It’s all about money … how you get it, what you do with it. It’s your choice … mostly.
Who hasn’t watched a game show on TV, where contestants try to win money and prizes? Spin a wheel, answer a question, choose a door, select the right item, match objects and you might win the big one.
Maybe you play the lottery, where you spend money trying to make money. It’s a game of chance, similar to what some businesses “play” every day.
But listening to the radio while driving recently, I heard some hosts talking about how things are viewed today versus how they were thought of years ago. Such as, “If you had the choice of taking $100,000 when you were 20 or $10 million when you were 60, which would it be?”
For the younger set, those who haven’t reached the milestones in their lives yet, it’s all a dream or a wish. For those of us who have achieved at least one of those times, there’s some reality mixed in, especially when we’ve seen prices soar through the years on everything from necessities to accessories.
Later, when I wasn’t behind the wheel, I thought about what I would have done with a spare $100,000 when I hit 20. Like those on the radio show I had been listening to, a new car and a nice home were two items I most likely would have purchased. But I’m not sure how much investing I would have done, or how many trips I would have taken.
Now, getting $10 million at age 60 would bring a lot of interesting possibilities, such as retiring all debt for my family and me, helping others who are struggling …
Then, another question came to mind. “Would someone who suddenly found themselves with $10 million at age 60 continue to work for someone else, or would they either retire or work solely for them?”
I’d have to think about it some more, but I probably wouldn’t think long. I’m sure I could decide that one … shortly after I got my $10 million.
Learn more about handling personal finances at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MONEY-OKLAHOMA and its list of resources.
It only takes a split second to change lives forever. In an instant, the action of (or lack of action by) a distracted driver can produce catastophic, tragic results. That’s only one of the reasons “Drive Aware Oklahoma Week” is so important.
During news conferences Monday in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, members of the various volunteer organizations concerned about traffic safety, unified as Drive Aware Oklahoma, spoke out about what has become one of the most dangerous situations in our state, in our country: distracted driving.
They noted that the number of accident injuries and traffic fatalities related to distracted driving have increased steadily the past several years while attempts to make laws to stop them have been defeated.
Drive Aware Oklahoma members hope that, through making the public more aware of the risks and results of distracted driving, they can spur people to act, such as working with lawmakers to enact new laws and promoting efforts to educate drivers young and old.
It’s badly needed. Drive anywhere and you’ll encounter motorists driving distracted in one or more ways. It may be talking on a cellphone, texting, grooming, looking at maps or other reading materials, adjusting a radio or other entertainment, talking with others in the vehicle, or eating or drinking, to name a few.
The numbers aren’t good. Drive Aware Oklahoma notes that research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others found distracted driving in fatal crashes rose from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009. It wasn’t unexpected that cell phone use was the major distraction in crashes, with nearly 1,000 people killed and other 24,000 injured nationwide.
A recent Virginia Tech study concluded that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than non-texting drivers.
Distracted driving is particularly dangerous to young drivers, coming in as the number one killer of American teenagers.
Drive Aware Oklahoma Week has a direct tie-in with “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks,” a texting and driving prevention campaign by the Ad Council, the office of the State Attorneys General and NHTSA.
The awareness group encourages all Oklahoma drivers to get off their cell phones while behind the wheel. If the call is so important that you need to use the phone, group members say, pull off the road and stop first.
The short time it takes to do that just might be the time that saves your life and/or those of others.
We all need to aware of that.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
The vehicle with the most expensive claims for damage is, surprise, a Ferrari. The Ferrari California, to be exact, with an average payment per claim paid by the insurance company of $82,112. I just remembered why I don’t have a Ferrari.
In second place: the Porsche 911 turbo convertible 4WD ($24,679), followed by the Maserati Granturismo ($16,150), the Porsche Panamera turbo 4WD ($16,027), the Nissan GT-R ($15,285), the Maserati Quattroporte ($11,454), the BMW M3 ($10,259) and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class hybrid ($8,528)
Which vehicles have the lowest average claim payment per crash? In first place is the Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid – $2,019. Wow. Followed by the Chrysler 200 ($3,378), the Toyota FJ Cruiser ($3,667) and the Chevrolet Colorado 4WD ($3,955). These numbers are for 2009 through 2011 models.
All this wonderful information comes to us courtesy the Highway Loss Data Institute, a partner of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Visit iihs.org/HLDI_composite for the full story, model-by-model for 2009 through 2011 vehicles.
It’s no surprise expensive cars cost more to repair. And that vehicles with powerful engines tend to crash more often not only because they can go faster but also because of the kind of driver they attract. No offense, Tony Stewart.
What is interesting is something else the HLDI tells us: when it comes to injury claims, small cars are less safe cars – owners of vehicles like the Toyota Yaris, the Suzuki SX4 and the Chevrolet Aveo submit more injury claims as a result of crashes than owners of vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade ESV 4WD, the Land Rover Range Rover 4WD and the Ford F-150 4WD. Again, this ranking is for 2009 through 2011 model year vehicles.
As the IIHS put it, “In the real world, if all else is equal, a larger vehicle protects people better than a smaller one.”
What was supposed to have been an enjoyable ride on the rail between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth became anything but, and answers are needed.
“Heartland Flyer passengers endured nearly eight hours of delays Saturday night in a series of weather difficulties caused by heavy rain, a downed tree on the track and a lightning strike, which disabled one of the engines,” Business Writer Jennifer Palmer reported Tuesday on the front page of The Oklahoman.
The ride from Fort Worth began on time (5:25 p.m., Jennifer reported) but was 16 miles behind schedule when it reached its first stop in Gainesville, Texas. Amtrak, which operates the flyer, said that was due to heavy rain and flash flooding.
A little past Gene Autry, in southern Oklahoma, the train had to stop because there was a tree on the track. It was apparently at that stop that lightning struck the track or the locomotive, disabling it. This required freight locomotives to be summoned to remove the stricken power source.
The train was able to make its stop in Purcell nearly seven hours late. Passengers were warned at the next stop, in Norman, that there was a possibility of more delays. Several people took the opportunity to get off.
Those factors alone made this trip much less than pleasurable. But there was more. After the Flyer was able to move on, and just past Norman it shut down again.
It seems the crew had completed 12 hours, “the maximum time allowed, Amtrak said.” So “two miles from the station, crossing a live track on foot and navigating a ditch in the dark to find another way home, … ” the passengers were allowed to exit the train.
Eventually, a backup crew arrived to finish the journey. The train arrived in Oklahoma City at 5:34 a.m.
“We want people to know this wasn’t a satisfactory trip for us either,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told Jennifer. “We’re looking at ways we could have handled this differently.”
Here’s a suggestion: look hard. Look very, very hard. This is where contingency plans should come into play.
Unexpected problems, such as weather or mechanical failures, can make things rough. Having an idea of how to handle them avoids an inconvenience to paying customers and an embarrassment. It can help you avoid what, in many circles, is known as a “public relations nightmare.”
How this incident affects future ridership will show how the public feels about it. Here’s hoping the Flyer can get back on track.
There was a day when you couldn’t get me to say the word “retire.” I had too much going to even give it a thought. From the time I shut off the alarm and got out of bed until the time I turned out the lights at night, my life was set on “go.”
Through the years, there have been a few changes. Actually, there have been many. Some days, it feels like my get-up-and-go just got-up-and-went, as they say. Other days, I”m still going strong. Or at least, I really want it to be that way.
I recently took a class on retirement, just to see how I stood and what I might out to do to prepare for that day when I would be able to leave the fulltime job and shift at least some of my efforts from things I HAVE TO do to things I WANT TO do. Well, at least that’s’ the intention.
It was during that class that I realized I’m certainly not at that point yet. In fact, I’m not certain when I will be there. But at least now I have an idea as to what it will take to get me there. I also know there are many things to consider before I can make it happen.
I have to look at such things as …
* Finance — Where will it come from and how much will we have? Will my retirement account and our investments sustain us?
* Health — Will we able to get around well enough to remain independent?
* Insurance — What can we afford and what will it cover? Health, home and vehicle insurance are only part of that picture.
* Home — Can we maintain our home? There are always areas that need attention, from cleaning to repairs.
* Transportation — What are our options? Will we still be able to drive ourselves, or will we need assistance?
* Activity — A key point for most any retiree. It’s not just keeping the body active. You need to keep the mind sharp as long as possible.
These were just some of the key concerns. There are many more. Each individual’s situation is different.
Take a look at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/RETIREMENT-OKLAHOMA to see areas a person looking ahead should be aware of before taking that plunge. Don’t forget also to look at KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/MONEY-OKLAHOMA for more ideas on what you can do to prepare.
These and other topics in our “know it” library might be just what you need.
By Chuck Mai, AAA
“What a drag it is getting old.” At least, that’s what Mick Jagger sang back in 1966, when he was 23. These days, as a “golden oldie” himself, Mick might be changing his tune.
Time catches up with everyone, even rock stars, but getting older doesn’t have to be a drag. One of the most important things to know is how age affects driving.
Although it might seem easy and natural, driving is actually a complex, fast-paced activity. It involves sensing information about traffic, road conditions, signals, markings, and the car’s behavior, deciding what to do based on that information, and then acting, all in rapid-fire succession.
A typical driver makes 20 decisions per mile, with less than half a second to act to avoid a collision.
Age affects all three steps in the process: sensing, deciding, and acting.
Sensing. We receive 85 percent of the information necessary to drive through our eyes. But typically our eyes begin to grow worse at age 40 or 50 and decline progressively in later years, even with corrective lenses.
Our ability to clearly distinguish details lessens and we have trouble changing focus quickly between near objects such as the instrument panel and those at a distance such as traffic signs.
The field of vision typically narrows with age, increasing the possibility of a side collision at an intersection. Older drivers are also bothered more by glare and take longer to recover from it. The enormous number of big pickup trucks, vans and sport-utility vehicles on the road today in Oklahoma make night driving particularly difficult for older people. These vehicles ride high, so their lights shine directly into the eyes of a driver in an oncoming passenger car. This can temporarily blind the person behind the wheel, no matter what their age.
Deciding. Once we take in information through our senses, we have to process it and make a decision to avoid a collision. Although older drivers process information and react more slowly than younger people, experience, mature judgment, and good driving habits usually compensate for these diminished skills.
As a sign of continued good judgment, most older drivers recognize and avoid situations where their limitations put them at risk. They drive less after dark, during rush hour, or in bad weather, and they may avoid difficult roads, left turns or certain intersections.
Acting. Making good decisions is one thing. Carrying them out is quite another. Few older drivers can perform fast-paced motor activities as well as younger drivers.
Weaker muscles, reduced flexibility, and limited range of motion restrict their ability to grip and turn the steering wheel, press the accelerator or brake, or reach to open doors and windows.
What’s more, 50 percent of the middle-aged population and 80 percent of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, which makes turning, flexing and twisting painful.
Concerned about your or a loved one’s driving skills? The remedy may be as simple as an eye exam, a visit to the doctor, a regular exercise program, a driver refresher class (AAA Oklahoma calls theirs a Motor Vehicle Crash Prevention course), or a more appropriate vehicle. Also, a good free resource open to anyone with a computer is SeniorDriving.AAA.com. T0ns of tools and advice.
It’s a great time to get out, get some exercise and help support groups and organizations that are making a difference in the lives of those who need assistance.
Fall’s generally cooler temperatures and fresh air can be ideal to walk, jog, ride, run, or row. There are many opportunities to do so while helping raise money for local charities.
* Saturday, Oct. 6, you can join in the Oklahoma Walk Now for Autism Speaks, set for the East Wharf Children’s Park at Lake Hefner.
* Saturday, Oct. 6, the Heels for Hope 5k Race/1 Mile Walk/25-Yard High Heel and Feather Boa Dash for the Heels for Hope Foundation. This event raises money for ovarian cancer research, treatment and education.
* Sunday, Oct. 7, the BooBoo Dash 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run at Regatta Park to benefit programs of Children’s Hospital volunteers.
* The Team Hope Walk/5k for HD at Lake Hefner’s Stars & Stripes Park to help raise money for research of Huntington’s Disease. This event is Oct. 14.
* The Susan G. Komen Oklahoma City Race for the Cure at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, raising money for breast cancer research and assistance.
These are but a few of the many events related to health issues. But there are others relating to benefits such as pet adoptions.
Pick your favorites, as few or as many as you would like.
For a list of possibilities, check KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/CHARITY-OKLAHOMA, or go to WWW.WIMGO.COM and see what’s there.
You can help yourself and others at the same time.
A free teen driver safety event on Oct. 6 will feature classic cars, iPad giveaways, nationally-known speakers and Oklahoma City Thunder entertainers the Thunder Girls and Rumble.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma City Thunder and AAA Oklahoma, the “Hot Cars & Hot Topics” event will take place in the Freede Wellness Center at Oklahoma City University from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. There is no charge and pre-registration is not required.
“We’re hoping to reach teen drivers and everyone interested in teen driving with an afternoon of prizes, surprises and fun – and the message that teens can do a lot to reduce their risk on the road,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Simple things like limiting distractions, avoiding alcohol and buckling up can enable teens to survive driving.”
Members of classic auto clubs will have their “hot cars” there, concessions will be available, the Thunder Girls will perform and Rumble will put on a show of high-flying trampoline dunks on the Freede Wellness Center’s basketball court. Drawings will be conducted for iPads and Thunder prize packages plus there will be lots of free giveaways.
Speakers include Bruce Shults, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Dr. Bill Van Tassel, Driver Training Programs Manager at the AAA National Office; Lt. George Brown of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol; Cheryl Nichols, a mother who lost a son to a texting-while-driving crash; and Jan Moran, External Relations Manager for AT&T, who will show the powerful AT&T video “It Can Wait.”
The Freede Wellness Center is located on the north side of the Oklahoma City University campus on NW 27th St. between N. Indiana Ave. and N. Florida Ave. Take NW 27th St. east from N. Pennsylvania Ave. and go three blocks – or take NW 27th St. west from N. Classen Blvd. and go three blocks.
For more information, visit www.AAA.com/TeenSafety or call Chuck Mai at (405) 753-8040.