Halloween can be particularly dangerous for children, for a variety of reasons – so please be EXTRA careful that day (and evening) and heed the tips in this month’s column. We also included tips to help you avoid “rear-end” accidents and avoid being scammed.

Halloween Safety

The National Safety Council urges motorists to be especially alert on Halloween.

  • Watch out for children darting out from between parked cars.
  • Watch out for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
  • At twilight (and later in the evening), watch out for children in dark clothes and costumes. Some masks can obscure a child’s vision, so assume they cannot see you and act accordingly.
  • If you are the victim of children or teenagers throwing eggs at your vehicle, DO NOT get out of your vehicle to escalate the incident. It is easier and safer to proceed to a car wash.
  • Be on the alert for criminals using the cover of Halloween to disguise their appearance.
  • Read the newspaper to learn about Halloween Parade routes and be patient if you are delayed in traffic as a result of a Halloween Parade.

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions are often caused by drivers tailgating and not maintaining safe following distances.

  • Always maintain a safe following distance, and add time and distance whenever you are tired or stressed, or the roads are wet, icy or slick from wet leaves (newly-paved streets and roads can also be slippery).
  • Always anticipate that a taxi or FHV may stop suddenly and without warning to respond to a street hail.
  • Do not immediately proceed when the traffic signal turns green. First, scan the entire area, just to be sure vehicles are not making unsafe, last-minute turns in front of you.
  • Always try to have a clear lane on all sides when traveling on the highway.
  • Texting or using a cell phone while driving may cause a driver to go slow and cause a rear-end collision.
  • Always be aware of surrounding vehicles and maintain a safe following distance. Do not allow your vehicle to be part of insurance fraud, when a vehicle in front of you stops for no apparent reason, and the vehicle next to you (conspiring with the vehicle in front of you) prevents you from taking evasive action.

Spotting Signs of a Staged Vehicle Accident

Some collisions aren’t really accidents at all… they’re carefully orchestrated, as part of a criminal plot to commit insurance fraud. The FBI estimates that this type of crash costs the insurance industry $20 billion annually. It’s important that drivers recognize the signs of a staged crash, so they can inform their insurance company about any legitimate suspicions they may have.

  • Swoop and squat:In traffic, a vehicle suddenly pulls up in front of you and then slams on the brakes, causing an intentional rear-end collision.
  • Drive down:While you’re attempting to merge into freeway traffic, a driver waves you forward, giving you the right-of-way. But instead of letting you in, they deliberately crash into your vehicle and blame you for the accident.
  • Sideswipe:You’re making a left turn from a dual-turn lane and your vehicle accidently drifts into the other lane for just a moment. The driver in the other left-turn lane sideswipes you and then accuses you of reckless driving.
  • T-Bone:You’re cautiously driving through an intersection when a waiting driver deliberately slams into your vehicle. That driver then tells the police that you intentionally ran the stop sign.
  • The wave:While you’re attempting to change lanes in heavy traffic, another driver gestures you over. Just as you complete the maneuver, that driver rams into your vehicle.

After executing one staged accident, some criminals go a step further. They might go to another location and stage a second or third crash. Then they’ll claim that the additional vehicular damage was all part of the first collision. Other scam participants may include the other vehicle’s passengers, the tow-truck driver, auto body shop employees, doctors, rehab physicians and the driver’s lawyer. The driver and passengers all complain of back and neck pain, even though the vehicle damage was minimal. Their descriptions of their injuries become more extreme and dramatic when they talk to a police officer or insurance company representative. Additional witnesses may suddenly appear at the accident scene after the crash. Be wary if the driver of the other vehicle offers to find you an auto repair shop, doctor or lawyer.

Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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