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Take care when driving around snowplows this winter

We love seeing snowplows when they're clearing the streets in and around our neighborhood so that we can get out after a massive snowstorm. However, we grumble when we're stuck behind one on the highway or another road.

No matter how inconvenient the presence of snowplows can be, it's essential to drive cautiously around them. Let's look at some important tips to help keep you and others safe on the roads this winter when you encounter a snowplow.

Whiplash can be more serious than a pain in the neck

In car crashes, a common injury is whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head is moved quickly from side to side or from forward to back. The quick whipping motion causes muscles, tendons and ligaments to strain and tear. It can also cause damage to the disks between the bones and the bones of the spinal column.

Whiplash is essentially a neck injury, but it can have a impact in several regions of the body. Some symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness
  • A stiff range of motion in the neck or shoulders
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms
  • Pain with movement
  • Tenderness in the shoulders, arms or upper back

Tips for staying safe on the road this Halloween

If you're still recovering from injuries you suffered in a car crash, you likely are still experiencing some anxiety when you drive. Driving after dark, in unfamiliar areas or in traffic may be particularly difficult -- depending on what the circumstances of your accident were.

One day of the year that can be more dangerous than most for both drivers and pedestrians is Halloween. Most serious collisions involving trick-or-treaters occur between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. Children -- particularly younger ones -- often start trick-or-treating about the time that many people are driving home from work.

What you should know about air bags

Air bags have been among the most valuable vehicle safety features ever introduced. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), frontal air bags alone saved over 50,000 lives between 1987 and 2017.

However, the effectiveness of air bags depends in part on drivers and passengers. They do not replace the necessity for wearing seat belts -- both the shoulder and lap belt. They're known as a supplemental restraint system (SRS) because they supplement seat belts. Further, children need to be properly secured in child safety seats based on their age and height.

Tips for staying safe on your snowmobile

You've ridden as a passenger on a friend's snowmobile once or twice, but this is going to be the winter you rent or buy your own. It's fun and exciting, but it can also be dangerous if you aren't careful -- or if others on the trail aren't. This past January, five snowmobilers were killed in one day throughout four counties here in Michigan.

Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) patrol the trails. Snowmobilers can be issued citations and be arrested if they're suspected of being under the influence. One DNR supervisor says, "Many fatalities occur because of drinking and driving, high speed or carelessness, all of which are preventable actions."

Can you spot an impaired driver?

If you've been involved in a crash with a driver who was drunk or impaired by drugs, it may seem like that person came out of nowhere. Perhaps they ran a red light or merged into your lane without warning. They may have been speeding and crashed into you before you could get out of the way.

Once you're back on the road again after your crash, you're likely going to be on the lookout for impaired drivers. You can't always spot them in time to avoid a crash. However, if you observe the behaviors of the drivers around you, you can spot the signs of an impaired driver before they can endanger you. These include drivers who are doing the following:

  • Drifting between lanes or straddling the center lane
  • Quickly decelerating or accelerating
  • Failing to signal or signaling and then not taking any action
  • Driving over 10 mph under the speed limit for no apparent reason
  • Making abrupt or illegal turns
  • Not responding properly to traffic signals or signs (including not moving when the light turns green)
  • Nearly hitting something or someone
  • Driving aggressively

Common causes of accidents caused by commercial truckers

When you find yourself on the road in close proximity to commercial trucks, it's critical to understand the risks along with the steps you can take to protect yourself.

While an accident can occur for hundreds of reasons, here are some of the most common causes:

  • Lack of training: When a trucker doesn't receive the appropriate training regarding safety concerns, driving technique and defensive driving, they're more likely to cause an accident. This falls back on both the driver and their employer.
  • Unrealistic schedules: With an unrealistic schedule in place, a trucker may drive too fast while also skipping breaks that are critical to refreshing their mind and body.
  • Reckless driving: Truckers don't always follow the rules of the road. Sometimes they drive faster than the speed limit, change lanes without signaling or become aggressive toward other drivers. All of these things, among others, fit into the category of reckless driving.
  • Distracted driving: There are many forms of distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking and reading a map. Anything that takes a trucker's attention away from the road increases the likelihood of an accident.
  • Drowsy driving: If fatigued, it's essential for a trucker to pull over and take a break. However, they don't always do so because they're in a hurry to reach their destination.
  • Driving while intoxicated: Alcohol, prescription drugs and illegal drugs can all impair a trucker's ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Some simple safety tips can help you avoid a crash

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), human error is responsible for 93% of all car crashes. We can't prevent other drivers from making dangerous mistakes. However, by avoiding them ourselves, we can be better prepared for the unexpected -- like unsafe drivers.

The insurance company Esurance offers some simple tips that drivers can follow to help avoid being involved in a crash. These include the following:

Michigan eliminates required no-fault insurance

Drivers in Michigan have enjoyed several protections against personal injury and damage in the event of a car accident. However, those protections have been considered too costly for many vehicle owners who find themselves strapped for cash.

The Wolverine State has been the most expensive state in which to insure cars and drivers for several years. The average monthly insurance rates has hovered about $250. One of the reasons for this high figure is Michigan's requirement for driver to purchase no-fault personal injury protection insurance, which covers the dollar figure of recovery for people and cars in collisions.

Backup cameras can't completely prevent backover accidents

Backup cameras (also referred to as rear visibility technology) have become increasingly common throughout the last decade. As of last year, they've been required on all new vehicles that weigh under 10,000 pounds. People with cars that don't have backup cameras can have them installed, typically on the license plate holder or the rear bumper.

This technology is nothing less than life-saving -- primarily because they help prevent backover accidents. Young children have been the most frequent victims of these accidents. However, elderly people who may not see or hear a car backing up near them are also at high risk. Many pets and other animals have also suffered serious or fatal injuries when backed over.

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