Winter Automobile Safety

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South Texas doesn't see much snow or ice, but wet roads are common. Know what to do in a car accident, including contacting a good attorney.

Winter is just around the corner and colder weather means wet and possibly icy driving conditions. If you haven’t done so already, you should prepare your car accordingly. As reminds us, “spending the extra time and effort to get your vehicle properly prepared for winter conditions will save you money—and could prevent you from [getting injured] in an accident.”

Here are some precautions that you can take to help you get through the season safely:

  • Make sure that battery and radiator fluid levels are where they should be. Depending on where you live, it would also be wise to check “the protection temperature of the antifreeze in your system, brakes, hoses, and belts.”
  • Inspect your front, rear and hazard lights: all should be operational.
  • Change your windshield wipers as necessary. Winter blades are a must for windshields that collect large amounts of ice during colder weather.
  • Check that your “heater, defroster and rear window defroster are working properly.”
  • If you don’t carry emergency equipment, put together a special kit to keep in your car. That kit should include “jumper cables, a snow/ice scraper, a flashlight, a fresh supply of extra batteries, flares, blankets” and a charger for your cell phone in the event of an emergency.
  • Keep your tank at least half full throughout the winter. Doing so “will reduce condensation in your tank and make your vehicle easier to start when cold.”
  • If ice and/or snow accumulate on your vehicle, clean everything off to maximize driving visibility. Too many winter accidents are the result of poor driver visibility.

It would also be to your benefit to check road and weather conditions before starting on your journey. That way, you’ll know what to expect and what potentially to avoid.

If you do find yourself in an accident, seek the assistance of a qualified lawyer, especially if injuries and/or damages are involved.

Car Accidents: How to Stay Safe on the Road

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Living in Brownsville, Harlingen or McAllen means using navigation systems and cell phones, but be smart when driving.

Living in the Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen Texas region means living with car accidents. You can’t control what other drivers do on the road. But you can take precautions to ensure that you and your passengers stay safe when traveling in your vehicle.

The first thing you should do is to wear your seatbelt. According to Mother Nature Network (MNN) online, seatbelts not only keep vehicle occupants inside a car during a collision, they also “protect the brain and spinal cord and help the body slow down after impact, reducing injuries.”

If you are traveling with small children, make sure that they are properly buckled into car seats that are “appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight.” Infants and children under should always ride “in a rear-facing car seat.” All children under 12 should remain in the backseat, even after they have grown out of harnesses and booster seats.

It may be tempting to multitask or text while driving, but you should avoid doing either at all costs. MNN online recommends that you do such things as “setting your vehicle’s route, selecting music and making cell phone calls before you drive.” If any children who are with you start fighting, pull over to the side of the road: don’t try to settle their disputes while you’re also trying to drive.

Pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists may also be sharing the road with you and are not as visible as motor vehicles. Watch out for pedestrians crossing the roadway, “give cyclists at least half a car’s width when passing” and “ never pass a motorcycle to close as a blast of air from the car can cause a motorcycle to lost stability.”

Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security: when you’re behind the wheel of the car, you need to make sure you stay protected and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times.

Protecting the Smallest Car Passengers

Protect your and your child's rightsNobody needs to tell you that children are especially vulnerable when they are riding in automobiles.  But did you know that according to data the National Health and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) collected in 2008,  motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of three to 14?

Unfortunately, the numbers haven’t improved.  So in 2011, the agency updated their child restraint guidelines to curb this trend.  The new guidelines say that manufacturers need to categorize child restraints “by age rather than by type of child seat in order to keep pace with the latest scientific and medical research and the development of new child restraint technologies.”

They also say that parents should make their child restraint choices based upon a child’s height and weight to ensure the best possible fit.  The guidelines further advise that mothers and fathers keep their children in each restraint type before “graduating” them to the next type of seat. The worst thing parents can do is move a child into a new safety device before that child is ready.

While choosing the proper restraint for a child is essential, it’s equally important that parents are careful about how they put their children in the device they’re using. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  “one study found that 72% of 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.”

The Mayo Clinic has observed six mistakes that well-meaning parents often make when putting or securing their children in automobiles. They include:

  •  using child car seats as cribs
  •  being unaware of the potential risks a used child seat may have (it may have been recalled by the manufacturer, for example)
  • placing the child car seat in the wrong position or spot in the car
  • moving a child to a booster seat too soon
  • moving a child to regular safety belts too soon
  • dressing a child in bulky clothing or outerwear that can interfere with the degree of protection harness straps can offer

Your children are dependent on you and the decisions you make. If your child gets injured or worse despite the precautions you take and as a result of another person’s negligence behind the wheel, then you need to act quickly to protect your child’s rights as well as your own. The Barrera Law Firm specializes in car accident, personal injury and wrongful death suits and our attorneys have proven track records of success. When you and your child need expert legal defense, count on us.

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