By Chuck Mai, AAA
In Oklahoma, the number of motorcyclist deaths has increased each year from 65 in 2006 to 106 in 2009. Oklahoma, however, is bucking the national trend which according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, shows motorcyclist fatalities nationwide decreasing from more than 5,000 in 2007 and 2008 to 4,462 in 2009.
State data shows:
–Of the total of 71,218 traffic crashes reported in 2009 in Oklahoma, 1,406 (2%) were motorcycle-related and involved 1601 individuals that were either drivers (90%) or passengers (10%) on a motorcycle.
–Though only 2% of crashes were motorcycle related, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of persons identified as having an inpatient hospitalization and 14% of persons who died.
–420 motorcyclists were hospitalized or died as a result of the crash as compared to 1.7% hospitalized and 0.4% died among persons in a car or pick-up truck crash.
–There were 649 (46% of the total) single vehicle crashes, 700 (50%) involving multiple vehicles and 57 (4%) involving animals or pedestrians.
–Hospitalization or death is more frequent among motorcyclists not wearing a helmet.
–Based on Oklahoma data for 2009, typical hospital charges are more than $13,000 higher for unhelmeted motorcyclists than for those wearing a helmet.
–Injuries to the head/face/neck are twice as frequent among unhelmeted motorcyclists than those wearing a helmet.
That’s the problem. So, what’s the solution?
First of all, motorists need to pay special attention while driving and watch out for motorcycles. Sometimes they’re hard to see – so always look once and then look again before turning or pulling out onto a roadway.
And there are some things motorcyclists can do:
–Don’t ride if impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
–Wear a proper fitting DOT-approved helmet; you may want to consider helmets that are also Snell certified.
–Wear clothing or specialized gear that provides protection against road rash and impact injuries to other parts of the body.
–Be extra cautious if riding at night or on narrow rural roads, especially if you are unfamiliar with the road.
This information comes from the Oklahoma Traffic Data Linkage Project, a joint effort of the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Their good work is very much appreciated.
As a columnist who writes about traffic issues, I often get emails, phone calls, or letters from someone criticizing Oklahoma drivers — primarily those in Oklahoma City.
The most common complaint is that our drivers don’t have any regard for safety. They don’t obey the law, they run red lights, they drive too fast, they don’t yield, they never use turn signals and they are just plain rude.
The result of these actions? Oklahomans, again pointing at mostly Oklahoma Citians, are more likely to have an accident.
It’s interesting that many of those complaining moved here from another state, where drivers were more courteous and more careful, the complaining parties say.
There are times, I would have to agree with some of what I read or hear. I’ve seen examples of most everything they gripe about. And now, there’s even more ammunition for them.
My longtime colleague Don Mecoy wrote a story for The Oklahoman today that says, “The average Oklahoma City driver will be involved in an auto collision every 10 years, which ranks the metro behind 79 other U.S. cities in Allstate Insurance Co.’s annual ‘Best Drivers Report.’ ”
In his story, Don notes that Allstate, using claims data for the basis of its report, says Oklahoma City “ranks as one of the least safe driving cities.”
There’s a lot of good information in Don’s story — good from the point of things that can help us do better; bad if you’re keeping score on which cities need the most work.
So I encourage you to read it and take it to heart. We can all benefit if we do better. It might even cut down on the complaining.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
Here are some simple ways to cut down on airport travel stress.
Print boarding passes in advance
Check in online 24 hours (or earlier) prior to departure using the airline’s website. Avoid check-in lines, confirm flight schedules and check baggage less expensively.
Know baggage fees
It’s $0 to $25 for the first checked bag; up to $70 for the second depending on destination. A good travel agent can help assess costs. Fees increase for overweight or oversized bags, some specialty items are exempt and special rates are available for sporting equipment.
Dress for Stress Success
The Travel Security Administration (TSA) requires removal of bulky jewelry, belts, wallets, jackets, sweaters, pocket change and cell phones, before passing through Advanced Imaging Technology. Use your carry-on bag for some items. Wear slip on shoes.
3 ounces, 1 quart, 1 bag. This is the TSA rule for carry-on luggage. Liquids, gels, and aerosols are permitted in 3 ounce containers, placed on the conveyor belt in a 1 quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag, 1 bag per traveler. Yogurts, pudding and other gel-like substances are not allowed. Notify a TSA office for larger quantities such as medications, baby formula and food. If in doubt, put liquids in your checked luggage.
When possible, don’t pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in checked baggage. However, if these things are in your carry-on bags, they must be removed and submitted separately for X-ray screening. Small electronics, such as iPods, can remain in carry-on baggage.
Going for Christmas?
Do not carry wrapped gifts in your carry-on bags. TSA will probably unwrap them.
Rule of thumb: arrive 60 minutes early for domestic and 120 minutes prior for international trips. Many carriers mandate baggage check in at least 45 minutes before departure.
Check with a travel agent you trust. They can supply information that may make to your airport visit easier.
We always wondered why one of our classmates in grade school wasn’t buying comic books, soft drinks and candy bars like the rest of us.
We thought maybe he didn’t like to read, had a health condition we weren’t aware of, or didn’t have money (which at that time, was less than a dollar for several of each of those items mentioned above).
But the truth was that his parents taught him about making the best use of his finances. He was banking on the future. And let me tell you, he’s successful today because of that lesson.
That time of my life came to mind last week when the following news release came to me in an email. It has some very valuable information in it, so I encourage you to read it carefully, think about it, and see how you can use the suggestions for your children.
The release noted that having “the talk” with your child is more important than ever. “Teaching financial responsibility is the new ‘birds and bees,’” it said.
“There are certain life lessons that every child eventually learns with or without the guidance of their parents, but financial literacy is one talk that parents shouldn’t avoid or delay. Many of today’s youth aren’t equipped to deal with the complexities of life, including money management. For parents, having ‘the talk’ about financial responsibility with their child is a critical step in preparing kids and teens for their future.”
The release noted that studies show parents play an important role in teaching children how to handle money responsibly. In fact, a 2011 survey of high school seniors found that 87 percent said their parents were their primary resource for information about money management and personal finance issues. Interestingly, however, only 22 percent said they talked to their parents about money management frequently.
“Much like the birds and bees talk, children desperately need guidance from their parents in order to learn appropriate money management skills,” said Becky Franklin, EVP/sales manager at Arvest Bank in Oklahoma City. “Arming our kids with this type of information now will guide them well into adulthood, so start these conversations early.”
When is the best time for these youngsters to learn about money management? A Junior Achievement/Allstate Foundation survey found that 81 percent of teens say kindergarten through 12th grade, Franklin’s release said.
That same survey, she said, found that nearly 50 percent of the teens didn’t really know how to use a credit card effectively. But get this. Twenty-four percent still think they should get their first credit card when they are high school age or younger.
“This illustrates the disconnect between their desire for more education and the amount of actual financial knowledge of many teens,” Franklin’s release said.
She said a basic financial responsibility discussion should consist of these areas of focus for parents to frame their conversations:
· You need money to buy things. It seems simple, but reinforce that it is important to earn income and live within those means. This may include waiting to buy until the money is available and often involves making difficult choices about how to spend money.
· Savings is important and takes practice. The sooner they start saving, the greater progress they’ll make towards building good habits. Encourage that they put money into savings frequently and help them with setting realistic savings goals.
· Credit should only be used when necessary. Ensure they know a credit card is like a loan, interest will cost them more in the long run, and they should only use credit cards when necessary. Discuss wants versus needs in using credit for purchases.
· Protect your financial identity. It can be costly and dangerous to divulge personal and financial information online, in-person and over the phone. Providing this information too easily can expose them to identity theft and financial loss, so it should be done with care.
· Life is expensive. For older teens, make sure they know how necessities like taxes, insurance, utilities and interest on credit cards and loans are unavoidable costs they should be prepared for. These are often overlooked and less obvious than just the rent, food or car payment.
“Helping your teen gain actual experience in money management while still living in the home can be very valuable,” Franklin said. “Many banks have savings, credit and prepaid card products available specifically designed for parents and teens to use together to start building lifelong money management skills.”
She said that in order to teach children the appropriate financial lessons at the correct age, Arvest recommends that parents and educators start by using the following resources to get more information to prepare for “the talk” with your child:
1. arvestmoneyskills.com — The site contains financial education tips and lesson plans for Pre-K through college and for those with special needs.
2. whatsmyscore.org — This financial management website is geared toward teens and young adults and provides relevant information on transitioning from high school to college, including how to rent an apartment and how to buy a car.
3. mymoney.gov — A guide for any life-changing circumstance, this site provides financial information based on where you are in life – from the birth of a child to retirement. You’ll also find a list of resources and useful tools.
Bank on it. And to learn more about personal finances, check out the resources in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MONEY-OKLAHOMA
By Chuck Mai, AAA
You gotta envy those motorcyclists tooling down the highway – wind in their hair, the open road unfolding in front of them, a quick and powerful engine between their legs – ah, that’s the life. Well, on second thought, scratch that part about the wind in the hair. I’m too fond of living to go without a helmet. It’s not a law in Oklahoma that you have to wear a helmet, except for those under age 18, but it makes sense.
Seventy-two motorcyclists lost their lives in crashes in Oklahoma during the first nine months of 2011 – up from 62 during that same time in 2010. Thirty-five percent of those 72 had been drinking.
Motorcycle helmet opponents will tell you helmets limit riders’ vision and hearing but the simple fact is that helmets saved the lives of 1,550 motorcyclists across the U.S. in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 706 lives could have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37-percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. In other words, for every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.
According to NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey, a nationally representative observational survey of motorcycle helmet, seat belt, and child safety seat use, use of DOT-compliant helmets in 2010 stood at 54 percent, a decrease from 67 percent in 2009. That’s not a good trend.
Nineteen states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico require helmet use by all motorcyclists, while 28 states only require helmet use by a subset of motorcyclists (typically motorcyclists under age 18, like Oklahoma) and 3 states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) do not require helmet use by motorcyclists of any age. If you’re about to travel out of Oklahoma, you should know that among nearby states, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and Louisiana all have helmets laws for riders of all ages.
Here’s one more set of stats: Sixty-six percent of motorcyclists killed in 2010 were not wearing helmets in states without all-age helmet laws, as compared to ten percent in states with such laws.
Feel like rolling the dice? Go helmet-less. The odds aren’t with you but maybe you’ll get lucky.
Observances from numerous recent trips through Bricktown:
* There’s a lot going on down there and things continuously change. It just keeps getting better, in my opinion.
* It’s easy to spot those who aren’t familiar with the area. They generally are looking up, or side-to-side … even when the traffic lights change and they are just stepping off the curb.
* If you can’t find a place to eat in Bricktown, you aren’t being observant. Just about anything you want can be found in a very short distance.
* There truly is some fine entertainment in the Bricktown district. It may be a little thin for some age groups, but there’s still something there for most people.
* It really isn’t hard to drive through the area, but you need to pay attention to what is going on around you. It could be pedestrians, it could be a horse-drawn carriage, it could be another motorist. But you have to watch out.
* There are several businesses in Bricktown to check out, in addition to the food sites. If sports, movies, live music are for you, stroll through and enjoy. Plus, there are spots where you can find items ranging from trinkets to clothing.
* There is some interesting scenery. From the canal to the artwork, from architecture to history, just look around.
But I have to tell you. I’m not the only one who would like to see a better deal on parking. When the price to park is equivalent to a menu item at a decent eatery, that’s a bit much.
Overall, it’s certainly worth the trip, and it’s only going to get better.
Learn more about Bricktown events and specialties by going to http://wimgo.com/oklahoma-city-ok/ or http://knowit.newsok.com/oklahoma-city.
I just finished reading the book “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell.
This book goes into great detail on what it takes to become a Navy Seal.
Of course, as I always do, I related his experiences to what it takes for an addicted child to find and maintain long-term recovery.
For example, one of Marcus’ instructors said to him: “Marcus, the body can take d*** near anything. It’s the mind that needs training. The question that guy was being asked involved mental strength. Can you handle such injustice? Can you cope with that kind of unfairness, that much of a setback, and still come back with your jaw set, still determined, swearing to God you will never quit? That’s what we are looking for.”
That statement was followed by: “He closed by telling us the real battle is won in the mind. It’s won by guys who understand their areas of weakness, who sit and think about it, plotting and planning to improve, attending to the detail. Work on your weaknesses and overcome them.”
This is what it takes to become a Navy Seal but these requirements parallel what it takes to accept long-term recovery from alcohol or other drugs.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
The stop-start system, that shuts off the engine when your car is stopped in traffic, is now making its way to the U.S. from overseas where such systems are already in common use. Other names for this technology include idle elimination, idle-stop-go, and micro-hybrid. Lux Research predicts that more than eight million vehicles in North America will be equipped with engine stop-start systems by 2017. What does this mean for American motorists?
Early versions of stop-start technology, which shuts down the vehicle’s engine when you’re stopped in traffic such as at a red light, date back to the 1980s. Today, more than 40 percent of the new cars sold in Europe and Japan use this gas-saving technology. Engine stop-start isn’t brand new, but the latest systems benefit from significant advances made in the last few years. This technology is only going to gain momentum as vehicle manufactures work to meet the more stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards set for 2016.
What’s the big deal about stop-start? The system can improve fuel economy by up to 12 percent and contribute to a reduction in vehicle exhaust emissions.
How does it work? With an automatic transmission, engine shutdown occurs when the vehicle is stopped for several seconds with the brake pedal applied. With a manual transmission, shutdown takes place with the transmission in neutral and the clutch released. As soon as the brake pedal is released, or the clutch pedal is depressed, the engine restarts automatically.
How much does it cost? On some models, the stop-start system is standard equipment and its cost is included in the vehicle price. Where stop-start is offered as option it generally costs around $300.
How much can it save? If gasoline costs $3.40 per gallon, the owner of a car that normally gets 20 mpg and is driven 12,000 miles per year would save an estimated $152 per year in fuel costs if the vehicle were equipped with an engine stop-start system. In this case, the system would pay for itself in less than two years and offer ongoing savings thereafter.
Are there any downsides to stop-start? A major challenge in developing stop-start systems has been engineering the systems to meet consumer expectations. The engine stop-start transitions must be smooth and seamless, and drivers new to the technology will need to learn that engine shutdown at idle is a normal thing and not a sign of a problem. In some vehicles, heating and air conditioning performance could suffer if the engine remains shut down for an extended time. Finally, the larger and more powerful batteries that are required for stop-start systems will be more expensive to replace when the time comes.
What American market vehicles offer stop-start today? All hybrid cars have stop-start capability, although they use a different technology than the systems on conventional powertrains. The first non-hybrid stop-start systems in the U.S. market are on 2012 highline vehicles from BMW, Mercedes and Porsche. For the 2013 model year, Jaguar will join that select group, but stop-start systems will also become available on popularly priced models from Ford, Kia, and possibly others. Even trucks will start to see some systems with Dodge adding stop-start to its V6-powered Ram 1500 pickup for a one mile per gallon fuel economy improvement.
Most people aren’t aware of them, and you can bet that a very small number — at best — have felt them, but there’s been quite a shaking going on recently under Oklahoma’s landscape.
At least, that’s what the Oklahoma Geophysical Laboratory in Leonard has registered. For instance, the office, which is part of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, had recorded 15 earthquakes this month by this afternoon. All of those were in three counties: Seminole, Lincoln and Oklahoma.
That’s 15 in one week. The strongest on that list was a 3.0 at 5:47 a.m. Tuesday in Seminole County, near Paden. That came nine hours after a 1.8 in Seminole County. These were the third and fourth this month in that county, according to the OGL list.
Lincoln County has had the most recorded quakes thus far this month, with six. Oklahoma County has had five.
In July, there were about 50 recorded quakes in Oklahoma, most in the 1.5 to 2.5 range. Those who monitor these events say they aren’t unusual and they’re not issuing any kind of alert. But they are collecting information from anyone who felt a quake or noticed any damage from them.
This information is important to their research and analysis.
“This information represents the most current information available, but should be considered preliminary,” OGL officials say on their web site. “As such this information is subject to change at any point. Max MMI is the Maximum Modified Mercalli Intensity based on felt reports recieved by the Oklahoma Geological Survey.
“This data is also available as a GeoRSS Atom feed which means you can subscribe to this information from your favorite news reader which supports GeoRSS. Simply copy the link and subscribe to this link: http://wichita.ogs.ou.edu/cgi_bin/featureserver.cgi/recenteqs/all.atom”
You can learn more about Oklahoma earthquakes by going to HTTP://WWW.OKGEOSURVEY1.GOV/ and scrolling through the various resource information.
Meanwhile, if you have do feel a quake, be sure to report it. You can make a valuable contribution.
We struggle with detaching from our addicted children, even when we know it is in our best interest as well as our child’s.
I think it’s the loss of the dreams we had for our children that we can’t let go of. After all, we work so hard to provide our children with a successful future.
We wanted to be there and witness their achievements and life success. But that’s all gone now; it will never happen and we just can’t accept it.
Every parent eventually will detach from the addicted child. The pain eventually will be too great to bear and that forces us into change. The path is always different for each parent but all will experience the same pain.
The change usually begins with anger. It has been said that anger is the result of expectations not being met. It is also the first motivator to established a parent’s personal boundaries which results in the change process.
The next step is reaching out to support groups and finding others who understand and who will support the parent through the change process.
So begins the journey to recovery for the parents and what lies ahead for each one is peace, sanity and serenity.