Drivers Aren’t Using Turn Signals According to Survey

We all remember the experience of first learning to drive. You couldn’t wait to get on the road, so you quickly learned the driving rules to show your parents you were prepared to take your driving test. When the day of your road test finally arrived, you dutifully went through the prescribed paces, making sure to use turn signals so the test administrator would evaluate you as a safe, reliable driver. But when a driver’s license was placed in your eager hands that seemed to be the end of any need for turn signals. Or so says a survey conducted in August 2005 by Response Insurance, a national car insurer.

According to the National Driving Habits Survey, fifty-seven percent of American drivers admit they don’t use turn signals when changing lanes. The numbers revealed men as the main culprits: sixty-two percent of men don’t use signals when changing lanes, while only fifty-three percent of the women who responded admitted the same. Drivers in the 18 to 24 demographic lead the pack with seventy-one percent failing to signal. Only forty-nine percent of drivers in the 55 to 64 age group admitted to this behavior.

Despite their shared behavior, respondents admitting to non-use of turn signals often shared different reasons for this pattern. The researchers categorized drivers into groups based on their rationale for ignoring the use of signals:


  • Impulsive: At forty-two percent, this category represented the largest group of guilty drivers. Their reason for ignoring the use of signals is a whimsical approach to lane changing, doing so whenever the mood strikes them. They feel they don’t have enough time to both predict and then signal their impending lane change.
  • Lazy: Accounting for twenty-three percent of non-signaling drivers, this group couldn’t offer any reason other than honest laziness for failing to signal a lane change.
  • Forgetful: Seventeen percent of respondents fit this description; these drivers said they don’t use a turn signal because they forget to turn it off after the lane change.
  • Swervers: The zigzagging twelve percent in this category admitted they spend their time on the road constantly changing lanes. Their lane changes are so frequent, they felt they would be continually turning signals on and off.
  • Ostriches: The eleven percent in this group believe signaling is simply not an important act when changing lanes.
  • Followers: This category had eight percent of the guilty respondents; they believe when other drivers don’t signal, they shouldn’t have to either.
  • Dare Devils: The smallest number of drivers fell into this category. Seven percent of those who don’t signal said this style of driving adds excitement to driving.


A Complete Approach to Commercial General Liability Coverage

All businesses utilize risk management techniques in some format to reduce liability exposure.  No matter how hard you try, however, you can never fully account for the actions of others. On any given day, your business could be found on the wrong end of a lawsuit for injuries or damages caused to a third party as a result of your operations. Commercial General Liability insurance is your first line of defense in these situations.

Take for example broadcast production employees who ignore safety standards when operating electrical equipment. They are remiss even though they have been thoroughly trained in accepted procedures. The negligent handling of broadcast equipment can not only result in bodily harm to the employee, but injuries or even death to unaffiliated third parties.

As a manufacturer, you are potentially liable for every product you ship.  While quality control may be stressed throughout your organization, the fact remains that no person or machine is perfect. Harm caused to a third party from a faulty product could lead to a lengthy courtroom battle.

Visitors to a long-term care facility can also be the victims of unforeseen events. A floor mat with torn and uplifted edges or an extension cord placed across a heavily trafficked area can certainly be the starting point for an accident.

That’s why, in spite of your best efforts at removing all the obvious potential hazards from your business, you might still find yourself being sued. Commercial General Liability insurance is your best defense against devastating claims that could destroy your business.

Commercial General Liability insurance is designed to protect business owners from a variety of exposures.  It can cover liability arising from accidents on or off premises, to products sold by the insured that result in injury to the user, to contractual liability, leaving an owner free to concentrate on managing their business.

Just as important, Commercial General Liability coverage protects owners even if their company isn’t legally liable for a claim. Legal defense costs are continually rising; and the expense to defend oneself against a claim whether justified or not can be financially devastating to a business. The fact that Commercial General Liability insurance pays for expenses such as attorney’s fees, witness fees, and police reports is an important coverage feature. Another significant consideration is that coverage goes beyond the basic expenses of a legal defense to cover any reasonable expenses the business owner may incur at the insurance company’s request to assist in the planning of their defense. Finally, the liability policy will also fund the premium for any bond the court requires, ensuring that the judgment will be paid if the business owner is found legally liable for an injury or property damage.

Research Proves Using Seat Belts Cuts Hospital Bills

Evidence of the importance of wearing a seat belt while in a moving vehicle is not a recent discovery; many studies have been conducted to compare the hospital costs for victims of crashes that wore seat belts against those who did not wear them.   In 2001, the National Safety Council revealed that the average inpatient costs for crash victims not wearing seat belts were 50% higher than victims who were wearing seat belts during the accident.

In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that the deaths and injuries that result from not wearing a seat belt cost an estimated $26 billion annually in medical care, lost productivity and other related costs.

Recently, the Minnesota Seat Belt Coalition has been conducting its own research to determine how the use of seat belts impacts the cost of health care. Using Minnesota vehicle crash records from 2002, the group has discovered that hospital costs for unrestrained crash victims were 94% higher than hospital costs for those using seat belts. They estimated that increasing seat belt usage in Minnesota to 94% from the current rate of 84% could reduce the cost of crash-related hospital care an average of $19 million annually over the next 10 years.

Many people might wonder how a simple piece of equipment could be so effective in reducing crash-related hospital costs, and potentially save their life.  To understand how a seatbelt works, one must first examine a basic principle of physics called inertia.

Sir Isaac Newton is credited with refining the concept of inertia in his work entitled Laws of Motion. Newton’s first law stated that, “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight ahead, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.”  Put simply, an object will continue to move in an straight line until something interferes with its path.

Take that basic premise and apply it to a moving vehicle, which contains a driver and passengers. If a vehicle is traveling at 40 miles per hour, inertia should keep it moving forward at this pace, undisturbed. However, other factors like air resistance and friction caused by the interaction of the tires and the road surface are continually slowing it down. The car’s engine is designed to compensate for this energy loss and keep the car in continuous motion.

Separately, everything inside the car has its own inertia. Even though the passengers’ inertia is separate from the car’s inertia, while the car is traveling at 40 miles per hour, the passengers are traveling at 40 miles per hour as well. At this point, both the car and the passengers have the same inertia.

If the car were to suddenly stop because it impacted with another object, the passengers’ inertia and the car’s inertia would be completely independent. The force of the impact would bring the car to an abrupt stop, but the passengers would still be traveling at 40 miles per hour. Without a seat belt, the inhabitants would continue to move forward at 40 miles per hour until their path was obstructed, usually by a steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. Depending on where and how the passengers landed, they could be killed instantly, injured severely, or walk away from the crash unharmed.

The deciding factor in this equation is the seat belt. A seat belt applies the stopping force to the sturdier parts of the body over a longer period of time. If it is worn correctly, it will apply the major portion of the stopping force to the rib cage and the pelvis, which are better able to handle it than other body parts. The belts extend across a wide section of the body, so the force is not concentrated on a small section of the body and cannot do as much harm as the impact of an object in the car. In addition, the flexible seat belt material stretches to keep the stop from being too sudden.

This simple piece of equipment relies on the properties of physics to save both lives and millions of dollars in health care annually.  It could save you money in taxes and health insurance costs.  The three extra seconds it takes to reach over and fasten the belt seem insignificant when you consider the many benefits of wearing it.  The next time you ride in a car, check to see if all the passengers are belted in; it could be the difference between life and death.

Know Your Liabilities When Hiring Temporary Workers

The importance of the temporary worker has increased in the last ten years due to gaps in staffing caused by downsizing, mergers and acquisitions. A temporary worker can be hired to fill in for an employee on leave or they can be used to augment a company’s permanent staff during seasonal fluctuations. Regardless of the reason for their employment, any business owner who hires temporaries should understand that they are entitled to certain considerations even though they will only be with you for a short time.

That entitlement rests on the answer to an important question of whether or not the temporary is an “employee” or an “independent contractor”. This is especially relevant when it comes to the area of discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that temporaries are covered employees under the federal and state anti-discrimination laws if the right to control the means and manner of their work performance rests with the hiring company, rather than with the temporaries themselves.

It’s important to note that even though the staffing agency pays the temporary based on the number of hours reported by the business owner; it is the hiring company that oversees the temporary’s work. Moreover, the temporary uses the hiring company’s supplies and equipment and works on-site. In this instance, the liability for providing a discrimination free environment is not transferred to the staffing agency, as most companies would believe. The EEOC says the liability is shared by both the staffing agency and the hiring firm.

The issue of safety in the workplace is another area of vulnerability when it comes to hiring temporary workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has taken the stance that companies employing temporary workers are primarily responsible for compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act with regard to those workers’ safety. The rationale for this position is again based on the fact that the hiring company controls the means and manner of their work.

Employing temporary workers also has ramifications for the hiring company when it comes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law requires employers with 50 or more employees to allow any eligible employee to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave in any 12 month period, while still maintaining the employee’s health insurance benefits and usually, to restore the employee to the same or equivalent position upon his/her return. While the hiring firm does not grant FMLA leave to temporaries, they do have to count temporary workers as part of their contingent when determining if they meet the 50 or more criterion. They must also allow a temporary employee returning from FMLA leave to continue working at their site, even if that means letting another temporary worker go who was hired to replace the worker on leave.

The National Labor Relations Board considers hiring companies and staffing agencies to be joint employers for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when both make determinations that affect the terms and conditions of the temporary worker’s employment. An important consequence of this joint employer determination for the hiring company is that it may be held liable for the staffing agency’s unfair labor practices toward the temporary worker it has hired.

And finally, hiring companies must include most temporary employees in their employee headcounts to see if their benefit plans qualify for a favorable tax treatment under the Internal Revenue Code. However, several courts have ruled that there is no provision in either the Internal Revenue Code or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act that hinders hiring companies from excluding temporary workers from their benefit programs.

Tips for Older Drivers As Your Reaction Time Slows

The feeling of freedom you get while driving is one you never grow tired of. That feeling keeps people behind the wheel, even when the effects of aging make it more difficult for them to drive safely.

As you age, your ability to react lessens. Taking medications for conditions, such as high blood pressure or cardiac problems, can add to your inability to react quickly. You may experience a feeling of being lost or confused when you find yourself in an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes you may also be overwhelmed by all of the traffic signals, road signs, pedestrians and vehicles that you have to keep track of at intersections. Distances become harder to judge, and you have difficulty in determining whether you have enough room to turn or change lanes. Likewise, knowing when to merge with traffic from the on-ramp of a highway may become difficult to judge. These are all the result of the natural aging process, but you need to take extra precautions to be sure they don’t interfere with your ability to handle your vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed the following guidelines to help older Americans drive more safely:

  • Plan your route. Drive where you are familiar with the road conditions and traffic patterns.
  • Drive during the day and avoid rush hours. Find alternative routes with less traffic.
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead. Find a marker ahead of you, such as a tree, sign or lamppost. When the car ahead of you passes this marker, count “1001, 1002, 1003, 1004.” Try to leave enough space so that you reach 1004 before your car gets to the marker.
  • When approaching intersections, remind yourself to look to roadsides, as well as directly ahead.
  • Try to make left turns at intersections where green arrow signals provide protected turns. Sometimes you can completely avoid left turns by making a right turn at the next intersection. Two more right turns should put you on the street you need.
  • Scan far down the road continuously so that you can anticipate future problems and plan your actions. A passenger can serve as a “second pair of eyes.” Be careful not to get distracted in conversation.

Many seniors are still very capable of driving, which is why a decision about a person’s ability to drive should never be based solely on age. However, changes in reflexes can put at an older driver at increased risk. If you recognize and accept these changes, you can adjust your driving habits to allow many more years of safe driving.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance – Protection from Litigious Employees

The area of employees’ rights has been a bubbling caldron since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law prohibits intentional employment discrimination by employers who are engaged in interstate commerce. It also prohibits practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals.

As new workplace laws have been enacted, the possibility of employers finding themselves on the business end of a lawsuit has increased, especially when it comes to issues regarding discrimination.  It isn’t just about ensuring that all employees have the same rights and opportunities to job access, job security, working conditions and advancement, it also means creating a workplace in compliance with federal guidelines for the employment of disabled and mature workers. According to statistics compiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, from 1992 to 2004, the total number of individual charges of discrimination increased from 72,302 to 79,432 per year. These figures included filings for all types of discrimination.

Of course, it stands to reason that the more personnel policies employers have in place, the fewer the lawsuits filed against them, especially if these policies are outlined in a handbook provided to new employees. Even with the most careful interpretation of the law, however, there can still be instances when an employee can allege discrimination. That’s when an employer will be thankful and reassured they have Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI).

How important is this type of coverage? The answer to that question lies in an examination of the workplace itself. The changing ethnic and racial composition of the workforce mirrors the changing demographics of America itself. Despite the fact that the U.S. workforce on average has a higher educational level than anytime in its history, some problems evolving in the workplace have discrimination at their root. Cultural differences have become an area ripe for discrimination lawsuits. Add to that sexual harassment, age discrimination and bias against the abilities of handicapped workers and employers can find themselves swimming in a sea of legal proceedings.

The focus on workplace litigation has steadily increased as workers have been awarded large damages in lawsuits against companies; human rights organizations have become more vigilant in reporting the actions of multinational companies; and the greater availability of information has provided more awareness of discriminatory activities that might have gone unnoticed in the past. Even the press closely examines the practices of large corporations in this post-Enron society. With all of these preventative measures in place, an employer needs the protection of Employment Practices Liability Insurance for those times when the best laid plans for a non-discriminatory workplace go awry.

Uncovering Common Misconceptions About Flood Insurance Coverage

According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flooding is this country’s most prevalent natural disaster. In the years between 1995 and 2004, flood losses in the U.S. averaged $867 million annually. There are about 4.7 million citizens who have taken advantage of the government’s flood insurance protection, however large numbers of at-risk Americans still refuse to find coverage.  After hurricane Katrina last summer, when nearly 80% of New Orleans was underwater, it is surprising that people would not seek such coverage, since their homeowner’s policies do not insure them against floods.

Part of the problem stems from the innate sense that if it’s offered by the federal government, applying for it must be: a) tied up in red tape, and b) too complicated due to all the exclusions. Both of these statements, however, are not true. Let’s examine some of the commonly held beliefs about flood insurance:


  • You can’t buy flood insurance if you are in a high-risk area.  Flood insurance is available to all homeowners and businesses in any community that participates in the NFIP. You can check to see if your community participates by visiting The only issue which would prevent you from obtaining flood insurance is if you reside in a Coastal Barrier Resource System location, or a location that is designated as an Otherwise Protected Area. Land that falls under these two categories are undeveloped areas along coastlines. The flood insurance program doesn’t provide coverage in these areas to discourage settlement where there is an extreme risk not only for flooding, but potential loss of life.
  • You can only get flood insurance if you are a homeowner.  Condominium/co-op owners, apartment dwellers, and commercial/non-residential building owners can purchase NFIP coverage. There is a maximum of $250,000 worth of coverage on a one-family residential building. The maximum per-unit coverage limit on a residential condominium/co-op association building is also $250,000. Contents coverage for any residential building is limited to $100,000. Commercial/non-residential structures can be insured for a maximum of $500,000. You can also insure the contents of commercial buildings up to $500,000.
  • You have to wait 30 days for flood insurance protection to take effect. Usually there is a 30-day waiting period from the time a policy is purchased until you are covered. However, there are some exceptions. There is no waiting period if you already have a flood insurance policy, but need more coverage to increase, extend or renew a loan, such as a second mortgage, home equity loan, or refinance. Coverage is effective immediately, as long as you pay the premium at or prior to loan closing. There is a one-day waiting period when additional coverage is requested because of a map revision. This applies when the NFIP revises the map so that a non-Special Flood Hazard Area becomes a Special Flood Hazard Area. Coverage must be purchased within 13 months following the map revision to be applicable for the reduced waiting period.
  • You can get Federal Disaster Assistance even if you don’t have your own flood insurance policy.  The Federal Disaster Program will only provide coverage to uninsured individuals or businesses if the affected area is declared a federal disaster area, which occurs less than 50% of the time.  Statistics show the awards average about $4000 dollars and most are made in the form of a Small Business Administration Loan, which must be paid back with interest.  Furthermore, the award recipient must carry flood insurance for the duration of the loan.


To learn more about the terms of flood insurance coverage, log on to

Source: FEMA Publication F-216 (08/04) and

Could a Toxic Tort be Toxic to Your Bottom Line?

As a nation we have been “thinking green” since the late 1960s. With the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, however, preserving the environment went from a popular sentiment to another regulatory requirement for corporate America.

When this concept got its legal teeth, it gave rise to another phenomenon, the toxic tort.

A tort is quite simply an injury to a person’s physical being or their financial situation caused by another person’ negligence or carelessness. The injured party has the legal right to be returned to the position they were in before the tort occurred. This is the basis for our country’s tort law and the beginning for every lawsuit resulting from a tort. A toxic tort is an injury caused by coming into contact with a toxic substance. Over the years, industry has been able to lengthen the list of substances that are considered toxins, which has created even more opportunities for individuals to sue.

Toxic tort cases are difficult to prove. An injured individual who believes they have been adversely affected by exposure to a toxin is only required to prove that their claim is more likely true than not true. The burden of proof is significantly less than that required in a criminal case. In a criminal case, the standard is proving “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But in a toxic tort case, the jury can have some doubts about the validity of the claim and the injured party can still win a favorable judgment.

Also keep in mind that an instance of toxic exposure doesn’t affect a single individual. An event like finding asbestos insulation in a building or dumping hazardous medical waste into a stream will subject large numbers of people to risk. A smart attorney will find as many members of the exposed “class” as they can because there is strength in numbers especially when it comes to convincing a jury. Settlements in class action suits are notorious for being huge amounts of money; so large in fact that these settlements have been the impetus behind the movement for tort reform in this country.

The irony of the situation is that large settlements stem from the very nature of tort law itself. Remember, the law requires that the injured party be returned to the position they were in before the tort. Since the effects of toxic exposure are usually irreversible, this is impossible. The only alternative for righting the wrong is to give the victim monetary compensation that is equivalent to the amount of damage suffered. When juries start to examine the types of damages suffered such as the cost of past and future medical care, the loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering to name only a few, the numbers head toward the stratosphere.

What does all of this mean for your business? It means two things. First an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Following the mandates of environmental regulatory agencies lessens the chance that you will be involved in a tort case. The second thing is that it is always good to have a backup plan. An insurance policy such as pollution legal liability coverage allows you to anticipate the risk before it happens by providing a means for paying settlements. It lets you transfer a risk to your carrier that could potentially be lethal to your bottom line.