Collision Reporting Center Opens in Tucson

If you have been involved in a car accident in Tucson since 2011, the Tucson Police Department (TPD) likely did not send an officer to investigate or write a report of the accident. TPD stopped responding to auto accidents not involving serious injury due to staffing concerns, making it difficult to get a police report for motor vehicle accidents. Now TPD has opened the first Collision Reporting Center in Arizona as of May 30, 2018. The Collision Reporting Center provides a place for the public to report traffic accidents for the purpose of meeting legal and insurance requirements.

Drivers who are involved in vehicle accidents in which no one was seriously injured that occur within the Tucson city limits can report damage to a vehicle, get a police report, and improve timeliness of insurance claims. Those who have been involved in collisions also will not have to wait for law enforcement at the scene, which can also reduce the potential for traffic delays or additional crashes.

It’s important to have a police report if you are involved in an accident. Injuries sometimes seem minor or even nonexistent at first, but once the shock wears off they may become apparent. The insurance company will want to see a police report of the accident. The Collision Reporting Center provides a good option for those who are involved in seemingly “minor” accidents to report the incident and obtain a police report.

There’s no charge for this service, which is a partnership with a Canadian company (Accident Support Services International), which has a total of 33 Collision Reporting Centers in North America. The Center in Tucson is the second in the United States. Funding for the company is provided by several insurance companies.

Police will still respond and investigate collisions in the following cases:
• If a death occurs.
• If the collision involves injuries that require immediate treatment away from the scene.
• If the collision includes criminal activity (e.g., impaired driving, stolen vehicles, assault).
• If the collision involves a government vehicle (i.e., Sun Tran buses, school buses, City of Tucson vehicles).
• If the collision involves hazardous materials.
• If the collision is a hit and run.
• If the collision involves bicyclists or pedestrians.

What should you do if you are involved in an auto accident within the Tucson city limits?
• Call 911 to report the accident. The 911 operator will determine if police need to respond to the accident.
• If police don’t need to respond, remove the vehicle from the roadway if it is safe to do so.
• Exchange information (name, address, phone number, insurance and vehicle information, license plate number) with other involved drivers/parties, as well as any witnesses.
• Take your vehicle as soon as possible to the Collision Reporting Center. If the vehicle is drivable, go there within 72 hours.
• If the vehicle needs to be towed, the tow truck driver will take you and the vehicle directly to the Center.
• Take your driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance information with you to the Center.

Once you get to the Center, the personnel there will take statements, complete a police report, and take photographs of the damage. The Center can forward the report and photographs directly to your insurance company.

The Collision Reporting Center is centrally located:

Midtown Multi-Service Center
1100 South Alvernon Way
Tucson, Arizona 85711
(520) 837–7474

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9am – 7pm
Saturday: 10am – 4pm
Sundays & Holidays: Closed

The Collision Reporting Center is open for a pilot program of six months in Tucson. If successful, the program may expand. Officials believe that the service will be a helpful change, and that the rest of the country will be looking at the Tucson program as an example. In addition, the service will also benefit TPD, as they will be able to track where crashes are occurring, as well as why they may be happening in certain locations.

Takata Airbags Cause Serious Injury

Nearly 40 million vehicles in the US have been or are expected to be recalled to replace defective driver and passenger front airbags made by Japanese manufacturer Takata. Under certain conditions, such as a car crash, these airbags can explode and spray metal fragments into the vehicle, which can result in serious injury or even death to its occupants. Fifteen deaths and over 100 injuries have been reported in the U.S. as a result of this problem.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) calls this recall “the largest safety recall in U.S. history.” So far, 19 different automakers have recalled cars made from 2002 to 2015 to replace these airbags. More recalls are expected by December 2019. Takata filed for bankruptcy last year and is expected to go out of business.

According to the Transportation Statistics Annual Report, 2017, front air bags are estimated to have saved nearly 9,000 lives since 2000. However, the risk of injury from the Takata defective airbags led NHTSA, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of vehicles in the U.S., to order the recalls. The age of the airbag, as well as regular exposure to high temperatures, temperature swings, or high humidity are linked to the risk of explosion. Even if your car isn’t currently exposed to these conditions, it may have been in the past if it was previously owned by someone in another part of the country. Reports estimate that only 43% of recalled vehicles have been repaired.

Is Your Car On The List?

NHTSA urgently advises owners of 2006 Ford Ranger pickup trucks and 2006 Mazda B-series pickup trucks not to drive these vehicles. If you own one of these, you should call a local dealer and get the free repairs done now. In addition, airbags in certain Honda and Acura vehicles from 2001-2003 pose a higher risk and should be repaired as soon as possible. See more about this “Do Not Drive Warning” at NHTSA.gov.

To check the recall status of your car, go to safercar.gov and enter your car’s VIN number. Some vehicles may be scheduled for recall in the near future and will not show up on this search. NHTSA advises car owners to check this site at least twice per year. You can also sign up at NHTSA.gov/Alerts for e-mail alerts of future recalls.

Air bag repairs have been put into priority groups based on age and other factors so that the vehicles with the greatest risk of serious personal injury to drivers and passengers get repaired quickly.

If your car is on the list, NHTSA recommends that you call a car dealership (not an independent mechanic) to get the free work done as soon as parts are available and work can be scheduled, especially if you drive an older model car. This can help you avoid a serious injury, or even wrongful death, in the event of a car accident.

For More Information

NHTSA reminds you that a recall is serious because it means your car has a safety issue. Visit NHTSA Takata Recall Spotlight for more information.

Review Insurance Before a Car Accident

Local injury attorneys have seen an alarming increase in the number car accidents caused by drivers with very low auto insurance coverage. What this means for accident victims is that the driver who caused their accident probably won’t have enough insurance to compensate them for their injuries.

Unfortunately, a seriously or catastrophically injured person does not have much recourse against a driver who doesn’t have adequate insurance coverage.

Worse, it’s usually after they’ve been injured that crash victims find out their own auto policies don’t offer the “full coverage” they thought they had.

Recently a young mother and her daughter were driving through an intersection when a driver made a left turn and t-boned their vehicle. The mother suffered a severe leg fracture.

The driver who caused the car accident had a minimal policy of $15,000, which is all the mother was able to collect, even though her medical expenses exceeded $75,000.

Our office reviewed the mother’s auto insurance policy in the hopes she had underinsured motorist and medical payments coverage.

She did not have med pay, which would have helped with medical expenses and liens that were filed against her settlement, but she did have underinsured motorist coverage. She also had a minimal policy, so even though she had suffered a catastrophic injury, the most she was able to collect from her UIM claim was another $15,000.

Keep in mind that when purchasing auto insurance, you want to make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones in case of a car accident.

We recommend you add uninsured, underinsured and medical payments to your policy, and that you give serious consideration to the amounts of coverage you need for adequate protection.

Take the example of a single-income parent working as a hair stylist who suffers a shoulder injury in a motor vehicle accident. An absence of several months from work or an inability to ever return to her job could have dire financial consequences.

Such person will be well advised to carry at least $100,000 in UM and UIM coverage, and at least $5,000 in medical payments. The cost is relatively low compared to liability premiums.

Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you if the person who injures you does not have any auto insurance; underinsured motorist coverage kicks in if the person who causes the accident does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries; medical payments reimburses you for accident-related medical expenses. It’s a good idea to add med pay to your auto policy even if you have medical insurance.

The words “full coverage” as they relate to auto insurance are meaningless unless you review your policy’s Declarations Page and determine what it covers if you’re the victim of a car crash.

Take a few minutes to review our previous blog posts to learn more about Auto Insurance Terms, and why you should carry Uninsured, Underinsured and Medical Payments coverage.

A few more considerations about UM, UIM and Med Pay: using this coverage will not increase your insurance premiums, and it is transferable to any relative related by blood or marriage who is living in the same household as the policy holder.

Making sure you’re adequately covered by auto insurance in case you’re the victim of a car accident is smart planning.

Prevent Car Accidents: Check for Recalls

A worried young woman called our office with an unusual question related to car accidents. She wasn’t calling about a catastrophic injury, a wrongful death, or a car accident she’d been in—she was calling about an accident she was afraid she was going to have.

She explained she had purchased a new car in 2014, but had been having problems with the car stalling. She had taken it to the dealer several times with no success. They would check her car and tell her they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. She said knew something was wrong and she was very concerned. She had recently had a close call when her car stalled while she was going through an intersection, and she was almost in a t-bone collision.

The caller did not associate the vehicle recall crisis of the past few years with her car’s problem. She didn’t realize that her car could be one of the millions of vehicles that have been recalled over the past several years for defects ranging from faulty airbags, ignition switches, tires, fuel tanks, etc.

Our office performed an internet search of recalls of her vehicle’s make, model and year, and quickly determined that her car was being recalled for the engine stalling. She was in disbelief that the dealer would not tell her about the recall or fix the problem with the engine.

Is Your Car Being Recalled

Consumers can make sure their car is up-to-date on the latest recall action with a simple internet search. If your vehicle is the subject of a recall and you don’t take action, it can lead to car accidents that can cause serious injury or wrongful death. For example, some drivers who have been in auto accidents in vehicles equipped with Takata airbags, which shoot debris into the cabin of a car, have been killed and others seriously disfigured by these airbags.

To find out if your vehicle is part of a recall, enter its vehicle identification number at safercar.gov, which is a website run by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you find your vehicle has a defective part that needs to be replaced, contact the dealer immediately to schedule an appointment.

Caution When Buying Used Vehicles

Typically, consumers performing their due diligence when buying a used car take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic for an inspection and ask the seller for a Carfax report. Consumers should now add another step to their research and check the vehicle’s recall history. Again, it’s easy to do at the NHTSA safercar.gov website.

New Vehicles May Also Have Recalled Parts

A recent congressional report raised concerns that new cars are being sold with defective Takata airbags. Consumers need to be aware that some car manufacturers are selling new vehicles equipped with defective parts, and these cars will be the subject of recalls as they’re being driven off the lot. When buying a new car consumers must ask the dealer to confirm if their vehicle was made using any defective parts that are involved in a recall, and if the parts will be replaced before the sale of the vehicle is completed.

Report Car Issues

Consumers should frequently check their vehicles at safercar.gov for any recall activity, but if there is an issue with their car that they feel has not been identified, reporting the problem to NHTSA will help regulators hold auto manufacturers to the highest standard of auto safety.

NHTSA won’t subject a vehicle class to a recall until they make sure the problem is serious. Timely reporting of issues by consumers will help make the process of recalling defective parts more efficient. Safercar.gov allows consumers to File a Complaint and report issues with their vehicles that that may not yet be part of a recall.

Consumers should be able to trust that the vehicle they purchased was made without defective parts, and if the manufacturer identifies an issue, that they will notify owners immediately and correct the problem.

 

 

Sharing the Road with Tractor Trailers

Ever wonder what the chances are of surviving a collision with a tractor-trailer? A great many factors would determine the outcome. The most significant of these are the size, speed and weight of the tractor-trailer, the state of alertness of the truck driver, and the prevailing road and weather conditions.

By learning some defensive driving techniques to help circumvent the dangers these enormous vehicles pose, you can greatly increase your chances of staying safe and avoid an accident when you share the highway with them.

Keep Your Distance

Semi trucks with trailers can weigh over 80,000 pounds, or 25 to 40 times more than most cars. This incredible amount of weight means it is impossible for them to quickly come to a complete stop. Further, they cannot maneuver easily, so their ability to change lanes or avoid an obstruction on the highway is seriously impeded. Therefore, always keep a safe distance from any tractor-trailer. Never change lanes abruptly, or forget to use your turn signals near these large trucks.

When passing a semi truck, do it quickly to minimize the amount of time you will be driving alongside them. When passing a truck pulling a trailer, the trailer could swerve into your lane unexpectedly. Stay a safe distance behind the rig (a minimum four-second following distance) in case pieces of tire tread or any other parts of the truck fall off and into your path.

Assume the Truck Driver Cannot See You or Hear You

The driver of a truck cannot see you if you cannot see the driver in one of the truck’s rear view mirrors. Even then, assume the driver is tired or not paying attention.

Big rigs have large blind spots, called “no zones.” This means a truck driver many not see your vehicle when you are behind or to the side of the truck. Equally important is to pay close attention when the truck is signally to turn, and to its brake lights.

Never assume the truck driver will be able to hear your horn. A music system, radio, air conditioning, or typical truck noise may prevent the driver from hearing sounds outside of the truck cab.

When Stopping, Pull Way Off the Road

Truck drivers are conditioned to follow traffic. A driver who is tired and not paying attention could inadvertently drive directly into your vehicle without realizing you have stopped, particularly at night. If you cannot get your car far enough from away from the highway, it may be best to get out of your vehicle and stay as far away from it as possible. If visibility is poor due to smoke, fog, snow, rain or dust, or at night, turn your lights off so other drivers will not assume your vehicle is in motion on the highway.

Be Cautious During Adverse Road Conditions

When sharing the road with tractor-trailers, all precautionary measures become far more critical during adverse or unusual driving conditions. One reason is that big rigs are particularly susceptible to bad weather, detours, heavy traffic, construction zones, roads in need of repair, or atypical road conditions such as exit ramps, bridges, obstructions in the road, or sharp curves. Be extra cautious when driving near any tractor-trailer under these circumstances.

Understanding the challenges posed by tractor trailers will greatly increase your chances of keeping you and your family safe when you’re on the road.

Bicycle Safety: Learn to Bike Defensively

When Tom purchased a new bike, he decided to do some research about bicycle safety. He wanted to learn about the top causes of bicycle accidents.

Sometime later, while riding his new bicycle in the bike lane of a busy, downtown street, Tom noticed a vehicle approaching from a side street. He kept his attention focused on three things—traffic behind him, traffic ahead of him, and the vehicle approaching from the right. Tom assumed the driver was not going to come to a full stop at the stop sign, but instead would pull out in front of him.

In researching bicycle safety, Tom was prepared for what most people would consider the unthinkable. His newly acquired safety awareness prompted him to slow down and swerve to the right just in time to avoid a collision. But he didn’t escape completely unharmed–Tom’s bike slammed into a concrete block and he flew through the air, landing on his back.

Although the driver did as Tom had anticipated, he didn’t need an explanation from the driver to understand what had likely just happened.

By keeping an eye on the street behind him, Tom had noticed there was a break in traffic. Tom guessed the driver was impatient and might decide to make a right turn before another wave of traffic could cause him a delay, which is exactly what happened.

The driver accelerated and quickly pulled onto the street, running the stop sign and cutting off the approaching bicyclist.

Tucson Bicycle Accident Statistics

According to Tucson Bicycle Crash Database, the top intersections for bicycle accidents are Grant and Alvernon and Grant and Mountain. The intersections at 22nd Street and Kolb Road and First Avenue and Ft. Lowell Road are tied for second most dangerous for cyclists. The worst time of day for bicycle accidents are during rush hour, between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.

TBCD reports that in Tucson, the following are the most common types of bicycle/vehicle collisions:

23% – Right-turning vehicle with a bicyclist riding on the wrong side of the street;

17% – Bicyclist and vehicle colliding in an intersection;

13.4% – Left-hook where a motorist makes a left turn at an intersection and does not see the approaching bicyclist;

12.6% – Right-hook where the motorist makes a right turn directly in front of the bicyclist.

To learn more about the most frequent types of bicycle accidents in Tucson, visit Tucson Bicycle Crash Database.

Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program

The Pima County Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, launched to promote bicycle use and safety, offers free bicycle training, support and equipment to local residents.

During November and December the program will be offering free bicycle classes:

UA Area Bike Ride                          Nov 9 and Dec 1

Get Back on Your Bike                   Nov 14 and Dec 19

Mountain Bike Classes                  Nov 7

Traffic Skills 101                              Two-part classes starting Nov 10

Traffic Skills 101 for Women          Dec 10 and Dec 12

To help people who are new to bicycling or need a refresher to become more confident bike riders, the Bike Buddy Program offers one-on-one support and training with experienced bicycle instructors.

For more information or to sign up for the free bicycle classes or the Bike Buddy program, call 520-724-2453.