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Matt Hardin Law

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School Bus Safety Tips for Kids

Parents throughout Tennessee have been especially concerned about school bus safety after the deadly school bus accident in Hamilton County last November. Since then, school districts and legislators have come together to find solutions to make school buses even safer for children.

In addition to protecting your child in the event of a school bus accident, it’s also important to make sure he or she is aware of other potential dangers associated with buses and bus stops, including these tips from the National Safety Council:

• Wait for crossing guards’ signals before crossing the street to board the bus. Children may be excited to board the school bus, or they may be worried it will leave without them. Make sure your child knows to never cross the street in a school zone without a walk signal on the traffic light or from the crossing guard.

• Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting up. Some school bus-related injuries aren’t due to crashes but are instead due to onboard incidents. When children stay up while buses are still in motion, they can be thrown to the floor when the bus slows down or stops.
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Watch Out for Deer on Tennessee’s Roadways

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that drivers should watch out for deer on their daily commutes, and specifies that November is one of the worst months for deer-related crashes in the state.

Per a report by WKRN and WATE, there were more than 7,000 crashes involving deer in the state in 2016, and 330 of those crashes involved injuries with one fatality being reported. The THP says that’s an increase of 3.8 percent from 2015.

A few facts drivers should know about deer-related accidents include:

• Slowing down can reduce your risks. When drivers speed, they’re less able to react to potential dangers, making collisions with deer more likely. In addition, high-speed collisions are more likely to cause serious injuries.

• Deer can cause significant damage to vehicles. A deer can weigh up to 150 pounds. When struck, they can cause major damage to vehicles, sometimes totaling them. When they go through windshields, serious and even fatal injuries can occur.
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How to Stay Safe on Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Retailers offer major doorbuster specials on everything from televisions to computers to furniture, prompting millions of Americans to line up outside of big box stores as early as several days before the sales begin.

Sadly, almost every Black Friday in recent memory has involved news reports of serious injuries or even deaths. In the mad rush to scoop up the hottest deals, safety can sometimes be disregarded by shoppers, putting themselves and others at risk.

You can protect yourself and your loved ones on Black Friday by:

• Staying home if you’re sleepy – Waking up at 2 a.m. or earlier may be tradition for some families, but it can be dangerous. If you feel sleepy, don’t get behind the wheel.

• Being careful in parking lots – There’s always an element of danger in parking lots, but it’s amplified on Black Friday—especially when it’s still dark outside and drivers are fatigued and stressed.
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What Are Common Non-Cell Phone-Related Driving Distractions?

Distracted driving is an epidemic in both Tennessee and throughout the nation. It’s responsible for a growing number of serious accidents and fatal injuries every year, and the problem is showing no signs of slowing down despite greater efforts from law enforcement to reduce its impact, including harsher penalties and awareness campaigns.

However, it’s important for drivers to remember that distraction comes in many forms. And while many distraction-related accidents occur due to cell phone usage, there are other ways that drivers can be distracted, causing them to take their eyes and minds off the road.

Those ways include:

• Grooming – To save time, some drivers wait until they’re behind the wheel to perform parts of their daily routines. That includes activities like shaving, putting on makeup, or even brushing their teeth.

• Eating – Fast food restaurants make it easy to eat on the go. But reaching for food and eating can be highly distracting, putting drivers at risk.

• Adjusting the stereo – Modern vehicles have high-tech stereo systems that are controlled using touchscreens. Even an act as simple as changing a radio station can force drivers to take their eyes off the road for several seconds.
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Call an expert attorney on premise liability at Matt Hardin Law.
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Gear Up for Your Next Motorcycle Ride

Motorcycles represent just a small percentage of vehicles on Tennessee’s roadways, but they represent many fatal accidents that happen in the Volunteer State. When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash, he or she faces a significant risk of suffering disabling and often life-threatening injuries.

Motorcycles have no built-in safety features or protection. That means it’s up to drivers to protect themselves the best way they can. Fortunately, the motorcycle gear industry has made big strides in recent years, and riding gear can now provide excellent protection for riders.

Essential riding gear includes:

• Industry-approved helmet. A DOT, Snell, or ECE-approved helmet is the most important piece of safety gear for motorcyclists.

• Riding jacket and pants. Skin is extremely vulnerable to road rash during crashes. Thick and high-quality jackets and pants help protect it.

• Boots and gloves. Hands and feet can also sustain serious injuries when riders fall off their bikes, and riding boots and gloves reduce the risks riders face.
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Tips for Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter Weather

Although the official start of winter is still several weeks away, wintery weather has already arrived in the mid-state area, and freezing temperatures are expected soon. That means roads may begin to ice, creating treacherous conditions for drivers, especially during their morning commutes.

Anyone who has driven in and around Nashville when roads are snowy or icy knows that accidents are extremely common, which often leads to long delays and backups on the city’s interstates and highways. Winter weather requires not just a dedication to safe driving, but also a vehicle that was prepared to handle the conditions.

You can reduce your risks and prep your vehicle for winter weather by:

• Maintaining or replacing your tires. Your tires are among the most important parts of your vehicle, especially during winter weather. Make sure they are filled to the recommended PSI, and if they’ve lost tread, replace them.

• Packing emergency supplies. Ice storms create the potential for extremely long delays. In some cases, drivers may even become stranded for hours. Make sure your vehicle is stocked with blankets, food, and water.
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Tips for Walking at Night

Pedestrian accidents are all too common in Nashville. As the city’s population and tourism appeal grow, more and more people take to the city’s streets to get around town—especially at night. Walking near traffic at night can be much more dangerous than walking during the day, so it’s important to be prepared to take a few extra safety precautions if you head out on foot after dark.

Two potentially life-saving tips include:

• Wear bright and reflective-clothing. Pedestrians who wear dark clothing can become almost invisible to drivers at night. The brighter and more reflective your clothing, the easier it will be for drivers to see you.

• Use crosswalks. Many pedestrian accidents that happen at night occur when people cross streets. Crossing outside of a crosswalk significantly increases you risk of being injured in a pedestrian accident, while crossing in a crosswalk significantly reduces it.
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2 Common Bicycling Mistakes to Avoid

Bicycling is popular year-round in Nashville. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get exercise. But it also poses serious dangers for riders when they’re involved in collisions with vehicles. Riders can protect themselves by wearing helmets and other safety gear, but the injuries that even the most safety-conscious bicyclists suffer are often debilitating and can even be life-threatening.

The best way to keep yourself safe on the road is to avoid situations that increase your risk of accidents as much as possible. Two common accident-causing behaviors include:

• Riding while distracted. Distracted driving is an epidemic, but it poses serious threats for bicyclists too. Never use your smartphone or other electronic device while you’re riding.

• Speeding. Some bicyclists simply ignore speed limits, as bicycles rarely reach the speeds of vehicles in normal use. But when bicyclists ignore speed limits, they can occasionally exceed them, putting themselves and others in danger.
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Handheld Phone Calls Will Be Illegal in School Zones Beginning Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, 2018, it will be illegal for drivers to use handheld cell phones while passing through school zones in Tennessee.

The Tennessean reports that anyone caught violating the new law will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and a fine of up to $50. However, drivers 18 years of age or older can avoid the penalty and traffic stop if they use a hands-free cell phone while passing through a school zone.

In addition to putting down your cell phone, you should also take the following steps when driving through school zones:

• Reduce your speed. Active school zones have significantly reduced speed limits due to the presence of school buses and children.

• Defer to the crossing guard. Crossing guards determine right of way at school zones—not stop signs or traffic lights.

• Don’t pass stopped school buses. When school buses stop, all traffic behind them must also stop. Passing a stopped school bus puts children at risk.
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