, duct tape, jumper cables, de-icer, an ice scraper, gloves, blankets, a spare coat, hat, kitty litter (for traction if stuck), flashlight and batteries, pen and paper, knife, spare charger for your cell phone, a way to make a fire or flares, bottled water and snacks.  If you are more adventurous, extra gas, a shovel and a chainsaw are very handy.

If you wreck or get stuck, you have to make the decision whether to stay with your car or to walk. If you are on a well-traveled road, just stay in the car and use the heater occasionally. If you are backed up with your tailpipe in the snow, you must dig it out or you risk death by carbon monoxide poisoning! If you do choose to walk, leave a note with your phone number, plans, time you left and direction of travel.

Be careful out there.

Monday, February 3, 2014



This year, 2014, is a particularly odd mix of anniversaries that might cause you to think fifty years is not all that long, after all. 1964 was 50 years ago and several events of that year still affect us today.

In that year, the first Ford Mustang drove into American car lore from that Dearborn, Michigan plant. Currently, only about 65% of the parts even come from North America.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced his “war on Poverty.” At that time, the poverty rate was 15%. In November 2012, more than 16% of the population now live in poverty in the United States, including almost 20% of American children.

“Beatlemania” washed up on our shores in 1964, and two surviving Beatles recently were guests at the Grammys.

Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in South Africa in 1964 and served time until his release in 1990. His recent funeral looked like a royal tribute.

Remember the friendly witch with the wiggling nose on Bewitched? It premiered on prime time in 1964 and ran until 1972.  Today’s “sitcoms” are far from those in ’64.

The furthest reaching developments of that year would have to be the “The Civil Rights Act of 1964.” This essentially desegregated schools and workplaces. To this day, it is probably responsible for more social change than just about any Act passed since suffrage (women’s right to vote) in 1920.  In 1964, Barack Obama could not have even legally eaten at many lunch counters in the South, but, today he is President. Maybe we will, one day, get to the point where we each can disagree with someone of a different ethnicity than us, without being called a “racist.”

Finally, the resolution called the “The Gulf of Tonkin” was passed in 1964. That led us into the full-fledged Vietnam Conflict involving the United States armed forces. In 1963, only 122 U.S. servicemen died in Vietnam. But in just 1968, 16,899 died! The statistics are still staggering: 58,286 KIA or non-combat deaths (including the missing & deaths in captivity); 153,303 wounded; 1,643 MIA (originally 2,646);725-837 POW (660-721 freed/escaped; 65-116 died in captivity). Thank you Veterans.
Fifty years hence, in 2064, history might well be writing about what we did today in 2014.