14
Apr

Lyft Is Coming to Salt Lake City

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I've previously written about the various ride-sharing services, including Lyft, Sidecar, Uber, and car2go.  Until now, I have not been aware of any of these services being available in Salt Lake City.  That's about to change with the launch of Lyft in Salt Lake City - apparently happening sometime this month.  Even a Salt Lake Craigslist ad was posted last week looking for Lyft drivers.   

Of these various peer-to-peer transportation solutions, Lyft seems to be the most upfront and transparent about the insurance and liability ramifications of being a Lyft driver or passenger.

In fact, if you're considering being a Lyft driver in Salt Lake City you can take some comfort in the fact that Lyft says they will provide you with the following coverages (from Lyft's website):

1.  Uninsured Motorist (Added to $1M Excess Liability policy - covering drivers if they are hit by an uninsured motorist that is at fault)

2.  Underinsured motorist (Added to $1M Excess Liability policy - covering drivers if they are hit by an underinsured motorist that is at fault)

3.  Collision (Contingent automobile physical damage policy - $2,500 deductible and $50,000 maximum applicable to drivers who have purchased collision coverage on their personal policy)

4.  Match mode coverage (Contingent commercial liability policy - $50,000 for individual injury, $100,000 for total injury and $25,000 for property damage)

Please note that it appears the above coverages are for drivers - not passengers. Second, this is excess coverage.  The driver's personal policy is still applicable, and first in line to pay.  If you're a Lyft driver, don't assume your personal insurance company is OK with you operating a taxi service (at least that's how I think your insurance company will characterize it).  It's really great that Lyft sees fit to provide its drivers with this coverage.    

Anyway, I'm excited for Lyft to come to Salt Lake and to have our town embrace this new transportation solution.  I'd also love to hear your feedback about Lyft.  If you have questions about insurance coverage in the event of an accident with a Lyft vehicle, feel free to give me a call.     

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09
Apr

Roosevelt Teen Dies in Car Crash

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Various news outlets are reporting that a Roosevelt, Utah teen has died as the result of a single car rollover.  The crash victim was 17 years old.  It's reported that the driver was speeding and lost control of his car and went off the road.  The driver was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car.  

 This is a tragic accident and loss of life and my heart goes out to this young person's family and friends.    

For the rest of us, it's another reminder that life is precious and that we need to be careful when we get behind the wheel.  Above all, wear a seat belt.  According to the National Safety Council, seatbelt usage averages 88% nationally.  That's an encouraging statistic and apparently seat belt usage is on the rise.  However, they also find that the following groups are less likely to wear a seat belt:

Teens

Commercial Drivers

Males in rural areas

Pick-up trick drivers

People driving at night

People who have been drinking

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent.  Over the past several years NHTSA has done effective awareness campaigns regarding seat belt usage, notably, Click it or Ticket.  This campaign and others have help to increase seat belt usage.  

Click it or Ticket

Let's make sure we're all vigilant about wearing our own seat belt and reminding others to do the same.  

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31
Mar

Beginning in 2018: Rear-View Cameras Required

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, beginning in 2018 all new vehicles will be required to have "rear visibility technology" - or, a rear view camera.  This is a "no-brainer."  In fact, I'm surprised that it has taken this long to get such a rule.  In the words of NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman, "[r]ear visibility requirements will save lives, and will save many families from the heartache suffered after these tragic incidents occur."  Amen.  

Today's NHTSA press release further states, "[o]n average, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by backover crashes.  NHTSA has found that children under 5 years old account for 31 percent of backover fatalities each year, and adults 70 years of age and older account for 26 percent."  

These are some of the most tragic auto pedestrian accidents that we see.  In Utah, it seems that one or two of these types of backover car accidents happen every year.  I hope that with this rule and increased awareness we'll see less of these backover accidents in Utah and nationwide.  

This rule is a great victory for consumer rights and public safety.  The rule was lobbied for by various advocacy groups including, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway Safety, Consumers Union, and KidsAndCars.org.  Thanks to these groups and others that pushed for this rule.     

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25
Mar

Wear a Proper Helmet

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This may be obvious to some, but it's important that your helmet meets proper safety criteria.  Whether you wear a helmet for for riding motorcycles, bikes, skateboarding, or skiing, it's critical that you use a helmet that will perform properly in the event of a crash. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation has set forth standards for motorcycle helmets through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  This sets for the parameters for a DOT certified helmet.  I came across the YouTube video from the California Highway Patrol that urges motorcyclists to use a DOT certified helmet:

 In addition to a DOT certification, look for a Snell safety standard on your helmet.  Make sure your helmet is certified by DOT and/or Snell.  

Here's some interesting information from Wikipedia about motorcycle helmet usage:

"Motorcyclists are at a high risk in traffic crashes.  A 2008 systematic review examined studies on motorcycle riders who had crashed and looked at helmet use as an intervention.  The review concluded that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by around 69% and death by around 42%."

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25
Mar

Car Seat Safety

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You've probably seen the billboards with the line-up of car seats and boosters, like the one pictured above, asking if your child is in the right one.  As a father of four small children, I have seen the billboards but didn't go to the website until recently.  

Although most parents are aware their baby cannot be put in a forward facing carseat until thiey are one year old and at least 20 pounds, the area seems to get a little fuzzy when it comes to switching from a car seat to a booster seat.  The law itself is slightly ambiguous as it says a child may move into a booster at "about 4 years old and 40 lbs."  That "about" leaves some room for interpretation.  To add to the confusion, I noticed recently on our Graco booster that it says a child "must be approximately 3 to 10 years of age and weigh between 30 to 100 lbs."  My worry is that parents will read this and assume that their three year old is ready for a booster because she weighs 30 pounds.  

As a Utah personal injury attorney, some of the most heart-breaking cases I have handled involve injuries to children who were in the wrong car seat or booster.  I imagine that when a parent moves their child up to a booster before they are ready, it is for convenience's sake, but I would hope that parents would take a more cautious approach.  Accidents happen everyday and seatbelts and car seats save lives if used properly.  When it comes down to it, small children are safer in a five-point harness until they are big enough and responsible enough to be in a booster.  

The same goes for older children.  They should be in a booster until they are at least age 8 or 5'7" and are responsible enough to keep their seatbelt on their shoulder.   

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