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October 11, 2012

Teen Drivers Can Create Serious Liability For Parents

teen driver 1.jpgEvery so often, we have to do things that we would rather not do, if we had the option. For me, going to the dentist every six months to get my teeth cleaned falls into this category. During my dental visit yesterday, my hygienist told me about her son who just turned sixteen. "He now has his driver's license, and we bought him a Jeep," she told me with some anxiety in her voice. Having younger children myself, this peeked my curiosity.

She went on to tell me that they had titled the Jeep in her and her husband's name and added the son to their car insurance policy. At this point, the lawyer in me came alive. "Do you understand that if he gets into a wreck and hurts someone, you could get sued," I asked? She looked surprised, and said, "you've got to be kidding? How?"

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November 28, 2010

Car Strikes And Kills Female Cyclist In Asheville

bike crash.jpgFriday evening, around 6:30pm, a car driven by Patricia Harvey, 48, struck a bicyclist from behind causing a tragic crash on Piney Mountain Drive off of Chungs Cove Road in east Asheville. Police have indicated that the cyclist, Tami Rene Leaven, 35, died at the scene from massive head injuries.

Police say that Leaven did not have any lights on her bike, although the law does not require a bicyclist to have a light on the rear of a bicycle - only a reflector that can be seen from 200 feet behind. Most bicycles are sold with a reflector that satisfies state law in this regard. Police have not said whether the bike ridden by Leaven had the required reflector. A police spokesperson said that the area where the collision happened on Piney Mountain Drive was a dark section of road and not well lit.

In North Carolina, the law requires motorists to see what can be seen and to keep a proper lookout. It is unclear at this time whether Leaven was visible to motorists approaching from behind or not. If the bicycle she was riding did not have the required reflector, then Harvey may not have seen her in time to avoid the collision. If the bike did have a reflector visible from the rear, then the question will be 'why did Harvey fail to see it?' These are questions the District Attorney's Office must grapple with, and the DA will have to decide whether the facts justify bringing criminal charges against Harvey.

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October 6, 2010

Mandy Kirkconnell - A Tragic Loss For The Asheville Community

manie kirkconnell.jpgLast Saturday morning, shortly before 3a.m., an intoxicated Jennifer N. Kessler, of Arden, drove her vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 240 in Asheville. As Kessler neared the Brevard Road exit, her vehicle collided head-on into a vehicle operated by Mandie Kirkconnell, 29, of Asheville. Kessler suffered serious injuries, but Ms. Kirkconnell died at the scene. This is the second wrong way collision in Asheville this year.

As a result, authorities have charged Kessler with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger. She faces prison time for what she did.

Kirkconnell was a remarkable woman who positively touched every person with whom she came in contact. A devout Christian and a talented musician with an incredible voice, Ms. Kirkconnell was very active in her church at King of Glory Christian Church in Swannanoa as well as at many other churches in the Asheville area, including Relate Church and the Melchizadek House of Prayer.

Kirkconnell's friends say that in light of her strong faith and belief in the healing power of the love of Christ, she would want everyone to forgive Kessler for her horrible mistake in judgment. A tall order for even those with a strong faith. Those who knew her were clearly blessed if but for the short time she was here.

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June 12, 2010

Stopping Asheville Teens From Texting While Driving

texting-while-driving cartoon.jpgMost adults recognize the dangers associated with texting while driving, but many teens do not appear to appreciate how serious a danger it can be. The facts about distracted driving are startling:

1. Using a cell phone while driving decreases the amount of brain activity connected with driving by 37% (source: Carnegie Mellon);

2. More than 6,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in car accidents in 2008, and more than 500,000 people were seriously injured (source: NHTSA);

3. Drivers under 20 years of age are responsible for the vast majority of distraction related fatal collisions;

4. Texting drivers are five times more likely to cause a car accident serious enough to put themselves in the emergency room (source: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety); and

5. Using a cell phone while driving decreases a driver's reaction time to the same degree as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% - the legal limit in North Carolina (source: University of Utah).

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May 15, 2010

Teen Texting While Driving Caused Deadly Asheville Accident

text messaging.jpgOn Friday, Asheville Police disclosed that they had accessed the information stored in Ashley Johnson's cellphone. Police investigators who examined the Arden teenager's cellphone stated that the information showed that Johnson, 16, was retrieving a text message just seconds before the BMW she was driving crossed the center line and struck an MB Haynes pickup truck head-on. Investigators also retrieved data stored in Johnson's vehicle's airbag module to determine her pre-impact speed. The airbag module showed that the she was traveling 52 mph. The posted speed limit for Long Shoals Road is 45 mph. The driver of the pickup truck suffered injuries, but he is expected to recover.

Emergency workers airlifted Johnson to Mission Hospital's Trauma Unit, and she remained in the Intensive Care Unit for several days before she eventually died from her injuries. This is a terrible tragedy that should never have happened.

The 10th grader was an exceptional and popular student. She attended Buncombe County Early College, where she was working toward earning her associate degree.

I have several prior posts about the deadly dangers associated with texting while driving. Unfortunately, many people feel that, if they are careful, they can safely text while they are driving. This is impossible. Several studies have shown that if you text while driving your attention level is worse than that of a drunk driver. In fact, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to have a deadly accident that a non-texting driver.

Several mobile applications (apps) are on the market to help us restrict our, and our teenage children who drive, impulse to text while driving. Applications that can deactivate a phone's ability to send or receive texts while in motion are quite effective.

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March 17, 2010

Why Everyone in North Carolina Needs More Than The Minimum Limits of Car Insurance

head on collision.jpgIf you have less than $100,000 in car insurance on your vehicle, you are rolling the dice and risking financial ruin every time you drive your car. In North Carolina, the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by law is $30,000. But what most insurance agents fail to tell you is that unless you purchase more than the minimum limits of coverage, you are really not protecting yourself or your family from irresponsible drivers, particularly younger drivers. Here's why.

Last week, one of our new clients was on her way home from work, and the traffic in front of her slowed to a stop because a car had stopped to make a left hand turn. She also slowed down and stopped. Ten seconds later, she looked up just in time to see a large SUV barreling down on her. She recalls starting to yell, but the next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed 3 days later. After 2 weeks in the trauma unit and 3 surgeries later, she is trying to figure out how to pay for her hospital bills. Unfortunately, the young girl who did not see her because she was texting and driving has the minimum limits of insurance coverage - this means that the most the young girl's insurance company will ever pay is $30,000. The client's medical bills are over $100,000 already, and she still has months of rehab to complete before she can return to work. There is a way to protect yourself from this very real risk.

You should tell your insurance agent that you want to have at least $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Under-Insured Motorist (UIM) coverage. The increase in your premium should be less than $50 every six months. If you are able, you should ideally purchase a $1 Million umbrella policy that also provides you with UM and UIM coverage. This is the best way to make sure that, if you or a loved one is seriously injured in a car accident, you have the insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses, such as medical bills and lost wages.

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