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Farah and Farah November 2016 Newsletter

Posted on November 28, 2016

Florida Tops Nation in Motorcycle Deaths in 2015

The news is not good if you ride a motorcycle in Florida – deaths from motorcycle accidents are at an all-time high and Florida leads the nation in those fatalities.

The statistics are sobering.  There were 5,010 motorcyclist fatalities in 2015, which represents the worst death toll in seven years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Governors Highway Safety Association in its 2015 report says the number of motorcyclist fatalities ranged from 3 in the District of Columbia to 550 in Florida. Florida was one of 31 states that experienced an increase in motorcyclist fatalities. Sixteen states had decreases.

Why?

Eddie Farah, of Farah & Farah says the number one reason for the increase is the repeal of Florida’s mandatory helmet laws.

”Back in the late 1970s, there were 47 states that mandated motorcyclists wear helmets. But the “personal freedom” movement by bike rider groups went after those mandates. By 2012 that mandated helmet law was reduced to just 19 states.’

“Florida repealed its law in 2000. Anyone riding a motorcycle, 21 or older, with at least $10,000 in medical insurance no longer had to wear a helmet. We are now seeing the results of that change.”

Your chance of being injured on a motorcycle is 26 times higher than in a car or truck, according to NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You increase your risks of dying in one of those crashed by 37 percent if you don’t wear a helmet, according to NHTSA.

Riding a motorcycle is risky business. Not only are you exposed to direct contact by oncoming vehicles, but without a helmet you increase your chances of traumatic head injury in a collision. Speeding, and the use of alcohol and/or drugs all contribute to fatal outcomes.

Chuck Farah adds, “We are also seeing people wearing cheap, fashionable motorcycle helmets that in no way conform to federal safety standards and therefore do not protect riders from traumatic brain injury.”

Gas prices were down in 2015 an average of 28% meaning more vehicles of all kinds have taken to the road.

When a motorist speeds, consumes drugs or alcohol or is distracted, the risk of injury and death on the road increases for both motorists and motorcyclists.

It remains to be seen what 2016 statistics will yield, but gas prices are still low and the weather is mild, the lax motorcycle helmet law is still in place and drivers are still driving distracted behind the wheel, perhaps more than ever!

Driving is serious business.  Imagine the 550 lives that could have been saved and the families that could be spared the loss of a loved one if we all took more seriously our time on the road?  ##

Big Rigs — Big Speed

You’ve heard of the black box recorder found on airplanes. Investigators will recover a black box recorder to decipher the conditions that might have led to a crash.

But did you know there are electronics on board a big rig that can also limit the speed that a heavy truck can travel on our highways?

But they only work if they are switched on.

The problem is, often they are not.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to mandate speed limiter technology on new big rigs, but it remains uncertain if those mandates should apply to heavy trucks already on the road.

Limiters do just what they suggest, they limit the speed limit of the big rig from 60 to 70 mph or points in between. NHTSA says at 68 mph, at least 100 lives a year could be saved.

The public can comment on the speed limiter proposal until November 7.

This would mean new vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, including a multipurpose vehicle such as a school bus or bus, would be equipped with a speed limiting device. The actual speed limit of the highway will be set by this final rule.

The federal register is seeking comments on the proposal from the Department of Transportation.

Statistics show us that speed is a factor in more than 1,000 fatalities every year where trucks and busses in excess of 13 tons are involved, according to FARS or the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Excess speeding in 2015 is blamed for at least 9,557 deaths in cars and trucks in the U.S.

Limiting the speed of these heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes, reduce fatalities and injuries and save more than $1 billion a year in the cost of fuel.

The question might be why are these speed limiters not switched on if the technology is available?

Well it is, in some instances.

One major carrier, Schneider National Inc. from Green Bay, Wisconsin, installed the devices twenty years ago and set them at 65 mph.

Two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, limit large commercial trucks to 65 mph.

In Germany, Ford debuted its “Intelligent Speed Limited” that allows a maximum speed to be set on the S-Max minivan which is sold in Europe. That technology is not available in the United States.

The trucking industry is divided and not surprisingly financial incentive is the reason.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) supports the speed limiters but independent truckers, who compete in getting a delivery to its destination faster, are not in favor.

Drivers are safer when everyone travels at relatively same speed, argues the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association,
but ultimately, they argue, the safest truck is driven by a well-trained driver who can vary his speed depending on conditions of the road.

The fact that the proposal may only apply to new trucks is outrageous, says Steve Owings of the advocacy group, Road Safe America.  The group wants the speed limiters extended to all trucks on the road.  ###

Fraudulent Credit Cards from Wells Fargo- What Should a Consumer do?

There are two million Wells Fargo customers who were subjected to fraudulent accounts opened in their names, whether a bank account or credit card.

It was all part of the Wells Fargo scandal that broke in September.

Well Fargo employees say they were pressured to meet unrealistic sales expectations. The inquiry goes as far back as 2008, but there is no word on how long this has been going on.

As a result, 5,300 employees have been fired and the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, 63 decided to retire early. That after Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly chastised the CEO, who remains under investigation.

He reportedly returned much of his 2016 salary of more than $19 million and his bonus and $41 million in stock awards.

Wells Fargo says it’s returned $2.6 million in fees to its customers, and paid a fine of $185 million imposed by regulators, but is that enough?

First, if you are a customer of Wells Fargo, check your accounts with the bank and check whether any credit cards have been opened in your name.  You might not know it because part of the fraud was to have the credit or even a debit card sent to the bank, not your home.

Go to a local Wells Fargo branch and review the accounts that have your name and social security on them. This can also be done online if you’ve set up online banking.

Look for any transactions on those accounts or fees you are being charged.  If you find them, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should be alerted at 855-411-2372.

If you have a private student loan from Wells Fargo, check it carefully for any illegal fees or incorrect entries on credit reports, for which the bank was fined $3.6 million by the CFPB.

Review your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, which you can get for free once a year. Check out AnnualCreditReport.com.

Wait before you close any credit card. To do so many negatively impact your credit score

Credit cards opened over time show a cardholder is responsible, says VP of Customer Operations at Equifax Diane Moogalian to Consumer Affairs.

Generally those who have a lower credit utilization rate have a higher credit score. In other words, if you don’t need credit you are judged favorably. Keep your score under 30%, says CreditKarma.

The Wells Fargo policy now is to let you know if an account or credit card is opened in your name.  The sales quota system will end at the end of 2016.

On the other hand, you could use this as an excuse to shop for another bank.  Check out Depositaccounts.com to compare lower fees or higher interest rates.