New Jersey to Add Anti-Texting Warning Signs to State Roads

Under the terms of some recently-enacted legislation, the state of New Jersey will be adding signs to state roads, informing drivers that texting while driving isn’t allowed in the Garden State.

Specifically the bill in question requires the Department of Transportation to work with the Division of Highway Traffic Safety to put up the appropriate warning signs, including signs using variable messages.

The signs mandated right now would inform motorists that drivers of moving vehicles may not send or read text messages, or send or receive any other form of electronic message via wireless phones or other electronic communications devices.

Signed into law earlier this summer, the bill has been named “Nikki’s Law,” a reference to Washington Township teen Nikki Kellenyi who died in a car crash in 2012.

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WI Motorcycles Can Skip Red Lights – Sometimes

File this under the “obscure state laws” category and note that it could save you money on your motorcycle insurance.

Apparently, there’s a law on the books which says motorcyclists in Wisconsin can drive through red lights when their bikes are too small to trigger the sensors at intersections. The caveat: the intersection must be clear, and the motorcyclist must wait at least forty-five seconds before going through the light.

The problem, of course, is that many law enforcement officers aren’t aware of the law. In fact, Dean Bartosh of biker-rights group ABATE says this law is almost a “big secret.”

In an interview with local press, Bartosh said, “There’s a lot of motorcyclists that haven’t heard of it. I’ve heard of instances where police don’t know that, they’ve pulled people over, and they had to be informed themselves.”

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Kentucky: Don’t Drink and Tailgate?

If you live in Kentucky, you might want to be extra careful about drinking alcohol at any tailgating events during this college football season, especially if you’re under age. Why? Because employees of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division are planning to hang out at tailgating events with the objective of stopping underage drinking and problems connected to it.

According to the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, investigators will be posted in stadiums and student sections, as well as on the perimeters of college campuses and they’ll be watching, not just for people selling alcohol to minors, but also to prevent adults from providing alcohol to underage drinkers, and to be on the lookout for fake IDs. In addition, all such investigators will be endowed with full police powers to enforce state laws.

Mike Razor, Enforcement Director, says that tailgating is a key reason for an increase in underage alcohol consumption.

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Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Bait Car, But Homeowners Does.

The city of Albuquerque, NM is refusing to pay for damages to private home that was damaged when teens driving a city-owned “bait car” drove it into the house.

Bait cars are vehicles used to catch thieves or “sting” staged accident perpetrators, but the city is telling the homeowner to contact his own insurance company to recover damages.

According to Albuquerque resident Peter Kopczuk, the bait car was driven into his home on July 15th of this year, pushing his wife’s car into a wall, and causing structural damage to the garage and a bathroom. The cost of the damage came to roughly $11,000 but the city says it’s not their responsibility.

Instead, according to City Attorney David Tourek, who granted an interview to local station KRQE-TV, the teenagers who were actually driving the car when it crashed are liable for the damages. They had stolen the car, and caused the crash when they were trading seats while it was moving.

We agree with Mr. Kopczuk that the city should be liable as it was their car, rather than making an innocent citizen resort to their homeowner’s insurance for a car accident.

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Video: AAMI Skilled Drivers Course

This week’s video is from Australia, but since American school kids are about to go back to school, we thought it was timely.

It’s worth mentioning that here in the U.S.A., many DMVs and insurance companies offer similar courses, as do professional driving schools.

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Feds Consider School Bus Safety

Responding, in part, to school bus accidents in Florida and New Jersey, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) met recently to consider whether or not stricter safety requirements for school buses should be required across the country.

Florida and New Jersey are two of only six states which require students to wear safety belts on school buses. As such, buses in those states are equipped with lap belts.

Despite this, in February 2012, an eleven-year-old girl was killed and five other students when a dump truck crashed into the left rear side of a bus in New Jersey, and a month later in Florida, a semi tractor-trailer also hit a bus on a rear side with a similar result: one student dead and four seriously injured. Both accidents occurred at intersections.

In presenting their report to the NTSB, accident investigators said that the girl who was killed in the New Jersey crash probably wasn’t wearing her seat belt. They also allowed that because some students were wearing their belts the number of serious injuries was greatly reduced.

The report also found, however, that even those students who were wearing seat belts were probably greatly jarred in both accidents, because the safety belts on buses are lap belts, and do not include shoulder straps. As such, they would have found their upper bodies coming into hard contact with unpadded parts of the buses, like the backs of seats in front of them.

Over a decade ago, the NTSB recommended that padding of hard edges be required on all school buses. It is likely, in the wake of the report from these two accidents from last year, that more recommendations will be forthcoming.

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Rhode Island Passes Auto-Body Bill

A month ago, Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island put into effect a law that will disallow insurance companies from “totaling” a vehicle (declaring it a total loss) if it can be restored to it’s pre-accident state for less than 75% of fair market value. In this case, “fair market value” is defined as the retail value of a motor vehicle as listed in the current edition of a nationally registered data source typically used by the automotive industry, such as the Kelley Blue Book.

An exception to the law allows owners to override the law by authorizing their insurers to total their vehicles.

While the new law would seem to be a great thing for consumers, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is less than thrilled, and has expressed “profound disappointment” with the legislation. Frank O’Brien, vice president of state government relations for PCI even referred to the law as “…part of the agenda of a few body shops,” and claiming that consumers would be adversely affected.

O’Brien explained that people in Rhode Island typically pay higher amounts for auto body repairs than those in any other state, and that he believes the new legislation, which was sponsored by ABARI (the Auto Body Association of Rhode Island, is likely to make those costs increase.

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