Stay Alert And Plan Your Escape Route

escape-routes

Think in terms of having an escape route to help you deal with traffic, road conditions and other drivers so you’re not caught in a difficult situation.

As a professional driver, you are among the most prepared and alert motorists on the road. You pay strict attention to the area around your vehicle and on the road ahead. But as you drive, the scenery and conditions change every second, whether it’s on a major highway or a narrow rural road. To be a safe driver, you need to study the surrounding traffic, using visibility, time and space to your advantage, and always remain acutely aware of your options should things go wrong.

Stay Focused On Escape Routes

Keep your eyes moving to locate potential problems and identify any obstructions to your pathways to safety. Think in terms of having an escape route to help you deal with traffic, road conditions and other drivers so you’re not caught in a difficult situation. An escape route will give you the ability to know ahead of time what you can do in different driving environments. Keep a minimum following distance of 6 seconds when operating your vehicle, and up to 8 seconds or more in poor roadway conditions. Scan at least 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle noting brake lights, turn signals, other vehicles slowing down and lane shifting that can indicate a difference in traffic behavior. Looking that far ahead can help you prepare for any disruption that is happening – and also what might happen – to help you make more rational decisions about what your moves should be. Make your intentions known to other drivers and act decisively, without hesitation. Be aware of your blind spots and the blind spots of others, and don’t make any moves that could be unintentionally dangerous, especially in heavy traffic.

Keep A Buffer Zone

Traffic generally travels in packs, especially in highway driving situations. If vehicles are bunched up and traveling along in relatively tight quarters, work your way out of the congestion and maneuver to make room around your vehicle and create a buffer zone. The safer position for your vehicle is between the packs, rather than in one. Drive so that the traffic pack stays ahead of you, and maintain your speed so the pack behind keeps its distance as well. This isn’t always possible, but look for the opportunity and take it where and when you can. In city traffic, try to avoid the lane next to parked vehicles. At traffic lights, give yourself plenty of room to see pedestrians walking in front of you and also cross traffic running a red light. In every location you drive, stay alert to your operating environment to the front, from the sides and behind your vehicle. If you can’t see vehicles behind or in your blind spots, slow down and open up the space in front of you as an extra measure of safety

Behind The Scenes Of Auto Crash Tests

The series on the IIHS’ YouTube channel is called “Inside IIHS”.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is releasing a series of videos on their YouTube channel providing a behind the scenes glimpse of their Vehicle Research Center’s test programs which crash test the latest automobiles. The series is called “Inside IIHS” and three of the videos were released in May.

The first video, “Crash Test Dummies At Work,” is a three-minute look at the types of test dummies IIHS uses for their testing. They are amazing pieces of technological engineering, making every effort to re-create and calibrate the way a human body would react in a crash. A fully calibrated crash dummy can cost as much as $200,000.

“Frontal Offset Testing” is the second video in the series. It examines two frontal crashes tested with specific differences explained between the moderate overlap and the small overlap. Conclusions about a vehicle’s frontal crash rating are judged by how well the front end structure of the vehicle holds up, the measure of injuries the dummy suffers and how well the restraint systems perform.

The third video, “Measuring Roof Strength,” examines how people are being killed or injured during roll-over crashes and addresses the dangers coming from roof collapse and the risk of being ejected as the vehicle goes out of control. Also discussed is electronic stability control to reduce the chances of a driver losing control of a vehicle which can lead to a roll-over crash.

IIHS videos are taped at the Institute’s VehicleResearch Center in Ruckersville, Virginia. They are very well done and informative and running time is in the three-minute range.  Five more videos in the series will be uploaded to the channel every Tuesday through the first week in July.

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Putting Off Maintenance Can Put You Out of Business

Your vehicle is your business; taking care of it should be a top priority

As a professional limousine driver, you are well aware of the importance of keeping your vehicle well-maintained, inside and out. But according to a study by the Car Care Council, 77% of vehicles on the road require some kind of service. The Council attributes this neglect to: drivers just putting simple maintenance off until something serious happens; the extreme weather the country has been experiencing; and busy work schedules leaving little time to get the work done.

The statistics are a bit surprising, considering how simple some of these simple maintenance needs are.

Of the vehicles surveyed:

  • 22% had low or dirty motor oil;
  • 20% had low, dirty, or leaking engine coolant;
  • 19% needed a new air filter;
  • 18% needed brake work or brake fluid;
  • 14% needed at least one belt replaced;
  • 14% needed new windshield wipers;
  • 14% needed new power steering or transmission fluid;
  • 13% needed at least one lamp replaced;
  • 11% needed maintenance on battery clamps, cables or terminals;
  • 10% had worn tires in need of replacement;
  • 9% were riding on improperly inflated tires; and
  • 8% had their “check engine” lights on.

While all of these items would fall into the pre-trip inspection check list for professional drivers, it could be tempting to leave some of these issues until later. That’s never a good idea, especially when you have paying passengers who are relying on you to get them to their destinations comfortably and on time. And with summer’s heat upon us, it’s a good time to rotate your tires and check that your air conditioning system is in proper working order.

Your vehicle is your business; taking care of it should be a top priority.

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general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Winter Wreaks Havoc On Road Conditions

Winter weather caused road conditions to deteriorate even further from the often sorry state they were in before the harsh weather began.

The storms of this winter season have been particularly brutal across the country. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), since late October 2012, tornadoes have occurred in 42 states, temperatures went from well below freezing to record warmth, torrential rain caused much damage and unprecedented hurricane activity and blizzards put much of the country at a standstill for extended periods. The damage that sustained bad weather causes to the nation’s roadways can also create dangerous driving conditions for everyone on the road because the poor road conditions remain long after the winter turns to spring and
summer.

The Roads To Ruin
Winter weather causes road conditions to deteriorate even further from the often sorry state they were in before the harsh weather began. With all the additional damage, it will take some time for each budget-challenged state and federal agency to correct all of the problems. According to a study by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) which represents transportation departments in all 50 states, the most trouble with poor road conditions is coming from “killer” potholes. Not only can a deep pothole cause suspension, alignment, tire and even body damage, it can also cause a driver to lose control of his/her vehicle. And, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the problems of driving on America’s highways are compounded by the fact that less than half of the nation’s major roads are in good condition, and more than 30% are in poor or mediocre condition.

Unavoidable Consequences
Age, weather, traffic, moisture, heavy vehicles and delayed maintenance are causing road conditions to decline at an alarming rate. Newly formed cracks, ruts, potholes and foundation deterioration are common in late winter/early spring. These conditions often cause gravel, stones and other debris to accumulate, increasing the chances of cracked windshields and body damage from flying rubble. FHWA data shows rough roads affect all 50 states, and the available funding from federal and state initiatives never seems adequate to address the unending problems. Besides the maintenance costs, vehicle operating costs are higher from accelerated vehicle depreciation, added repair costs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

What Can You Do?
You can help minimize the dangers of driving on rough roads. One of the most effective things you can do is to slow down. Higher speeds kick up more debris, making it harder to avoid problems that appear on damaged roads and making it more difficult to stop when faced with unexpected, often hidden dangers. Keeping your vehicle well-maintained and frequently checking your tires for proper pressure, splits, tears and wear, especially as required during your pre- and post-trip inspections, will help you avoid additional damages and costly delays.

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Tips for Renting a Limousine for Your Child’s Prom

Please move cursor over image above to reveal everyone’s responsibilities.

Parents

  • Perform due diligence; thoroughly research limousine company
  • Check references and speak with clients who had same assigned chauffeur
  • Develop and approve final itinerary
  • Sign a Code of Conduct agreement for minors
  • Request & receive chauffeur’s cell phone number
  • Establish and agree upon final drop-off time and location

Prom Attendee

Sign Code of Conduct Agreement in advance, stipulating:

  • Pick-up and Drop-off times & locations
  • A detailed itinerary which clearly prohibits any side trips or unscheduled stops
  • No alcohol, illegal drugs or tobacco use in the limousine
  • Chauffeur’s permission to inspect all backpacks & packages
  • Chauffeur can terminate trip at any point for violations of the signed Code of Conduct

Chauffeur

  • Is properly licensed
  • Is well-rested
  • Limousine is properly insured and he/she has documentation confirming same
  • Arrives in same vehicle as stipulated in contract
  • Arrives with clean, disinfected vehicle
  • Will not move vehicle until ALL passengers, including him/her, are wearing 3-point seatbelts
  • Maintains agreed upon itinerary & schedule
  • Must not deviate from schedule or itinerary to enhance amount of gratuity

A Rush to Judgment Day? Speed Limits & Road Fatalities Rise

There is also the question of whether larger vehicles like trucks, buses and limo buses should be mandated to drive at lower speed limits than smaller vehicles.

Speeding consistently plays a major role in highway crashes, causing fully one-third of accidents each year. Yet, ever since Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Limit in 1995 and left setting limits to state governments, 34 states have raised speed limits to 70 mph or higher!

In October 2012, Texas raised the speed limit on a 41-mile stretch of roadway just south of Austin to 85 mph, the highest speed limit in the country. The arguments in favor of doing so were: the road was newly built and can handle the speed; it would relieve the heavy I-35 congestion between San Antonio and Austin; the higher speed limit is actually safe; and the revenue generated to the state from leasing the toll road to the company that built and manages it is substantial.

Critics say that as speed limits rise, so do fatalities. They are also concerned that drivers have a tendency to drive 5 to 10 miles over any posted speed limit anyway, and fear that we will be driving among vehicles going close to 100 mph. And the costs to drivers in gasoline would be significant. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for each 5 mph over a 50 mph speed, drivers would pay about a quarter extra per gallon in lost fuel efficiency – $3.00 per tank at 85 mph.

There is also the question of whether larger vehicles like trucks, buses and limo buses should be mandated to drive at lower speed limits than smaller vehicles. The fear is that if larger vehicles must drive at slower speeds, the total traffic flow will always be in conflict, causing erratic driving behavior and compromising safety.

Since late last year, 9 more state legislatures have been debating whether to raise their
speed limits. They are: Connecticut (increase multi-lane, limited access highway speeds from 65 to 75 mph); Indiana (raising speed limit of larger vehicles to conform to current 65 and 70 mph limits); Iowa (increase highway limits from 55 to 60 mph); Maryland (raising speeds on highways to 70 mph); Mississippi (raise limit from 70 to 75 mph); New Hampshire (increase interstate speeds by as much as 10 mph); Oklahoma (raise limits from 75 to 80 mph on turnpikes); Utah (raise limits on portions of interstates to 80 mph); and Wyoming (increase speed limit from 65 to 70 mph.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has published a list of each state’s current speed limit laws, broken down by cars and larger vehicles and by rural interstates, urban interstates and other limited access roads.

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Unsafe Drivers Engage In Multiple Risky Behaviors

Safety issues continue to claim more than 30,000 lives each year.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has released its 2012, fifth consecutive Traffic Safety Culture Index, a national survey of drivers regarding their safety attitudes and behaviors. The results from the latest issue show that Americans continue to value safe travel and generally support laws that would improve traffic safety, such as restrictions on speeding, substance use and distractions. It also revealed that many of the 3,896 surveyed drivers admitted to violating the safe driving behaviors they support.

Some of the findings show this contradiction in behavior and attitude:

  • Motorists who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors, especially speeding, driving when fatigued and not using seat belts.
  • About 69% of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the past month, despite the fact that 89% of respondents believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to safety.
  • Motorists who often or regularly use their cell phones also reported that they engaged in other risky behaviors:
    • 65% reported speeding.
    • 44% reported driving while drowsy.
    • 53% reported sending a text or email.
    • 29% drove without a seatbelt.
  • Drivers that reported they never use cell phones were much less likely to report additional risky behaviors:
    • 31% reported speeding.
    • 14% reported driving drowsy.
    • 3% reported sending a text or email.
    • 16% drove without a seatbelt.

In December 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its Traffic Analysis statistics for 2011, showing that traffic fatalities in the U.S. declined by nearly 2% from 2010, marking the lowest level since 1949. The Agency credits the high level of publicity and strong efforts to educate the public about the dangers of unsafe driving behaviors, as well as advances in vehicle technology, as the main factors in helping to reduce traffic-related deaths. But as NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said upon release of the new data, “Even as we celebrate the progress we’ve made in recent years, we must remain focused on addressing the safety issues that are continuing to claim more than 30,000 lives each year.”

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Operation Safe Driver Posts 2012 Results

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), a North-American not-for-profit organization established to promote commercial motor vehicle safety and awareness, has been conducting a yearly campaign called “Operation Safe Driver”  throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico since 2006. Produced in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Safe Driver campaign is held over a 7-day period, usually in October, during which state, local and provincial law enforcement agencies encourage educational sessions on safe driving around large commercial vehicles and sharing the road.  These sessions are critical because the statistics show that the majority of fatal crashes that involve large commercial vehicles and passenger cars are caused by the car driver. During Operation Safe Driver, inspection stops across each country are set up to evaluate driver performance and vehicle safety for both passenger and commercial vehicles.

Nearly 35,000 commercial and passenger vehicle drivers were pulled over by 2,918 enforcement personnel at 1,245 locations during the October 2012 campaign. The newly released results show that speeding was again the most common warning and citation given to passenger and commercial drivers. However, in 2012, the incidents of speeding by passenger vehicle drivers (up 10%) were significantly higher than those of
commercial drivers (up 2.8%). Of the total number of violations cited, 70.1% were for speeding. Of all speeding citations issued, 19.6% were given to commercial drivers and 50.5% were for passenger car drivers. It is unsettling that speeding continues to be a common behavior for all drivers, and CVSA is doubling its efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of increased speed, especially around large commercial motor vehicles.

The failure to use a safety belt was the second most common offense. Of the total number of warnings issued, failure to buckle up amounted to 3.6% given to commercial drivers and 1.8% issued to passenger vehicle drivers. Of the total number of citations
issued, 9.9% went to commercial drivers and 8.3% went to passenger car drivers. These figures represent an increase in the lack of seat belt use over the 2011 results, and a reversal of a trend for increased use of safety belts over the last several years.

The third most common offense was for failure to obey traffic control devices; 3.6% citations were issued to commercial drivers and 1.9% to passenger vehicle drivers. These statistics were virtually unchanged over 2011.

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How To Avoid 4 Costly Maintenance Problems

Check tire pressure every two weeks and be familiar with the manufacturer’s recommendations for correct pressure.

Keeping your limousine looking great and operating in top working condition is essential for the professional chauffeur. Nothing is more embarrassing and frustrating then a breakdown when you have clients in your limousine. According to a November article which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, you can help avoid these business-busting situations if you pay close attention to some simple maintenance issues that, if not attended to, can become very costly oversights. As a professional chauffeur, you should not neglect performing the following four essential maintenance procedures regularly throughout the year.

Changing The Oil

With older vehicles, the rule of thumb used to be that a change of oil should be performed every 3,000 miles. However, improvements in engines and motor oil have made that schedule outdated. According to ConsumerReports.org, most vehicles are now designed to go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. So be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change schedule and oil viscosity. For modern, luxury limousines, it’s best to choose a premium, high-performance motor oil; one that gives your vehicle increased fuel efficiency. This can help you increase the number of miles you can travel between oil changes, saving you time, money and reducing the environmental impact by using and disposing of less oil.

Check Tire Inflation

Don’t wait until the air pressure level in your tires makes them look like the air is low. It’s a minimal investment of about $15 for a good digital tire gauge which can easily be stored in your glove compartment. Check your tire pressure every two weeks, and be familiar with the manufacturer’s recommendations for the correct pressure, usually found posted on the inside of the driver’s door. (Note that those numbers are based on readings taken when the tires are cold.) Proper tire inflation gives the vehicle a smoother ride and improves its handling and fuel efficiency.

Check Tire Tread

No one wants to experience a dangerous tire blowout. Check tire tread, especially if your tires have been on your vehicle for several thousand miles. Take a penny and place it in the tread with Lincoln’s head down. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, you probably need new tires. Laws in most states consider tires legally worn out when tread has worn down to 1/16 of an inch of remaining tread depth. Proper tire tread depth can also help reduce hydroplaning on wet road surfaces.

Check Your Coolant

Over time, dirt and contaminants can build up in the coolant fluid making it less effective in helping to keep your engine cool and keeping the engine block from freezing in extremely cold temperatures. It’s best to change your coolant every four years depending on your driving habits and miles travelled. In extremely hot temperatures, change the coolant more often.

Take the time to attend to these simple, but critical, maintenance items. It’s time well spent.

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Resources To Use For Limo Pre-Trip Planning

The FHWA website has an interactive map of the U.S. that shows real time traffic conditions.

As a professional limousine driver, performing a thorough pre-trip inspection of your vehicle is a must for safety and for avoiding annoying and preventable breakdowns along your route. Mapping out your destination is also an important step in helping to assure your trip goes off without the inconvenient delays caused by weather, construction, traffic jams or accidents.

The U.S. and state departments of Transportation are very good at using the amazing capabilities of the internet to give you access to the government’s vast resources that can help drivers have a smooth trip. When you are preparing to pick up passengers, take the time to visit a government site like the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) National Traffic and Road Closure Information page. This section offers traffic information for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Once you’re on the site, there is an interactive map of the U.S. where you can click on any state you are researching and find out in real time whether the route you were planning to take might have traffic congestion delays caused by volume, construction or an accident. The information gives you the opportunity to plan an alternate route to avoid the problem. The sites will even help you plan that different route with “Beat the Traffic” Information for most heavily-traveled areas.

Some of the other advantages these sites offer are advance travel advisories for weekends or holidays, traffic cameras that show locations with images that refresh every 10 seconds and real-time weather information and updates. You can also access each individual state’s DOT to keep yourself current on the latest rules, regulations and state roadway plans that you, as a professional chauffeur, would need to know because they could affect your daily trips.

The roadway system of the entire U.S. is offered to you through these sites. You should factor in some time during your pre-trip duties to access this very valuable information. With just a few clicks, you can save yourself time and trouble along your route.

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Dangerous Drive Times Are Common To Limousine Drivers

The times when drivers need to remain most cautious and vigilant are often the times that they are also driving tired, distracted or impaired.

There are times in the day, days of the week and even months in the year when limousine drivers are busiest. And these busy schedules often go hand-in-hand with the most dangerous drive times to be on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been accumulating data on traffic safety for more almost 30 years, and its research has centered on just about every aspect of driving in order to pinpoint specific areas to raise driver awareness and contribute to making our roadways safer.

Data provided by the Agency summarize the deadliest days for drivers, broken down by specific days, times during the days and times of the year. Following is a summary of some of the NHTSA’s findings.

Top 10 Deadliest Days of the Year (in order)
1. July 4
2. July 3
3. December 23
4. December 24
5. December 22
6. August 3
7. January 1
8. September 1
9. September 2
10. August 4

The NHTSA data indicate that these deadliest days to drive are not random; these are the days when high numbers of Americans are celebrating and then getting in cars either tired or intoxicated, and likely to take dangerous driving risks to lengthen their
celebrations. The August and September days indicated are dates when most
Americans leave for, or are returning from their vacations.

Deadliest Days of the Week
1.  Saturday
2.  Sunday
3.  Friday
4.  Thursday
5.  Monday
6.  Wednesday
7.  Tuesday

Deadliest Times of the Day
1.  3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
2.  6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
3.  9 p.m. – Midnight
4.  Noon – 3 p.m.
5.  Midnight – 3 a.m.

The data collected on days of the week and times of the day bear out the fact that weekend driving increases the risk of dangerous driving behavior, and commute times bear the brunt of many more drivers on the road. So, alarmingly, the times that drivers need to remain cautious and vigilant, these are often the times that they are driving tired, distracted or impaired.

Ultimately, drivers are responsible for the number of fatalities on our highways every year. As the professional limousine driver on the road, knowing the dates, days and times of day when dangerous driving is most likely to occur, you can be a significant
factor in helping to reduce yearly traffic deaths and injuries.

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general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Superstorm Sandy’s Wake Sparks Criminal Minds

NCIB has issued a warning of the potential resale of water damaged automobiles to unsuspecting consumers in the future in all parts of the U.S.

In the aftermath of the terrible destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy
along the East coast, the Northeast and parts of the Midwest areas of the U.S., the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has issued a warning to everyone affected – and to everyone in the country – to beware of the potential for fraud. The warning includes vulnerable homeowners, businesses and, in particular, the resale of automobiles that are water damaged but could be sold to unsuspecting consumers throughout the country.

Vehicles that have been damaged by natural disasters, especially flooding, do not often have obvious signs of damage. So the extent of serious problems caused by salt or fresh water is far too often easier to conceal than body damage. After Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, hundreds of thousands of vehicles were damaged by flood waters. As a result, NICB established a free service called VINCheckSM to assist in determining if a particular vehicle has been reported stolen or reported as salvage due to damage, natural disaster or otherwise.

NICB will also be working with law enforcement to help ensure that Superstorm-damaged vehicles are entered into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). The System is designed to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and to keep stolen vehicles from being resold. The States report data to the system which currently has about 20 million salvage or total loss records on file, or about 88% of vehicles in the U.S.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of vehicles have been damaged by Superstorm Sandy. No matter where you are located throughout the country, if you are in the market for a pre-owned vehicle, especially a luxury model for your limousine business, make sure you follow some used-car buying tips, provided free of charge by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its website. Do your homework, be aware of the special circumstances concerning a market that may have an abundance of storm-damaged vehicles and take advantage of the mostly free services the government is offering to help protect you from fraud.

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Oh, Deer!

According to the NHTSA, October-December are the most dangerous months for vehicle crashes with animals…the majority of which involve deer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), October, November and December are the most dangerous months for vehicle crashes with animals…the majority of which involve deer. This is mating season for deer, and the amorous animals seem oblivious to traffic as they cross roads and highways in search of a romantic liaison. In addition to the drive to reproduce, deer are also on the move to find food and shelter for the upcoming winter. The danger is at its highest during the early morning and early evening hours, the most active time for deer and, coincidentally, the peak time for commuters.

NHTSA estimates that nationwide, more than 1.5 million collisions occur between deer and motor vehicles every year, resulting in 200 human deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and plenty of road kill. Collisions occur on all types of roadways and highways, and in urban as well as rural areas. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety  estimates the cost for vehicle damage is more than $1 billion, with an average insurance claim of $3,000. Another important note NHTSA offers is that drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash resulting from making evasive maneuvers than an actual collision with the animal.

Slowing down and staying alert when driving are the best ways to help you avoid deer that seemingly appear out of nowhere, sometimes even during daylight hours. Pay attention to deer crossing signs. They are put there for a reason. And remember that if you see one deer, there are usually more very nearby because deer travel in small herds.

Other ways to help avoid a collision with deer:

  • Continually scan the road for deer, and if you see one near the edge of the road, slow down so you’ll be better able to react to its unpredictable behavior;
  • Use your high beams when it’s safe to do so, and watch for deer eyes reflecting in your headlights making them easier to spot;
  • Remember the exact spot where you saw a deer cross the road. They are creatures of habit and will use the same paths;
  • Honking your horn and flashing your headlights if you see a deer in the road can help scare the animal off;
  • If you do suddenly encounter a deer in the road, DO NOT SWERVE to try and avoid it. You could find yourself veering into oncoming traffic, landing in a ditch or
    hitting a fixed object like a tree or utility pole. These situations will likely cause more deaths and serious injuries than actually hitting the deer; and
  • Never try to move an injured animal. It might panic and seriously injure you. If you do strike a deer, call police or other authorities for assistance, move your vehicle off the roadway and stay in your vehicle until help arrives.

The deer population has grown throughout the country in the last 10 years. Because of the mild winter earlier this year, more deer probably survived, leading to more animals on the roads this fall…and more collisions.

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DOT Study Tests Crash Avoidance Technology

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the V2V technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of 4 out of 5 unimpaired vehicle crashes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) began a year-long project in early September testing “connected vehicle” technology which, if successful, will allow cars, trucks and buses the ability to “talk” to each other as well as to infrastructure objects while on the road.

The pilot project is being conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and involves nearly 3,000 vehicles. It is the first-of-its-kind road test of the crash avoidance technology using actual drivers and vehicles. The test cars, commercial trucks and buses, mostly supplied by volunteer participants, are fitted with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) devices for gathering data. According to a DOT Fact Sheet, the V2V technology is similar to WI-FI, but not likely to be susceptible to interference.

UMTRI has equipped more than 73 lane miles of roadway with the new technology. Test vehicles have been retrofitted with a safety device connected to the vehicle’s data bus, providing highly accurate information from the in-vehicle sensors. A driver-interface
broadcasts and receives safety messages which can then process the content of received messages and provide warnings to the driver during specific hazardous traffic scenarios. These include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes into a vehicle’s blind spot or a rear-end collision with a vehicle stopped ahead. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the V2V technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of 4 out of 5 unimpaired vehicle crashes.

An independent study of the technology by the Highway Loss Data Institute  (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), seems to show that current crash avoidance technology is working. But the debate on the new systems is far from
over. Privacy concerns have been raised because storing of driving data is necessary for the systems to be effective. There are also concerns that, as the technology advances, it could cause the ultimate distractions as drivers become more and more dependent on “driverless” cars or other innovations in which the driver’s attention becomes secondary to the trip. Lane departure warnings, blind spot detection, parking assistance and backup cameras are all beginning to make their way into mainstream vehicles. But other technologies are on the table, like fatigue warning, curve speed warning and cross-traffic alerts in which drivers might rely more on their vehicles than on their instincts. IIHS spokesman Russ Rader put it this way, “There is a risk that drivers could let themselves become more distracted if they are confident that the car will bail them out. That’s something researchers are going to watch.”

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The 3 Most Costly Limo Claims

3-most-costly-limo-claimsLeft-Hand Turns (Only 2.5% of total claims; 21.7% of total claim dollars paid)  

While representing less than 3% of total claims reported to leading U.S.limo insurer Lancer Insurance Company in 2011, limousines involved in crashes when making left hand turns represented a staggering 21.7% of claims dollars paid.

Quite simply, accidents occurring when left-hand turns are made into oncoming traffic on 2-way roads are either head-on or “T-bone” type crashes, producing multiple serious injuries to the occupants of all involved vehicles.

To avoid these often horrific crashes, limousine drivers should realize that their vehicles are often larger and take more time to clear oncoming traffic than a normal sized private passenger automobile. Be patient and wait for all oncoming traffic to pass before making the turn.  It is also often difficult to gauge an oncoming vehicle’s speed, and it becomes even more difficult at night.  Do not begin your turn until you are sure you have enough time to complete it safely.

Intersection Crashes (Only 5.8% of total claims; 12.8% of total claims paid)

Not unlike left-hand turn crashes, intersection accidents are costly because they usually involve several moving vehicles and multiple passenger injuries.  While most intersections are controlled by signage or traffic signals, the disturbing increase of drivers “running” red lights and stop signs, not to mention illegal cell phone and texting distractions, make it imperative to drive defensively and expect the unexpected.

Beware of ‘stale green lights’ which are due to cycle to red as you approach and cover your brake anticipating same.  And never assume that the driver of an approaching vehicle is prepared to obey signage or traffic signals directing him or her to stop.

Pedestrian/Bicyclist Hits  (only .018% of total claims; 3.7% of total claims paid) 

There are few, if any, limo accidents worse than ones that involve pedestrians or bicyclists.  Sadly, they occur more frequently than you would expect and often have tragic results.  The majority of these incidents occur when the pedestrian moves suddenly and unpredictably into the path of the limo.  Pedestrians jay-walk, walk behind moving  vehicles, cross from between parked cars, exit parked cars without looking and sometimes are so distracted by their smart phone that they do dumb things…like walk in front of a moving limo.  Chauffeurs need to give driving their full attention and slow down, scan left and right and be prepared to stop.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Homeland Security Is Everyone’s Responsibility

With the recent 11th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, DHS reminds us: “When you see something, say something!”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched its newly re-designed website, offering a simplified approach to the content, with streamlined access to DHS services and information. With the recent passing of the 11th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, DHS is reminding the American people, and especially transportation professionals, how everyone can help year-round in the effort to not only help prevent another attack, but to know how to assist law enforcement in different types of emergencies.

While actual incidents of attacks have declined in the past two years, it is not for lack of trying. Security officials deal with threats on a daily basis, from holiday gatherings to
sporting events to attempted cyber attacks, the nation is very busy in its attempts to prevent damage and destruction. A DHS initiative called the First Observer Program is a national safety and security program that recruits volunteers from the transportation
industry to act as the nation’s “First Observer” in reporting emergency situations and suspicious activities to authorities of either a criminal or potentially terrorist nature. Highway professionals have a “vast array of visibility throughout their everyday processes, and also the ability to notice activities that appear out of the ordinary.”

Another DHS public awareness campaign is If You See Something, Say Something, and again, transportation professionals are in a unique position to recognize potential dangers. Limousine drivers often pass by the same location several times during the day. Are there any unattended packages that were not there before and seem out of place? Is there suspicious activity near or on a bridge or overpass? Do you see the same people taking pictures or videotaping a location, sometimes in the same spot over a period of a few days? Is there odd behavior outside a large venue like a sporting event where you are parked and waiting for your passengers?

On a spring Saturday night two years ago in Times Square, New York City, a street vendor and Vietnam veteran by the name of Lance Orton who had operated his vendor cart from the same spot for more than 22 years, noticed smoke coming from a carelessly parked SUV with the motor still running and its hazard lights on. Sensing that
something just wasn’t right, he hailed a mounted police officer, told him what he observed and almost instantly, police were on the scene evacuating the area. A crude bomb made from three propane canisters, two five-gallon cans of gasoline and two clocks with batteries was discovered in the process of detonating, but had malfunctioned. The culprit, who admitted the act was terrorism-related, was arrested two days later due to the diligence of Federal agents and NYPD. When asked what motivated him to report the incident to police, Mr. Orton said, “When you see something, say something!”

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Survey Shows Voters Deem Infrastructure Improvements Important

HNTB survey shows an uptick in the public’s interest in infrastructure investment and support for more tolls to help pay for it.

HNTB Corporation, infrastructure experts and the Number 1 consultant to Departments of Transportation around the world, has published its yearly America THINKS Survey for 2012. This latest survey shows an uptick in the public’s interest in infrastructure investment and support for more tolls to help pay for it. With the national elections right around the corner, transportation issues seem to be very much on the minds of voters with nearly 87% of survey respondents agreeing that transportation funding is a public investment worth making. HNTB says that, historically, the results of many local transportation-related election issues pass more than 73% of the time.

The findings are published as the America THINKS Highways Fact Sheet, and part of the focus is on how the nation’s highways and interstate system issues impact likely voters in this year’s elections. Of respondents who intend to vote, 22% say that infrastructure issues will be extremely influential on who they vote for; 45% say they will be somewhat influential; 27% say not very influential; and 7% say not at all influential.

When asked how they would most prefer the country acquire the funding to pay for interstate infrastructure projects, a clear majority (61%) chose using tolls to raise the money, even if it meant raising them. The option of a miles-driven user fee got 23% of the vote and the third option, increased federal gas taxes, received 16% of the votes.

Respondents overwhelmingly thought that it was extremely (42%) or somewhat (47%) important for the federal government to fund the maintenance and improvement of interstate highways. Somewhat unimportant came in at 8% and 3% of respondents thought that funding coming from the federal government is extremely unimportant.

The America THINKS survey polled a random nationwide sample of 1,024 participants
aged 18 and over, solicited through an email invitation and an online survey. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Are Your Tires Good To Go?

According to the NHTSA, underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure in tire-related crashes.

Consumer Reports Magazine recently published an article addressing the dangers resulting from tire failure. Because tires are the only components of your limousine to actually touch the ground, they are crucial to your vehicle’s proper handling and braking.

According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on tire-related crashes, the leading cause of tire failure is underinflation. Underinflation has immediate effects on vehicle handling and increases fuel consumption. It also increases stress on the tire rubber itself through flexing and overheating, leading to structural failures such as tread separation.

The Consumer Reports article says that because the sidewall flexes more at lower tire pressures, underinflation compromises the driving control that a tire is designed to provide. Even a small pressure loss can affect a car’s handling characteristics, making it harder to control. A sidewall that flexes too much can cause an excessive heat build-up which can possibly lead to a blowout. The Crash Safety Research Center at Penn State University’s Pennsylvania Transportation Institute has developed a computer simulation that shows how a tire performs with lower air pressure. The Center found that when the tire pressure is lowered, the energy used by the tire is increased significantly. The result is a rapid rise in temperature, rolling resistance and tire fatigue.

So what should you be looking for when checking your tires before heading out on the road?

Consumer Reports recommends:

  • Don’t judge the pressure by just visually checking a tire. Modern radial tires bulge slightly, making them look a little underinflated even when they’re not.
  • Use a tire gauge to check the pressure in all four tires and your spare.
  • Set your tires to the automaker’s recommended tire pressure. This information can be found either on your doorjamb, the fuel door or on the inside of the glove
    compartment lid. Don’t inflate to the “maximum inflation pressure” imprinted on
    the tire.
  • Measure tire pressure when the tires are cold and before they’ve been driven a few miles. As the vehicle is driven, the tires heat up and the pressure rises, making it more difficult to set them to the correct cold-tire pressure.

Check your tires regularly, especially as part of your pre-trip inspection. Checking tires doesn’t take much time, and the effort is well worth your time and attention.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

“Distracted Walking” An Increasing Problem For Limo Drivers

One study reports that pedestrians using cell phones while walking on or near a street are 40% more likely to get hit by a vehicle.

No one can honestly dispute the fact that distracted driving can have some very serious and catastrophic consequences for anyone traveling on the nation’s roadways these days. Now, however, according to several recent studies, pedestrians are also putting themselves and drivers in danger when they are walking down the street using a hand-held electronic device.

Millions of people have seen surveillance videos published on the internet of people falling into mall fountains, falling onto subway tracks, falling down steps, walking into walls or people and increasingly, walking into traffic. A study conducted by Stony Brook University in New York in January of this year reports that cell phone use by pedestrians “leads to increased cognitive distraction, reduced situation awareness and an increase in unsafe behavior.” Participants in the study who used a cell phone to text while walking veered off course by about a 60% deviation and significantly slowed walking speed which caused their walking trip to take 16% longer.

Another study by the University of Alabama Academy of Pediatrics in 2009 found that young pedestrians who text or talk on cell phones while walking on or near a street are 40% more likely to get hit by a vehicle. They are much less attentive to traffic and the
younger the children are, the higher the risk of being hit. The trends with young adults walking and using cell phones and being involved in an accident appear to be similar to those of young children.

An article in the Christian Science Monitor underscores the increasing dangers of what many government and safety experts are calling the serious and growing problem of walking while distracted. Reports from hospital emergency rooms across the country indicate that injuries to people talking and texting have more than quadrupled in the past 7 years, and according to the Governors Highway Safety Association the figures are most likely underreported. Different states are making some attempts to curb the behavior, but officials are wondering “how far government should go in trying to protect people from themselves.”

So in these waning days of summer when tourists and pedestrians come out in droves to enjoy the last of the summer sun and fun, the professional limousine driver is faced with another factor impacting safety. You have to be aware of those who aren’t paying attention and drifting into the roadways, into your blind spots and into your vehicle as they don’t watch where they are going. Keep your eyes moving, look several times before making a right or left turn, especially when driving a larger vehicle where your vision may be restricted, and always, slow down whenever pedestrians are present.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Does Someone Always Have To Be At Fault In A Limousine Accident?

Proper training, safe driving and preparation can help a chauffeur deal with a crash.

Strange as it may sound, it isn’t always the case that someone is at fault for an auto accident.

A limousine accident is not a pleasant experience, but being in the chauffeured passenger transportation business, it is an experience that you may have to endure. The following case study taken from Lancer’s LimoDirect extensive claims data illustrates how, in this incident involving two vehicles, the chauffeur did nothing wrong and the other driver was also negligence-free.

On a clear and dry early morning in January, a chauffeur was driving his limousine to pick up a regular client. He was traveling in a wooded residential area on a 35 m.p.h. two-lane street with the lanes separated by a double yellow line. The limo was moving north within the speed limit; the south-bound traffic was steady but not heavy. Suddenly, a south-bound vehicle struck a deer sending the animal across the road where it crashed through the limousine’s front windshield. The chauffeur was grazed by the deer as it flew over his right shoulder and landed in the rear seat. Thankfully, he was able to bring his limo to a controlled stop, and had the entire incident captured by his dashboard-mounted video camera.

With deer blood and entrails covering the limousine’s interior, the vehicle had to be declared a total loss because all the carpet and leather would have to be replaced, the steering column, dashboard, engine and all vents would have to be cleaned, and these costs, when added to the body repair estimates, came to over $25,000.  Additionally, the chauffeur needed plastic surgery to his face, and suffered other minor injuries that kept him out of work for a protracted period.

Both Lancer and the other driver’s insurance company agreed to go to binding arbitration rather than spend thousands of dollars on a trial. The arbitrator found that neither driver was liable and that the other vehicle’s insurer could not be held liable in a deer “dart out” case. In other words, neither driver did anything wrong.

Although rare, these situations do happen and, when they do, it’s a very frustrating
experience. Practicing defensive driving skills behind the wheel, being aware of the route, traffic conditions and weather, and continually scanning the road for what may lie ahead, can help prevent most accidents. But if a crash occurs, professional drivers should know the steps to take to manage the accident scene. Lancer’s LimoDirect has a free and exclusive chauffeur training video on this topic available to our policyholders: Taking Charge: How To Control An Accident Scene.

Please remember that proper training, safe driving habits and adequate preparation can
help a chauffeur deal with a crash situation.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Automatic Emergency Alerts Coming To Electronic Devices

 

We will will soon be notified of emergencies by Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
Wireless customers and the issuing agencies will not be charged a fee by the carriers for these WEA alerts nor will they have to sign up for the service.

As of June 27th, the major wireless cell phone carriers and most local, state and federal government agencies are teaming up to automatically bring warnings of severe weather conditions and other urgent announcements to mobile electronic devices. Owners of new or relatively new cell phones and other devices across the country will soon be notified of emergencies by Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) transmitted via text messaging, an innovation that officials say will enhance public safety. The new system
extends the reach of the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) which currently issues alerts and warnings to television and radio, cable, satellite and other communication broadcasts. Weather-related emergencies will be issued through the National Weather Service (NWS), while other “Imminent Threat” alerts will be issued by state and local officials in agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Wireless customers and the issuing agencies will not be charged a fee by the carriers for these alerts nor will they have to sign up for the service. Those who do not have a WEA-enabled phone are automatically enrolled in the program, regardless of where the device service originates from. When the program is fully implemented, if an emergency happens at that location anywhere in the country, a notification will be sent. The notifications are a broadcast (one-way) technology which does not allow the senders to collect receivers’ data.

Here’s how the program is designed to work. When NWS issues weather alerts, the warnings will automatically be transmitted to a specific FEMA message center. Because cell carriers will be constantly monitoring this messaging center, as soon as an alert is posted, the carriers will send them to their towers in the affected areas. Then, any wireless device in the area that’s WEA-enabled will receive the alert through a special sound and vibration from the device to get the owner’s attention. There will be a short, text-like message on the device with enough information to let the user know that something potentially dangerous is happening in their current location.

If you’re not sure your equipment is WEA-enabled to receive the alerts, especially if you
have an older model, contact your carrier. Even for some newer devices, it may not be until the fall that new software will be available to make sure you can receive the warnings. Local public safety agencies are beginning to inform their citizens about the fact that they could soon start receiving WEA messages.

For more information, visit the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)  website, http://blog.limoinsurancedirect.com/wp-admin/www.ctia.org.

One safety note: If you receive any text messages while driving, be sure you wait until you are safely off the road and at a complete stop before reading a hand-held device.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Move Over Laws For Safety

Limo drivers need to be awars of their state's Move Over Laws.
Fines range from $50 to more than $500 for not changing lanes or slowing down.

Every state in the country except Hawaii (and the District of Columbia) has enacted Move Over Laws. Yet it’s surprising how many drivers aren’t aware of these laws – or the heavy penalties that can result when the laws are violated. Established in 2007, Move Over Laws require drivers to move to another lane or, if that’s not possible because of traffic or when driving on a two-lane roadway, reduce their speed by at least 20 miles below the posted speed limit when passing law enforcement, Department of Transportation (DOT) highway maintenance vehicles and first responder vehicles stopped on the side of a roadway with their lights flashing.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, more than 200 law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck by vehicles along America’s highways, and thousands more have been injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has strongly supported the passage of Move Over Laws to improve the safety of those who must put themselves in harm’s way while performing their roadway duties.

Penalties for violations of the laws vary from state to state, and state legislatures have been amending their laws in an attempt to strengthen and unify the requirements for
compliance. Fines range anywhere from $50 for failure to approach a stopped vehicle with caution to more than $500 for not changing lanes or slowing down, to suspension of a driver’s license, to 60 to 90 days jail time if an injury or fatality results. The Move Over America website has an interactive map of the U.S. which allows you to click on any state and see its Move Over Law mandates and penalties.

The July 4th holiday is rapidly approaching and the date is consistently ranked in the Top Five most dangerous holidays for drivers, primarily because of the significant increase in the number of vehicles on the road. With more traffic comes more breakdowns, more accidents and more responders stopped to deal with emergencies. Professional chauffeurs and limousine drivers can set the example by knowing your state’s Move Over Laws, slowing down and being a part of Move Over America.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

A Sleep-Deprived Nation Threatens Professional Limo Drivers

Even if professional drivers are sensible enough to get proper sleep, a good portion of everyone else on the road is fatigued at the wheel.

Study after study has shown that we are a sleep-deprived nation. And the fatigue problem is growing more dangerous as Americans sleep less in their daily push to do more. Recent research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates that more than 30% of workers in the U.S. aged 30 to 64 are not getting enough sleep. This does not bode well for those of us in the transportation industry where, even if professional drivers are sensible enough to get the proper sleep a body needs, a good portion of everyone else on the road is fatigued at the wheel.

The CDC analyzed data from its 2010 National Health Interview Survey
and from the National Sleep Foundation. Despite continual public recommendations that adults should be sleeping 7 to 9 hours in each 24-hour period for optimum health, 30% of workers, approximately 40.6 million people, are getting just 6 or less hours of sleep per day. And unfortunately, the transportation industry ranks at 67.9%, more than double the national average of those who are operating on short-sleep hours.

Some other statistics from the research:

  • An estimated 20% of vehicle crashes are linked to drowsy driving;
  • Among all workers, those who usually worked a night shift had a much higher
    prevalence of short sleep than those who work a day shift; and
  • Short sleep duration was significantly higher among workers with more than one job, and among those who worked more than 40 hours per week.

The National Sleep Foundation also offers a list of 10 Healthy Sleep Tips to help achieve optimum sleep and describes the benefits provided. Among them are:

  • Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends;
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment – dark, quiet, comfortable and cool;
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime;
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime; and
  • Exercise regularly and complete your workout a few hours before bedtime.

Short sleep duration is associated with various adverse health effects, such as
cardiovascular disease or obesity, decreased workplace and public safety and
impaired job performance. Professional limousine drivers have a responsibility
to be alert and aware every time they get behind the wheel. If you are having
any problems with sleep, keep a sleep diary noting what the problems are and
talk to your doctor. There may be underlying causes that you’re not aware of,
and you need to take care of yourself.

LimoDirect’s policyholders have free and exclusive access to our highly
acclaimed video for limo drivers, Driver Fatigue: A Deadly Serious Problem,
available on our website, http://www.limoinsurancedirect.com/.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

The 3 Most Common Limo Accidents & How To Prevent Them

The 3 Most Common Limo Accidents - Click to enlarge.Contrary to commonly held beliefs in the limousine industry, the 3 most frequent types of accidents (click on images at right) reported to insurance companies involve low-impact collisions.  What’s more, limousine company owners can easily add prevention measures to avoid all three accident types in their chauffeur and driver training program.

Not surprisingly, the leading type of limo accident is the rear-end collision.  This is the limo striking the rear-end of the vehicle directly in front of it.  While this type of accident is certainly not uncommon to all drivers, it is one that the professional driver or chauffeur can avoid by focusing on two preventive measures.  First, back off and allow a minimum of 4 seconds between the limo and the vehicle in front.  With larger stretches, limo vans and limo buses, the distance should increase to 6 seconds because of the increased stopping distance larger and heavier vehicles require.  Secondly, professional drivers and chauffeurs should avoid distractions, such as, using cell phones and GPS devices, and focus on the task at hand – safe driving.

The second most frequent accident type involving limousines is the sideswipe.  That is the limo, limo van or limo bus striking a fixed object such as a utility pole, another vehicle stopped in traffic or, in the case of high-profile vehicles such as vans and
buses, hotel/restaurant awnings.  The key to avoiding sideswipes is making sure the drivers and chauffeurs have been trained on the handling characteristics, mirror placement and turning radius of all vehicles to which they are assigned.  Placing an unprepared driver in an unfamiliar vehicle is usually the precursor of a sideswipe accident.

And, believe it or not, the last of the top 3 most common limo accidents involves the moving limousine striking a parked car.  More often than not, the unoccupied car being struck is parked in a commuter parking lot, shopping center parking lot or at a sports stadium or entertainment venue parking area.  Such locations are usually very congested and difficult to navigate through and have many unexpected blind spots.  The best accident avoidance tactics are to slow down, anticipate blind spots and focus on the driving task.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Sharing The Road Safely With Motorcycles

The death rate for motorcyclists is one of the few areas of highway safety in which progress is not being made.

The warmer weather seems to bring out something in the human spirit that craves the freedom of the open road. And, consequently, increased traffic is inevitable, especially in the popular tourist and vacation spots in every state. Sharing the road safely with motorcycles, the ultimate symbol of carefree, easy transportation, can become a problem, especially for professional chauffeurs who often transport passengers in larger, multi-passenger vehicles.

A preliminary report released on May 22nd by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that motorcycle fatalities in the United States did not significantly change from 2010 to 2011, totaling 4,500 each year. All 50 states and the District of Columbia provided the data for the report. With the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projecting that overall motor vehicle fatalities declined 1.7% in 2011, reaching their lowest level since 1949, the death rate for motorcyclists is one of the few areas of highway safety in which progress is not being made. NHTSA also reports that when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, it is often because the larger vehicle has violated the cyclist’s right of way.

So what can you do?
The following guidelines can help make sure that each trip is a safe one for you and motorcyclists with whom you share the road.

  • Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Respect a motorcycle as
    you would any other vehicle, with the same rights and privileges.
  • Keep a greater following distance. Motorcyclists often slow
    by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the
    brake light. Also, because motorcycles can usually stop in shorter distances,
    leave additional space ahead for that extra cushion of safety.
  • Be alert for motorcycles that may appear suddenly. Sometimes riders may
    take advantage of the cycle’s size and maneuverability to cut between other
    vehicles. When turning right, watch for motorcycles that may be traveling in
    the space between your vehicle and the curb or other lane of traffic.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots before turning, changing lanes,
    backing up or parking.
    Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a limousine’s blind spots or masked by objects or backgrounds (bushes,
    fences, bridges, etc.). And don’t be fooled by a motorcycle’s single headlight
    and single tail light which sometimes blend into the lights of other vehicles
    at night.
  • Communicate clearly. Signal your intentions before changing lanes,
    turning or merging with traffic. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate
    traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
  • Exercise care at intersections. Collisions between
    motorcycles and other vehicles, including limousines, are most likely to occur
    at intersections. A motorcycle’s small profile makes it difficult to judge its
    distance and speed. A second look can make all the difference in avoiding a
    collision.
  • Don’t be fooled by a motorcycle’s flashing turn signal. Motorcycle signals may not be self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. So don’t
    assume a turn is imminent.

The GHSA report has come out just before Memorial Day Weekend, when at least five large motorcycle rallies are planned across the country, including “Rolling Thunder” in Washington, D.C., where approximately 100,000 riders are expected to congregate.

So be alert, and extend courtesy to the two-wheelers with whom you share the road.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

It’s the Deadly Season for Pedestrians

The NHTSA reported that approximately 4,092 pedestrians were killed and another 70,000 injured when vehicles and pedestrians collided.

Spring is in full bloom across the country and the summer months are just around the corner. And with the warmer weather comes a huge influx of pedestrian traffic in cities and towns.  Unfortunately, for professional limousine chauffeurs and drivers, the more pedestrians on the streets, the greater the risk of pedestrian accidents with their vehicles.

The Problem Grows
Pedestrian-vehicle crashes are a major problem in the United States. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were approximately 4,092 pedestrians killed and another 70,000 injured when vehicles and pedestrians collided. The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing  (POP) estimates that, on average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic collision every 113 minutes and injured every eight minutes, and although only 8.6% of all trips are made on foot, 11.4% of all traffic deaths are pedestrians. The POP analysis also found that most pedestrian injuries occur between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., with a peak time between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Fatalities usually happen at night between 5:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Most pedestrian-vehicle crashes take place on Friday and Saturday and the fewest happen on Sunday. However, during the vacation months, especially in crowded tourist areas, crashes happen frequently at any time in the 24-hour day and on any day in the week.

The Elderly Pedestrian
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times described the dangers that slower-moving elderly people are facing as they walk through a crosswalk along New York City’s wider but busy streets. Statistics show that more than a dozen elderly citizens have been killed in just one fashionable upper westside 10-block area of Manhattan in the last 10 years. That would equate to hundreds of elderly pedestrians perishing in crosswalks across the City that they simply cannot cross in time to evade traffic. Arguably, stoplight signals that don’t seem to be allowing enough time for an elderly person to cross safely add to the problem as well. In vacation areas, towns and rural areas, sidewalks may be in poor condition or there may not be any sidewalks for people to use, and the rough non-sidewalk surface can be especially difficult for an elderly person to navigate.

Other Dangers With Pedestrians Present
Especially during the summer season with so many compact crowded areas, vacationing pedestrians use the roads as if they were extensions of the sidewalks and they may not pay proper attention to following and oncoming traffic. Very often, pedestrians will ignore the traffic walk/don’t walk signals just because the rest of the crowd is moving without regard for safety. Children are especially at risk because they tend to make sudden movements without watching where they are headed. They can also be difficult to see because of their size.

What Can You Do?
Professional limousine drivers know that reducing speed will help safe driving in many ways. Generally, pedestrians do have the right-of-way at intersections and will take it, even if safety tells them they need to wait things out. You need to stay on your guard and slowing down will help avoid unexpected and careless pedestrian behavior. Don’t block a crosswalk with your limousine when stopped at a red light because it puts pedestrians around you in danger. Don’t use your horn or try other ways to get pedestrians out of your way. Take your time and wait until pedestrians are clear of your vehicle before moving.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Bad Things Can Happen To Good Limo Drivers

The two most common accident types are head-on collisions and passing stop signs or red lights.

Limo drivers and chauffeurs should be aware that every day, good, experienced drivers who obey the speed limit and stay alert, are injured or killed by inexperienced, careless, drunk or reckless drivers. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that there are, on average, approximately 34,700 motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. each year. The NSC analysis also determined that even good drivers are injured or killed by the two most common accident types: head-on collisions and passing stop signs or red lights.

Head-On Collisions
According to NSC statistics, the head-on collision kills about 42% of the ”good drivers” on the road.  These accidents are the most sudden and most difficult to avoid. There is often little time for evasive maneuvers and the speed of both vehicles increases the violence of the crash. The estimates are that 63% of head-on collisions appear to be caused by distracted drivers or by drivers who fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into oncoming traffic; 20% occur around curves in the road when a driver was going too fast and veered into the opposite lane of travel; and 6% were caused by drivers passing another vehicle at a bad time.

Passing Stop Signs & Traffic Lights
The NSC statistics further showed that 16% of good drivers were killed when another driver failed to stop at a stop sign, and 8% of drivers were victims of red-light running. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that each year, more than 800 people die and over 200,000 are injured in crashes which involve red light running. The IIHS has further determined that crashes at red lights have increased more than three times the rate of all other types of fatal vehicle accidents in the U.S. After monitoring several busy intersections in Virginia over several months, IIHS discovered a pattern of red light violation rates of three per intersection per hour…and the rate was
more frequent during peak travel times!

What Limo Drivers Can Do?
Our nation’s highways are still the safest place to drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  statistics show just 14% of traffic fatalities occur on highways, while an amazing 86% occur on city streets, side roads and byways. Of course, highway driving is never the only option you have, so use your professional training to avoid the poor driving habits of others. Stay alert and slow down when you travel side roads. Keep your eyes moving to look far down the road, and stay alert for potential conflicts at all times. Approach curves with caution and at a safe speed. The same applies with intersections; be wary when you come to a stop sign or red light, even when you have the right of way. Watch other vehicles and their drivers to help anticipate their actions. When your light turns green, take a couple seconds and check
both ways before proceeding.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

What If Your Limousine Catches Fire?

USFA data revealed that one in every four fire department responses is to a vehicle fire.

Vehicle fires, including those involving limousines, stretch limos and limo buses, are dangerous, fast-acting and frightening. And they happen more often than you might think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 33 car fires are reported every hour in the United States. In 2007, (the last year with complete NFPA statistics), 258,000 vehicle fires caused 385 deaths, 1,675 injuries and cost $1.41 billion in damages. Thankfully, regular maintenance, safe driving and common sense can often help prevent a vehicle fire.

Causes And Effects
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) research shows that mechanical failure or design problems such as broken fuel lines, faulty catalytic converters, electrical failures, blown tires and overheating, cause 66% of vehicle fires and are the leading causes of vehicle injuries. USFA data also reveals that one in every four fire department responses is to a vehicle fire – more than the responses to residential properties. Electrical wiring and fuel are the leading forms of material ignited in vehicle fires and following a collision, fires are the leading cause of vehicle deaths.

What Are The Signs?
Under-inflated tires can overheat quickly. When you make routine stops, make it a habit to check the tire pressure, especially if a tire looks low on air. Worn brakes can overheat and cause a fire, so make sure they are checked on a regular basis. If a fuse keeps blowing, it may be a sign of electrical trouble, so have it looked at as soon as possible. Overloaded wiring, particularly in a heavy accessorized limousine, can also cause a fire. If you smell burning plastic or rubber while you’re driving, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, turn off the engine and investigate the source. If you can’t determine what the trouble is, call for help.

Some Tips On What You Could Do
One of the best defenses against a vehicle fire is to be prepared. During your pre-trip inspection, check for any tell-tale leakage or electronic irregularities. Make sure the limousine you drive is well maintained, tuned up regularly in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and that your maintenance program meets all local, state and federal requirements. Mount a fire extinguisher in the passenger compartment for easy accessibility and check it regularly for proper operation. A fire extinguisher rated ABC for all types of fires is the best.

Make sure you are familiar with how to use the extinguisher should the need arise. One thing is certain: an emergency is not the time to start reading the instructions on how to use your fire extinguisher. Be sure to check local, state and federal regulations about fire extinguishers in limousines and follow them carefully. If you are faced with a vehicle fire while on the road, don’t panic. Signal and move off the road to a safe spot, shut off the engine, evacuate your passengers to a safe distance and call 911. Stay at least 150 feet away from any flames you see in the rear of the vehicle, especially near the gas tank. And know what your company policy is concerning your response to a vehicle fire.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Limo Drivers Take Note: Warm Weather = More Work Zones

Work zones account for an average of 700 fatalities each year.

The annual “Work Zone Awareness Week” begun in 1999, was held this year from April 23 -27. The program is designed to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety in work zones. This year’s theme is Don’t Barrel Through Work Zones! Drive Smart to Arrive Alive. Work zones account for an average of 700 fatalities each year, 85% of them being motorists and passengers, and 15% are the people working in a zone. There are multiple hazards limo drivers will face driving through the increasing number of work zones the warmer weather brings, especially when you are driving an oversized vehicle.

Defensive Driving
Your best driving defense in a work zone is to slow down and focus on your driving. The most common crash in a work zone is a rear-end collision, so leave at least 6 seconds of space between you and the vehicle ahead, and even more space when road conditions deteriorate with bad weather or rough surfaces. Give yourself space to move in case anything goes wrong, especially in stop and go traffic with fewer lanes to maneuver. Stay in your lane, obey the posted speed limit and remember, fines are often doubled in work zones.

Nighttime Safety Issues
Night work zones are increasingly common because authorities prefer to avoid lane closures and congestion during peak daytime traffic. However, with less overall traffic at night, drivers tend to go faster. Speed and darkness are the main reasons why 55% of work zone fatalities occur at night and crash rates increase by 65%. Darkness makes visibility poorer even with lighting towers, warning lights and reflective worker clothing
turning night into day. Drivers are more likely to be fatigued or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs so stay alert.

Watch Out And Plan Ahead!
As you approach the warnings of a work zone ahead, merge as soon as possible to avoid forcing your vehicle into the traffic flow. Once you’re in the zone, if traffic merges into fewer lanes, use caution and courtesy to reduce the chance of a sideswipe. The worst of all merges is when a vehicle at a full stop in one lane attempts to move directly into a lane where the traffic is moving. The front wheels of a stopped vehicle turning toward the lane that is moving could signal that the vehicle will try to merge. Reduce your speed and keep your distance. Continuously scan the work zone and watch traffic, the workers, traffic flaggers and any moving equipment. Keep headlights on, wear your seat belt and always be prepared to stop. Relax and take your time getting through the congestion. Before you leave on your trip, check various state DOT web sites to see if there are work zones along your route. If you think you might be delayed, plan a different route or leave earlier to reach your destination. Staying alert and aware of what’s happening around you will help you safely navigate these congested areas.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

A Limo Safety Plan For Spring Celebrations

Consider having a separate Code of Conduct or Rules Agreement for the passengers to sign.

It’s the season of proms and graduations again, and some of your best vehicles will be filled with teenagers. So it will be up to you, in partnership with your riders’ parents, to set the tone for requiring responsible behavior from everyone riding in your limousine by having a limo safety plan.

Start With a Signed Agreement

Adults who rent limousines for their children’s special night want their concerns addressed and their questions answered before they sign a contract that, among other things, covers the special circumstances that come with providing services to passengers who are often still minors. The person who signs the transportation agreement should be a parent or guardian who gives permission to the riders to use your services and who will be liable for charges and damages that might occur. Speak to the parent personally so you’re sure the contract signature is genuine. Obtain the parents’ phone numbers so they can be contacted in case of an emergency. As part of your limo safety plan, you should also consider having a separate Code of Conduct or Rules Agreement available for the passengers to sign. The agreement details the expected (and acceptable) behavior from your minor passengers when they’re riding in your vehicle. Keep a copy of the signed contracts on the vehicle being utilized.

What Are The Contract Rules?

The first thing parents and passengers should know is that if there is any violation of the contract rules, you will immediately terminate the trip, the responsible parent will be notified, all fees will be charged and forfeited and, though the driver will remain with the group, the parents will be responsible for picking up their children. Pick-up and drop-off locations and times for the trip should be detailed in the agreement, along with an exact itinerary provided by the parent. There should be no deviation from the plans. No side
trips will be allowed without the permission of the signing parent and the owner of the driver’s company. One of the rules you must enforce is prohibiting drugs, tobacco or alcohol in the vehicle. Stipulate that the driver has the right, at his or her discretion, to examine any backpacks or packages being brought on board. Use of these substances by minors is illegal and dangerous and could cause an accident both inside and outside your limousine. This behavior could put you at risk even though you had nothing to do with the actions of your passengers.

Other Safety Precautions

Before you depart, ask your passengers if they have any questions about the contract rules or the services you will be providing to avoid misunderstandings. Discourage risky behavior by keeping the moon roof locked-closed and the driver’s glass divider locked-open. And since state contractual laws vary, you should consult with your attorney to make sure your rules are appropriate. You want your passengers to have a great evening, so treat them with respect and provide them with transportation in the safest and most responsible way possible.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Limousine Drivers: Good Impressions Generate Referrals & Repeat Business

Do you ever consider the less obvious but necessary qualities a limousine driver should have in order to run a successful business?

Are you aware of the impression you make on your customers? Of course, appearance matters and it’s hard to imagine any professional limousine chauffeur showing up for work in jeans and a t-shirt! But what about the rest of your appearance? Is your hair combed? Does your suit look clean and pressed? Are your hands clean and fingernails clipped to a reasonable length? What about personal hygiene? While all of this may seem quite obvious to any self-respecting chauffeur, do you ever consider the less obvious but necessary qualities a limousine driver should have in order to run a successful business?

The Best Qualities To Have

A recent article posted on Articles Alley, a website devoted to postings from various industry experts on a wide variety of topics, outlined several essential qualities that limousine drivers need to attract and keep customers coming back. One important quality is being prepared. Before every trip, make sure you know the most efficient routes to take and also alternate roads to travel if you are faced with long traffic delays. Before you leave, check on possible adverse weather conditions along your route so you can make alternate plans for a safe drive. Be punctual to your pick up location. Arriving early is much preferable to getting there late. Always be courteous and don’t let a customer who might be in a bad mood affect your behavior. Have a smile on your face, open the doors, take care of storing and retrieving luggage, do what you can to
keep your clients comfortable from the start, during and at the finish of the trip. Respect the privacy of your clients and that means not talking about them to others after you’ve dropped them off, especially when the clients may be well-known persons.

Important Quality #1

Above everything, you should never neglect your good driving skills. Don’t ever lose your attention on the road ahead. Are you answering your phone, even a hands-free one? In many cases, it shows a disregard for the law and for everyone on the road. Do you continually hard-brake in crowded traffic situations? That indicates you are traveling too fast for the traffic conditions. Do you allow yourself to be bothered by what other drivers do and then complain about it to your customers? That portrays you as short-tempered and impatient – not great qualities to be displaying to customers who have a choice on who they hire to get them from place to place.

Two Things That Customers Will Appreciate

Having a working knowledge of more than one language could be a factor that sets your services apart. Being professionally trained in basic first aid techniques and carrying a first aid kit in your limousine can also be an advantage.

Remember, you’ll never get a second chance to make that first impression.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Study Focuses On Limo Driver Fatigue Issues

A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) showed that many transportation industry workers struggle with sleep and, consequently, fatigue. The first-of-its-kind national survey on sleep habits of professional drivers, pilots and train operators, the 2012 Sleep in America Poll: Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Sleep, is an
eye-opener for professionals in the transportation industry, and in general, a pat on the back for limousine drivers/chauffeurs. The statistics here for limousine drivers were grouped with bus and taxi drivers because their responses were all in very similar percentage ranges, and much different than the responses of other transportation professionals.

The national internet survey polled 1,087 total respondents with a sample error of plus/minus 3%. The primary objectives of the research were:

  • To compare the sleep habits, including wake and bed time routines, across a range of transportation professionals;
  • To compare the sleep habits of transportation professionals to a control group of
    individuals between ages 25-65 who are NOT employed in transportation;
  • To compare coping measures for inadequate sleep for transportation professionals; and
  • To measure how work schedules, among other factors, impact sleep.

While the report asserted that a limousine driver’s daily shift varied and 59% reported usual start times between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm and end-shift times between noon and 6:00 pm, it needs to be noted that many limo drivers have other full-time jobs and only drive part-time – meaning that the average driving shift might be in addition
to a full day of work at their other job.

Limousine drivers say they get enough quality sleep on most working days, with 27% of respondents reporting sleeping 8 hours or more. This is significantly more than train operators or pilots. 53% of limo drivers also say they will take naps during break periods if they believe they need to sleep.

The survey has many more interesting statistics comparing the work and sleep habits of workers in the transportation industry. LimoDirect policyholders can order a free and exclusive copy of our highly acclaimed DVD: Driver Fatigue: A Deadly Serious Problem, available on our website, www.limoinsurancedirect.com. Sign in to our policyholder section and access the Safety/Loss Control section for more information.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Limousine Drivers: What Happened To Safe Driving?

As a leading limo insurance provider, we know that statistics don’t deter drivers who fail to come to a full stop at a red light or stop sign.

As professional limousine drivers, you are arguably among the best and safest drivers on our increasingly busy roadways. As we approach warmer weather and the crowded traffic conditions that brings, you may begin to wonder how so many of the drivers you observe could have forgotten – or choose to ignore – safe driving rules and behavior. So don’t let the bad habits of others on the road cause you to become frustrated, especially when you’re driving.

Keep Your Head
As one of the leading U.S.companies providing limousine insurance, we know chauffeurs are often behind the wheel of a luxury vehicle, including over-sized models that look very classy and expensive. It seems to be a quirk of human nature that other drivers don’t want you to have a better road position than they do, often resulting in careless and dangerous maneuvers by motorists who want to “beat” you or get ahead of your “classy” vehicle. Because you can’t determine what’s going on in other drivers’ minds, you have to be cautious when you’re approaching travel areas that could pose a danger. Concentrate on the road, especially in merge areas, keep space around your limousine and be aware of lane changers and vehicles traveling in your blind spots. Stay calm and obey the speed limits.

A Lost Art
It’s been estimated that almost 60% of drivers do not consistently use their turn signals. This basic element of safe driving may be considered a nuisance to careless drivers. Yet, as a professional limousine driver, you know that it’s important to signal the driving actions you are about to take. With drivers’ minds seemingly on everything but their driving, you can’t afford to let your attention wander. In fact, by using your signals, you actually help others be safer drivers. Communicating your intentions allows others to adjust their speed and distance as needed. Use your signals at all times, whether you’re in heavy traffic or driving in the early morning hours when it seems like yours is the only vehicle on the road. It helps reinforce the habit of signaling your intentions.

Another Danger Ignored
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), red light running in the U.S. results in 218,000 crashes, 880 deaths and 181,000 injuries each year. Yet, as a leading limo insurance provider, we know that these statistics don’t deter the many drivers who fail to come to a full stop at a red light or stop sign. Very often, a light has turned red, but at least one driver continues through with no thought to the danger. This is especially true at left-turn lights. It’s also a problem when vehicles fail to slow down or stop at amber lights. With delayed green, drivers all too often feel they are entitled to those few extra
seconds and speed up rather than slow down. Pay close attention to traffic signals and be prepared to slow down or stop based on the conditions that confront you. Limousine drivers can set on-the-road examples as how to drive safely and carefully for other drivers who may not be as safety conscious.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

2012 ILCT Annual Convention

Manufacturers such as Chrysler, BMW, Cadillac and Toyota all featured vehicles which they believe are suitable replacements for the Town Car which has been the limousine industry’s standard bearer for decades.

The 2012 International Limousine and Chartered Transportation (ILCT) recently concluded annual convention and trade show was very well attended and had much to offer both educationally and socially.

Held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Limousine Association (NLA), the ILCT presented a robust trade show which featured many of the new vehicles vying to replace the leadership position of the Lincoln Town Car which is no longer in production.   Manufacturers such as Chrysler, BMW, Cadillac and Toyota
all featured vehicles which they believe are suitable replacements for the Town Car which has been the limousine industry’s standard bearer for decades.

The trade show also featured vendors offering a wide assortment of high tech reservation and booking systems geared to the smart phone using demographic.  Insurance companies, such as industry leading Lancer Insurance Company, were on hand to feature their products and services and to participate in the educational
sessions targeting limousine owners and their senior staff.  In fact Lancer’s Safety Director Bob Crescenzo gave an informative presentation to a packed room on the challenges limousine companies have as their operations evolve from sedan-only to mixed fleets of sedans, mini-buses, vans and full-sized motorcoaches.   Crescenzo highlighted the regulatory, operational and driver training issues which must be part of the transition process.

LimoDirect offers limo liability insurance, limo physical damage insurance and limo
general liability insurance while providing superior coverage & claims service.

Can You Hear Me Now? Limo Drivers Take Note.

FMCSA mandates commercial limo drivers be able to perceive a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five feet with or without the use of a hearing aid.

Overall health and well-being are essential elements of living a productive and fulfilling life. As a professional limo driver, they are also necessary for the safe performance of your job. But there is one part of good health that often gets overlooked when we evaluate how healthy we are.

A Common Problem
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 20 million people, approximately 8.6% of the total U.S. population, have hearing problems. Of that 20 million people, 6.3% are aged 35-44 years old, 10.3% are 45-54 years old and 15.4% are 55-64 years
old. So it’s evident that hearing impairments are associated with age. And gender seems to be a major factor in hearing loss, with 10.5% of males of all ages having hearing loss compared to 6.8% for women.

Hearing Loss and Crash Risk
There is little doubt that receiving auditory information is a necessary part of safe limo driving. You need to be aware of any signals your vehicle is sending you that something may be wrong, that the operation just doesn’t “sound” right. In some vehicles, there are electronic auditory clues to tell you of a mechanical failure or other problem in the vehicle. General road noise, screeching brakes, horn honking, railroad crossing warnings, sirens from first responder vehicles, are all outside auditory information telling you that you may need to adjust your driving. If you don’t hear an alarm, chances are
you don’t respond to it. While many studies cited by NHTSA have determined that the correlation between crash risk and hearing loss is most significant in older drivers, the Agency warns that hearing loss is a problem for drivers of all ages, and especially for
professional limo drivers who are most susceptible to high noise levels for a longer
duration.

Time For A Hearing Evaluation?
Most people have no qualms about seeing an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to keep their eyes healthy. But a visit to an audiologist is not considered essential and often, the prospect of wearing a hearing aid is not as acceptable as wearing glasses. A professional limo driver is constantly bombarded with noise pollution while in the vehicle. Traffic congestion on the outside and the hum of the operation of your vehicle on the inside are assaulting your eardrums every day. That’s why you need recognize the signs that it may be time to have your ears checked. Do you have trouble hearing
when the background is noisy? Do you have dizziness, pain or ringing in your ears? Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves? These are just some of the reasons to see a doctor.

Federal Mandates
If you have a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) license, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates you to “be able to perceive a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five feet with or without the use of a hearing aid,” and other requirements if tested with an audiometric device. Be sure you are aware of and adhere to the rulings.

Limo Drivers Should Be Aware of the Most Common, Most Expensive & Most Preventable Accidents

Limo drivers should be aware that more than 10,000 accidents in the U.S. are caused by fatigue each year.

Limo drivers should be aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the most common accident types on America’s streets and highways are rear-end accidents, followed by sideswipes, turning collisions, collisions with animals and run-off-road accidents. According to www.SmartMotorist.com, over 95% of all traffic accidents are caused by five specific driving behaviors:

  • Fatigue: More than 10,000 accidents in the U.S. are caused by fatigue each year. Drowsy or sleeping drivers cause more than 1,500 deaths and an estimated 40,000 injuries;
  • Driver Distraction: Drivers can be distracted by any number of things going on around them, including eating, talking with passengers, adjusting the radio or CD player, and watching other traffic or accidents. It is four times more likely that drivers talking or texting on cell phones will be involved in a traffic accident than drivers not using a phone;
  • Aggressive Driving: Aggressive drivers force their way through roadways by using maneuvers which are dangerous to other motorists and in violation of traffic laws. Aggressive driving is often the cause of highway sideswipe accidents;
  • Drunk Driving: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every day, a drunk driver causes 36 deaths and about 700 injuries. Drunk driving on average, accounts for more than one-third of the total number of fatal accidents each year; and
  • Speed: The faster a driver travels over the speed limit, the greater the chances are that driver will be involved in an accident. Speeding reduces a driver’s control over the vehicle, limits the ability to evaluate surroundings and greatly reduces reaction time and the ability to stop the vehicle quickly.

Any one of these driving behaviors is dangerous and can be deadly, and they are all preventable behaviors. Over 30,000 people are killed in crashes each year in the United States and, besides the toll on victims’ families and friends, the total accounts for
an estimated $41 billion in medical and work-loss costs.
The United Nations launched a Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 in May, 2011. The stated goal is to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world by increasing activities conducted at the national, regional and global levels. The tragic
and alarming statistics of the death and destruction caused by traffic accidents each year needs to be addressed. And as a professional limo driver, you and your limo insurance company can take the initiative in helping to make the roads a safer place for everyone.

Limo Driver Tip: Don’t Let Mild Winter Weather Fool You

Winter Limo Driving
Be mindful of other drivers that may be lulled into a false sense of security by the mild winter weather conditions.

The extended periods of mild winter weather so far this season have provided an unexpected break for limo drivers from the icy, snowy and slippery roads typically seen throughout most of the country this time of year. Over 70% of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions which receive an average annual snowfall of more than five inches, and almost 70% of the U.S. population lives in these snowy regions. And although there have been some cold snaps, the unseasonable conditions, particularly in the Midwest, have made many roads easier to drive than usual. Consequently, the typical delays and the increase in accidents haven’t been much of a factor this year for most limo drivers.

So what does this mean to a professional limo driver?  For one thing, you’re probably experiencing more vehicles on the road and traffic moving at a higher rate of speed.  The ability to get to your destinations on time is surely a positive result of the milder temperatures, but there are two hidden hazards relating to the good weather conditions.

The first risk relates to what happens when the inevitable change in weather conditions does occur, even if just for a brief period of time. As a professional limo driver you know how to adjust your speed and following distances accordingly, and understand the change in braking distance when rain, frozen rain or snow begins to fall. However, not everyone is a trained professional. Be mindful of other drivers that may be lulled into a
false sense of security that because of the mild conditions, adverse weather will not be a factor. Those motorists may not be as quick to adjust their driving habits to changing conditions. This means that you need to watch carefully for traffic that doesn’t make the adjustment in speed and following distance, and be on the lookout for lane jockeys that don’t apply common sense when changing lanes.

The next risk regards maintenance. Wipers, antifreeze, the defroster and all those other items that are normal factors during sustained winter weather may slip your mind under current conditions. You don’t want to be surprised to find out that you’re out of washer fluid because you haven’t had to fill it as often as in past winters. Be sure to complete a
thorough pre-trip inspection and check your vehicle often along the way.  And, for safety’s sake, don’t assume that because things are clear today, they’ll stay that way for the rest of the winter. Keep informed of the latest weather and road conditions so you can be ready for whatever nature throws your way.

Limo Drivers: Using GPS Systems Safely

Taking your eyes off the road to read a GPS display, even for a few seconds, can be a very dangerous distraction.

The use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), for limo drivers and non-limo drivers alike, has grown steadily across the country over the past few years. However, the increase in reliance on these GPS devices has also created some problems that have led to accidents, lost drivers and drivers finding themselves stuck on streets too narrow to navigate safely, especially when driving an over-sized vehicle. Much like using online map services like Mapquest or Google Maps, seemingly good directions aren’t always that accurate, send you through circuitous routes and sometimes, don’t give you the whole picture of what you’re driving into.

Many state legislatures have growing concerns that drivers can become very reliant on GPS commands and displays, to the point at which they might lose focus on the road and forsake safe driving basics. Taking your eyes off the road to read a GPS display, even for a few seconds, can be a very dangerous distraction. Following GPS directions without looking ahead to ensure the road is clear to safely make a turn can lead to hitting fixed objects or pedestrians. Drivers should be careful to not allow the convenience and ease of use of a GPS to lull them into following commands without applying the fundamentals of safe driving before they respond.

It should also be noted that GPS devices often provide directions and information about exiting and turning shortly before the need to make the actual maneuver without accounting for the size, turning radius and length of time needed for a larger vehicle to complete the suggested move.

Auto manufacturers have come up with “Augmented Navigation Displays”   which put GPS information and other road information directly onto the windshield. The objective is to minimize your loss of visual contact with the road and create a safer drive. The devices have begun appearing in the latest model automobiles.

Some other basic rules to remember when using GPS devices are:

  • Don’t program the GPS while moving. Instead, enter your destination BEFORE starting your vehicle. If you need to change your destination, pull over where it’s safe and legal to do so.
  • Learn to rely on the voice directions, with an occasional glance at the map, much as you would look at the speedometer or other instrument, to confirm or preview turns. Keep your focus on your driving.

Finally, never depend solely on a GPS device.  No matter what type of commercial vehicle device you use, the map data is not always 100% accurate.  As a professional
limo driver, you’re still responsible for obeying all road signs, bridge heights and restricted areas and following safe driving rules.

Limo Insurance: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Loss of use of a damaged vehicle can have more impact than the actual claim: Repair costs? Replacement vehicle costs? How will you handle upcoming business you've committed to?

LimoDirect’s Loss Recovery Program Is Like “Found Money”

When shopping for limo insurance, price isn’t everything. A wise limousine operator will also look into what kind of claim support he or she can expect from the company chosen to insure his or her limousine(s)…the company’s life blood.  After all, that is really what you are paying for.

Very few limo insurers put a lot of thought into the total impact a serious claim can have on a limousine company. Besides the obvious claim of the insured limousine, there are many other issues that the limo company must face. How long will the repairs take and will I have to rent a replacement vehicle? Will I have to replace the vehicle? What about the contracts and upcoming business I have committed to? In total, loss of use of the damaged vehicle can add up to as much or even more than the original claim.

One limo insurance company, Lancer’s LimoDirect, has its claim team assist its policyholders, at absolutely no cost to them, to recover monies from other insurance companies for out-of-pocket expenses which are either below their collision deductible or not insured at all, including cost of replacement vehicle(s), vehicle downtime and related revenues and expenses.

Lancer’s LimoDirect Loss Recovery Program is a free policyholder benefit which allows its policyholders to keep 100% of monies recovered on your behalf versus paying a vendor a 30%-50% fee for assisting in the recovery.

The process is made simple for its policyholders. LimoDirect assigns a professional limousine insurance claims expert to the policyholder with a claim. The claims expert quickly locates the adverse party and promptly sets up the claim on the policyholder’s behalf with the other insurance company. This step allows them to give an early notice of “loss of use” of the affected limousine.

The claim professional then documents the claim and guides the LimoDirect policyholder through the process, including:

  • Sending estimates and photographs for the insured and providing loss of use documentation such as revenue reports,contracts, replacement vehicles, etc.;
  • Obtaining an agreed cost of repair;
  • And, most importantly, getting their limousine back on the road in revenue service.

Here’s an example of what the insurer’s Loss Recovery Program did for one of its policyholders:

“Lancer’s loss recovery service has saved us almost $390,000! Over the past five years, Lancer has recovered almost $1.3 million in property damage and loss of use for us. We used to pay around 30% for third-party loss recovery, but with Lancer, it’s
included as part of a comprehensive benefits package. Lancer knows how important loss recovery is for a limo company. That’s why they provide the service — and fight so hard for every dollar we’re due.”

Rich Doherty, Director, National Fleet Services,
EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services, Secaucus, NJ

When it comes to insuring your limousine company, price isn’t everything… be sure to look into exactly what your limo insurer will do for you and how much of your money they are willing to protect!

It’s Not Just Wrinkles That Signal Aging in Limousine Drivers

Research from the Harvard Medical School Health Publication has shown that exercise can actually slow down the aging process.

Aging in Limousine Drivers – If you were born between and including 1946 and 1964, you are a part of the Baby Boom generation, the largest generation in American history.  And, in today’s economy, more and more boomers are working past retirement age than ever before. According to a recent AARP survey of Baby Boomers, 40% of them plan on working “until they drop.” That’s especially true of workers who really enjoy what they do, and professional limousine drivers tend to be satisfied with their jobs. Driving is a physical experience and requires a certain level of strength, flexibility and coordination to drive safely.

The Inevitable March Of Time

Older drivers bring a good deal of driving experience when they’re behind the wheel and drivers in their fifties and sixties have just about the lowest crash rates of anyone on the road. Fatal crash rates rise sharply however, after a driver has reached the age of 70. But aging doesn’t mean a person needs to stop driving. What it does mean is being  aware of tell-tale signs indicating that aging might be interfering with safe driving and knowing how to adjust your driving skills to help prevent problems.

How Aging Affects Driving

HelpGuide.org has a section on its website that goes into detail about how to understand and deal with the ways aging affects your driving. They list warning signs like trouble focusing your vision, increased sensitivity to light or trouble seeing in the dark; decrease in hearing when you don’t detect emergency sirens or hear cars honking at you; your reactions are slowing when you have to brake suddenly or you mistake the gas pedal for the brake; and problems with your memory, like missing exits or getting lost frequently. The site also offers suggestions on how to maximize safety on the road:

  • Get your eyes checked every year; make sure any corrective lenses are current; keep windshield, mirrors and headlights clean and turn brightness up on your dashboard instruments. Be aware that the amount of light reaching the photoreceptors in your eyes at age 50 is just 35% of the same light seen by a 20 year old.
  • Have hearing checked annually. Wear prescribed hearing aids while driving.
  • Get sleep so you are not fatigued. If you suffer from sleep apnea, make sure you see a doctor for help.
  • Drive defensively by slowing down and keeping ample space around your vehicle. Avoid distractions such as talking on the phone while driving. If you need to use the phone, consult the GPS or read some directions, pull over when and where it’s safe to do so.

Keeping Fit

Fit drivers make better drivers. Aging will bring some decline in physical abilities, but research from the Harvard Medical School Health Publication has shown that exercise can actually slow down the aging process which, the research says, actually starts as early as your thirties. Physical activity is good for the heart, muscles and joints, and can keep you more alert when you’re behind the wheel. And watch your weight. Most Americans begin to gain weight in midlife, putting on 3 – 4 pounds a year, and, because you’re losing muscle around that time, the weight you put on will be all fat.

How Professional Chauffeurs Can Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle

You should be making the effort to avoid fatigued driving.

In an industry that typically involves irregular work and rest cycles, irregular mealtimes and long working hours, it is difficult for a professional chauffeur to maintain a healthy diet and a regular physical fitness routine. During the winter months when just about everyone is susceptible to colds and flu, it’s especially important that you take care of yourself. It is clearly not pleasant for passengers if you’re coughing and sneezing throughout a trip.

Fatigued Driving Affects Driver Health

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently published a study, Health andWellness Programs for Commercial Drivers. While the research focused on truck and bus drivers, the results apply to professional chauffeurs as well. One of the biggest problems is fatigue. Unpredictable work schedules, lack of rest or nap periods during work, sleep deprivation, sleep disruption and poor diet are among the contributing factors to fatigue. And when you are continually tired, your resistance lowers and it becomes more difficult for you to avoid illness. It’s not easy to keep yourself fit when you often can’t predict what kind of work schedule you will have, but you should be making the effort to avoid fatigued driving.

Try To Maintain Healthy Eating Habits

Your diet should not consist of foods that are high in fat and calories and that have little or no nutritional value. Always strive for a balanced diet  of foods rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins to help keep your body performing at peak efficiency. Eat a nutritious breakfast daily, snack on fruits and vegetables, try not to eat late at night, especially when you are doing a lot of sitting and eliminate high-calorie drinks and include water in your diet. Making some simple changes in your daily diet can help you lose some weight and even feel better throughout your work schedule.

Start Moving

Exercise is a way to improve your mood and attitude as well as physical well-being. It boosts your energy level and helps to reduce stress and the risks of disease. You can start on a regimen of 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Starting with something as basic as taking a walk can even be done during your work schedule. Getting up and moving, especially if you know you will be sitting for long periods, is a beneficial way to get your circulation moving and helping you stay alert. A poor diet and lack of exercise increase the risk of obesity and that is a major factor in developing cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke.

Smoking

One of the most difficult habits to break is smoking. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people die from smoking-related diseases. If you smoke, stop. The benefit to your health and well-being will be immeasurable.

Driving Customers – To Your Limo Website

Just having a nice looking website, even if you spend a good deal of money to get it developed, isn’t enough to bring people to your site.

If there is just one thing all limousine drivers have in common, it’s dealing with heavy traffic. But how about the heavy traffic you want to attract your limo website? Are you making the most of the digital online resources available to keep ahead of the pack?

No matter what your marketing strategy, it should include an online plan. According to statistics from 15miles, a local search study site, 82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase. And with the internet literally at your fingertips and on your phones at all times, users can access information without a serious time commitment. The Kelsey Group, a local Media and Advertising Expert, predicted in their Fall, 2011 media forecast update that the rate of growth for the overall local ad markets over the next five years will remain flat. But digital media will be a “bright spot,” with double-digit growth expected for the forecast period 2010–2015. So while you shouldn’t ignore traditional advertising markets and those hands-on ideas to get your services known, you simply must utilize the internet.

Just having a nice looking website, even if you spend a good deal of money to get it developed, isn’t enough to bring people to your site. You will need to invest time and/or more money to get more customers. Assuming you have a website, the first, relatively simple thing you should do is include your website URL (Uniform Resource Locator) on your business cards, flyers, any materials you may give away and/or ads you publish.

Make online search engines your friend. Prospective customers will find your site by using the common search engines and browsers, by typing your company name or some other phrase that would link your site to the inquiry. But how do you insure that your business will be one of the first ones listed? With thousands, even millions of answers resulting from an inquiry, if you’re number 1,000 in line, how many people do you think will make it to your website? What you need to do is optimize your place on the search – known as search engine optimization (SEO) — so that you land on the first page when people type in some related keywords or key phrases. There are a number of ways to do this. You can hire a company that specializes in this type of help, or you can make changes and additions on your own. Two websites offer excellent advice: http://www.searchenginewatch.com/ is an online newsletter offering comprehensive tips about creating or enhancing a site that search engines can find; and www.wilsonweb.com, an information center that has several articles listed on how to promote your website.

Limo Business: It’s The Little Things That Count

What are you doing to ensure that your limo business customers will come back, that they will think of you first the next time they need a ride?

It’s one thing to spend time seeking out ways to attract customers to your limo business, to make your services stand out so that potential clients will choose you when they’re
looking to hire a limousine. But what about after the trip is over? What are you doing to ensure that your limo business customers will come back, that they will think of you first the next time they need a ride? Are you showing your customers that you are grateful for their business? Are you doing just a bit more than saying “Thank You” when the job is done?

In the limo business it’s the little things that count. Actions speak louder than words. Go the extra mile. The proof is in the details. All of these wise sayings endure because they are true. Books about being successful in business focus on the small but powerful things people do that make a lasting impression. An interesting and insightful website called Alexandra Levit’s Water Cooler Wisdom offers a number of ways to get along in the workplace, and also goes into ways to make yourself memorable by doing just a little extra when on the job. For example, do you make an effort to remember some general information about customers, like their children’s names, places you’ve taken them, special events in their lives, so you can make friendly conversation and show that you value your clients? Have you ever considered writing a very brief Thank-You to the people who trusted you to get them to their destination safely? A blank Thank-You card with a hand-written note mailed to a client saying YOU enjoyed the trip costs less than $1.00 and could be worth so much more in repeat business and referrals.

“The Two Most Powerful Words For Your Business,” an article written by Randi Busse, president of Workforce Development Group in Amityville, New York, and published in the November 2011 issue of Limousine Digest, hammers home the importance of saying “Thank You.” And, the author says, “Don’t just thank your new customers – thank those that have been with you for a long time as well, because we too often take them for granted. Remind them how much you appreciate them and the fact that they have been your customer for many years.” Avoid sending an email – it’s too impersonal and easy. Sending a note takes your time and shows you genuinely value a client’s business.

My sister recently hired a LimoDirect insured limousine company for my niece’s wedding. The company provided the exact vehicle she wanted, the driver was on time, attentive and in a great and festive mood. What really made the limo experience memorable for my sister, who swears she’ll forever choose that company first, is a couple of weeks after the wedding, she got a note from the limo company’s owner, thanking her for her business. The note included a pro-rated refund check because the time they used the limo was one hour shorter than originally contracted for. My sister never asked for it and never expected it. But the limousine company knew it was a good thing to do and it was a great way of saying “thank you.”

It certainly is the little things that make a big difference.

Helping Win The Battle Against Limo Insurance Fraud – Part II

There are steps you can take to reduce chances of becoming a limo insurance victim.

Last week, we covered the four most common types of staged accidents in limo insurance fraud that criminals are using to scam the system and collect large financial settlements from unsuspecting drivers, especially those who drive large and expensive vehicles. Whether these limo insurance fraud accidents involve an organized crime ring or an individual attempting to make a few extra bucks, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim:

  • Look out for large, older vehicles with three or more occupants. Scammers often crowd into old cars when looking to stage an accident.
  • Don’t tailgate. Make sure you leave plenty of room in front of you and around your vehicle so you can react to the sudden movements of other drivers.
  • Use your own judgment in driving situations. Even if other drivers signal that it’s OK to merge when you are near them, you make the call whether or not it’s safe to do so.
  • Keep a pen and paper in your vehicle and use your Lancer-provided Accident
    Reporting Kit
    to gather information. If an accident occurs, record names of
    all vehicle occupants, addresses, license plate numbers, the adverse driver’s
    license number and insurance details, witness information and any other
    pertinent facts for immediate documentation of what occurred.
  • Keep a 24-shot, disposable flash camera, like Lancer’s free-to-order AccidentCam in your glove box, or use your cell phone to take pictures. Borrow a camera if you don’t have one, because it’s important to take photos before any vehicles are moved. Take pictures of your vehicle, other vehicles involved and the entire scene. Have photographs to help tell the story of what happened.
  • Call the police to come to the scene, even if the adverse vehicle occupants insist it is not necessary. Get the officer’s name and information from him/her on how to get the police report. Do this even if you think the damage is minor.
  • Report any accidents or incidents 24/7 to LimoDirect immediately at 1-800-521-6155 or whomever you insure your limo with. The sooner claims professionals begin their investigation, the better the chances fraud can be detected.
  • Contact Lancer’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) at 1-800-533-8552 and contact the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) at 1-800-TEL-NICB if you suspect a scam. You can also email Lancer at stopfraud@lancer-ins.com.

Helping Win The Battle Against Limo Insurance Fraud – Part I

Limousine companies are viewed as easy targets for fraud because of their large insurance coverage limits.

With the busy holiday season in full gear, traffic is going to increase on the highways, in the cities and in the suburbs. With so many vehicles on the road, it is also a prime time for unscrupulous thieves to attempt to perpetrate on-the-road limo insurance fraud against you and your company. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) has warned that the one industry that continues to show sustained growth, even in tough economic times, is limo insurance fraud. And the crooks are getting more and more creative about ways to separate you from your hard-earned dollars. According to the Association of Fraud Examiners, insurance fraud is costing the American public more than $96 billion in increased premiums per year, and over $400 billion in total costs of goods and services. The cost to transportation companies is a very large share of these totals because they are viewed as easy targets with large insurance coverage limits. Staged accidents have risen by 33% since 1992 and fraudulent claims by passengers in other vehicles, body shops, phony medical facilities and other claimants have shown a steady increase as well.

So what do you need to look out for when you’re on the road to avoid limo insurance fraud? Today’s staged accidents are actually very sophisticated and well planned events. They usually involve more than one vehicle and often have passengers on board, carelessly putting them in harm’s way. Four of the most common scams are:

Swoop and Squat. A scammer’s vehicle swoops in front of you and its driver slams on the brakes, causing a rear-end collision. Often, another vehicle is in on the scam and pulls up next to you, blocking your ability to move and avoid the stopped auto of his partner in crime in front of you. While the vehicles may only suffer minor damage, the crooks file a large claim for fake injuries and vehicular damage.

Drive Down. As you attempt to merge, another driver waves you forward. As you proceed, the suspect purposely accelerates and collides into your vehicle, then that driver denies ever motioning to you and often has a passenger who will swear you just cut them off.

Sideswipe. As you round a corner at a busy intersection with multiple turn lanes, the scammer’s vehicle deliberately sideswipes you if you inadvertently drift into the other lane while completing the turn. The clever cheats will take advantage of any slight mistake on your part to minimize danger to themselves and maximize the damage to their vehicles which are frequently already damaged.

Adding Damage. After a collision, staged or not, the scammers go to another location, cause more extensive damage to their vehicle and claim the damage happened as a result of the original accident. Fortunately, the proliferation of camera-phones and instruction-laden AccidentCam cameras provided by commercial auto insurers like Lancer’s LimoDirect has helped lessen the frequency of this often expensive claim.

In our next installment, we’ll discuss how you can fight back against the scammers and reduce your chances of becoming a victim of limo insurance fraud.

Driven To Distraction – Limo Driver Safety

Don’t become a holiday traffic statistic by failing to keep your entire focus and attention on your limo driving.

The holiday season is upon us and, especially for limo drivers, it comes with increased traffic everywhere, more than the usual delays, more pedestrians paying less attention and the inevitable increase in impaired drivers. Don’t let yourself become a limo driver statistic by failing to keep your entire focus and attention on your driving.

A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) estimates that almost 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes happen within three seconds of some form of driver distraction. The study also estimates that 25% of all tow-away crashes are related to driver inattention. The problem is so prevalent, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created a website, http://www.distraction.gov/, dedicated to preventing distracted driving, and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has made educating the public and lessening the incidence of distracted driving the centerpiece of his administration.

There are so many distractions vying for your attention when you are behind the wheel, and they come from inside and outside your vehicle. The most common exterior distractions are other vehicles, rubber-necking accidents, debris on the road, seeking destination landmarks, glare, pedestrians and billboards, to name a few. Interior distractions include cell phone usage, even with hands-free devices, eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, climate or other vehicle controls, or trying to visually follow a GPS system. Other less recognized distractions are fatigue, conversing with passengers, picking up something that fell, daydreaming, road rage and even smoking. People have admitted to applying make-up, shaving and reading while driving. While most of these distractions wouldn’t apply to professional drivers, they do emphasize how the driving habits of others have become a threat to everyone else on the road.

The NHTSA study placed driver distraction as the fourth most serious driving safety issue we face, after drunken driving, aggressive driving and speeding, However with innovative technologies becoming standard upgrades in newer vehicles, distracted drivers are becoming less safe drivers. Sophisticated entertainment centers, on-board navigation devices, internet connections, email access and fax machines have increased the time that drivers are distracted and they all pose a threat to roadway safety. If drivers are distracted from concentrating on the task at hand, even for a second, they are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than are more attentive drivers. The problem will only grow larger and more complex as distractions increase in the form of conveniences.

As a professional driver, you can take the lead in helping prevent this deadly and growing problem. Keep your focus on your main responsibility – driving. Stay alert and be aware of all traffic around you and the pedestrians who aren’t paying attention. Drive defensively and keep your eyes moving and your wits about you.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Simple Steps Can Take Your Limo Business A Long Way

Pre-trip Inspections

Pre-trip inspections are very important and worth your time to identify and fix any possible problems before you leave.

If you want to leave a positive impression of your limo business services with your customers, whether they are repeat clients or brand new contacts, you must know what you are doing and where you are going. That means you are familiar with the routes to the pick-up location so you arrive on time. You know the streets and roads you will need to take to get efficiently to the destination, as well as alternate routes along the way in case you run into traffic delays, and have knowledge of frequently requested destinations, such as airports, bus and railroad terminals, convention centers, hotels, restaurants and other points of local interest. You should also have knowledge of fire and police stations as well as area hospitals along your routes. Don’t assume a GPS system is foolproof. It is much wiser to prepare yourself before you get behind the wheel.

You should always prepare your vehicles before each and every trip as well. A vehicle breakdown can rarely be predicted and you don’t want that to ever happen during a trip if you can help it. So pre-trip inspections are very important and worth your time to identify and fix any possible problems before you leave. Check fuel, oil and windshield washer fluid levels. Check all lights, front and back, as well as high beams, emergency flashers, brake, back-up lights and turn signals. Check tires, brakes, and windshield wipers for proper function, and make sure your heater/air conditioner is in working order. Inspect your vehicle for cleanliness inside and out and get rid of any trash or anything else that makes your limousine look messy or unkempt.

Keep an umbrella, extra paper or cloth towels, an ice scraper and brush and small shovel in your limousine’s trunk to help out if you encounter poor weather. Use television, newspaper or radio reports, or internet services to check weather conditions on your route before you leave, and check on any traffic problems along the way that can delay your trip. Weather and traffic are out of your control, but you can pre-plan to help avoid them.

These simple steps can take your limo business a long way.

Limo Insurance Expert Stresses Long-Term Relationships

Tim Delaney explains how operators can protect themselves from the dizzying price swings that often occur in the area of specialty insurance.

Senior Executive Vice President for the Lancer Insurance Company’s Passenger Transportation Underwriting Division, Timothy Delaney is one of the foremost experts on the subject of transportation insurance in the country. With more than 25 years of hands-on experience in the limousine transportation and limo insurance industries, Mr. Delaney is well aware that developing a partnership with clients is an excellent way to help them operate their businesses more safely, more efficiently and more profitably.

Chasing The Lowest Price

He was recently interviewed by Jim Luff of Limousine, Charter & Tour Magazine after a presentation he made at the 2011 International LCT Show. The topic, “How To Get The Max From Your Premium Insurance Dollars,” is an analysis of how operators can protect themselves from the dizzying price swings that often occur in the area of specialty insurance including limo insurance. Tim explained that limousine, bus and van companies, which carry many passengers at once, can be faced with claims that reach $5 million, the liability limit that many transportation companies purchase. So if insurance providers who are less experienced in the specialized needs of passenger transportation companies have priced their premiums low in order to bring in business, they’re in for a rude awakening when they realize they failed to factor in the huge claim payments associated with a serious accident, and their premium intake is nowhere near enough to be paying those claims. Suddenly, the affected companies need to raise their premiums dramatically, and many of their policyholders just aren’t prepared to absorb those increased costs.

Build Long-Term Relationships

Loyalty is one of the most important elements of a long-term relationship between your insurance company and your policyholders, and Mr. Delaney says that this one fact is a very large part of Lancer’s success. By charging fair, actuarially sound premiums, aggressively tackling the claims process from the moment an accident happens to final outcome, and reinforcing Lancer’s total commitment to the safety of its policyholders by offering many free and exclusive chauffeur training and safety products, Lancer has an excellent record of long-term client retention. It’s no wonder that the Ward Group recently named Lancer one of the 50 top-performing P&C Insurers for 2011 in the U.S., “setting the bar for excellence and demonstrating a high threshold of safety and consistency.”

Limousine Operators: Protect Yourself Before A Trip

A well-written and binding signed contract can help you avoid some unfortunate situations for limousine operators.

One of the attractions for professional limousine operators is the variety of clients you will meet and the interesting places you may travel. But that very aspect of your work is what could get you in trouble if you’re not prepared for the seemingly endless issues you have to deal with, especially when it comes to the surprising behavior of some of your passengers.

“How to Deal with the Less Glamorous Side of Retail, an article by Wayne Blanchard published in Limousine Digest, offers some solid advice on how limousine operatorts can deal with the unexpected. Some of the actual incidents cited in the article might seem familiar, but every situation will be different and pre-planning for the unusual can help you avoid some unfortunate situations.

Blanchard bases his advice on three major components:

  1. A well-written and binding signed contract;
  2. Proper chauffeur training (yours and anyone you may hire);
  3. A code of conduct for clients (with penalties for non-compliance)

He offers suggested rules for clients that will help keep the passengers, the limousine operator and the vehicle in good, undamaged condition. Spelling out what a client could be financially responsible for if there is damage sustained to the vehicle, if there are changes to the agreed itinerary or any other mishaps that are the result of client behavior, can often be a deterrent to irresponsible conduct.

Successful Limousine Claim Management Is A Solid Investment

Successful limousine claim management can immediately, and aggressively, investigate and build a strong defense to any claim made against your company.

By Paul Berne
Senior Vice President, Claims
Lancer Insurance Company

Something goes bump in the night. It’s your limousine. And, it’s a bad situation. A high-speed interstate accident resulting in a fatal injury to the other driver, and injuries to your passengers. The scene is cluttered with wrecked vehicles, ambulances, policemen, firemen, EMTs. A local television crew arrives. After several hours, the road is clear, the injured are at medical care facilities, the officials are busy doing paperwork and you’re on your way back to your office wondering what will happen next. You’re worried about your vehicle, the image of your company, your customers, and your insurance rates. It’s hard to find good news given the situation, but there is some. Your insurance company should be able to provide you with excellent limousine claim management through the entire claim process.

What actually is involved in the claim adjusting process? Who does the work? How much work is there? What does it cost an insurance company to adjust a claim like the one described above?

You know that the limousine and livery industry has become a favorite target of plaintiff lawyers. You know that jury verdicts are out of control, and that it is essential to immediately and aggressively investigate and build a strong defense to any claim made against your company. Some insurance companies choose to stick their heads in the sand and avoid adjusting and legal expense. What they pay at the back-end in higher settlements and verdicts more than offsets what they should have spent at the front-end to keep the loss costs under control. Let’s break down where and how the money is spent.

THE FIRST RESPONSE

The media reports chaos, mayhem and a battle scene. A good limo insurance company, such as Lancer’s LimoDirect, is experienced in dealing with the press, and handles the communication in such a way that their interest is diffused within 12 hours of the incident. Within 24 hours, the media has no interest in following the story.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Now the battle begins. The insurance carrier for the driver of the car that hit your limo contends that the accident was your driver’s fault. So does the lawyer hired by the family of the deceased. A lawsuit is filed and punitive damages are alleged. Your insurer, through the evidence gathered at the preliminary adjusting phase, should be able to establish that fault primarily rests with the other driver. The police suspected the car driver might have been under the influence of alcohol. A responsible insurance company will hire a toxicologist to examine the lab records. This expert confirms that the level of intoxication was sufficient to impair driving ability. Not by much, but there is an argument that it contributed to the accident. The insurance company-retained accident reconstructionist produces a video animation that demonstrates that fault could not rest entirely with your driver. Of course, the plaintiff attorney has hired an expert with similar credentials, and his reconstruction indicates that complete fault rests with your driver.

Your company records are scrutinized by the plaintiff attorney to the last detail; your driver file, maintenance records and your safety and training program. Unfortunately, there is an adverse finding. The records reveal that the vehicle missed the completion of scheduled maintenance relating to the brakes. The records also indicate you knew about it, but you were fully booked and just didn’t get to the required maintenance. This creates a huge problem; you are exposed to punitive damages and the jury will be inflamed by what the plaintiff attorney will describe as your “putting profits ahead of safety”. He’ll argue that you had a “conscious disregard for the safety of others”. Your insurer retains yet another expert witness to defend you; this one specializes in explaining to juries why your conduct did not contribute to the accident. The case will be made that any issues with the brakes could not have had anything to do with the accident. The defense knows that will be a tough sell.

THE JURY DECIDES

Cases take twists and turns over the months and years they stay open. In the final analysis, what looked like a favorable liability situation for your company turns out to be a toss-up at best, with a better than 50-50 chance that a jury will find your driver is at least 75% at fault. But, your passengers have been treated fairly and promptly all along. They did not hire attorneys; their claims are settled and closed. Your insurer gets aggressive in demanding a contribution to the settlements for your passengers from the insurance carrier for the adverse auto. Under threat of a lawsuit, the other driver’s insurer finally relents and pays a significant percentage of each claim.

By leveraging the evidence gathered, experts hired and through the skilled handling of your attorney and claims adjuster, the case is settled for $1.2 million two weeks before trial. The total adjusting and legal cost is $124,000. Every penny spent was worth it; had the case not been prepared as it was, the outcome would have been a much higher settlement, or a verdict well in excess of what the case ultimately cost.

Some claims are fairly simple; fixed object or parked car cases, no liability incidents, and low impact fender-benders without injuries. When the bad thing happens however; injuries, fatalities, extensive property damage, it is essential that insurance companies step up the tempo and spend the time and money necessary to build the best defense possible. Strange as it seems, spending money on claims will help keep loss costs under control.

Are You Prepared for A Catastophic Accident?

CASE STUDY OF A SERIOUS LIMO CRASH
by Paul R. Berne, Senior Vice President – Claims, Lancer Insurance Company

Serious Limo Accident Management
You will be asked a barrage of questions…

It’s one of your worst nightmares…The phone rings, and your driver reports that he’s just been in a serious accident. He tells you: the scene is complete chaos; the police are questioning him; passengers are injured; ambulances are everywhere; your limousine is badly damaged; and he doesn’t know what to do.If you have ever received one of these calls, you’ll recognize the questions that immediately fly through your mind:

“What do I do?’ “Should I go to the scene?” “What should I tell my driver?”
and the inevitable…
“Can my business survive this crisis?”

You dread the emotional and financial roller coaster that lies ahead. But, most of all, you recognize the critical importance of having a serious loss accident response plan in place and having an insurance company partner that is expert in responding to and managing severe limousine accidents.

If you’ve never experienced a loss of this type — good! And I hope you never do. But you should know the importance of having a disaster preparedness/crisis management plan in place which covers a wide range of perils and accident types. It’s never too soon to review what can and should happen if you do have a severe limousine accident. Consider questions like: What should you expect from your insurance company? Is there a “right” way to handle accidents of this type? Does it matter if your insurance carrier specializes in handling limousine and passenger transportation losses?

Trucks Haul Cargo; Limousines Transport People
Insurers who consider themselves ‘commercial auto specialists” usually have trucks as the largest component of their policies in force, including long haul, local/intermediate delivery vehicles, tow trucks and business autos. Is mixing “trucks, limos and other commercial autos” a problem? Maybe not when you’re buying insurance, but ask yourself this important question: Is a passenger transportation vehicle claim the same as a truck claim? The answer is obviously “no”; the losses encountered in your business are very different in many ways than truck, or any other “business auto” claims. Passenger transportation losses at all levels require adjustment by an insurance company that knows your business and specializes in your industry. This is especially true in the case of severe accidents involving multiple injuries and, frequently, fatalities. Let’s explore why this is important by closely examining a real case we recently handled involving a complex limousine loss.

How To Manage A Limo Claim
The incident involves a limousine company transporting six passengers on a winery tour in northern California. The trip is progressing smoothly until an inattentive motorist disregards a stop sign and places his 2007 BMW directly in the path of the limo. The impact is severe. The chauffeur does an excellent job of maintaining control, but the limo still ends up in a ditch on the side of the road.

Some passengers are ejected; all are injured to some degree. The BMW driver and his passenger are seriously injured, and the scene, putting it bluntly, is a bloody mess. The police, ambulances, fire department and wreckers respond. Fault can’t be immediately determined; there are witnesses to interview, measurements and photos are required for the police reconstruction, but the police are, rightly so, more concerned with getting help for the injured and clearing the scene to avoid additional accidents.

Fortunately, our policyholder listened to our message to report all losses promptly and had effectively delivered the message throughout his organization, The chauffeur contacted his dispatcher via cell phone within minutes of the accident and then the dispatcher called our toll-free 24-hour claim reporting number. Immediately thereafter, Lancer’s Vice President and Western Division claims manager, Bob Burns, was on the phone with the driver, dispatcher, a local investigator and accident reconstruction engineer and a defense attorney within ten minutes of the first call. Resources were rushed to the scene and a catastrophic loss management plan was implemented at the onset. The plan priorities were very clear and were immediately acted upon.

Teamwork Is Critical
Setup a communication system — The team involved Burns, the investigator, the attorney, the accident reconstruction engineer, the driver, management at the limo company, the passengers and the police. This coordination process is much more complex to accomplish than it sounds, especially when you’re dealing with several injured passengers. On-scene personnel must coordinate communication through a central management source. Bob Burns, having managed many multiple passenger injury limousine cases and having worked with this same response team in the past, managed the process via frequent conference calls, clear instructions and quick analysis by the attorney and engineer as each “next step” was evaluated.

Establish passenger needs
Medical attention, shelter, telephones, replacement transportation, money… the sudden disruption to a carefully planned trip requires that these, and many other areas, be addressed, including retrieval and securement of personal items. This case involved the delicate balance of taking care of passenger needs, while conducting a liability investigation that required obtaining passenger written or recorded statements detailing where they were seated, what they saw and what they heard. We were able to get what we needed by having the right number of investigators on scene, a consistent approach with each passenger, readily available aid and assistance for the group and by taking advantage of the already existing sense within the passenger group that they wanted to protect the chauffeur and ensure blame was placed where they knew it belonged — with the driver of the BMW!

Get the facts
It’s important to record the facts and, as importantly, preserve them so they will hold up in court. Forward thinking must begin at the first phone call, and every step of the response must give consideration to what is admissible in court at a later date. Evidence must be preserved with this in mind. The direction of an attorney at the scene insured this would happen. As the investigators prepared to obtain statements, take photos and gather data, the attorney and the accident reconstruction engineer were able to provide specific instructions on the approach they should take including: what questions had to be asked; how they should be phrased; and the types of photos that would help the defense should they someday need to he shown to a jury.

Assist the police
Sometimes the best way to assist is simply staying out of the way. In other instances, such as this one, the police accepted our offer to assist them. There were eyewitnesses who confirmed the BMW ran the red light and the limousine driver had no chance to avoid the impact. The Lancer adjuster and attorney directed them to the police to ensure their identity and detailed versions were reported. Priorities after any accident include, where necessary, moving vehicles to reduce ongoing hazard and tending to the injured. In this case, however, the police agreed that the vehicle movement could be safely delayed until the engineer obtained crucial measurements.

Protect the chauffeur
You want a clear-thinking company representative on the scene, so getting your driver calmed down before he gives a statement to the police is critical. This process was initiated over the phone within minutes of the report and continued throughout the investigation.

Unlike other accident types, passenger transportation losses involve drivers who can become very emotional given the number of people injured, and the immense responsibility they usually feel for the safety of their passengers. With credibility, we were able to tell the limousine driver: “We’ve done this before we know what you’re going through, and we’re here to help you.” The chauffeur‘s response in this claim actually helped in the final outcome.

This is a real wild card, as it is usually impossible to determine if they’ll even respond to an accident scene, Responses can vary from a single reporter, to helicopters and live cameras. It is essential to have a media response plan in place. Of course, the worldwide web picked up the accident news and within hours there were 50 or so sites posting the story. Within days that had grown five-fold. Several web articles were filled with misinformation. We worked with our policyholder to determine which were best ignored and which needed to be addressed. Our instructions were repeated to everyone representing the limousine company. The result? The media lost interest and left after minimal intrusion into the situation.

Protect the reputation of the limousine company

You will be hit with a barrage of questions…

“Who is the driver? How long has he been driving professionally? Was he tired? Has he ever driven a limousine like this one? Why didn’t the limo company select a better chauffeur? How many accidents have they had? What are they doing to take care of their passengers? Is their equipment safe?”

These and many other questions directly challenge the credibility of your company and must be dealt with quickly. Some should be answered immediately, others should not be. A key part of our loss response includes direct involvement of a Lancer Regional Safety Manager and Bob Crescrenzo, Lancer’s Vice President of Safety.

The driver qualification file, vehicle maintenance file, regulatory inspection reports and all related documents were reviewed in detail. We were able to present the limousine company as caring, compliant and responsible, all of which made the difference in preserving its reputation in the community and with its customers. This review helps in another way; it established exactly what would be necessary to defend against allegations made against us pertaining to company operations by lawyers at a later date.

Protect the limousine company’s financial interests — Beyond your business reputation.
This protection includes making arrangements for prompt repair of your vehicle so that your downtime is minimized. We also assisted the policyholder in recovering money from the BMW’s insurance carrier relating to its uninsured business loss.

Ongoing case management
This is an area in which passenger transportation vehicle losses are very different from other accident types. Passengers involved in this accident required follow-up contact to determine injury status, and to obtain statements pertaining to what happened if they had not been interviewed at the scene. We have in place a network of field staff and designated local investigators who responded immediately. In some situations, investigators actually met returning passengers as they arrived home or at other destinations.

Once fault is determined, it is necessary to direct claiming parties (including your passengers) to the insurance carrier responsible for paying their claims. The communication link that had been established on this loss made that an easy process. And, as mentioned earlier, we were able to get our policyholder paid for their loss promptly and with minimal disruption to his business.

When the lawsuits showed up, (and they did…), the plaintiff lawyers were hit hard with the result of our investigation which clearly showed the chauffeur and the limousine company were negligent-free. If you’re wondering if the expenses relating to the response were justified, consider this: each and every plaintiff lawyer that attempted to make a claim against the limo company dropped his claim after seeing the extent of our investigation and after giving consideration to the cost he would incur in attempting to build a case that could beat ours. No lawsuits meant no litigation defense costs, no indemnity payments to the claiming parties and a file that was closed, and has stayed closed.

Contenders vs. Pretenders
When you get a chance, take the time to have your internal crisis management plan expanded to ensure it covers serious accident response. If you handle your own claims under your deductible, evaluate your serious loss response process and make sure it addresses the areas captioned in this article. Is it worth the time? You’ll have to answer that one yourself…hopefully before the phone rings and your worst nightmare becomes a reality.

Thinking About Becoming A Limo Driver?

Tips for becoming a Chauffeur
A limousine business can be satisfying and rewarding, especially when you can exceed a customer’s expectations.

You like driving a limo, meeting new people, going to different places and seeing new things. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t want to be a professional limo driver. While driving a beautiful limousine might seem exciting and glamorous to the riding public, you are the one who will have to deal with frustrating traffic jams, finding parking spaces, managing unruly clients, meeting tight deadlines, tending to your business and staying calm and in control no matter what situations you face as a limo driver.

However, having a vehicle and the ambition to drive are not enough to put you on the road to a successful driving career. You must be properly and legally prepared to take on the responsibility of transporting passengers. And, if you are to be successful, practicing safety, making contacts and providing excellent customer service should be among your top priorities. Without practicing these key elements, it will be very difficult to keep up in a very competitive field.

Be Prepared – Stay Prepared

  • Each state has its own set of rules for people wishing to enter the limousine driving field, including age requirements, specific training or driver’s license regulations. Go online to your state Department of Motor Vehicles website and determine exactly what may be required before you put a vehicle on the road. You have to make sure that any driver you may contract to help with a job is also qualified to drive for you. Driving violations such as speeding, running red lights or tailgating should send up red flags about a driver’s commitment to safety. You can’t take chances with drivers who don’t measure up to your own high standards.
  • Make sure you understand the specific insurance needs for yourself, your business, your vehicle and for anyone you contract to drive for you. Don’t assume you are covered under your personal vehicle policy and, in any case, you should keep your business separate from your personal expenses. You will need liability and physical damage/collision coverages, with financial limits to adequately cover you if the worst should happen. An experienced, reliable passenger transportation insurer like Lancer’s LimoDirect can give you the peace of mind you need to concentrate on getting yourself established as a successful limousine operator.
  • Understand what tax ramifications contracting yourself out to other businesses might have. Taxes and Workers’ Compensation regulations vary by state and can be confusing, so have your business plans checked by a qualified attorney.

Making And Keeping Contacts

  • Get to know the limousine businesses in your area – not so much as competitors, but also as business partners. Seeing other companies in this way will help you expand your own business and reputation as a reliable operator.
  • Practice your communication skills with everyone you come into contact with during your day. You’ll be dealing with many different people and personalities as a chauffeur, and treating everyone you meet as if they were a customer could help you land and keep business.
  • Network with associates and friends and let them know that you’re available to drive, including all your contacts on the various social networks. You never know who might be able to help you make business contacts.
  • Check out online forums in which limousine drivers post comments about being in the business from all across the country. You can also advertise your services on some of these sites for free as long as you’re registered.
  • Plan to market your business using ads, mailings, business cards and the internet. Create a dynamic website for your business. Network through state groups and the National Limousine Association conventions and memberships. Be creative in your approach to your business. Develop relationships with clubs, restaurants, hotels, local theatre, concert venues, year-round activities for which people like to get dressed up for a day or night on the town. Suggest a “package” of limo-and-a-meal or limo-and-a-ticket promotions. Set up special deals with local radio stations on which you offer a limo to go with any prize promotions they may be sponsoring in exchange for them mentioning your business every time they advertise the promotion. Rent space at local bridal fairs or other conventions at which limo services are regularly used. Consider donating limousine rides for local events like Memorial Day parades or to police or fire department fund raising events. You could gain the reputation as the “official” limousine service in your local community. Join your local Chamber of Commerce. The more people you meet, the more successful your business will be.
  • It might help to invest in an answering service to have someone live answering calls 24-hours a day. It’s the nature of your business and it’s a much more personal way to handle customers. A caller’s questions can be answered immediately rather than having to wait for a return call. Have your website be informative and with auto-response capabilities for contacts who search the web.

A limousine business can be satisfying and rewarding, especially when you can exceed a customer’s expectations. Good luck and drive safely!

Limo Business: How To Start Your Own And Succeed

Start Your Own Limo Business
Once you’ve accepted the challenge of becoming a limousine business owner, you can take the next steps.

Opening a new limo business can be a daunting experience. For those of you looking to make your mark in the limousine industry, you not only have to have good business sense, you have to be a trained chauffeur, know how to deal with all different members of the public, be a good marketer, economist and, among other things, a part-time mechanic. Any trip can range from an adventure to a nightmare, so it helps to first and foremost have clear, written goals for your limo business with steps you will take to accomplish them.

What To Do First
Your first task is to understand what having a limo business entails. You have to prepare for spur of the moment reservations, late and long hours, dealing with people who could become unruly, meeting on-time expectations and working every weekend. You have to consider and plan for a myriad of “what ifs”: What if you have an accident? What if a passenger is injured, even away from your limousine? What if a client doesn’t show up? What if you’re late? What if a client is dissatisfied? What if you don’t get paid? What if your limo breaks down? What if you get lost? What if you get sick or a passenger gets sick? You have to have a plan for every scenario if you’re going to be successful. If you uncomfortable handling the “what ifs”, then is the limousine business really for you?

Getting Started
Once you’ve accepted the challenge of becoming a limo business owner, you can take the next steps.

  • Investigate the regulations pertaining to opening a limo business in the state you wish to operate in. There will always be rules regarding the licensing and establishment of a commercial enterprise, including proof of insurance, zoning rules and tax liabilities. The more you know about creating a limo business plan and how you will turn a profit, the better off you will be at start-up.
  • Make sure you understand your specific insurance needs for both your limo business and your vehicle. Don’t assume you are covered under your personal vehicle policy, and in any case, you should keep your business separate from your personal expenses. You will need liability and physical damage/collision coverages, with limits to adequately cover you if the worst should happen. An experienced, reliable passenger transportation insurer like LimoDirect can give you the peace of mind you need to concentrate on getting yourself established as a successful limo business.
  • Does the state you intend to register your limo business in require a Chauffeur’s License? Not every state does, but there may still be some restrictions to driving a vehicle for hire. Some states may have age restrictions, others will add an endorsement to your regular license, and others may require background checks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) specifies that drivers of vehicles with sixteen or more passengers, including the driver, must have a Commercial Driver’s License with a passenger (P) endorsement. Knowing this information upfront will save you time and money.
  • Do the necessary research. What is your market? What competition is already operating in the area you want to be in? Will you prefer to “specialize,” such as weddings, proms and graduations, airport transfers, concerts, sporting events or funeral services, or do you want to be available for any type of trip? Your best bet is to operate and market your services in proximity to larger communities with corporate parks and industries rather than in rural areas. Take some practice runs to familiarize yourself with the surrounding areas, its traffic and alternate routes.
  • Unless you intend to only be a broker, purchase a vehicle. The cost to set up, including the purchase of a vehicle, can be in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. It’s not an inexpensive proposition, so make sure you’re committed to your goals.
  • Plan to market your business using ads, mailings, business cards and the internet. Network through state and national limousine association conventions and memberships. Be creative in your approach to your business. Develop relationships with clubs, restaurants, hotels, local theatre, concert venues, year-round activities where people like to get dressed up for a day or night on the town. Suggest a “package” of limo-and-a-meal or limo-and-a-ticket promotions. The more people on your side, the more successful your business will be.
  • Be familiar with your vehicle. Read the owner’s manual and know how to do some simple mechanical maintenance, change a tire, fill the fluids and do a minor repair on the road if necessary.

Nothing successful or worthwhile is ever easy. It takes knowledge, ambition, the right attitude and a lot of hard work to make a business flourish. Good luck and drive safely!

If you would like to speak with a limo insurance specialist about starting your own limo business, call 800-782-8902 x3042, visit our website www.limoinsurancedirect.com  or send an email to limodirect@lancer-ins.com.

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